Keep in Mind . . .

What to Keep in Mind When Getting Your Hot Rod or Street Rod Ready for Upholstery.


  • Air Conditioning
  • Brakes & Wheels
  • Carpet
  • Chopping Your Rod
  • Custom Dash
  • Custom Roll Bar
  • Dash Pads
  • Deadlines
  • Dome and Interior Lights
  • Door Handles and Window Cranks
  • Engine & Running Gear
  • Gas, Oil, and Antifreeze Leaks
  • Heater Hoses
  • Heat Shields And Sound Deadeners
  • Radio and Speakers
  • Running Boards
  • Seats and Seat Belts
  • Steering Wheel
  • Trunk
  • Weather Stripping
  • Windows and Garnish Moldings
  • Wiring


Air Conditioning:                                                                                                               Have A/C and heating unit panel in place, wired, and working. If you plan on putting the A/C panel in the console, then put it in a small box on the floor with foam around it.

All the duct work should be fastened to the unit and pulled to where the vents/louvers are going. If the vents/louvers are already inserted into the dash, than the duct work should be completed.

Brakes & Wheels:                                                                                                               Have your brakes in good working order. Check that all lug nuts are tight. A full pedal is best for moving your car around the shop.

Carpet:                                                                                                                              Make sure that you have the carpet sill plates. The carpet sill plates are located where the carpet and door-jams meet.

If you are planning for your master cylinder to be under the car, consider putting a remote fill on the exterior fire wall, or have it hidden behind an interior trunk panel.

Chopping Your Rod:                                                                                                                 If you cut or chop your street rod top, please do not take out the wind lace tacking strip channels that are around the doors. But if you, don’t use thick metal stock.

Custom Dash:                                                                                                                         If you decide to build a custom dash, keep half an inch open for windlace, if your dash protrudes two-four inches. You can make channels for the half inch windlace in the side of the dash with a piece of 5/8 half tubing. Also keep in mind that the door panel has to go in-between the dash and the door. Make a 5/8-3/4 inch gap for this, or the best option, is to make the dash taper away from the door.

Custom Roll Bar:                                                                                                                     If you have plans for a Roll bar for your project, then ensure enough space between the bar and the top of the car for the headliner. A one piece headliner hangs a little lower than a bow or stock type headliner. On a car like a 66 Nova you can get within two to three inches from the roof. But, with a Willys or curvy type street rod you may need four to five inches. Be sure to talk with the interior shop before starting your roll bar.

Dash Pads:                                                                                                                           Some cars and trucks have dash pads from the factory. You can reuse or recover OEM pads. Sometimes shops can also make custom dash pads. For a metal dash, you can fill the holes where the pad was bolted down, and then paint the dash; this creates a very clean look.

Deadlines:                                                                                                                               It’s best to not push a custom interior shop to make a deadline for a car show. The best work takes time, so be willing to be flexible with time.

Dome and Interior Lights:                                                                                                        If possible, have power wires run for your dome and interior lights. You can also bring lights with you. Billet SpecialtiesPhipps and New age designs all sale street rod type interior lights.

Door Handles and Window Cranks:                                                                                     Try to have door handles with you when coming to the shop. Street Rod parts suppliers should sale them. Another option is Billet Specialties.

Engine & Running Gear:                                                                                                           It’s a very good idea to have the car running and everything checked out. Put 20 to 100 miles on the car or truck before you take it to the interior shop. Make sure the transmission is shifting right at all speeds.

Pushing a car off and on a trailer is dangerous. And if you wait to fix wiring or gauge issues, you might have to take the interior out.

Gas, Oil, and Antifreeze Leaks:                                                                                           Don’t forget to check for oil, antifreeze, and other fluid leaks before coming to the shop, and inform upholsterers of any possible leaks. Gas tank and filler neck should be sealed to prevent leaks in the shop. Please have as little gas in them as possible (usually a 1/4 of a tank or less is fine).

Heater Hoses:                                                                                                                   Have all heater hoses installed and checked for leaks, and keep some slack in them. On some cars, the heater hoses run parallel under the dash, through the kick panels, out the inner fender well, and then out into the engine compartment they’re needed at. You may have to put a spring in the hose where it leaves the kick panel and turns towards the fender well. This keeps it from folding up, and keeps your upholstered kick panels and fire wall panel clean. Remember to keep your interior kick panels and fire wall flat and organized.

