With Fox body Mustangs now surpassing the 20-year mark since their production ended, the need for many of these cars to have their interiors restored is more apparent than ever. Fortunately LateModelRestoration.com specializes in virtually everything for 1979 and newer Mustangs. In this case they provide many new, and reproduction pieces necessary to give any Mustang’s interior a makeover worthy of a cable TV show.
Our 1988 Mustang, Project Rehab, could definitely use an interior makeover. The car’s original scarlet interior has suffered more than it’s share of years of neglect, abuse, and outdoor living. Restoring and restyling the interior of a car can have a dramatic impact on enjoying time behind the wheel. LateModelRestoration.com provided us with everything necessary to bring our Fox’s interior back up to showroom quality. While there might be an argument for retaining the scarlet interior color, we’d prefer to take the Henry Ford approach in this case – any color you want, so long as it’s black. So not only are we replacing many of the worn out pieces and parts on Rehab, we’re also converting the interior to a color that’s less likely to induce road rage.
We sell Fox body Mustang parts because we have an extreme passion for these Mustangs. At some point, almost every employee has owned a Fox Body Mustang. -Jeff Jimenez, LateModelRestoration.com
LateModelRestoration.com was eager to help us with our interior restoration project for Project Rehab. We spoke with the company’s Jeff Jimenez about why Fox body Mustangs are so important to them, “We sell Fox body Mustang parts because we have an extreme passion for these Mustangs. At some point, almost every employee at LatemodelRestoration.com has owned a Fox body Mustang.”
Ford stopped making most new parts for the Fox body long ago. However, LateModelRestoration.com purchased much of the tooling available to continue to manufacture those parts. “Many of our 5.0Resto parts are made from Ford original tooling. Just because the Ford original parts are no longer available from a dealer doesn’t mean you can’t have Ford Original parts. 5.0Resto has spent the last 14 years working hard to bring Mustang enthusiast quality restoration parts,” says Jimenez.
Tearing down the interior in a Fox body is a little time consuming, especially if you’re accustomed to working on late-model Mustangs. There a large number of screws, bolts, nuts, and clip fasteners holding everything together. We began by getting the stock seats out of the way, followed with the center console. With the console removed we took out the instrument cluster and the plastic dash shell.
We then removed all of the interior trim surrounding the carpet and headliner, even the rear seat panels. Finally we pulled out the the carpet, headliner, and package tray.
Initially when we purchased Project Rehab we thought we had one minor soft spot in our floor pans. Upon tearing out the interior we found that there were three holes in the floorpan that would have to be addressed. Editor Creason spent the better part of a day working on his welding and fabrication skills to cut out the old rot and secure new metal.
We could have opted to replace the floor pans, but that is a much larger job. It’s also a great deal more expensive and something not in our plan for Project Rehab. Since the remainder of the floor pan is in good condition we simply chose to take the patching route.
Paint or Dye?
Jimenez recommended either locating a factory black dash and console shell, or finding another way to recolor those parts.
After consulting with some friends in the automotive paint and restoration business, the general consensus was to use automotive exterior black paint. We loaded a cheap HVLP spray gun with paint and went to work. It took about a quart of mixed paint to cover the dash and console with three coats. The end results look great and we should have a lasting finish on our dash and console.
LateModelRestoration.com sent us a large quantity of their interior spray dye, part number FV7 which we used on our rear panels, A-pillar trim, and kick panels. As with any paint work the secret here is good prep. We cleaned each part individually and then wiped it down with a solvent based cleaner before applying the dye. This gave us the best overall results and should last a long time.
In talking with Jimenez about the dash and console, he recommended either finding an OEM black dash or an alternative to the dye. Apparently some customers had issues with the dyeing the dash and console.
Taking this advice, we chose to use automotive exterior paint. It provided a relatively quick and easy way to paint the two large pieces with their complex curves.
