Interior restoration is different from every other aspect of classic-car restoration because it’s not mechanical. And as such,many at-home restorers and mechanics are not experienced or knowledgeable with this particular area of restoration. But with some patience, the correctmaterials, and the right tools, many home restorers can successfully replace door panels, rebuild worn out and torn seats, and replace ratty old carpet, replace a dash, and successfully complete most other projects. Let’s face it the interior is where the driver spends his or her time, and the condition of the interior directly affects how we perceive the driving experience and the car as a whole. Therefore, a like new factory interior is not only desirable to maintain collector value, but it projects a positive image of the car. In this chapter, we will cover how to replace, refurbish, or repair major interior components and explain the techniques, tools and materials required for restoration of your Camaro’s interior. For reproduction parts, classic Industries, Year One, and others may have the parts. Al Knoch also carries made in the USA Camaro interior parts.
This Tech Tip is From the Full Book “HOW TO RESTORE YOUR CAMARO 1967-1969“. For a comprehensive guide on this entire subject you can visit this link:
SHARE THIS ARTICLE: Please feel free to share this post on Facebook / Twitter / Google+ or any automotive Forums or blogs you read. You can use the social sharing buttons to the left, or copy and paste the website link: https://www.chevydiy.com/camaro-restoration-guide-interior-cheat-sheet/
By now your headliner has been replaced or it’s on its last leg. The thread that holds the fabric panels together is very delicate. After 40 years, one slight touch will snap that thread in the original headliner in an instant and cause the fabric panel to drop right on your head.
The best scenario for replacing the headliner is with the windshield and rear window out of the car. It can be done with the windows in; it’s just easier to install with them out. If the rest of your interior is installed, you should take about 15 minutes to remove the front and rear seats before attempting this job.
Important items needed to perform this task are: headliner, headliner glue, binder clips, scissors, and razor blades.
Note: Before pulling out the headliner, inspect how it’s trimmed and cut at the corners and how it’s glued to the pinch welds. This gives you a good idea of how it was installed and gives you some insight as to how to go about installing a new headliner.
Step-1: Headliner Installation
Quite a bit of surface rust had started under the roof insulation, which is typical, but we got lucky that it was not pitted or serious yet. We used a molded bristle disc to clean the metal before we applied the KBS coatings to protect it from rusting again.
Step-2: Headliner Installation
Install the headliner in all five bows and clip them in place. If the plastic clips are broken or missing, the headliner does not install correctly and sags. Be sure the headliner is centered on the bows before moving to the next step.
Step-3: Headliner Installation
Install the three sunvisor screws before installing the headliner. Once the headliner is installed, press the headliner up and cut a small X on the top of the screw to get it out. This is much easier than compressing the headliner to find the small screw holes.
Step-4: Headliner Installation
Use the same method of pulling and clipping the headliner on the side pinch weld. Once all four edges are pulled tight, check to make sure you’re happy with the headliner fitment, with the exception of the corners. Adjust the clips as necessary.
Step-5: Headliner Installation
Pull the slack out of the material above the sail panel and attach the headliner to the tack-strip in the sail panel by wrapping it around and gluing it or by anchoring it with heavy-duty staples. Perform the same work on the other side and make any adjustments to the clipped headliner.
Step-6: Headliner Installation
If there’s one small spot you just can’t get tight no matter how much you adjust the material and clips, you can use a hair dryer to heat the headliner a little to shrink small sections, but only do so after the headliner is completely installed and glued in place.
Step-7: Headliner Installation
The glue you use for attaching the headliner is contact cement, which means you coat both pieces and stick them together. Brush-on adhesive is preferred over spray-on types because it typically provides a stronger bond. Using the proper tucking tool eases installation.
Step-8: Headliner Installation
Pull the clips out of a few feet of the headliner and apply a film of adhesive to the flange and the headliner material. Once the cement is slightly tacky, but doesn’t transfer to your finger, it’s dry enough to pull the material to the flange and clip it in place again. Leave the clips in place for several hours.
Step-9: Headliner Installation
Trim around the corners. The rear window typically requires small pie-shaped cuts to get the curved area to look smooth and not bunched up or creased. Cut as necessary, but not so deep that you can see it with the trim installed. Glue the corners and clip in place.
Step-10: Headliner Installation
The local upholstery shop was not able to get the stitching correct with the piping and the chrome ends, so we purchased finished visors. With a new dome light and all the edge moldings, A-pillar covers, and accessories installed, the headliner looks like a professional performed this job.
Step-11: Headliner Installation
The local upholstery shop was not able to get the stitching correct with the piping and the chrome ends, so we purchased finished visors. With a new dome light and all the edge moldings, A-pillar covers, and accessories installed, the headliner looks like a professional performed this job.
First, remove the A-pillar covers and pull the vinyl trim off the pinch weld around the sides of the headliner. Next, remove the sun visors and rearview mirror. Remove the plastic interior-color trim around the rear window. The sun typically destroys the interior window trim. If you have shoulder harnesses, pull them out.
The sail panel covers are held in place by the pinch-weld vinyl and by clips similar to the ones holding the door panels in place. By sticking a thin prybar between the door panel and the sail panel you should be able to gently pry the clips out of the sail panel. The four clips that hold the panel in place typically break off the back of the sail panel cover (because of the age of the parts). There are two clips on the top and two on the bottom.
