BTC Interior Restoration – Trim Pieces

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As part of the ‘Built to Cruise‘ project here at StangNet, restoration of the 1989 Mustang was in order.  We not only planned to convert the ‘Notch over to the new 2011 5.0 V8 Coyote engine, but we wanted to give this 1989 a nice big refresher.  The car’s interior was originally Blue but any Mustang fan knows the rare and not often found Black interior is the way to go.  We wanted to document our adventure in converting this ‘Notch over to having a black interior and share with you some of the techniques we learned along the way as well as where to find parts and what all products are needed to make it happen, in a ‘professional’ way so to speak.  Jump on in and follow along as we give a brief overview of the details and we also hope that this may help down the road when refreshing your FOX body Mustang.

In an ideal world, picking up the phone and calling a parts yard and requesting a FOX Mustang Black interior and having it all shipped to your door would be great!  But the fact of the matter is that Ford did not do a lot of Mustang interiors in black, but it is the choice of so many nowadays.  So finding a complete Black interior kit just does not happen.

The seat upholstery, headliner and carpet are easily obtained from any Mustang parts supplier like TMI Products, Late Model Restoration or CJ Pony Parts.  We will be detailing those items a bit later.  But now, all those interior trim plastic pieces had to be sourced.  Some black parts are being manufactured as new, but not many at all.  The only ‘new’ plastic parts that make up our interior in black are the door arm rest pads (not the arm rest itself as it is not being made) and a console arm rest delete.

We then first tried to source what we could in black trim on used parts, especially any of the higher wear items where worry of paint or die coming off would be a concern.  We contacted Todd over at Prestige Mustang for this.  We were able to obtain a center console, door sills and kick panels in black.  This was a great find, as these ARE high wear areas and no worries of wear and deterioration of black paint or dye.  Another thing we picked up from Prestige was a set of rear quarter coupe trim panels, but they did not have any in black.  We could have dyed ours if not for the fact they were to damaged from years of sun.  The plastic had become chalky and brittle.  If you can take your fingernail and scratch off plastic into flakes and powder then you know that dye or paint is not going to stick, so we picked up a set of red panels from them.  Something that we found out and no one really could tell us why or knew about it, was the panels we got from them are of the 91-93 year and the seat shoulder belt bolt location is different.  We will need to drill a new hole in the panels to allow the placement of the shoulder strap bolt correctly.  What to do with the extra hole we do not know yet.  Be aware of this while sourcing parts.  Also at the last minute, we decided against painting our dash.  When it came down to painting the A/C registers and vents, we knew all those crooks and crannies were going to be an issue.  We picked up the phone to see if Prestige Mustang happened to have the registers in black we could obtain, but the only way to get them is to get the entire dash…so that’s exactly what we did.

That leaves us with quite a bit of parts left over that need to be black.  We did some research on the methods and the materials to use to properly change the color on plastic to black (or any other color) and have it hold up over the years.  There are several approaches and methods that people suggest and take to do this.  Below are the details of what we did and it seems to have worked VERY well and expect it to hold up for a long time.

(We are dealing with hard plastic, not vinyl so be aware.  Vinyl can be prepped in the same way we have prepped the plastic BUT be sure to use a Vinyl paint or dye and do not ‘prime’ before application.)


Getting the parts clean!  Removing all the old ‘Armor All’ and other materials is priority one.  Some people use soap and water to start.  We had some Simple Green in house and chose that, BUT we knew to dilute it quite a bit before using.  DO NOT use it in full concentration, it will damage the plastic surface.  If you are unsure just do not use it, stick to soap and water. We then used ‘Dupont Prep Sol’ to rub down and remove any other contaminants and oils on our plastic.  We then took a ‘grey’ scotch bright pad (do not use RED OR GREEN) to lightly scuff up the surface.  After that we used Dupont Final Clean to remove any last contaminants and oils.  We like to finish with this as opposed to using the Prep Sol again as it is oil based and the Final Clean is not and evaporates quickly to allow for paint.

