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

Classics Monthly - - Contents - WORDS & PHO­TOG­RA­PHY IAIN WAKE­FIELD

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 Au­tore­, 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. 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.

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