Place your prying tool under the square metal anchor that is attached to the sail panel cover. Don’t pry the cover out too far because it will snap off. If you snap the cover or break the anchors loose from the cover, you’ll have to use completely new panels instead of reupholstering your originals. Note that the new panels are not great in comparison to your originals.
The headliner is held in place by sprung steel bows, which press into plastic clips attached to the roof support on the ceiling. Try not to mix up the five metal bows when you remove the old headliner—they attach in a specific order.
Four of the bows slide into the side of the inner structure of the roof. At each of these locations, there are three holes. If you didn’t mark which hole each one came from, the headliner might not install correctly, so it may require some trial and error to properly install it. Don’t worry if you mixed up the four pre-bent bows. You can use a tape measure to figure out which bow goes where.
Starting from the front:
Bow 1 = 46-1/2 inches
Bow 2 = 46-1/2 inches
Bow 3 = shortest straight bow
Bow 4 = 49-1/4 inches
Bow 5 = 48-1/4 inches
If you have the space, take the headliner out of its box and lay it out flat for a couple of days before installing it. But don’t iron it to try to remove wrinkles. Heat shrinks the material. After the headliner is installed, you may need to use the shrinkage to your advantage.
While we had the headliner out, we treated all the surface rust that was behind the headliner on the sail panels and cross-bracing, which snowballed into a much larger job.
We noticed the underside of the roof panel didn’t have any paint on it when it left the factory; some of the insulation had fallen out and there was a good amount of surface rust on it. The factory insulation disintegrates the instant you touch it. It’s obviously glued to the roof panel before the panel is welded in place because it’s between the center braces and the roof panel, which means the underside of the roof panel is bare steel.
Your choice is to leave it alone if it looks decent or make a huge mess removing it. We decided to make a huge mess and scrape it all out. Our project car didn’t have any interior in it, which made it much easier for us. If you’re thinking of doing this same job and your car has a complete interior, we suggest removing as much of it as possible and covering everything up to the windows with one huge sheet of thick-mil industrial plastic. Protect as much as you can from dust, chemicals, and paint.
Since this job throws a lot of dust and we’re not sure what this material is made of, it’s best to do it outside. For your safety, use respirators, safety glasses, and long-sleeved clothing.
We scraped the insulation and its glue off the panel with a blunt gasket scraper, making sure not to gouge or damage the steel. After much of the glue was off, we prepped the surface with the same “bristle disc” we used on the floorboards. To keep from producing metal-distorting heat in the panel, we used the pad sparingly and often moved it to different areas.
Clean up all the insulation dust and debris and dispose of it before removing your respirator.
Don’t leave the rust lying around because it continues to spread. Take some time to treat the metal with KBS AquaKlean and RustBlast, along with a coat of RustSeal. Once the KBS is completely cured, we installed Thermo-Tec to reduce road noise. (It’s the same product we used on the floorboards.) After installation, we ran a small wooden roller over the entire surface to make sure it was stuck to the panel correctly. To give the roof panel extra rigidity, we added dabs of sealant between the panel and the cross-braces.
If you’re doing this project with the interior installed, cover everything with a large single thick sheet of plastic before using any KBS products. The plastic allows metal prep chemicals to pool up, rather than dribble onto carpet and upholstery. As recommended earlier, you should perform this job without the seats and carpet installed so you don’t risk damaging them, especially if your job turns into treating the rust on the roof.
Place the bows into the correct loops of the headliner, then take the assembly to the car and install the bows are the car. Metal tabs that pierce the looped canvas-type material hold the center bow in place. Make sure the looped material and bow is centered in the ceiling before you pierce the looped material. Bend the tabs to firmly hold the bow in place. Install the rest of the bows in their correct positions on the ceiling side-supports, and place the plastic clips in the center of the ceiling.
Spray-on contact adhesive makes a real mess because there’s a good chance of accidentally spraying it on other surfaces. Brush-on adhesive is much cleaner because there’s no overspray. The only drawback to applying adhesive by brush is needing to control drips, which happens when you try to use too much of it at once.
With either of these types of contact adhesive, apply a film of adhesive on both surfaces to get a strong bond. Apply the adhesive to the headliner and flange surfaces and allow them to dry enough so that the surfaces are slightly tacky, but doesn’t transfer adhesive to your finger with a light touch. When pulling the glued headliner onto the flange, only touch the portion of the headliner that interior trim covers. This way the rest of the headliner doesn’t get a bunch of messy fingerprints of adhesive. Clip the headliner in place and leave the clips attached for a few hours afterward to allow the adhesive to dry.
The 1967 Camaro headliner features a material pattern called Impala Leatherette. The 1968 and 1969 cars have a Bedford Ribbed–style finish. Some companies offer slightly cheaper headliner kits if you don’t care about the material type. Kits come in two basic types: Some have extra material to cover your old sail panels and sun visors. Other kits have new sail panels, which are not as good as the originals (they don’t have attachment anchors) and don’t include material for sun visors. You can purchase reproduction sun visors already upholstered to match your new headliner.
Most kick panels have been abused during decades of driving. As they age and the plastic deteriorates, the Madrid grain starts to scrape off the surface. When the grain scrapes off, a scuff is left behind. If they’ve been painted a different color, you’re left with ugly colored streaks. If your panels were originally one color and painted with vinyl paint, there may be hope to save them if you want the original color back.
