When it comes to restoring the upholstery of a classic car, the type of vehicle, whether it is a luxury limousine or a compact saloon, does not significantly impact once significant aspect of the entire restoration process.

Before re-upholstery can begin, it is highly probable that all of the furniture pieces will require refurbishment of their springs and fillings.

It is important for individuals to have some understanding of upholstery when entrusting a restorer with the task of selecting springs and fillings for their furniture. While it is not necessary for them to possess extensive knowledge in this area, having a basic understanding can be beneficial before seeking professional assistance. 

The restorer plays a crucial role in the re-upholstery process by ensuring that the frames to be recovered are in excellent condition. This involves inspecting the frames for any signs of rust or dents and addressing these issues before proceeding. Additionally, applying a fresh coat of paint to the frames helps to enhance their appearance and durability.

The initial concern that needs to be considered is the selection of appropriate springs to be utilised. In the era preceding mass production, specifically until the mid-Fifties, large family saloons featured upholstery that bore a striking resemblance to English drawing rooms. These vehicles were typically equipped with covers made of either hide or velour, which were placed atop pocket springs for enhanced comfort.

Pocket springs were widely regarded as a symbol of luxury due to their unique construction. These springs were meticulously crafted by individually sewing them into fabric pockets, which were then carefully mounted on either a wooden frame or a metal seat pan.

The upholstery found in mid to entry-level cars during that time period typically consisted of cylindrical springs, commonly referred to as serpentines.

The serpentines were skilfully intertwined and affixed onto frames made of wood, metal, or tubular materials. The small loops at the end of each spring were interconnected by being hooked together.

During the Sixties, , continuous coil springs were a popular choice for upholstery in a wide range of vehicle classes. The products were cost-effective, long-lasting, space-efficient, and offered optimal comfort.

Continuous coil springs were produced in large quantities using specially designed and constructed machines. Car manufacturers would often specify double springs for larger and more expensive vehicles, while opting for single springs in the medium-range market.

Throughout the years, car manufacturers have made significant advancements in utilising springs of varying thicknesses to optimise the springing mechanism of car seats. This enables them to customise the level of comfort for each car model, ensuring that drivers and passengers can enjoy comfortable journeys over long distances, regardless of the vehicle's price.

Stretching and fitting coil springs onto a seat frame is a task that requires specialised skills and expertise, making it advisable to entrust this job to trained professionals.

To successfully complete the task, it was essential to possess both specialised tools and a significant amount of experience. Although the job may  have appeared straightforward to the uninitiated,  it entailed a considerable level of risk due to the involvement of highly tensioned springs.

Many middle to upmarket vehicles manufactured prior to the war and into the early Fifties commonly featured upholstery filled with horsehair, as it was one of the primary materials used during that time.

Entry-level saloons and other vehicles in that category historically utilised various raw materials in addition to horsehair, although the outcomes were often unsatisfactory.

Natural latex foam, which is derived from rubber primarily cultivated in Southeast Asia, stands out as the most superior option among the available alternatives.  Latex foam was widely utilised for several years until its popularity declined due to a shortage of supply and escalating prices.

In recent years, the design and development of car upholstery has undergone significant advancements due to a greater understanding of ergonomics.

These advances were driven by the development of polyurethane foam, which first began to appear just before the outbreak of the Second World Warm and became the material of choice from the mid-Fifties onwards.

 Polyurethane foam revolutionised the car upholstery industry by providing a solution for determining the most suitable fillings for car upholstery suppliers.

Derived from plastic, Polyurethane is a versatile synthetic material.

that offers numerous advantages and attractions. Some of these include:

Lightweight plastics are known for their exceptionally low densities, making them some of the lightest materials available.

Sound-absorbing materials possess properties that effectively diminish noise levels, thereby providing a more serene environment for passengers.

Exhibiting exceptional resistance to corrosion, even in the most extreme conditions.

Polyurethane is known for its ease of use when it comes to cutting and shaping. Even enthousiasts with limited experience could cut the foam into precise shapes quickly and with minimal waste.

Heavy density foam was commonly used for on the seat base, while lighter weight foam is often preferred for the backrest, as it allowed for greater flexibility in shaping the foam when installing seat covers.

Although there will be more expense involved with sourcing high-quality springs and fillings for a re-upholstery project, they remain modest compared to the overall cost of restoration. Driver and passenger comfort and safety are important meaning that using the best of materials will be a valuable investment in terms of enhancing visual appeal and comfort in a restored classic.


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