For me, it took alot of courage to poke an awl through the new vinyl, but it was necessary to install the door pull straps, as well as the armrest base and switches. The new panels came with decorative chrome strips that cover the transition between the carpeted lower area and the top. But the new strip is much smaller than the original. I liked the look of the much wider original strips, so I carefully bent the tabs straight, wetsanded the surface and polished them on a wheel with white chrome rouge. It was a time consuming and messy job, but worth it.
I poked new holes for the strips, and installed them on both panels. I installed the armrest bases, also reproduction, and the panels appear to be ready to install. They turned out nice and I'm happy with them. (but I haven't tried to install them yet!)
The new panels have an extra layer of padding under the vinyl, so they are thicker and lots more luxurious looking than the originals. I can't wait to install these.
Like the seat covers, the door panels look about 1000 years old. Badly water damaged boards, rotted carpet bottoms, faded and brittle vinyl. Replacing these was an easy decision.
I bought reproductions from The Parts Place. They're available either unassembled, or assembled. Apparently the unassembled panels come with loose vinyl on top, and you have to use your old curved metal upper cores, also install new window felts, and attach everything straight. I bought the assembled ones for about $100 more, and it seems to be a little extra money well spent.
But even the 'assembled' panels need plenty of work before they are ready to install.
I laid the old panel upside down face to face with the new one. With a pencil I lightly traced the openings for the power window and lock switches. The new panels come with perforated areas to cut out for the switches, but they were different on the driver side than my original. Since vinyl can only be cut once, I double and triple checked everything, measured, even held the old panel back up to the door to make sure before I cut anything. I used an X-acto knife and a utility knife, both with new blades. I also had to cut all the holes for the plastic armrest bases.
At last, the lower half of the front seat is covered and finished. I also installed the power drive parts, the power switch, and the latch brackets for the seat backs.
I also worked on the one remaining seat back. I found a replacement part for it at the old boneyard last weekend. I blasted, painted and installed it. I pulled the cover on, but did not stretch or attach it yet.
I finally felt comfortable starting to throw away some of the tons of junk that have accumulated from the blue sedan seat I used for parts, which was good because that stuff has really piled up. I'm not ready to ditch the remains of the old covers just yet, as I used one to find the marks where the seat belt looms were located previously. It worked, and those were the last parts I installed this evening.
The last pic is the remains of the old seat cover. It crackles like paper and looks a thousand years old. The covers from the backs are even worse.
I only have the spring assembly on the back seat lower to do yet, re-cover that, and I'll finally be done with all the seats. Yeah!
The pre-molded carpet does not fit as well. Hard to know where to start. As I first laid it in, it was a large, shapeless mass. Plenty of excess. I just made sure it was centered on the hump, and that the thick jute pad underneath was aligned with the feet area part of the floorpans. I put a new blade in the utility knife and started to work. Just a little at a time so as not to trim too much. The front comes with a bead or trim edge sewn along the back, so it is obviously intended to lap over the top of the rear carpet section, which will go in first.
Still too early to cut holes for seatbelts or tracks just yet. I want to get the front a little closer. That also comes with plenty of excess, which is hard to trim because it's up front, and the carpet has to be removed to trim, then put back in to check the fit. When I got this car, there was no old carpet (and not much floor) to use as a template.
In the photo, the carpet looks kind of purple, the dash more brown. This is just a trick of the camera flash, it probably looks alot worse in natural daylight.....
I vacuumed the floor to install the carpet underlay/sound deadener. It fit well, and so wasn't too hard to get it to go in.
It comes in a box, and is very heavy. There are no instructions or diagrams, but due to the shape of the floor, they were easy enough to figure out how to install. They fit very well, with almost no trimming required. I only had to cut the holes for the seat bracket studs. This project was easy, and it's nice to have something other than the hard metal floor in this car for the first time in a couple of years....