Original kick panels are molded in the original factory interior colors. Restoration companies are reproducing these panels, but to keep costs down and inventory low, they only make these panels in black and you have to paint them yourself. If you’re restoring a car with a lighter-color interior and can find good original panels, you’re better off using them so that if the surface does get scratched, a dark color won’t show through.
Original A/C-equipped Camaros have different kick panels than non- A/C cars. There were two non-A/C kick-panel designs in 1969. There was a two-piece kick panel with a separate fresh-air grille until January or February when the one-piece kick panel design showed up.
Much of the interior is upholstered, but there are also many components that are painted or molded plastic and vinyl. For factory finishes, the interior paint is different than the exterior body paint. If you look at some photos of bodies and interiors, you may think that the interior and exterior are the same color. The only reason is that someone restored it incorrectly or they customized it.
Even if the body color is Bolero Red, and the interior paint is red, it’s not the same red—the interior paint is a 30-percent or 60-percent gloss. This means that there are two different levels of gloss paint on the interior. The top of the dash and the metal surrounding the rear package tray have the lowest amount of gloss (30 percent) to combat against blinding light reflecting into the eyes of the vehicle’s occupants. The other surfaces in the interior that received paint were done so with a slightly more gloss (60 percent). Factory interior paint was not as glossy or the same color as the exterior main body paint.
Some interior parts were molded in the color of the interior. As of this writing, reproduction companies have not yet started reproducing the harder plastic parts in colors other than black, so if you purchased reproduction parts, you may need to paint them.
The unfortunate thing about painting an interior color over a contrasting color is when the paint is scratched off it becomes extremely obvious, especially on kick panels. Good, original non-black kick panels are not easy to come by, but if you look around a swap meet, you may find some that have been painted with black interior paint. If you’re lucky, you can remove the paint with a mild abrasive, such as Fast Orange hand cleaner, and a soft brush so not to damage the underlying finish.
A good tip is to begin removing paint from the surface in a small, inconspicuous spot to be sure you’re not damaging the part before you start removing paint in the center. This method works well on plastic that is painted with vinyl spray paint.
Removing vinyl paint from vinyl is much harder because the material is more porous than molded plastic. The consoles, main dash cluster, and steering-column covers are made of harder plastic than the kick panels, rearview mirror trim, seat backs, etc. With the harder plastic panels, you simply scuff the old paint or remove the paint with a light baking-soda blast, primer, and paint with the interior paint of your choice.
If you paint the color-molded parts, make sure to use the correct vinyl or interior paint for fabrics and flexible surfaces.
Other than the seats and the steering wheel, the door panel probably gets the most physical contact in a car. One of the most common areas of door panel damage is the armrest (and surrounding area) because it’s the handle used to close the door and a place for resting elbows. The other commonly damaged area is the lower front section of the panel that seems to get a lot of contact from shoes while entering and exiting the car.
Over the years, there have been multiple ways to fix damaged door panels. You can purchase a vinyl repair kit from Eastwood or other companies, but keep in mind that these kits are only meant to repair small damaged areas and cracks. Results with these repair kits vary because it’s not easy to get the right color or to hide the texture of the repair. Another concern is the amount of use the repair will get; a lot of rubbing and scuffing in the repaired area can damage the repair. We suggest attempting a repair on a test subject or a spot in an inconspicuous location before making a repair in a highly visible area.
If money is no object and you really want to save an original panel, you can send it off to Just Dashes in Van Nuys, California. Just Dashes makes the damage disappear by stripping your original dash and completely rebuilding it to look and feel just like new. It offers this service for most every interior panel.
In the past, flexible vinyl skins were glued over old door panels to hide damage on deluxe door panels. There are also companies that offer hard plastic panels that simply go over your original panel. These hard panels can fool average observers until they get a close visual inspection; and brushing up against a hard panel is a dead giveaway.
Standard vs. Deluxe Panels
If you want to swap standard door panels for deluxe interior panels or vice versa, it requires more than a panel swap. The front door window regulators for the standard and deluxe interior panels are different on all three years. The front door lock pull remote (mechanism where the interior door release handle mounts) is different for the standard and deluxe interior panels on 1968 and 1969 models. The standard release handle on the 1968 and 1969 models pulls upward, and the deluxe handle pulls outward from the panel. You can purchase reproduction door remote mechanisms for both standard and deluxe panels. You can also look for used originals at businesses that specialize in new and used Camaro parts, such as Steve’s Camaros.
The 1967 Camaro came with short door panels. The top portion of the interior side of the door and quarter panels are painted sheetmetal, which was painted in two different ways: It was painted the color of the upholstery (i.e., red metal, red door panels), painted with interior paint that contrasted with the upholstery color (i.e., black metal, parchment [white] door panels).
In 1968, Chevrolet changed the door and panel design to have the door panel wrap all the way up from the bottom to the window. This change probably helped speed up production because a smaller area of the interior needed to be painted. A lot of drivers and passengers like to rest their arm on the top of the door, so 1968 and 1969 owners enjoy the comfort of upholstery-covered door panel caps in hot climates.
Standard Interior Panels: Most aftermarket door panels do not fit like the original panels, so if you have original door panels that are in decent shape, either use them or find somebody that may be interested in having an original set (or at least the original parts off the panels).
