Imperial Home Page -> Repair -> Interior -> Leather Seats -> 1973 Old
When I first purchased the '73 it was in rough shape body wise. Obviously, repairing the body was the first step and then some mechanical work was necessary. If you would like to read my experiences with that part of my project, please click here!!
But, now on to the interior. The seats were pretty solid. The two tone leather looked pretty good except for some cat claw marks, primarily on the passenger top. It was not until I took the car to the upholstery shop to have the vinyl top installed that I realized the leather was not two tone but just badly faded. Don't know why I had not really noticed but it was obvious once it was pointed out to me.
At the fall 2000 Anniston gathering, I was told of some products by a company called Leatherique. They had conditioners, dyes, and most importantly, crack fillers! The first day back home, I checked out their web site. Shortly later, I sent them a sample of unfaded leather from below the back seat. A week or so later, along came a box with 5 products. The first was the leather conditioner, called Rejuvenator Oil. This product penetrates leather and restores it's original suppleness. Stains and dirt float to the surface and are removed with another product called Pristine clean.
These products are best applied in hot weather as the oil is absorbed into the leather better. I started the rejuvenation process last fall and by February 2001, my leather was in pretty good shape. Unfortunately, I did not take any photos of the process but have on the 64 seats which will be described in chapters 3 and 4.
The easiest thing to do for me was remove the seats. On an Imperial, this is pretty easy, although the front seats require two strong backs and weak minds to get them out of the car. Where possible I broke the seats down into components so I could get to every surface easier.
The custom dye is water based and will dye both leather and vinyl. Originally, I had planned on doing both but when I got the seats out, I realized the vinyl was nearly perfect and had a very nice subtle shade texture that would be lost if I dyed it. Therefore, I decide to only do the leather. The following shots show the extent of the fading:
This shot is worth looking at the full size photo by double clicking on the thumbnail: What you see are about 50 holes caused by a cat clawing at the leather. #$@%%&^*. The first thing I did was take a razor blade and trim off all the flaps that stuck up. It is a serious pucker factor to take a razor to your leather seats!
Once the leather has been softened and cleaned, the instructions from Leatherique say to remove any old, scaly dye and rough up the area to be dyed by wet sanding with 180 then 320 wet or dry sandpaper.
I kept wiping the surface with a clean towel before the residue dried. Once all the sanding is finished, wipe the material down with a clean rag and the prepping agent. This leave a perfectly clean surface for the dye.
Now for the fun part, fixing all the darn holes. It is important not to get the crack filler into areas where you don't want it, i.e., cracks and holes. It can fill the natural texture of the leather if you put it on with a trowel. They suggest a toothpick and that's what I used. The filler is the consistency of very thick paint and a good sized drop will hold on the toothpick. Larger cracks and holes require multiple coats of filler. I learned to work toward myself instead of away after I put my hand in the fresh filler. Lesson #1.
I also had several small spots where the 'skin' of the leather had worn away down to the suede. I also put a couple coats of crack filler on these areas to 'resurface' the leather. Holes in leather can be fixed by gluing a patch to the back side of the leather and filling remaining hole with coats of filler. Fortunately, there were no holes in the seats so I did not have to try this out.
Continue on to the next chapter, Part Two - The 1973 Imperial's New Interior: The Solution
This page last updated October 25, 2001. Send us your feedback, and come join the Imperial Mailing List - Online Car Club.