Project Rehab was originally equipped with base model cloth seats. 25 years later, those seats have definitely seen better days. The recline mechanism was broken on both front seats giving them the notorious “gangsta lean”. They were also covered with cheap parts store seat covers…and when we removed those we found out why. We nearly gagged at the fade, wear and tear, and enough dirt to make us regret not going through a high level decontamination after every drive
The rear seats were a weird looking combination of orange and mauve due to years of sun exposure. The foam was in decent condition, with no real signs of wear – probably from a nearly complete lack of usage.
LateModelRestoration.com sent us a set of Corbeau A4 front seats in black cloth, along with matching upholstery for our rear seats, this starts out as a kit with the Corbeau GTS seats, however we upgraded to the A4’s. The base part number for this kit is: CS-20301A-K. This new upholstery kit came about as part of a partnership with LateModelRestoration.com and seat manufacture Corbeau. “We knew that the Corbeau seat material did not match the factory rear seat material. Since we knew that Corbeau seats are such a good replacement option to severely worn out Fox Mustang seats we developed the Corbeau seat package that includes rear Corbeau upholstery. We wanted to ensure Mustang enthusiasts get a package that can provide new performance seats for the front and matching style for the rear,” says Jimenez.
The A4 seats not only look great, they’re also extremely comfortable and their side bolsters provide great support. They also feature leg supports in the seat bottom that is deeper than our original base seats, allowing for greater comfort, especially on long drives.
We also received the correct seat tracks to install our seats on, ensuring a safe installation as well proper operation and seat height. Reupholstering the rear seats took only a couple of hours to do properly and the front seats installed in about a half hour…including the time it took to install the seat tracks.
… We wanted to ensure Mustang enthusiasts get a package that can provide new performance seats for the front and matching style for the rear. -Jeff Jimenez, LateModelRestoration.com
Carpet takes a beating in any car; your shoes grind dirt, dust, rocks, and oils into it. Drinks get spilled, fast food goes flying, and it has to bear your weight as you enter and exit the car. It’s also a nasty place for water to remain in the event of something like a heater core leak. We found evidence of moisture in Rehab’s carpet near all of our rusty areas, this was likely due to outdoor wet weather exposure combined with the holes from the rust.
LateModelRestoration.com sent us new carpet for Project Rehab. This carpet is manufactured by Auto Custom Carpet, and is made from better than OE materials. The backing material and jute-backing sound deadener are also better than OE quality. This black carpet is an inexpensive upgrade, and is part number ACC-8293CP-BLK.
The new ACC carpet is already molded to fit the interior of the car, we simply had to cut a few holes for the seat bolts, seat belts, shifter, parking brake, and console mount.
When taking on a project of this size, installing the carpet first is a good idea. Not only does it make the most sense because of all the trim that will follow around it, it also prevents you from damaging newly refinished or installed parts during installation.
Overhead and Behind
Rivaling our A4 seats on the cool factor are the 5.0Resto brand headliner and package tray. We have replaced these components in the past on other Fox body cars. With both parts great care has to be taken to remove the old material from the thin cardboard or composite wood backing. All of the old glue must be scraped away, then repairs made to any damage areas and install new material, which must be trimmed to fit.
LateModelRestoration.com has taken the hassle out of this tedious and messy job. They sent us a new headliner, and package tray already installed on their boards. What makes this even better though is that both are installed on upgraded board material. Rather than use a composite wood or cardboard material, the pieces are made of vacuum moulded ABS plastic. This material is sturdier than the original, won’t crack easily, and will outlast the original headliner. There’s also no guessing as to if the headliner is laid out properly, or if the fabric was glued on correctly.
Our headliner came as a kit with new sunvisors, and is part number: LRSSV1559-K. Our package tray part number is: LRS46668P.
The same holds true for the package tray. We also noticed that our original package tray and headliner had perforations in the backing material. There are no such perforations present in our replacement parts, meaning they look like they will also provide slightly better sound deadening, another added benefit.
Going Back Together
Jimenez recommends for a project of this size to make a check list and put it in chronological order of how the interior should go back together. This breaks a large project such as this into smaller segments or goals and ensures you aren’t taking things apart a second time because you forgot something.