On original 1968 and 1969 interior panels, the curved upper section of the panel features a steel reinforcement molding under the vinyl. To keep the cost down, companies do not typically reproduce this part, which is why there are so many reproduction door panels currently on the market using plastic upper sections. GM also moved the door lock farther back toward the rear on the 1969 door panels.
You can purchase interior panels in two ways: “assembled” with plastic top sections or “partially assembled.” If you choose partially assembled, the face of the door panel is assembled yet there’s additional fabric at the top of the panels so you can install your original sheetmetal upper moldings. Hence, you can completely cover the interior panel, which is not difficult to accomplish for moderately skilled individuals. The partially assembled panels require that you also install the stainless steel trim and upper weatherstrip for the window, which can be used from your original panels or purchased as reproduction pieces.
Original door panels have two pieces of vinyl covering them. A larger vinyl panel covers the lower vertical portion. The top curved section lies over the lower flat panel, which is held in place by a long stainless trim piece.
The original panels used panel board to create the definition lines, and the wiperstrip that rides against the window was stapled to the door panel. Reproduction panels are not created the same way and have some distinctive differences, which aren’t a problem for most enthusiasts. These newer panels use one piece of vinyl for the whole panel. Reproduction companies also use foam-padded vinyl over their panels to give them the definition lines, which makes them puffy and thick. These panels are thick enough to cause interference with other interior parts in the doorjamb area. The kick panels leave distinct impression marks on the door panels.
The window felt strip on the top is typically riveted to the panel and is visible from the outside of the car. If you want to hide the rivet heads you can touch them up with a dab of black paint or with a black permanent marker (if the manufacturer has left them silver).
Deluxe Interior Panels: For the 1967 model year, the deluxe panel was only a partial panel and, therefore, the tops of the doors and quarters were painted steel. The 1968 and 1969 deluxe panels were much like the standard panels, which were vinyl-covered sheetmetal on the top portion.
Assembled reproduction 1968 and 1969 deluxe interior panels are much like the standard interior panels in the respect that the top section is plastic, instead of sheetmetal. Because the door panels are a more involved construction, compared to the rear quarter panels, they are only available as assembled. The rear quarter interior panels are a fairly simple construction and are available to be built with the trim and sheetmetal from your original interior panels.
Before installing watershields and door panels, take extra time to assess the condition of the handle operations and door latch mechanisms, as well as window track and crank mechanisms. If you don’t test all these parts before installing the watershields, there’s a good chance you’ll be taking them off again, which is sometimes difficult without ripping them, which renders them useless.
Interior Door Handles
The interior door handle for standard and deluxe panels should spring back into place once you’ve pulled it and released it. You need to replace the door handle mechanism if it doesn’t snap back into place. (The spring in the assembly is buried under welded tabs that would require a lot of surgery.) The handle mechanisms (standard panel interiors) normally wear a bit making about 1/2 inch of handle movement to and from the door, measured at the tip of the handle. Any more wiggle than that and you should consider replacing it so you can rely on the door operating normally if you had to open it in an emergency situation.
Door Latch Mechanism
Often with first-generation Camaros, you can have problems unlocking the door with the key or the locking knob on the top of the door panel. After quickly turning the key back and forth or vigorously pulling the lock knob up, you’ll eventually get the door to unlock, but this is a hassle when you’re trying to get into your car in a hurry. By always locking the door with the key, you get around this problem until you have time to fix the spring in the door latch. If you lock the door with the locking knob, the latch resets itself and requires the annoying action to unlock it. You can use the key or door lock knob to unlock the door after using the key to lock it.
The door latch mechanism has a little spring that typically breaks after many years or after somebody uses a slim-jim to gain access to your car. You can purchase the spring separately from reproduction parts companies or you can purchase the entire mechanism. The spring by itself costs about 5 percent of the price of the entire mechanism.
You can service the original mechanism with some assembly grease on all the pivot points reachable with a cotton swab. In order to remove the three counter-sunk hinge screws you need a #3 Philips screwdriver that’s in good shape. If you attempt to remove them with a #2 or a #3 with a damaged tip, you’re bound to round out the slots in the screw head. Once you round them out, you are forced to drill them out and replace them. Use the right tool for the job!
If the window crank post is completely loose or has a grinding feel when you rotate the crank, you need to replace the window regulator. There’s a different regulator assembly for standard and deluxe interiors because the window crank post is shorter for standard door panels. With the window rolled halfway up,
you should be able to grab hold of the window with both hands and lift the window up to 1/4 inch. If you can lift it more than that, the rollers need to be rebuilt.
If you need to grab the quarter window and manually assist it in order to get the window to roll up or down, it’s time to rebuild the guides and rollers.
Rebuilding a Window Mechanism
Step-1: Window Mechanism Rebuild
If your window was adjusted correctly to start, use a fine-tipped permanent marker to indicate all the adjustable points so you can refer to them later. Once all the slack is removed, they won’t be exact, but they may get you really close.
Step-2: Window Mechanism Rebuild
With the window up, remove the front and rear up-stops through the front and rear access holes. Loosen the two felt-faced sliders (arrows).
Step-3: Window Mechanism Rebuild
Put the window into a lower position, measure the depth of the cam bolt sticking out of the channel, and make notes. Unbolt the front and rear cam bolts from the channel.
Step-4: Window Mechanism Rebuild
Lift the window level, but tilt it inward slightly to get the rollers out of their guides. Then move the window forward slightly to miss the upper rear window felt-faced slider.
