Inside Out – A Guide to What’s New in Interior Components
Your classic vehicle’s interior is just as important as the exterior and even the driveline when you really think about it. In fact, the interior is like renovating your kitchen or living room. You want comfort and certain amenities, but you also want the right style and feel to match your car or truck.
There are a lot of components and choices to make when considering the interior. We’re not talking about simply the colors and fabrics to choose, but also seats, door handles, pedals, switches, knobs, vents and more. In fact, you can even get macro and choose a certain style stitching on your custom seats!
We set out to find some of the latest components and offerings that go between your doors and found no shortage of products. Even if your ride is done and on the road there are plenty of neat accessories that add a little zing, or behind-the-scenes insulation kits that can help quiet and cool your interior to improve the driving (and riding) experience. Your interior should be comfy and make you happy every time you get behind the wheel – and we have plenty of companies ready to help you reach that goal.
There is no reason to settle for boring window cranks and door handles when you can reach out to the pros at Clayton Machine Works. The design team at Clayton is always coming up with stylish, cool new designs like their Truss style handles.
These handles and cranks will give your interior a high-quality vibe and great look. Each piece is CNC machined, powder coated and re-machined to create intricate details and highlights. The Truss series is offered for ’49-and-newer GM and Ford applications and all handles are supplied with mounting hardware.
McMillan Rod & Custom
Dash Dress Up
Attention to detail and custom touches are what will make your rod stand out from the others. When it comes to adding custom trim pieces to your door panels or dash, you can always turn to McMillan Rod & Custom.
With over 40 years of working with stainless steel trim and accessories, McMillan knows what it takes to finish a dash with style. McMillan offers a half-round solid stainless steel (type 304) with or without mounting studs and different end finishes. If you have an idea for a custom piece for your interior, look them up!
Image: Flaming River
It’s always nice to have one interior component provide multiple uses. As an example, Flaming River took its billet column mount and added both an ignition switch and a 12-volt accessory outlet. Having a built-in key and the charger supply saves you from putting more holes in your dash to retain a clutter-free interior.
The billet aluminum assembly is available in a couple different styles and three different drops including ¾-, 1¼- and 2-inch. The ignition key and accessory outlet are supplied along with a protective cover for the ignition. You can also mount a headlight switch in place of the charging outlet.
Quiter and Cooler
No longer does a hot rod need to be noisy with the interior of a sauna. Thermo-Tec offers an easy-to-install material called Thermo Guard FR that is designed to do it all; reduce noise, absorb vibration and protect against radiant heat.
Only ¼-inch thick, Thermo Guard FR features 100-percent synthetic fiber felt that provides sound and comfort control and a high-tech foil heat barrier that blocks more than 90-percent of radiant heat. It’s easy to install with a spray adhesive and can be trimmed to fit nearly anywhere.
When Peter Gabriel wrote his hit “Big Time,” could he have been thinking about the new 2 5/8-inch clocks from Classic Instruments? The new clocks are available in each design series in the Classic catalog as well as their all-in-one upgrades such as the Bel Era III or the Six Pack.
Each new fully electronic clock is supplied with the necessary adapter ring for a perfect fit and all wiring connections are made with an easy snap-in connection. The new larger face clocks are a useful accessory when you’re on the road and they look right at home in your dash by matching the other instruments.
Hagen Street Rod Necessities offers all sorts of components and solutions to help complete your project. For interiors, they offer a lot of different components and tools that will help you design and build your own door panels – with no sewing!
One example is their Teardrop Armrests (also available in a crescent shape). These are available in a dense urethane polymer that can be painted or covered as well as in teak wood. The armrests are 16-inches long and are supplied with a 16-gauge mounting bracket, billet pull and stainless hardware. Hagen has a number of how-to videos on their website so you can see what it takes to do-it-yourself.
Restored with Recline
Restored muscle cars are wonderful to own, work on and drive. However, for long drives, the seats may leave a little to be desired. Having the ability to recline the back makes a huge difference, but that luxury wasn’t available in most ’60s muscle cars. Distinctive Industries is changing that.
They recently introduced a fully assembled, stock-looking first-gen Camaro bucket seat that can be reclined! The seats are all new, including the seat tracks, and are available in factory-matching colors and patterns with the correct grains as well. Go original, but go in comfort!
Plug and Chug
Other than a beveled edge on the inside of the glovebox door, there was never even a thought of a cupholder in older cars. Today, a place to set your water bottle or quickie-mart soda are mandatory.
Cupholders Plus specializes in these handy accessories and their Plug N Chug cup holder fits right into the dash ashtray without having to make any modifications! They were designed for cars that don’t have space for a full console or for cars where the cup holder needs to be removed to maintain the original look while at shows. The Plug N Chug is available for many classic models and are available in over 40 different colors.
