I finally found some time this morning and re-upholstered the seat back…yes, just the back.
Previously I purchased 1976 styled 280z seat covers for my 1977 (my year had the plastic “basketweave” styled backrest, ugh), and now it’s time to put them on.
And I’ve got to say, my forearms burn like i just went rock climbing!
Here’s some of my feedback on the process. If you’re looking at recovering you’re own seats, here’s what I did, and it may help you.
1) Take off of the old covers – I paid special attention to how the old covers were put on, and it made a difference. My 1977 280z “basketweave” seat covers were held down by metal prongs / tangs, and two sets of metal rods for reinforcement. The front face of the seat cover is under the back face. And the prongs pierce through the vinyl.
What was interesting was this seat arm “pocket” on a single side of the seats – none of them had been used! The arms were attached on top of the pockets instead of inside of them (though the original fit looks intentional).
There were metal reinforcement rods along the edges that will need to be removed and reused for the new seat covers.
Always remember to label just in case!
Like taking off a shirt, there’s two ways of taking off an old seat cover: 1) starting from the headrest, 2) starting from the bottom and rolling up.
There is a flap of extra material that hold down the seat cover snug to the seat between the headrest and the back.
If this flap has disintegrated like mine has, then you can just shimmy off the old cover like a shirt (method 1).
If the flap is still intact, then you’ll have to roll up the cover from the bottom (method 2), undo the hog rings, and then take off the cover.
Very surprising – the back wasn’t foam material at all! The seat back padding is this straw-like material that is semi-dense and springy. With the vinyl, i’m sure it’s provides a good amount of breathing for the back.
You can also see the disintegrated cotton flap that previously help hold the seat cover taught. The new 1976 seat covers have vinyl flaps to hold the material down.
On to the new seat cover! Here you can see the flap that lays between the headrest and seat back, and the hog rings that keep it there. There’s also a metal rod through the flap to help reinforcement it.
I ended up getting new hog rings at home depot (chain link fencing aisle), as well as hog ring pliers. HOG RING PLIERS AREN’T REALLY NECESSARY. It takes a touch of finesse, but I was able to manage with just needle nose pliers.
“Put the cover on like a condom”. That’s actually pro advice from a friend who used to work summers at this father’s upholstery shop. And he was right. Invert the cover first. Then starting with the headrest put the cover on, rolling back on the rest of the cover on to the seat. When you get to flap between the headrest and the back, hog ring it down to the metal rod that’s between the two paddings. And continue to roll down. Putting on seat covers work best when the vinyl is warm.
Inserting the metal rod at the end of the seat cover.
Work the vinyl downwards starting from the headrest on down to the bottom – almost like massaging it down. This will really help you be able to pull the covers tight, and get the ends around the prongs.
Cut holes for the seat arms.
Seat re-covering takes quite a lot of patience and arm muscle – but certainly more of the first. You need to be patient and work the vinyl from the top down, continuously. This will help with the fit, and certainly when you need to secure the seat cover ends to the seat back frame / prongs.
Additionally, i should probably re-do this one after the passenger seat gets done – there’s excesses material in the upper bolsters that should be mounted down and lie flat on the chair. To do this, my friend suggested that i use spray glue / mounting adhesive. I’m sure this technique will require some practice to be good at it, as drying time, and allowing for stretch are major factors.
I wish I could pass down where these came from, but the previous owner can’t remember where / whom he’d bought them from. I’d give them about an 8/10 – good quality, decent fit (could be a touch better).
1.5 seats more to go.