Step-5: Window Mechanism Rebuild
In order to remove the special glass-attaching hardware, cut up an old socket to make your own special tool or purchase the correct socket, like this one from Classic Industries.
Step-6: Window Mechanism Rebuild
Remove and replace all worn-out hardware. Check the guides and rollers, and make sure the correct plastic washers are between steel washers and the glass. Lube the guides, rollers and slides with white lithium grease.
Step-7: Window Mechanism Rebuild
Do everything in reverse and get the glass back into position. The two adjustable bolts on the track attached to the window move the window in and out. The slotted hardware on the top of the rear (not shown) and in the top front hole move the window forward and backward. You can change the upward stops at the front and rear. The OER window guides have new felt pads for smooth operation. If you need more instructions, check the Fisher Body Service Manual.
Over the course of 40 years, a Camaro’s windows have been rolled up and down countless times, and as a consequence, the mechanical assembly inside the doors can wear out and fail. Replacing the slider, guides, and other hardware is not an extremely difficult procedure, but you must follow a few steps to complete the job properly.
A commonly overlooked detail is the watershield. This is the tar paper between the interior door panel and the door, as well as between the quarter panel interior sheetmetal and the interior panel. It is designed to keep water that gets into the door off of the door panel, which was originally made of cardboard. If you’re thinking water would never fall off the glass and get on your door panel, think again. If this watershield leaks or is missing, the door panel gets soggy and moldy and you may get water into the passenger compartment under the carpet. If you’ve ever wondered how floorpans get rusty from the inside out, the biggest culprits were leaky or nonexistent watershields or leaky window weatherstrips.
The interior side of the door and quarter panel has holes to access the door mechanism and window regulator hardware. These large holes allow water to get on the door panel if the water is not redirected to the long open drainage slot toward the bottom of the door and quarter. There are also little drainage indentations all the way down the sheetmetal.
The watershield has to be sealed to the door and quarter with a waterproof adhesive strip known as stripcaulk or dum-dum. It should be applied to the door and quarter around the water drainage indentations and should not have gaps. In addition, it should be placed around window and door handles and other holes to keep water from getting onto the interior panels.
All water should be redirected back into the inside of the door, where it drains out the small drainage holes at the bottom of the door. Tape the bottom corners of the shield to the door as the factory did. If your door has been hacked and has large holes for speakers, use some heavy-duty thick-mil plastic for a patch panel to direct water back into the interior of the door (as you did with the water shield). The factory also had a large round plug on the interior face of each door at the bottom near the door hinges. If yours are missing or broken, get new ones or add a patch over those holes too.
Reproduction watershields come in paper (as they did from the factory) with one black side, which is water resistant. Watershields are also available in clear plastic and are much more durable than the paper ones. The clear plastic ones allow you to see how well you sealed the watershield to the door, and they allow easier future repair of door internals with less potential to damage the door upon removal. They also allow you to see what’s going on inside the door if inspection is necessary.
We’re covering water drainage systems in the interior chapter because two of the major drainage systems require the removal of interior panels.
A lot of design work went into getting water out of the car when it gets into the body, as well as keeping water out of the interior. There are drains in the rocker panels, at the bottom of the tulip panels (sides of the cowl panel), bottom of quarter panels (below the quarter windows), and at the bottom of the doors. In order for these drains to operate as designed, there must not be dirt and other debris clogging them.
Unfortunately, the factory didn’t feel it was necessary to put more than the cowl panel with long wide slots over the cowl openings at the base of the Camaro windshield. These long slots allow all kinds of leaves and pine needles to fall into the cowl. These unfortunate gifts from nature work their way over the sides of the cowl inside the tulip panels and get trapped behind the fresh-air vents in the kick panels. If you combine 40 years of dust and dirt with a bunch of degraded leaves and pine needles, and then mix in a little water from rain or washing your car, all of the sudden the drain at the bottom of the tulip panel is clogged. The unwanted debris becomes damp and stays damp, which is a perfect environment for rust.
Whether or not you’re doing a restoration, you should pull the kick panels out and clean out the fresh-air ducts and water drains. The kick panels are sealed to the metal around the fresh-air grille with dum-dum to keep water from leaking into the interior behind the kick panel. Make sure you remove all the screws from the panel before trying to detach it. If you have a 1969 with the separate grille, make sure you remove the screws behind it. On 1969 models, make sure you also remove the vent cable from the upper vent. These cables are very fragile, so be careful not to break them.
The easiest technique for removing the kick panel is to pull it away from the side of the car with your fingers behind the panel and against the firewall around the fresh-air duct. Once the duct is loose from the hole in the side cowl, the rest of the removal requires maneuvering the doorjamb area of the panel, and pulling it the rest of the way from the side cowl. The only way to remove the driver’s-side kick panel is to remove the parking brake assembly first.
With the kick panels removed, clean out all the debris. Depending on the status of your car (driver or been parked for years), it’s a good idea to wear gloves to protect your hands from a spider, mouse, rat, or sharp rusty edges. Once the debris is removed, use a piece of wire hanger to clear out the drain at the base of the cowl. Dribble some water down in there to get out the rest of the dirt and degraded leaves. If you really want to protect your investment, also clean out the inside cowl panel plenum.
