Rebuild Your Interior

Corvette Central Gives Our '73's Interior A New Lease On Life

Andy Bolig May 1, 2001 0 Comment(s)

Step By Step

Before...

...and After

The first thing we did was remove anything that didn’t resemble a new interior. In other words, we gutted the ’73, including pulling the steering column and dash.

These boxes, bags, and items on the table were the parts that would become a gorgeous interior. Some of the original parts were broken but some were only faded, so we decided to freshen them up using Corvette Central’s interior paint.

First, check the drain tubes by the rear window. As you can see, any water that started down the tube was immediately dumped into the interior.

Replacing these tubes is the cheapest, yet most vital step to keeping your interior looking great.

Since we were going to the trouble of making the interior look like new, we decided to make it better than new. We installed some foil-backed insulation in addition to the jute backing the carpet already has. This will help keep temperatures down inside the cockpit as well as help the air conditioning do its job properly.

Cut adequate space around all of the mounting holes so the insulation doesn’t bunch up under the seatbelts and other mounting areas.

There’s a small lip around the storage compartment. Cut the foil insulation so it sits flush with the lip so the compartment doors will sit securely without breaking.

We laid some foil insulation onto the footwell area and then installed the jute insulation from the footwell to the rear kick-up behind the seat. The area indicated by the arrow is for the seatbelt retractor. Avoid putting insulation here so the retractor can be fastened securely.

Chris Petris uses 3M spray adhesive to keep the insulation in place.

You’ll definitely need it to hold the rear kick-panel insulation.

Some trimming of the carpet will be necessary as you fit it into place. You don’t want to fight with excess carpeting under the console, or wrestle with trying to find the hole with a screw poking through the carpet.

It will be much easier to remove a small piece of carpet now than to fight with it later.

Once we had the carpet fitting properly and all the holes lined up, we installed the seatbelt retractors on the floors.

Cut a small opening for them to come through the carpet.

Then glue the carpeting to the floors.

Chris likes to cut some of the jute and foil insulation from around the area where the rear interior light will mount. This makes it easier to mount without the insulation bunched up under the light.

When you install the carpeting in front, make sure it goes UNDER the heater duct. Chris has seen many sharks with the heating duct covered up.

Now attach the shoulder straps for the seatbelts. Our seatbelt mechanisms were bad, so we got new ones from Corvette Central.

The front and rear carpeting come together at the storage tray area. Take your time and trim it carefully so it’s held in place by the tray cover.

Cutting the jute backing from the carpet where the tray cover will hold it ensures that it seats fully and solidly when you screw it in place.

Our package tray had rotted, so we replaced it with a new one from Corvette Central.

There’s a locking latch that’s used for the door on the storage tray.

With the carpeting in place we started installing the dash and console pieces. Some pieces could be painted, but items like the center gauge cluster and gauges were supplied by Corvette Central.

The center console trim plate was in good condition except for being faded, so Chris showed us how to make it look new again. He cleaned the plate with thinner and removed the engine data plate. Then he simply painted the plate and removed the paint from the areas that should be chrome by scraping it off carefully with a razor.

Chris likes to let it dry for about an hour and then scrapes it. If it dries too much, the finished product doesn’t turn out as well.

When the paint had thoroughly dried, we installed the trim plate over the new forward shift console (also supplied by Corvette Central), and the rebuilt heat/air controls.

Before installing the rear portion of the console, install the emergency-brake-handle cover. Without it, your console will have a large, unsightly hole.

We used the rear bolt bracket from the old rear console cover on the new one. Chris says that this rear bolt is often removed and never reinstalled after the job is done.

Before we put the switches back into the new console, we cleaned them up a bit with Meguiar’s Mirror Glaze and a cotton swab. This cleans off all the years of grime, and polishes the chrome to like-new.

With the console completed, we installed the new right-hand lower dashpad assembly. This is the first piece to come out and the last piece to go back in.

We had to drill the holes to mount the windshield header trim. Take your time and make sure the holes are aligned properly before you drill.

Our new windshield trim and header panel went right into place.

Next were the rear quarter-panels. Ours were in good shape and needed only minor freshening to make them look great. Don’t forget to run the shoulder harnesses through the openings before you install them.

Don’t over-tighten the screws on the outside lip in the door jamb. You don’t want to strip these threads.

Once the rear quarter-panels are installed, add the rear roof panels and the lower window trim to connect everything together.

Our interior was looking great and we didn’t want to stop the momentum, so we installed the new sunvisors that Corvette Central sent.

The seat covers made the difference. Our old ones weren’t terrible, but they would have looked awful if we’d put them in our new interior.

Before the door skins go on, make sure to put a barrier on the inside of the door.

This serves two purposes: It keeps the outside air from finding its way into the cabin, and it keeps water from damaging the door skins.

The final touch was the new rearview mirror. Our interior was finished and looking great.

With the new interior installed, there was nothing else to do but drive!

Shark Corvettes have been around for 20 years or more, and many of them could hardly survive, let alone pass for a Survivor Award. That was the problem with the interior of our ’73. One look would make any self-respecting show judge go weak in the knees. We knew it would take more than new carpet and some vinyl protectant to bring back that “new car feel,” so we called on Corvette Central to provide the defibrillator for our dying (and dye-less) interior. Follow along as we show how our once-dead cockpit went from grave to rave.

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