It’s hard to believe that seat belts weren’t mandated in vehicles until the mid-’60s, even though they were offered as options in many cases. Most of our rides are upgraded to lap belts, but the team at Seat Belts Plus now offers a 3-Point Conversion Belt Kit for many popular classics.
The kits are available in a number of lengths and colors to match nearly any interior and style. The 3-Point Retractable Seatbelt features a classic-style chrome lift latch, an adjustable lap and shoulder webbing that is 133-inches long (it can also be adjusted to a smaller length). The belts are crafted in the USA and mounting hardware is supplied.
Most road noise is caused by vibrations from metal panels that make up our hot rods and by stopping the vibrations, you’ll stop the noise. Second Skin Audio offers their Damplifier Pro material that is easy to install and extremely effective.
The Dampifier Pro material has two components; a butyl rubber compound engineered for performance and adhesion to the metal panels and an annealed foil constraint layer in black. The thin material has a temperature rating of -75- to 450-degrees Fahrenheit and is available in packages ranging from 6.6 sq-ft up to 120 sq-ft to finish a new project.
The amount of plastic used in second-gen Camaro interiors reached a new high for the era, leaving today’s enthusiasts searching for good used parts. Classic Industries recently introduced all new lower door panels for ’72-’77 Camaros, saving the day for many fans.
The new OER® panels are manufactured from quality injection-molded ABS material and designed with the factory correct grain finish for true authenticity. The complete set includes two pull handle inserts, the molded vinyl armrest pads, 12 metal clips to attach lower panel to upper panel, and mounting hardware to install the panels to your door. Available in black only, but easy to paint and all of the components are available separately.
Quiet Ride Solutions
Block the Heat
A serious amount of heat and noise blazes through the firewall of your hot rod, which might not be bad in these winter months but during summer cruising, no thank you! Quiet Ride Solutions offers a number of Thermal Acoustic Insulation Kits such as their AcoustiSHIELD as well as HeatShield Barrier panels.
One handy kit they offer is their line of Firewall Insulators. These kits are pre-cut and formed with either an ABS material or high-definition rubber mat depending on the application. Each assembly is then digitally cut with factory placed holes machined for a perfect fit. Quiet Ride offers more than 600 Firewall Insulator kits that are ready to install and keep the heat (and noise) out.
The team at NotcHead is all about sweating the details, which is why they developed a line of trick line clamps, fasteners and other cool components. Some of the latest products are these trick dash bezels designed to dress up a standard GM headlight switch or ignition switch.
The bezels are expertly machined and are available in a natural, polished, or black anodized finish. No more exposed ugly nut holding the switch to the dash – NotcHead achieves form and function with these new bezels. Complete kits come with standard GM switches.
Control Your Temperature
Isn’t it great to see two big name companies working together on new products for rodders? Dakota Digital offers a trick Climate Controller that plugs into a Vintage Air Gen IV system that looks great and handles the temperature in your passenger compartment.
The DCC-4000 series controller provides the status and controls of your HVAC system, similar to those on later model vehicles. The full-color TFT display can be configured for horizontal or vertical orientation and the illumination colors can be selected by the user. As a bonus, when it’s connected to a Dakota Digital HDX or RTX system, the DCC colors and brightness will automatically sync for a complete and coordinated look in your interior.
Carpets and Customs
One of the most important pieces of your vehicle’s interior is the carpet. Auto Custom Carpets understands what it takes to restore or build a hot rod and offers thousands of specific carpet kits designed for a direct fit as well as floor mats and even vinyl flooring when carpet wasn’t offered.
ACC has more than 230 colors to select from with seven original-style floor materials including Loop, Cutpile, Daytona, GrosPoint, Nylon, TrueVette or Tuxedo as well as a premium grade Ultra Plush Essex carpet. Whatever you’re building, chances are Auto Custom Carpets can handle your needs.
Cerullo’s original Classic Seat was the seat of choice for early custom automotive enthusiasts and is still going strong today. The seats retain their traditional styling, making them perfect for hot rods, muscle cars, trucks, VWs and other applications.
The Classic Seat has been upgraded over the years with modern manufacturing techniques and materials, but still boasts a precision fit, retro look, and great comfort. A quick-release tilt mechanism, fully adjustable recline positions and adjustable sliders are built in for convenience. Plus, you can select from a variety of leather, vinyl, and fabrics to cover the hand-carved seat cushions.
Have a Seat
You can have the coolest looking interior with the best air conditioning, instrumentation and stereo, but if your seat isn’t comfortable, it’s not going to be any fun to drive. The team at Wise Guys Seats and Accessories manufactures seats for pretty much anything with four wheels. Their redesigned foam pack maximizes cabin space without compromising comfort.
Wise Guys starts with a custom-built 16-gauge steel frame with a reclining back and will finish your seat in a variety of materials ranging from naugahyde to Ultraleather and suede and it can be fitted with different armrests or cup holders for added comfort and convenience.