Take a small brush and clean all the seams you can reach. Rinse everything and dry the area with a towel and/or compressed air. Use KBS products (or some other rustpreventative paint) to coat every inch inside the side-cowls and the inside of the cowl plenum and seal all of the seams with seam sealer, except the drains. To further protect the seam sealer, add a coat of gloss (KBS topcoat or another brand) paint to give water a smooth surface, so it exits the drain faster in the future. The factory never spent this much time to seal these water drains and fresh-air passageways and that’s how these inner panels and cowl plenums have become common rust areas over the years.
When reinstalling the kick panels, don’t forget to clean off the old sealer and put more dum-dum on the panel around the base of the vent protrusion. The dum-dum is a non-shrinking waterproof sealant that stays pliable (like clay). You need to use it when reinstalling the kick panels to get a secure seal. Never use any kind of silicone-based sealant or cement in these areas. (That would probably glue the panel to the steel and you would need to destroy the panel in order to remove it in the future.)
To help line up the screw holes when reinstalling the panel, stick an awl or an ice pick through the existing hole in the kick panel into the hole in the metal side-cowl.
The doors and quarter panels have drains for all the water that gets into the panel through the window and the side-glass weatherstripping. When you’ve got the door and quarter interior panels off, you should clean out the drains at the bottoms. You’d be surprised at how much junk gets inside the body panels. There could be a lot of small bits of glass in the doors or quarters if your side glass has ever been broken, so be careful. Clean and rinse the drains the same way as suggested for the cowl areas. Dry them completely and treat them with KBS products (or some other rust-inhibitor product), seam seal, and paint as instructed for the cowl areas.
Original floor covering was 80-percent rayon and 20-percent nylon looped carpet molded to fit the contours of the floorpan. Made of two pieces, the rear half is installed first and the front section is installed over the top of the rear half. The factory carpet seam is directly in front of the front seats. Reproduction carpet manufacturers don’t always get the seam location correct, which isn’t a big deal for most people.
With the front seats installed, you should be able to lift the front carpet without unbolting the seats. In other words, the carpet lays directly over the front-seat bracket feet, not under them. You can get carpet in the original 80/20 loop style (carpet loops stick up) for a classic look or cut-pile 100-percent nylon (frayed strands stick up) for a custom look. Ken Howell of Auto Custom Carpets says that the loop carpet is correct for the restoration, but the cut-pile lasts longer and is what all the new cars use.
Most carpet kits come with the additional small sections of jute padding attached to the back side of the carpet as they were from the factory.
Unless your Camaro has been well maintained for its whole life, the dash pad probably needs to be replaced. Over the years, it gets sunbeaten and develops cracks from merely touching it. The factory dash pad is made of a sheetmetal foundation that’s covered with vinyl over foam. Certain aftermarket dash pads have been of notoriously bad quality (compared to original) and fitment. They are produced of a harder urethane than the stock dash, even though the stock one has hardened over the years.
OER started producing a much nicer dash pad than its older design. The newer-design OER dash could be developed because the more reasonable cost of newer technology has made it possible to create a completely new dash pad with better materials. Make sure you’re aware of the differences before ordering yours. Al Knock Interiors also produces dash pads for Camaros, so check its products too.
If you want your original, aged dash pad rebuilt, Just Dashes is one of the sources that can reproduce 1967 and 1968 dash pads, as long as you send your original pad. The process is more expensive than good reproductions, but customers have been happy with the results. Even though its name implies otherwise, Just Dashes rebuilds and repair just about any padded or hard-plastic part of the interior.
To remove your 1967 dash pad, you have to remove the sheetmetal nuts under the top dash panel and the screws from the front.
The procedure with the 1968 dash is the same, but it has additional hardware and a clip on the end of the legs that drop off on both ends of the pad. Each dash pad leg has a post that sticks out and is pushed into a clip in the sheetmetal dash. Use pliers to pinch the clip on the top and bottom, and the clip pops off the pad and out of the dash. Or, you can stick a screwdriver in the clip from the back of the dash and pry the clip open.
The 1969 dash has clips that slide into the top of the dash and are held in with sheetmetal nuts and screws. They are a little easier to remove if you can gain access from behind the dash.
The first-generation Camaro center console is cast-in plastic, with a few metal brackets, trim, and doors. It’s not meant to be a seat or a foot stool. A common part to break on all first-generation consoles is the plastic ashtray door pivot points.
The weakest part of the 1968 and 1969 console that seems to be broken a lot is the plastic between the console door and the ashtray door. Unfortunately there’s no easy way to repair the broken plastic and have it hold up to regular use once it’s been broken, especially if you’re needing to make a repair that disturbs the Madrid grain. Luckily, OER reproduces them, and most the parts sources sell the console in parts or as complete kits.
The 1967 console was a one-yearonly piece for the Camaro, and the 1967–1969 Firebird (with different trim on the top) shared the basic console. The 1968 and 1969 Camaro console was not used in any other production car. If your car didn’t originally come with a center console (RPO D55) and you want to install one, you should know that it has an interior light and other wiring (depending on transmission type and optional gauges).
If you’re installing a center console in a 1968 or 1969 Camaro that never had one before, find the small dimples on the top of the transmission tunnel that show where to drill the holes to mount the console. There are a few extra dimples, so set your console on the tunnel to identify the right holes. There are two of them, side by side, in front, which are the exact width of the console bracket.
