Today there are more ways to improve your muscle car’s performance on and off the track then ever before. We not talking about the straight tracks either—we are talking about the ones with corners. Aftermarket suspension, tires, and brakes have gotten so much better that older muscle cars are way more capable than their designers ever dreamed they could be. We have seen it with our own eyes: strap on a good suspension system, fat sway bars and wide sticky tires, and you have a muscle car that is capable of pulling a g or more on the skidpad.
One problem: Do all that and not put in good seats, and you will be hanging onto the steering wheel for dear life, hoping to not fall out or slam into the door panel.
We know aftermarket race seats are available and do a great job at holding you, but often at the cost of some comfort and appearance. Let’s face it: race seats are designed to conform to your body, not the interior they are in. There is now another option in the performance seating market, and it will look right at home in the car.
Legendary Auto Interiors has been making restoration interior components for almost 40 years and has something pretty neat for those wanting more out of the seat while retaining the classic style that many desire for their vintage super car. The Rallye Seat option from Legendary is a new foam and cover set designed for installation on a factory frame to yield a high bolstered seat. To make sure the redesigned seat still looks right at home, the covers are made with the correct stitching, color, and grain (something Legendary is famous for). The new foam will produce a lot more bolstering without being too firm, and Legendary did a bunch of R&D before settling on what it considers the perfect durometer.
We ordered up a set for a ’66 Chevelle and tackled the install. After completing the job, we found it to be pretty involved. If you have restored and recovered a few sets of seats then you can probably do it. If these are going to be your first set, we recommend having a professional upholstery shop handle it for you. We never like to discourage any of you from doing it yourself, but the job is a bit more difficult than doing it with stock stuff.
We are doing an overview of the installation and give you enough information to see if this is a job for you or not. We also will give you a nice comparison to a freshly restored stock seat so you can really see how they differ.
1 Here are the Rallye foam pieces. They are made to fit over a stock set of springs and attach just like factory. The foam features higher bolster areas on the cushion and backrest. The center seating areas are as stock, so your head won’t get pushed up into the headliner.
2 The supporting (and supportive) covers. These are made from the same color and grain vinyl used on the originals. Even thought these covers are shaped differently than the originals to accommodate the new bolstering on the foam, the pleats and stitching are as they came from the factory. They will match the back seat perfectly and will look right at home.
3 One more thing Legendary offers to help you create the best looking seats is this install kit. It comes with a dust mask, burlap to cover the springs, felt to protect the edge wire, paper-covered wire to be used for tie downs, and a roll of puffy cotton to fill in any loose areas you might encounter.
4 Before any new parts can be installed, all the old stuff needs to come off. The best way to remove hog rings is to use a set of diagonal pliers. Grab the hog ring with the pliers and twist, which will un-bend the ring and remove it. The hardware, which holds the backrest to the cushion, is hidden beneath the back of the cushion cover. Remove the bolts with a 1/2-inch socket and keep track of the plate/tab because there is a left and a right for each seat, and they won’t work if they get swapped side to side. The plates serve two functions—to hold the metal trim and provide a place to hog ring the cover.
5 With the springs exposed, you can find and replace any that are broken. If you do find a broken spring, you can grab new ones in the aftermarket world. Also, inspect the two metal wires that the listings were attached to. If they are bent or broken, cut new ones from the wire provided in the install kit and replace them. As mentioned earlier, this is where the center area of the cover will hook to and having new wire here will help later.
6 With our springs cleaned and painted, it was time to ready them for the foam. That starts by cutting a piece of burlap from the install kit like so.
7 The burlap is held to the springs with hog rings. The felt strip around the edge is held with the same hog rings. The felt and the burlap are used to keep the springs and edge wire from cutting through the foam.
8 Now we are going to prep the foam to be installed. That starts with cutting muslin (provided with the foam) into 10x14-inch pieces and a few 2x24-inch strips. Muslin is just a fancy term for thin material.
9 The newly cut muslin strips are glued onto the foam at key points, which are all mapped out in the instructions provided by Legendary. These strips will be used to attach the foam to the springs and also shape the foam to accept the cover.
10 Here is a look at how the muslin does its job. By pulling it inward and attaching it to the spring assembly it rolls the edge of the foam. This keeps the edge from photographing though the cover once its installed.
11 Here is a top view of the foam properly installed on the springs. This should also give you a good idea of how much bolster Legendary put into the Rallye seats.
12 With the foam securely in place, the new cover can follow. The wire from the install kit is cut to length and slipped inside the listing sewn along the insert area of the cover. Then it’s lined up along the front edge and hog rings are used to hold it down along the insert. You will need to push the hog rings through the foam and try to grab the wire below. In this situation, you are working blind, so the new wire you installed earlier should help.
13 With the center listings hog ringed in place, set the assembly outside in the sun for a few minutes. The heat will soften the vinyl and make it more workable, which you are going to need for the next couple of steps.
14 This is where we are going to turn the cover right side out, but first the rear tie down needs to be hog ringed to keep the cover from trying to pull too far forward.
15 To get the cover rolled over correctly you will need to first make sure the edge is lined up with the foam as seen here. You want the salvage (or the stuff below the stitching) to lie on the side of the foam, not on top.
16 Now use one hand to push the material outward while the other pulls it over the edge.
17 Keep rolling your hand till the material...
18 … flops over center. Then you can massage the cover a bit to work out the wrinkles.
19 With the cover right side out you can slip new wire into the listing and attach it to the seat frame, completing the cover install. The backrest will go together pretty much the same way, but there are some differences in the foam, so let’s go into that.
20 After cleaning the springs and adding the burlap, the foam is glued directly to the frame along the top.
21 The corners are pushed inside the frame (arrow) and a piece of muslin is sprayed with glue.
22 The muslin is used to cover the edge of the foam and also cover over the corner seam, smoothing it out. From here the cover is installed just like the cushion, cover center listings first. Then turn it right side out and hog ring the perimeter.
23 That completes the Rallye Seat build up. As you can probably tell, it’s a pretty involved install, so if this is your first attempt at a seat resto you might want to enlist the help of a pro, or at the very least a friend with more experience than you. To give you and idea of the difference between a stock seat and the Rallye seat, we took these comparison shots. The factory seat will be on the left while the Rallye is on the right.
24 From this view you can see the huge difference in the cushion bolster area.
25 This above shot shows the difference in the bolstering on the backrest.
26 And this shows the seats in the car with a driver. One key point to note is even though the new seat has more bolstering to hold you in place, look at our driver’s head height. You will notice the new seat is not pushing him up into the headliner. Legendary did its homework in this department.