With our headliner, rear panels, and rear seats in place, we went about reinstalling our plastic dash. This is actually easier than you might think – it’s simply held in place with a multitude of screws. Once the dash was in place we reinstalled the console and the associated parts.
Center Arm Rest
The center arm rest has long been a subject of debate in Fox body Mustangs. It’s a love it or hate it kind of thing. We like having something there to rest on during long drives, but we will admit it’s a heavy part that can be cumbersome to deal with at times.
Since this is a part that sees a lot of contact we opted to replace the lid and dye the rest of the assembly. LateModelRestoration.com sent us a new black vinyl lid and matching inner shell kit to repair our old center arm rest part number LRS0624N-K. This piece is just one more item that makes the car feel brand new inside.
One thing often overlooked on both interior conversions such as ours, and in restorations of older vehicles are the seat belts. Regardless of your opinion, wearing one is mandatory in nearly every state and after 25 years ours were not only the wrong color, but were thoroughly worn out.
We replaced all of our seat belts with new ones from LateModelRestoration.com including the buckles. This will ensure that not only do our seat belts match the interior, but they also will keep us secure in the event that we actually need them one day. Our front seat belt set is part number LRS61109-AK, while the rear seat belt set is part number LRS-61168LP.
These belts are made from new material, and are an easy bolt in replacement. They retract nicely, and lock better than any Fox body belt we can remember, even when we were riding in these cars when they were new.
Our door panels are another set of 5.0Resto parts. We ordered deluxe panels, part number LRS-32942F. These include the panel material already glued to the plastic backing. This too is an upgraded backing over the original factory wood material.
Rehab’s old door panels came off easily, in part due to the worn out retaining clips. We also noticed that a previous owner of the car had used six sheet metal screws to secure the driver’s panel at the bottom. He could have easily just replaced the worn clips as there was no physical problem with the doors.
We had dyed our lower arm rest, however we installed new arm rest pads, part number LRS-24141A-K, before installing them on our new doors. LateModelRestoration.com also sent us the matching plugs to cover the arm rest bolts.
Project Rehab’s turn signal and wiper switch was literally worn out. The wiper switch would not turn any more, and the condition of the connectors was questionable as well. LateModelRestoration.com sent us a new Motorcraft switch, part number SW2443, to replace our old one. Not only does this switch function better but with our restored interior it also lends to the “like new” appearance.
Interior and trim work is something that any average enthusiast can do. This was a large project since it was a complete interior restoration. We would estimate it took about 40 hours of labor start to finish to do this entire project properly. That includes about 6-8 hours for teardown, and a full day to prep and paint/dye parts, a full day for patching the floor pans, and the rest of the time is spent in careful reassembly. Having the interior of your Mustang looking nice is not only a way to be more comfortable, but even on a ragged looking car like Project Rehab it greatly increases enjoyment of the car.
Part Numbers Used:
- CS-20301A-K: Corbeau Front Seat Kit with Tracks and Matching Rear Seat Cloth
- SW2443: Motorcraft Mutli-function/Turn Signal switch for 87-89 Mustang
- LRS61109-AK Front Seat Belt Kit
- LRS-61168LP: Rear Seat Belt Kit
- ACC7993BLK-110: Floor Mats with Mustang Logo Embroidered
- LRS0624N-K: Center Console Armrest Kit
- MET-FV7: Black Interior Dye
- LRS13208-BF: 5.0 Logo Scuff Plates
- LRS46668P: Rear Package Tray
- LRSSV1559-K: Headliner and Sunvisor Kit
- LRS-3783-C: Dome light lens
- LRS-32942F: Door Panels
- LRS-24141A-K: Door Panel Arm Rest Pad Kit
- LRS24057-APR: Door Arm Rest Plugs Left Side
- LRS24056-APR: Door Arm Rest Plugs Right Side
- LRS-21850BP: Door Lock Knobs
- ACC-8293CP-BLK: Black Carpet For 82-93 Coupe/Hatchback
- LRS-N802900-KIT: Door panel removal tool and new clip set