Corvettes are meant to be driven to experience the full exhilaration and adrenaline rush they can deliver on a daily basis. There’s nothing better than climbing into a well-settled interior that’s aged over the years to head out on the open road with a perfect level of comfort while you’re at the controls.
As the decades pass, however, that business office has experienced plenty of hard use and exposure to the elements, including blistering heat, cold, sun and rain. Truth be told, one good look at your bucket seats tell quite a story. Your once pristine seats are showing their age, which might include tears, pleat separation, dry rot, sagging and stains. If you are trying to revive a barn find that wasn’t stored properly, see all of the above and even include mildew and mold. This can especially be true with a 50-plus-year-old car.
When it comes time to address interior issue there’s no better solution than to call on the professionals who can help guide you through the restoration process. The team at Corvette America can readily lend a hand, as they are one of the country’s leading suppliers of finely crafted Corvette interior products and parts since 1977. They have decades of experience in research and development to offer through their experts, who devote their skills to C1 through C6 Corvettes exclusively at their Reedsville, Pennsylvania, facility.
On a recent visit to Corvette America we were able to follow the step-by-step process of the complete restoration of a pair of ’68 C3 bucket seats that had clearly seen better days. Since they offer complete in-house restoration services it’s as easy as placing a call to one of their team members to schedule the delivery of your tired seats to get the full treatment. This article covers the complete disassembly process as well as the restoration of the seat frames by blasting them clean, inspecting and repainting them with a fresh, gloss-black coat. Your seat tracks also suffer from plenty of abuse where dirt and debris can severely impede their smooth operation. Corvette America’s complete reconditioning service includes mediablasting, inspecting, washing, painting and final lubrication to bring them back to better-than-new condition. If a part needs to be repaired or replaced they are available for an additional fee. Let’s follow along while the Corvette America team works their magic. Vette
1. As is plainly obvious, these ’68 Corvette bucket seats on the inspection platform have definitely seen better days. The driver’s seat (right) in particular is well-worn, torn in places and split open from the past 50 years of use and abuse. Corvette America’s complete seat rebuilding services will bring them back to better-than-new condition.
2. We followed along as Corvette America team member John Conway began the teardown starting with the removal of the seat pivot hardware using a Phillips head screwdriver.
3. He continued by removing the seatback bumpers. Note that all the hardware will be retained and inspected in case replacements are needed throughout the restoration process.
4. The seatback cover screws were removed in preparation for removing the upholstery.
5. Next, the screws securing the back release bezel were removed.
6. A hex key was then used to loosen and remove the seatback release button.
7. Here you can see the seatback now with all the hardware removed from the seatback release mechanism.
8. The seatback then simply slides up, exposing the inner seatback foam and hardware securing it in place.
9. While wearing suitable eye protection, use a side cutter to begin removing all of the hog rings, starting at the seatback base and working your way around the perimeter. This will allow for the removal of the upholstery once completed.
10. Carefully reach into the upper portion of the cover behind the headrest and separate the seat cover from the seat frame, then pull the frame toward you to remove the metal frame.
11. Now focusing on the inner seatback foam, grip the seatback while using a side cutter to carefully remove a number of corrugated wires from the foam pads. These are the wires that secure the seat cover seams in place. Existing wires can be reused or new ones can be purchased separately.
12. The top seatback foam used for the headrest is then gently peeled back and removed. It will be replaced with new foam.
13. In order to remove and service the seatback latch mechanism, the two release springs must first be carefully removed.
14. Next, the latches and hardware were removed using a standard socket wrench on the 5/8- and 3/8-inch bolts.
15. To complete the disassembly of the seatback, the chrome hinges were removed using a Phillips head screwdriver.
16. Focusing on the seat bottom, first the bottom bumper and bolt were removed.
17. This was followed by the removal of the seat bottom catch using a 5/16-inch socket wrench.
18. With the seat bottom flipped over, the left and right seat tracks are removed using a 3/8-inch socket wrench.
19. After the seat track adjustment knob is removed, gracefully slide the seat track out from the bezel.
20. The seat track adjuster bezel was then removed.
21. To begin the disassembly of the seat bottom, a side cutter was used to remove the hog rings.
22. Next, using a standard screwdriver, the seat bottom cover retainer clips were pried off the inner seat frame.
23. The bottom seat frame was the separated from the foam and upholstery cover.
24. While holding the seat bottom foam, use a side cutter to remove the corrugated wires from the pad. Retain these for evaluation for reinstallation later. Then peel back the upholstery cover to remove.
25. Thankfully our seat frames were in nice condition for their age. The top and bottoms were then bead blasted to thoroughly clean them, making them look fresh again.
26. Attached to each seat frame section is an ID tag confirming that they were manufactured in 1968 while also providing the GM part number for the seat frame section.
27. The seat tracks were then treated to a visit to the blasting cabinet, removing decades of grime and abuse.
28. Once out of the blaster, take your time blowing them clean to ensure all of the media is removed from the inner tracks.
29. The tracks were then thoroughly washed to remove any remaining debris and to ensure smooth operation then taken to the bench to be blown dry.
30. Once the seat frames were blown clean, they were brought into the spray booth and treated to a fresh coating of gloss black with rust inhibitor to make sure they will have plenty of protection once reassembly starts.
31. The seat tracks were then painted silver with rust inhibitor. Prior to installation they will be properly lubricated for a silky smooth operation.
32. The seat tracks were then painted silver with rust inhibitor. Prior to installation they will be properly lubricated for a silky smooth operation.