Get a Handle
The team at Eddie Motorsports really put some design work into their new window and door handles to make them function as good as they look. With a thicker configuration, the handles have a more solid feel and each base has a 2-inch diameter to completely cover the panel cutouts.
The cranks and handles feature a heavy-duty 16-spline insert for GM and Ford applications to prevent any chance of stripping. The billet handles, sold in pairs, are available in four distinct styles and in a variety of custom finishes including chrome plated.
Looking to upgrade the interior of your project with more modern flair, but still maintain the roots of your muscle car? TMI Products is your one-stop shop for updated materials, designs and more. In fact, at the 2019 SEMA Show, TMI introduced a number of new interior components, including the ’68-‘69 Chevelle option shown.
TMI allows you to customize your complete interior from the base to the stitching – your options are endless. Plus, they offer carpet kits, dash assemblies, door panels, and a number of different style seats. With over 170,000 color combinations, you’ll never have to worry about parking next to a car with the same interior.
How Much Material?
Looking to update the seat covers or door panels of your ride? Relicate is a one-stop shop for a variety of leathers and Alcantara suede materials to support all of your material needs. They work with some of the biggest name builders and know what materials will last, look good, and work well in street rods and muscle cars.
One of the most common questions asked is how much material is needed for a complete interior. As a rule of thumb, a regular cab pickup typically requires three large hides to cover the bench seat, two door panels, dash and kick panels. A full-size two-door car usually requires 5-7 hides. A hide ranges from 45-60 square-feet, depending on the size of the cow. Always ask about the hide size before ordering any leather and be sure to get an extra hide to be ‘covered’ just in case.
Everything underneath the floor of your hot rod creates heat. The transmission, exhaust and engine all radiate heat, which is transferred to the floor and tunnel then right into the interior. To help block the heat, Design Engineering has introduced their Floor & Tunnel Shield in a stealthy black finish.
The Floor & Tunnel Shield features a high-tech black coating comprised of specialized resins that can withstand extreme temperatures and is backed with an insulating glass fiber layer to protect against searing engine and exhaust heat. The material is flexible enough to conform to firewalls, floors and transmission tunnels and is simple to install with an aggressive adhesive backing. Simply trim to fit and stick it on!
Big Al’s Carponents
Hot rodders tend to pick up a few styling and technology cues from newer vehicles and these trick new armrests from Big Al’s Carponents add nice looks with stylish back lighting.
The 13-inch Banjoluxe armrests are machined from billet aluminum with a brushed satin finish. Adding to the design are LEDs mounted behind the stainless-steel banjo wires. If you’re planning to have power windows, Big Al’s can accommodate with several options for built-in switches. There’s also a built-in grab handle on the underside so you can close your door with ease and style.
The first thing you see when you peak inside a hot rod is the steering wheel and what better way to make a statement than with a bitchin’ new wheel from Billet Specialties.
Their new Invader design, part of the Select Edition Series, features a pro-style horn button and a half-wrap with top grain leather. The Invader can be black anodized or finished with a full polish after it is pulled from the CNC-machine (made right here in the USA). You’ll grin from ear to ear every time you get behind the wheel of your car and grip the leather of your precision-machined Invader.
Are you getting used to only using a key fob to start your daily driver these days? Push button starts with key fobs are the norm and IDIDIT can help you update your classic to this handy technology.
The IDIDIT id.PUSH+ keyless ignition system features a mechanical push button switch with the added security of a compact key fob which activates/deactivates the ignition for security. The push button mounts inconspicuously and features stylish LED halo lighting. The system includes a status indicator, an emergency shut down, and accepts a brake input signal for safe operation – just like a new vehicle.
Whether you’re driving a mid-’80s G-body or a Model A, you need to have seat belts in the front and rear seats. Juliano’s offers direct-fit replacement seat belts for most classic cars and trucks out there, along with the proper hardware for a solid installation.
During the winter months, it’s a good idea to take a look at your belts and if there’s any fraying or excessive wear, it’s time to call Juliano’s. They also offer a modern 3-point shoulder belt upgrade in a wide array of stock and custom webbing colors. All seat belts meet or exceed Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards (FMVSS) 209 and 302 and are proudly made in the USA.
Signals and Gears
There are a lot of things to be aware of when cruising. Gear selection, turn signal indicators and headlight beam indicators are all items we take for granted – until they’re not there! Dakota Digital can help with a couple different solutions.
Their trick little DGS-series of dash indicators are available in round, elliptical or square housings, all of which are small enough to hide but are fit with bright LED readouts for easy viewing. There are also turn signals and a high beam indicator. They also offer a Gear Shift Sensor kit (GSS-3000) that features outputs for reverse lights and neutral safety function (relay supplied) plus can be used in applications with 2-4 forward gears.