The rear mounting hole is the dimple in the tunnel that’s about 32 inches back from the two front holes. Once you’ve got the rear dimple drilled you can lay the console on the tunnel and confirm the center mounting bolt hole is drilled in the proper location. The two front holes require nuts to be attached to the bracket from under the car, and the other two require nutserts to be mounted to the tunnel.
If you’re installing a console in a 1967 that didn’t originally have one, you have to drill your own holes. The factory didn’t lay them out with dimples in the floor for you. The console mounts in a similar fashion to the 1968 and 1969 console, but not exactly, so pick up a copy of the 1967 Camaro Assembly Manual for all the proper measurements and schematics.
The factory seats were available in many different colors and materials. There was a standard interior for coupes and convertibles with a vinyl bench front seat (except 1969) or vinyl bucket seats.
The deluxe interior seat package featured a front bench seat (except 1969) or front bucket seats, all with at least the Madrid-grain border material, but there were changes for each model year. In 1967, the deluxe seats had all the interior colors available with a contrasting accent band. In 1968, the deluxe seats came with inserts that were color matched to the borders. Also available in 1968 was the black-and-white houndstooth pattern available with black or pearl parchment borders.
For 1969 only, Chevrolet offered a new fabric named “Comfortweave” that was included with deluxe interior panels. It was color matched with the border color, available in black, red, blue, Medium Green, and Dark Green. Chevrolet did away with Madrid vinyl inserts, but offered four Houndstooth color options: black and white with black borders, black and white with ivory borders, black and orange with orange borders, and black and yellow with yellow borders.
Today, the law requires installation of headrests in an automobile because they keep your head from whipping backward in a rearend collision, which can at the very least give you whiplash. Well, in 1967 the headrest was a $52.70 option (RPO AS2) and only 2,342 (of 220,906 1967 Camaros sold) left the factory with headrests. In 1968, AS2 headrests were on 2,234 (of 235,147 Camaros). New regulations for 1969, which took effect January 1, 1969, drove Chevrolet to add headrests in all 1969 models, but the 1969 Camaros could be special ordered with deleted headrests for an additional cost.
With production numbers so low in 1967 and 1968, it’s easy to understand why you don’t see many headrests. If you do have a set of seats from those two years, you should hold onto them or sell them to the highest bidder, no matter what shape they’re in.
The 1967 and early 1968 headrests were the tallest of the firstgeneration Camaros and can be identified by their 7-inch chrome bar (it’s the shortest of bars of all in headrests). Then Chevrolet switched to a wider and shorter headrest for the rest of the 1968 model year.
In 1969 Chevrolet slightly redesigned the headrest, but not by much, and it can be identified by the post length (10 inches in 1968 and 11 inches in 1969). Two different headrests were offered. The earlier version was in exact alignment with the seat, which had a slight backward slant. The later 1969 versions were angled slightly forward. The headrest post is the part that was bent and differentiates the two. The posts have their build dates etched on them for 1969, but earlier headrest stamps were not actual dates.
The original factory plastic steering wheels are typically cracked and need a little repair or replacement. A couple of companies, such as Eastwood and KBS Coatings, sell products to repair the plastic steering wheels. Although I haven’t repaired a cracked steering wheel, it is a viable option. Apparently the keys to good results are initial preparation, a good strong product that will not shrink when it dries, your skill level to make the repair undetectable, and the proper paint that will stand up to the abuse of being handled while driving.
If you don’t take on the repair yourself, you can purchase a steering wheel (new or good used) and send it to a shop that specializes in steeringwheel repair. Keep in mind that any restoration done by adding small sections of compound to large cracks, and covering it with paint will never be as good as the original solid casting.
The best restoration is cost prohibitive for Camaro owners because it entails completely taking the wheel down to the metal and re-casting the whole wheel in one solid color. Quality Restorations does this for customers who have extremely rare steering wheels. A decent reproduction wheel is a fraction of the price of Quality Restorations’ full-blown restoration or custom-diameter stock-appearing wheels.
By browsing Internet auction websites, you’re bound to find a decent original steering wheel for sale. You can also look at all the restoration parts sources and probably find a reproduction steering wheel in the color and style that you need for your project. And if you’re not interested in stock steering wheels, there’s probably a tasteful and stock-looking steering wheel or two offered by an aftermarket company, like Grant Products’ 141⁄2-inch-diameter Classic GM wheels.
There were several different stock factory wheels for each of the three first-generation years. There was a standard interior version for each year with a Camaro emblem or Chevrolet emblem for the base models and RS and SS emblems for the same steering wheel. Completely different optional upgraded wheels were also available for each year with the same emblem treatments, from base to RS and SS. There was also one optional simulated wood wheel for 1967 and 1968, but in 1969 Chevrolet offered a walnut (early) and rosewood (late) steering wheel. In 1969 it also offered an additional rare-option soft-grip wheel.
As of this writing, all but the state of New Hampshire have some sort of law to enforce the use of one of the most important safety devices in a vehicle, the seat belt. Whether you like it or not, the seat belt could save your life. If you have a stock firstgeneration Camaro, your car came with a lap belt and a shoulder harness that tucked in clips in the headliner. We can’t speak for everyone, but our experience has shown that Camaro owners these days rarely use the shoulder belts because they are tough to roll up and store in the factorysupplied hooks, and the shoulder belt is not self adjustable like today’s belts. In fact, when replacing the headliner, most enthusiasts don’t even reinstall the shoulder belts.
