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Lipstick on a Pig

From Bench to Buckets, this budget beater gets a seater

Mike Harrington Jul 19, 2005

Man O' man...what a pig! What am I talking about, you ask? Not too long ago, I came across a guy selling a '74 Nova. He said he just wanted to "get rid of it--cheap." So when asked how cheap was "cheap," 300 bucks was his response. He also informed me "it still runs." Naturally, I could not pass it up. I went home, cashed in my aluminum can collection, smashed my piggy bank open (with my wife's permission) and handed the man his cash the next day. I was now the proud owner of one piggish-looking, $300 '74 Nova. Sure, it still had the straight-six, but it ran! And the body needed lots of TLC; come to think of it, so does the interior. What a mess! I was afraid to enter the car without a mask and gloves, for fear of breathing in powdered seat foam or cutting myself on the seat springs. When you start out with a bottom-of-the-ladder project car, there is only one way to go--up. After all, I had visions of how cool this little Nova could actually look. Mega-talented artist Jason Rushforth cranked out a rendering of how this car could look. With my vision set on paper, it was time for the dirty part.

The first part of building up this beater was to replace the destroyed front bench with a set of '71 Camaro bucket seats. Yup, It was time to slather some lipstick on this pig!


Here it is in all its former glory. Tore up from the floor up, the cockpit in this Nova just had to be replaced before I could get in it to drive.

After removing the seats, it was time to rip out all the trash and pocket change accumulated since 1974. This was a great time to involve my young son in his first auto teardown. I tossed out the trash, and he put it in the garbage. If we involve our kids, they won't be so bored at car shows.

When I pulled out all the old floor material, I discovered surface rust hiding under the seats. Luckily, there were no cancer spots in the metal.

Armed with my cordless drill and wire brush, the rust was no match and I soon had most of it brushed away. This is also another good project to involve my 6-year-old son. Let the kid brush away to his heart's content; it might even save you some labor.

After the floors were cleaned up, 3M rubberized undercoating was sprayed in the formerly rusted areas. It should never come back again with the rubber spray sealing the floor. The rest of the floors were fine, so they were left as is.

The insulator and sound deadener that Classic Industries provides is sufficient to cover your floors, but I wanted a little more. I ran to my local hardware store and picked up a small roll of this space age looking insulator. I used it in all the places I wanted extra insulation.

Here is a view of the back seat area and where the extra insulation was installed.

After the hardware store insulation was laid down, the Classic Industries insulation was next. Now in areas like the drive shaft tunnel, I'm double-proofed on insulation. Sound and heat should be down to a real minimum now that I have over insulated.

And here are the '71 Camaro Seats. They don't look much better than what we pulled out of the Nova do they? Here is where Classic Industries again saves the day for us. There is probably nothing they don't have to restore or finish off a project car. Armed with brand new foam and new seat covers, these horrid-looking seats will soon look factory new.

After ripping away all the old foam and vinyl, here is the skeleton of our Camaro seats. I have to admit something here. When it came to reapplying the new seat foam and covers, I was in over my head. I thought all I had to do was throw the foam on the frame and slip the new cover over it. Boy, was I ever wrong. After a little over an hour of cussing and crying, stretching and pulling, I heard a loud R-I-P. I was pulling so hard on the seat cover that I put a nice 4-inch rip into it; I admitted defeat. It was time to go and take the seats to someone who had the skills to do it right. The heroes at Wanda's Upholstery took my task and had both seats ready in less than two hours. I think I spent that much time just trying to cover the bottom half of one.

The first thing they did at Wanda's Upholstery was to clean up the seat frames. You can see the surface rust on this frame, and it's getting scraped off.

After the seat was scraped, some adhesive was applied and a thin foam rubber material/ covering was added. This would ensure that the new seat vinyl would not sit dead against some rusted old metal.

Here you can see the bottom seat frame all covered with the thin foam layer and crowned with its new cushion.

Before the old seat foam was thrown out, Wanda showed me the wire that I needed to save. It could be used in the new seat and the Hog Rings had something to attach to. I would have just thrown this out.

Here is Wanda at work. The vinyl seemed to do exactly what he wanted it to do. Unlike myself, it fought me every step of the way.

By the way, that nice 4-inch rip that I put in my new seat cover--Wanda sewed it all up and saved it from getting worse. You can't even see it in this picture.

Here are couple of the cans of paint and adhesive I used. The black Krylon spray paint was used to paint the seats frame rails. And the new plastic Krylon paint was used to paint the back of the Camaro seats.

Here is what the back of the Camaro seats looked like. The Krylon made the ugly, old green color into a beautiful semi-gloss black. Now all we have to do is screw them onto the back of our newly covered seats.

And here it is: lipstick on a pig! Out with the old bench seats and in with the newly-covered seats. We also threw down some molded carpets from Classic Industries as well. The carpets were great. Once they are lined up, bolt them down so they don't move on you and trim the excess carpet away; it couldn't be any easier. Take a look at the original picture of what this interior looked like, and look at it now. This piggish Nova will soon be strutting its stuff!


Classic Industries
Huntington Beach, CA 92648
San Bernardino, CA 92411

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