Lancaster Insurance’s project Golf GTI
Rather than just deep cleaning the prize Golf’s interior, the decision was taken to go the whole hog and have all the seats re-trimmed using a period VW material complemented by smart black leather bolsters
Rather than deep clean the seats on Lancaster’s prize GTI, the decision was taken to have the seats professionally recovered.
After installing the upgraded audio system in Lancaster Insurance’s prize MkI Golf GTI, this ultra smart 1981 registered example continues to attract a massive amount of attention at all the events it attends. Not only that, but the excitement of who could drive the car away when the winner is announced later this year is starting to mount.
As well as steadily improving the car before handing it over to the lucky winner, the Golf’s been out and about up and down the country on display at several events. From its base in Redditch, the Golf travelled down to Dorset in mid-July where it was on display at the Lancaster Insurance Classic & Supercars Show at Sherborne Castle and over the final weekend of August the GTI attended CarFest South in Hampshire as part of the Sporting Bears’ Dream Rides fleet.
The Sporting Bears are a dedicated group of classic car and sports car enthusiasts who work hard to raise money for children’s charities by offering enthusiasts ‘Dream Rides’ in a vast range of classic and exotic cars. The ‘Bears’ as they are affectionately known attend a host of events throughout the year and although an impressive selection of motoring exotica was lined up alongside Lancaster’s Golf, several visitors made generous donations for their own personal ‘Dream Ride’ in the GTI – and who could blame them for choosing so wisely! REUPHOLSTERING While all this gallivanting around the countryside is great publicity for promoting the prize Golf to potential competition entrants, we still have to find time to continue preparing the car for its lucky new owner. So after having another good poke around the interior, a decision was taken to renew all the seat facings rather than just clean them up. A close examination revealed signs of wear starting to show on the driver’s side bolster and the underlying foam in some of the seats had started to collapse.
After having a chat with Dave Tedstone at Autoretrim.co.uk, it was decided the best way forward would be to book the car into his workshop and have the Golf’s seats professionally reupholstered. As Dave explained, “You could just deep clean all the seat backs and squabs on this car, but don’t forget the fabric will have stretched over the years. Even if you removed the covers and repaired the damaged padding, it’s virtually impossible to regain the original shape and get a good fit”.
Fortunately Heritage Parts Centre was able to supply a length of original patterned cloth for the MkI GTI’s seats and instead of choosing the original red striped seat facings; it was decided to opt for the grey striped material instead. The side bolsters on the Golf’s seats were originally cloth with vinyl side panels but Dave suggested redoing these in black leather. He reckoned the difference in price between the two materials would be very little and the finished result would look much better.
Once the seats had been removed from the Golf, the first thing Dave did was to start carefully stripping the old
covers off the seats. In some places the covers are held in place with circular metal staples called hog rings. After the covers on the driver’s seat had been removed, Dave showed us the state of the foam padding. Where the foam fitted around the metal frame, it had started to disintegrate in some places and Dave reckoned that although this looked bad, it was a relatively easy job to sort out.
As new seat foams aren’t readily available, Dave patiently cut out all the damaged padding and spliced in pieces of new foam. Once the adhesive had cured, a thin cutting disc mounted on a angle grinder quickly adjusted the profile of the repair. However, Dave reckoned that if doing this at home, its probably better not to use an angle grinder but to use a sharp craft knife instead.
When all the damaged foam had been replaced, the next stage was to take one cover at a time and cut the stitching securing the seams. Once all the separate panels were lined up on the bench, they were steamed and carefully stretched out to regain their original shape. Dave reckoned its very important to do this, as the next stage was to trace the profile of each stretched out panel onto a piece of stiff cardboard to make a template.
Once all the templates for each of the new covers had been drawn out, the individual panels were cut out of the new material. We asked Dave why he didn’t use existing templates from a similar job and we were told how he prefers to make the new covers as exact replicas of the originals so they perfectly fit the frame.
Working on one seat at a time, it didn’t take Dave too long to sew all the freshly cut panels together and produce a brand new set of very smart looking seat covers.
Each finished cover, which included hard wearing edge piping, was then carefully stretched over the repaired padding and secured to the seat frame where necessary with new hog rings – a special tool is required to close these rings and these can be obtained from specialist suppliers such Woolies Trim (www. woolies-trim.co.uk). Before putting the re-trimmed seats back into the Golf, the carpets were shampooed and with the seat fitted back into the car, the retrimmed interior looks fantastic – and the GTI even has that brand new car smell.
The next job will be to give the Golf a service and while the car’s on the ramp we’ll be attending to a small oil leak recently discovered around the rocker box cover. This is only a minor fault and we’ll show how we fitted a new gasket and serviced the car in next month’s issue of Classics Monthly.
Had this patterned material not been available, the Golf’s seats would have probably been re-trimmed in leather. This natural material is not that much more expensive than good quality cloth or, dare we say it, automotive grade vinyl.
Even the headrests on the Golf’s front seats were recovered in black leather to match the new side bolsters.
The padding on the driver’s side bolster had been very badly damaged. This split was due to the foam being continuously pressed onto the metal frame of the seat back and the whole area required a major repair before the new cover could be fitted to the backrest.
There were several instances where the metal seat frame had badly damaged the foam padding. New material had to be carefully grafted into these areas and shaped so the profile perfectly matched the surrounding area.
Three of the finished seats waiting to go back into the Golf’s freshly cleaned interior.
The freshly reupholstered seats and deep cleaned carpets have certainly transformed the Golf’s tired looking interior.
The Golf’s recovered back seat look particularly smart in the new black and grey material.
All the carpets came up a treat after being deep cleaned. Note how the recently fitted JVC amplifier had to be located beneath one of the front seats.