Heat Shields and Sound Deadeners:                                                                                   It’s always a good idea to use insulation in your car or truck. The floor and firewall should be sealed. Only use the bubble type insulation in your roof, sides panels, and trunk. If you use the bubble type in the floor it will bust or pop. It’s best to use spray-on insulation in your doors because water can get behind the glue/stick on bubble type insulation and sweat. Dynamat is a very good product but, when placed in the doors it can make them very heavy, especially on fiberglass cars. When placing Dynamat in the floor, tape off the seams with clear or aluminum tape to keep the sticky, black stuff on the back from oozing out.

It’s safe to put Dynamat in the floor before bringing your car to the shop, but do not put Dynamat on top of the package tray or on the door where the door panel clips on to the car. It’s best not to put any other insulation in the floor because it will just get messed up as the trimmer gets in and out of the car. Instead, bring the roll of insulation you wish to use, and let the shop put it in.

Radio and Speakers:                                                                                                               If your radio is in your dash, then have it wired and working. If you plan on having your radio mounted in the headliner, or in a center console, pull the wires there and leave some slack.  Most shops will wire the radio if you’d like. Make sure you have the three wires needed red ACC, yellow HOT and Black GROUND. Simply lay the speakers where you’d like them to go. Most shops will make them blend in with the upholstery as they build the custom interior (make sure there is enough speaker wire slack). If you do put the speakers in yourself make sure that they are flush. This way the panel or package shelf will fit nicely.

Running Boards:                                                                                                               Some older cars have Running Boards. It’s best to remove these during upholstery to avoid damage.

Seats and Seat Belts:                                                                                                           It’s best to mount your seats lower than you think they should be, because new foam and upholstery often raise them. Make sure that your seats are square with the seat tracks and each other before installing them.

Check that the seats aren’t too tight by seeing if there’s at least enough space between the seat and the door for your hand. If there’s none at all, then your seats will probably be not fit with new foam.

If you plan on using seat belts, or a harness, please have them installed securely.

Steering Wheel:                                                                                                                       If you have not bought a steering wheel, consider buying a half wrap steering wheel. This way we can cover it with the same leather as your interior. It can also be recovered years down the road when it starts to show wear. Billet SpecialtiesBudnik WheelsColorado Custom, Carriage Works and Billet Accessories Direct sell half wrap steering wheels.

Trunk:                                                                                                                               Have your trunk in working order with a way to keep it open. If your trunk uses an electric opener, make sure it does not extend past the panel. It should be flush or level. Downs Manufacturing Co. makes the best power trunk lift. You don’t have to cut any slots in your panels with the Downs’ lift.

Weather Stripping:                                                                                                            Have your weather stripping, in the doors and trunk jams, installed.

Windows and Garnish Moldings:                                                                                             All side and quarter windows need to be in and working. Also have power windows and door locks installed. If you use ( FISH ) aquarium silicon, the glass will not get that old look around their edges.

If you have to leave the front and back glass out check with us, and keep slack in the wires. If they’re power windows, then have them wired, and put the power window switches where they are best for you. We suggest switches are placed are in the console or in a short drop board under the dash.

All window felting should be in place. Have all the window garnish moldings fitting the windows and painted. You can buy custom or stock molding. although, if you plan to have the moldings painted the same color as leather or cloth, then have them primed, and have the felting fitted.

Wiring:                                                                                                                             Wiring should be completed before you bring your car to the upholstery shop. Always have your fuse box mounted. Wires in panels should be long enough to allow the devices to be installed in the panels. Keep in mind door locks, door poppers, power locks, power windows, wipers, A/C, heater, radio, speakers, CD changer, amp, third brake light, Dome light, courtesy lights and anything that will be placed in the console, should be completed before bringing your car to us.

Make sure there is a little bit of play within the wires. The wires should have enough slack under the dash to come over the kick and fire wall panels. This can easily be checked with a ruler.

Also, if the wires are run overhead it will make your floor cleaner and easier to work with. If you plan on putting a console, run your wires down the center of your car. Keep slack tidy with zip ties.

It’s a good idea to have a battery cut off, and a remote battery post, under the car for easy access for charging. But remember, some fuel-injection cars cannot have the battery power cut to the computer. Second, if you have shaved door handles, then have a hidden switch, or another way to get into your car, in the event you lose all power.


Tips revised and summarized from “Interiors by Shannon”

Updated December 2015