You can install racing seat belts with shoulder harnesses, but those are not street legal in some states because they don’t allow you to move in order to check mirrors and such. Like the factory shoulder belts, they are either tight on your shoulder and uncomfortable, or they are loose and not doing their job.
A few companies have attempted to put newer seat belt functionality in older Camaros and other muscle cars. The best one on the market for quality and design is from Morris Classic Concepts, LLC. It has combined the lap and shoulder belt into a single three-point seat belt along with a retractable mechanism. The shoulder belt bolts to the factory shoulder belt attaching anchor plate in the headliner. Other manufacturers of these type belts rely on a single bolt for the upper attaching point, but MCC uses both original anchor points.
MCC’s kits come with all the necessary hardware and come in a wide variety of colors to match most interiors. MCC hardware has all TIGwelded construction and all attaching brackets are powder-coated stainless steel. The latches on MCC’s three-point belts are late 1969 Camaro-style stainless-steel latches with the “GM Mark of Excellence” button or a non-specific starburst button. MCC did its best to offer a superior product and one that appears as if it could have been designed by Chevrolet.
If you want to have your original seat belts restored and/or repaired, Morris Classic Concepts, Snake-Oyl, and several other companies offer correct color and design belt webbing to update your old stained, frayed, and unsafe original belts. These companies take your original belts and cut them apart, rebuild and repair your latches, remove the belt labels and remove any stains, rechrome your hardware, and reassemble all the parts with new webbing.
Every time you get in and out of the car, your foot probably brushes across the sill plate. Over the years the plates take a lot of abuse and are rarely reinstalled because reproduction companies make very shiny sill plates that liven up any interior. Like a lot of reproduction parts, they are a little different than the originals.
The original sill plates had a separate oval Fisher Body carriage emblem riveted in the center of the sill plate. For the basic restorer, reproduction sill plates work fine without the separate emblem plate and small rivets.
For the restorer who wants to go the extra mile, you can cut the emblem out of an extra set of reproduction sill plates or take them from your original sill plates and epoxy them to another set of new sill plates. That sounds simpler than it is if you’re going into the details of adding the correct rivets. The rivets are really small and can be lost in an instant even when you’re careful, so be very careful. You can purchase new small rivets or carefully remove the old ones and epoxy them onto the new sill plate.
Step-1: Plastic Part Repair
Scuff the back side of the corner and the panel around the broken corner with some 60-grit sandpaper. This gives the glue a good, coarse surface to bond to for strength. Don’t sand the gap between the two pieces.
Step-2: Plastic Part Repair
With a steady hand, glue the corner back on with some Super Glue to hold the corner in place. Use the glue sparingly and try to keep it off the face of the panel to minimize the amount of time sanding the visible side of the panel.
Step-3: Plastic Part Repair
On the back side of the panel, add a few small strips of fiberglass mat over the sanded plastic and the glue joint.
Step-4: Plastic Part Repair
Sprinkle a little baking soda over the fiberglass (both are to add strength to the panel), but don’t cover the screw hole or add so much material that you have to shave a bunch off to get the panel installed.
Step-5: Plastic Part Repair
Dribble Super Glue over the the fiberglass and then spray Zip Kicker on it. The Zip Kicker causes a vicious chemical reaction with the glue, and there will be a lot of crackling and vapors.
Step-6: Plastic Part Repair
Sand down the back side of the panel, if necessary, so you can install it. None of your repair area should be thicker than the highest ridges of the original panel; if it is your corner will probably break off during installation. If you were successful in keeping the glue off the front of the panel, you may not need to perform any bodywork, and the crack may be almost invisible. If the repair is visible, fill, sand, and paint to restore the finish to your liking. We’ve done this repair on a daily driver and after 13 years of service, the repair has not broken again.
After years of working on modern cars, we have a tip for reducing interior squeaks, especially from the dash panel: Cut a small square of thin felt and place it between the metal dash and the plastic panel.
Repairing Plastic Parts
For a broken interior piece like a dash gauge panel or console, there is a bonding process that should repair it and add some strength back to the item. It’s not a great solution for all plastics or surfaces, but it’s fairly strong if done properly. If you use this method to repair a console, don’t expect the repair to be bulletproof and use your console as an extra seat. Always use this method on the back side of your parts because it can be quite messy.
The best example is the gauge bezel on the 1967 and 1968 Camaro. It’s common for people to overtighten the uppermounting screws or remove the lower screws (or they fall out). The upper screws hold all of the gauges’ weight, which leads to at least one upper corner cracking off. If you’re lucky and still have the corner, you can save the bezel by reattaching it.
To use this method, you need coarse sandpaper, Cyanoacrylate (Super Glue, or some other brand of this awesome boding agent), fiberglass mat, baking soda, and Zip Kicker. You can get Zip Kicker in a spray or liquid at most hobby stores that carry radio-controlled cars; it’s an accelerant for Super Glue that’s safe on plastics. If you thought Super Glue dried dangerously fast, wait until you spray some Zip Kicker on it. Before performing this process on your panel, we recommend doing a test project, so you know what to expect before tying it on your important parts. Perform these steps in an open-air environment due to dangerous chemical vapors and wear safety glasses.
Written by Tony Huntimer and Posted with Permission of CarTechBooks