Klean Strip ‘Bulldog’ Adhesion Promoter.  We have used this on several other projects and have really has become a staple in our painting of plastics.  Applying this before paint allows the paint to adhere and bond better with the plastic.  Not sure really sure what it does, maybe opens the pours on the plastic…  we aren’t scientists here..  we just know it works. Use this stuff with 2 light coats and we mean really light.  It says hold the can 12″ away and it needs to be.  It’s a real fine spray so imagine you are trying to mist the plastic.  Let the spray just ‘land’ on the parts.  Allow 3 minutes after the first coat then allow 5-10 after the second of the promoter before hitting it with the paint.


We approached the painting with 2 different methods.  One is as good as the other we feel but on the bigger pieces we wanted to get away from the ‘spray’ can approach and use an actual interior ‘dye’ from a paint spraying gun.  If we were to start from the beginning on painting all the interior pieces, we would stick with the spray gun and interior dye…  it just seems to cover better, more evenly and give a better over all look and feel.  We are not going to go in to details of spraying or application techniques, as there is always ‘this is right and this is wrong’.  Just remember to keep it on the light side, as you do not want any buildup and want to maintain the grain texture found in the trim parts.  Always follow the instructions from the manufacturer of the product you use about how many and what type coats (light, medium, full) and the flash drying times.  Some people also suggest using a primer when going from one color to the other to help with coverage… we were going black so we knew it would ‘cover’ any older color and stayed away from the primer.  Also never use primer on vinyl before dyeing.

1.  Spray Can Paint – We picked up some Interior paint from Late Model Restoration.  They have a complete line of SEM Products paint all premixed to factory colors.  You can get the paint, primers and vinyl spray can paints from them ready to use.

2.  PPG SB12 Jet Black Dye- This is a PPG product that is already premixed and does not need to be cut down before spraying.  It is made for interior plastic and vinyl pieces.  More specifically, it is made for vinyl but PPG does state that it works on hard plastic as well just fine, and according to the ‘pros’ it holds up much better on hard plastic than PPG’s own plastic paint.  So stick to the PPG SB series.  This paint can be color matched and mixed at your local PPG store, all you need is your year and paint code.

All in all we are very happy with this process for getting our interior pieces to all Black, and they look great!

Other notable mentions:

Front Fender Liners: A good method to get these like new is to clean them up and spray them.  We used the above ‘prepping’ method to get our fender liner ready.  We then used some black Dupli-Color Bumper Coating and applied several coast.  Turned out nice.

GT Seat Frames – We are installing a new TMI Leather Upholstery in Project BTC.  We obtained some used medium-back GT seats (our 89 had the low back standard seats) from Prestige Mustang and disassembled them .  Most of the seat frame will be covered by the upholstery but some corners do show and of course the ‘always’ dirty spring and hinges are on display.  So we cleaned these up as well… a little pressure wash with Simple Green, then prepped them for paint like the instructions above. However we did apply some primer to the metal before using the paint from Late Model Restoration.  Their interior trim paint is a lacquer and will work just on metal just fine.  We blacked everything up a bit but focused our spraying detail on the hinge area and the seat corners and where the floor seat bolts go on the seat tracks/rails as they are viewable.  Not bad!

SC-1 ClearCoat Spray – This product is from Maxima Racing Oils.  I use this on my Quads to keep them clean and shiny.  It’s some sort of high tech misting silicone spray.  You mist it on the product, then wipe down.  It leaves no real residue to speak of and takes anything black and makes it really black.  Some of the interior parts that were already black had some greying or whiteness on them after cleaning.  I sprayed this on these parts, wiped it down now the parts look like new and they have a deep black shine and do not leave a weird residue like Armor All.  I’m sure there are several products out there that can do this, but this one is really a nice product and thought I would share,  pick up a can on Amazon and you will be impressed.  Just note that it mists, so place on rag first if you are around objects you do not want shiny.

Look for exciting updates next week as we plan to have Project ‘Built to Cruise’ fired up and running!

Categories: Built to Cruise, Mustang Tech