If a Camaro’s paint is all about eye candy for those outside the car, then the interior must surely be for the driver and passengers. Even if the exterior of a classic Camaro is nice, a shoddy interior can drag down the whole driving experience.
The good news is that the aftermarket makes it easy to restore your interior back to better-than-new status. While reproductions of just about every interior trinket are readily available, some companies are also churning out better-than-stock offerings. One such aftermarket company is TMI Classic Automotive Interiors. They’ve been producing high-quality interior restoration parts for years and are now delving into soft parts with a custom look.
Rather than just making exact replicas of the parts that originally came in our Camaros, TMI also focuses on making parts that fit the OEM seat frames, but have a more updated vibe. According to TMI’s Waylon Krumrie, “We wanted the stock seats to have a more modern style but still be true to the car and not look out of place.” Their new Sport-R seats have aggressive race-seat inspired side and thigh bolsters, French seams, and suede side inserts. Since they utilize the original factory seat frames, the overall cost of having killer seats in your Camaro are kept down. As for costs, the front seat foam has an MSRP of $150 per seat, and the covers pencil out for as little as $317 (front and rear kit). Also, in a time where it seems that more and more replacement parts are coming in from overseas, all of TMI’s products are produced at their factory in Corona, California.
1. Our ’67 came to us with a factory bench seat. Given this, we didn’t have the original buckets. We searched about and couldn’t find any decent cores to work with so we ordered new seat frames from Ground Up (PN ISA-67R, $299 each). The frames worked out great since they were new and free of any broken springs or rust. They also came with all the hinges and latches already installed. The cost was somewhat offset by the $300 we got for the original bench seat.
2. Before installing the new TMI foam, we glued on a strip of some heavy-duty felt. Back in the day they used burlap, which you can still do, but the felt is a bit nicer and can be found at any fabric store.
3. The replacement foam is made in-house at TMI. The foam itself is an exact match for the OEM stuff, but the materials used are state-of-the-art polyurethane formulations that will resist breaking down over time.
4. The TMI foam has metal anchors called listing wires built into the sections. As Dean Satterfield of TMI told us, “This eases installation by allowing the upholstery to be hog-ringed to the listing wires in the foam rather than fight through the foam to find a spring on the underside. This alone can save up to an hour per seat as well as hand and wrist pain from pushing so hard.” The foam base was secured to the frame at the four corners using lengths of wire. These wires were pushed through the foam (and the metal anchor points) then wrapped around the seat base and twisted.
5. For our Camaro, we decided to roll with TMI’s Sport R covers. The modern stitching and aggressive bolsters will give our seats a very modern look. We also opted for the suede insert panels and accent grommets. TMI offers a ton of different material, stitching, and accent options. MSRP for the complete kit (front foam and front/rear covers) was $950, but the street price at dealers like Ground Up, is just under $800. Compared to having seats custom-stitched, that’s a hell of a deal.
6. Heavy wire (you can use metal coat hangers in a pinch) was cut to length and slid into the seat covers at all the points where the covers would be tucked into the foam. We also made sure there were no sharp edges on the ends of the rods. Three rods were used for the seat bottom.
7. This made for a much more secure attachment point than just hog-ringing the material to the anchors in the foam.
8. The front seat can be somewhat tricky to re-cover, so we would recommend having a skilled upholstery shop do the deed. Nonetheless, it can be done if you take your time. One trick TMI showed us to help get the new covers over the foam was to use a sheet of thin plastic in between the two. This helped the new covers slide in place over the seatbacks.
9. The seat cover was then pulled over the TMI foam and wrangled into position. If you’re new to doing this, then it might take a couple of attempts to get it on and aligned properly.
10. Once aligned, the edges were brought over the seat frame. You can also see how we used some heavy tape on the seat edge to cover a few sharp spots.
11. Around the bottom edge of the seat cover there is a stiff plastic rail. This rail was brought over the edge of the seat frame and then rotated around, locking the cover to the seat.
12. And here you can see how it looks when locked into place.
13. The very back edge on both corners needed to be hit with some spray glue and secured around the edge of the seat frame.
14. At this point we needed to make few holes to accommodate the seat latch, seat bumper, and hinge pins. Remember, check twice and cut once.
15. Lastly, we bolted on the new seat sliders from Ground Up (PN IST-1054, $99 pair). Nothing beats the look of fresh parts.
16. Like the seat bottom, we started on the seatback by wrapping the edge in some heavy felt.
17. In addition to the spray glue, we secured the felt with hog rings at the four corners.
18. The new TMI foam was secured to the seatback with four wires, just like the seat bottom foam was. The seat covers feature durable polyester cross-linked backing. TMI feels that polyester performs far better than the cotton used in the original and in some aftermarket covers. It costs a little more but allows TMI to offer a limited lifetime warranty on their covers.
19. Heavy wires were inserted into the channels in the covers. These were hog-ringed to the anchors in the foam.
20. It took two attempts to get the cover on straight and even, but it wasn’t rocket science. Once in place, we pulled it taut in preparation for hog-ringing it to the frame.
21. The process was pretty simple. We pulled the material tight and then used hog rings to secure the edge of the cover to anchor points in the seat frame.
22. One handy tool that you’re unlikely to have is an upholstery steamer. TMI used this to soften the material and work out a few wrinkles in the corners.
23. We had two new seatback covers from Ground Up (PN ICI-1021, $60 pair) and we could have just installed them as they came, but TMI decided to wrap them in some matching black vinyl for a more custom look. The extra material didn’t come in the kit, but TMI does sell it when requested.
24. The last step was to assemble the seatback to the bottom and adjust the latch. The whole process for the one seat took under two hours.
25. The end result is a classic seat given a modern makeover. As an added bonus, the bolstering will keep us in place much better when we decide to push our Camaro through the curves of a twisty road or autocross track.
26. We also covered our back seat to match. This process was as simple as removing the old cover, positioning the new one, and hog-ringing it to the factory seat frame. TMI offers the rear cover for standard, coupe, and convertible rear seats.
27. Remember how we said TMI offers a ton of seat options? Well, here are just a few. In addition to houndstooth, you can have a standard or deluxe style, suede inserts, contrasting stitching, black or silver grommets, and they will even do custom orders. You can also see their new second-gen seat posed in the middle. These kits are a great option for giving your Camaro that custom look without breaking the bank. In fact, although our optioned seats had a price tag of $800, you can get their standard Sport II kit (covers and foam) for as little as $499.