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Interior Upgrades

Recovering MGB seats

Although there is more detail below on fitting new seat sovers, it is worth noting that one should also keep in mind the cost of new seat foams and webbing.  The foams and webbing (or diaphragms) can cost as much as the seat covers themselves, so a complete seat recovering can run to in excess of £300 these days (2011).

I am fortunate enough to travel to Malaysia regularly so when I bought my 1966 MGB GT earlier this year, I took the old covers with me.  For £180 I got a beatiful new set in thick leather all over (many leather sets are only leather on the front panels).  These look superb and should last a lifetime!

It is possible to repair older, split covers.  I tried with mine and gave them copious quantities of leather feed which helped soften the leather.  Repairs to splits and tears can be dealt with by gluing a patch behind the cover to stop the split growing, and a quality repair can be almost invisible.  However the cost of professional repairs can run to more than new covers, so unless you are worried about losing the patina of aged covers, it's probably not worth it.

Fitting seat covers by Jonathan Moulds 2006

The factory standard "deck chair" style seats have never been particularly exciting on the MGB and GT. They came in two styles: A Grey pattern with blue go-faster stripes and in Orange with brown go-faster stripes. The grey seats have aged quite well and do not look too bad if I am honest. However, the orange seats are not very easy on the eye.

The next two photos illustrate the two interior options offered by MG in the late 70's.

Martin came through on business early on in July and brought with him his old V8 style seat covers and foams which made way for his MG ZR seats covered elsewhere on this website. So, after a few soft drinks and a short drive in Martins' ZT, I gave him £20 and he put his old covers in the boot of my GT.

Logic dictates that you remove the passenger seat first so you can make all your mistakes and learn how the seats go together whilst still having a drivable car. In order to recover the seats they must be removed from the car. To do this, slide the seat all the way back and remove the two bolts holding the runners to the floor then slide the seat as far forward as you can to remove the two rear bolts. The bolts that hold the seats to the floor go into captive nuts in the chassis rails. You may find that someone has had the seats out before and ruined the mounting points and has replaced the captive nut and bolt with a nut and bolt that pass right through the chassis member. Fortunately for me only one of these bodges was found on my car at the front of the drivers' side.

The original passenger seat removed from the car is the grey one shown above. The covers are in near mint perfection. I was careful when removing them as someone else might be able to make use of them. First job is to remove the screw holding the adjusting arm on the side of the seat and then pull it off. Next, remove the plastic trim at the bottom of the seatback again only one screw. I then chose to separate seat squab from seat base. This is a simple case of undoing a nut and bolt on either side of the seats.

The covers are held onto the seats by spring clips. The easiest way to remove these I found is to just lever them up with a large, flat headed screwdriver.

Once all these clips are removed it is just a matter of pulling off the covers, and unscrewing a cardboard panel on the back of the seat back.

I am almost certain that my passenger seat has never even been out of the car. The seat retained all original Abingdon features. These included BL stickers on the frames plus a BL triangle logo and "BL" lettering stamped into the old seat foam plus a part number.

Here is the seat stripped to its component parts

I decided that I would not have to strip the frames down any further and paint them as they were in excellent condition and unusually rust free! Reassembling a seat is more or less the reverse of the strip down to quote a certain automotive workshop manual publication. Pop the new foams on and then cover with some plastic to aid the fitment of the covers. The covers should be turned inside out and then rolled out onto the seat like putting on a thick sock. The cover must then be clipped to the frame. I tended to place the clips on roughly in the right place and then twist them a quarter turn with pliers to get the right tension on the fabric.

Here's the first seat rebuilt.

…Then reinstalled in the BGT.

The drivers seat was even easier to restore than the passenger seat, as by this time I knew what I was doing.

As you can see the drivers side covers were pretty worn out

It's quite amazing how much space the seats actually take up in the car. You can see that the drivers' seat desperately needed new foams as it had begun to shed foam all over my carpet!

Here's what is left of the foam when I took the seat apart. Perhaps I should take it as an incentive to make the driver a bit lighter!

After repeating the process for the passenger seat on the drivers' seat I ended up with something that looked like this… What an improvement!

Only thing left to do is to bolt the seat back into the car.

Unfortunately this left me with a problem. I had a great set of black V8 style seats but I still had the deckchair rear seat. Perry Stephenson said I was welcome to swap my rear seat for his Factory original V8 bench seat. He took his bench seat out two years ago to lighten the car for drag racing. Curiously the rear bench seat is now the only genuine factory V8 part on the car! Thanks Perry.

It's not a perfect match, and I still haven't cleaned off the two years of dust accrued from Perry's loft, but unless you actually bothered to look I do not think you would notice the difference.

Cost:

Front seat foams and covers: £20 Rear bench seat: £ Straight swap for mine.

Generally, a set of front seat covers will start from around £90 in cloth/vinyl through to £200 for leather faced.

Another success story for the BGT V8 conversion on a tight budget! The addition of a walnut dash and shiny steering wheel also enhances the appearance!

 

Recovering MGB seats

MGB seat covers

If your seats are tired, sagging and just plain torn and dirty, recovering them is a fairly straight forward job and doesn't cost a lot.  New seat covers in vinyl or leather are readily available, as are second hand sets. 

This page gives you all the help you will need.