Of all the dozens of challenges  that will need to be addressed in a classic car restoration, revamping the headliner might be easily pushed down the list of priorities.

Headliner, by nature, resides in the background of the car's interior yet plays a significant part, shining a light from above.

When appraising a classic car for restoration, the headliner's chances in a highly damaged condition and needs to be repaired or even replaced is likely.

On the other hand, if  the restorer strikes it lucky and the worst that they will find is the headlining may simply be discoloured after having a fair coating of nicotine applied to it.

  Most drivers and their passengers tended to be heavier smokers during the Fifties and Sixties than they are today, and they left their mark.

Providing the cloth is in sound condition, headliner, even nicotine-stained can usually be brought back to top condition using a good quality carpet or upholstery cleaner.

It is more than likely that a few tears will be founf in the headliner.

If they are not too severe can be sewn together using a  circular upholsters needle,although if the tear is more serious or widespread, the only reasonable alternative is to replace the old headlining with a new one.

If this is the path to be taken, great care must be taken when removing the old lining not to tear the material, as it can be used as a pattern for the replacement.

The lining will probably be secured to the roof by strips of cloth called lists.

In older cars, the lists will be tacked on to wooden roof rails, although if the vehicle dates back to the Fifties or Sixties, it will be attached to a metal bar pushed through the list then either screwed or clipped to the roof.

To remove the tacks holding the metal bar, either a tack remover or, if not, a  chisel and mallet will be required.

The first stage is to remove the double piping around the finishing line. Next, all the tacks around the edge of the lining need to be released, beginning at the nearside front. When this part of the operation is complete, the lists should only hold the lining in position.

If these are secured by tacks, they should be eased out, beginning at the front of the car. In the event that the lining is held in place by metal roof bars, they should be unscrewed or unclipped according to order, rolling them up in the cloth.

Once the lining has been rolled back all the way, the rear curtain can be removed.  To do this, the tacks around the rear window, then the side windows, the bottom finishing line and finally the top one can be released.

With the lining out of the car, now is the time to deal with any rust that has shown up.

The first stage is to apply a rust preventing agent after which the affected area should be painted with anti-rust paint.

While the cover is off, now is the opportunity to replace the interior light flex that is likely to have perished after all these years.

If some of the tack rails have also not fared well, they should be replaced.

With the background work complete, the next stage is picking out the best material to make up the headlining.

Headliners come in various materials to match a number of options- either recovering the existing headliner replacing the headliner while retaining the current board, or a complete replacement.

If the restorer feels confident enough to buy their own replacement material, they should bear in mind that compact to medium-sized vehicles will need material around three meters or 100 inches wide, while larger vehicles will need about half a yard more.

  An experienced restorer will have done all they can  to keep the original lining intact,  as it can be used as a measure to gauge exact measurements.  

Once the material is in the workshop, using the old material as a pattern will allow the replacement to be marked out. This procedure should be carried out exercising considerable care, remembering to allow play of no less than two inches all round for each piece.

Starting from the rear of the vehicle, the headlining should be returned to its place, from the centre of the first list, which should be tacked in position.

Once the process has been completed, the headliner should be kept stretched as the tacking continues, working its way gradually down the car.

If metal bars are used, the job will obviously be much easier, with these being positioned before the lining is fitted in the car. Once all this has been done, the sides can be tacked at inch intervals.

Once this stage is completed, all that remains is to fix the back curtain, with the top being finished first, followed by the sides and edges, bottom, centre and corners in that specific order.

 All joints shouldn be concealed using a double cord piping.

Fitting a draught excluder around the door surrounds will make for an ideal finishing touch. Whent that is done it will be the time for the restorer tp take a step back to admire their excellent work.

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A guide to acquiring, restoring and maintaining UK or European Classic Cars of the Fifties and Sixties- as well as a recollection of the iconic cars of the era and the visionaries that produced them.

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