Imperial Home Page -> Repair -> Interior -> Leather Seats -> 1964 New
The color on the '64 is a pearlescent white with a high gloss. George at Leatherique custom matched the color and sent 3 products. The dye, some metallic paste, and a glaze. Unfortunately, the instructions were for the one part dye and did not discuss the metallic paste or the glaze. Calling the helpful folks at Leatherique (Kristi and I are on first names) I was told that the paste should be applied with a soft cloth after the dye had cured a day and the next day the glaze could be applied.
The dye comes in a tall squeeze bottle but do not be temped to just shake it up and start painting. There are solids in the paint that need to be stirred in with a paint stirrer so pour it into a clean plastic container and stir away. I then poured a working quantity into a paper cup using some neat paper funnels I found somewhere. (looks like a snow cone cup with the point snipped off but works great)
I painted the 73 seats with these two paint brushes but decided to try an airbrush. It worked well so I covered the remaining fabric with plastic to keep over-spray off the fabric. The airbrush puts on a fairly thin coat so I did about 4 coats. It is possible to get a run. When I did, I used the small brush to wipe the run off. The dye is self leveling so I could never find where I had wiped a run away. It took about 5 hours to do all the seats in the base dye.
The next morning, I experimented with the metallic paste. It's pretty stiff, about the consistency of cake icing. Since I was not too sure how it was supposed to work, an experiment on a scrap seat was in order. According to Kristi, the paste is supposed to work into the leather but it seemed to me that it just gave it an 'antiqued' look something like my wife and did to some unfurnished furniture back in the 70's. There did not appear to be any 'sticky' to the paste and I reasoned that it just dried on the surface and the glaze sealed it in place. Since it was on the weekend, I decided to experiment with applying it with the airbrush. The paste will mix with water in proportions of about 4-5 (water) to 1 (paste). It MUST be shaken vigorously to mix it well. Otherwise it settles to the bottom of the airbrush jar and plugs up the gun. The good news is its easy to blow out with an air hose. The bad news is that you have to stop and blow it out with an air hose. It took about 3 coats and I probably should have stopped at two. Too much metallic looks a little dingy. Also runs are pretty easy to get and must be repaired quickly. Just a series of dustings are what you want.
The clear glaze goes on straight out of the bottle. Shake well. I applied 3 light coats with the air brush.
As I assembled the seats, I realized that they looked much better than new. They look excellent "original". That is, they have character lines and imperfections. The metallic particles lends a patina to the finish that looks 'used'.
One distressing event that happened while I was reassembling the front seat was that if fell off the work surface. No serious harm was done other than a new scrape or two.
The moral of that story is to move the seat adjuster forward so the seat is balanced. With the seat in the full back position, it wants to fall over backward, go boom! Make Daddy say ugly words.
The Leatherique products are as advertised. The office staff is courteous and helpful although their instructions are somewhat vague. A few photos would be most helpful and probably save them a bunch of phone calls. The Rejuvenator oil and Pristine Clean visibly soften the leather and definitely remove dirt. The custom dyes are exceptionally well matched and cover well. As George said to me, "Prep is everything". Time will tell how good a job I did and if there are any adverse reactions to my approach but for now I'm thrilled. (George later told me that using the airbrush to apply the diluted metallic was fine. He also said that if the prep was done correctly, the new finish should last as long as the original) I had an estimate on these seats of 6-700 just to redo the leather in vinyl. Who knows what leather replacement would cost? Much more than the cost of these products.
This is a project that could be done by anyone reasonably handy. No special tools are required although an airbrush is nice. I definitely recommend taking the seats out and apart.
This page last updated October 25, 2001. Send us your feedback, and come join the Imperial Mailing List - Online Car Club.