Rejuvenating the seats
Considering their age, the Jag seats were in reasonably good condition with no tears or holes, the stitching was
tight and the leather was reasonably soft. Apart from normal “age and wear lines” the seats retained that used
leather patina that was quite acceptable for an old leather interior. The vinyl areas were in excellent condition except for coming unglued in a few areas but nothing needed replacing.
The interior was originally removed to assist with the body restoration but it soon became obvious that this was
an ideal opportunity to also renovate the seats, interior trim and carpet etc.
After comparing various options I decided that the Leatherique range of products from the USA were ideal to add
some new life to the leather, and so began the redying saga over a rather messy few weeks.
First step was to dismantle the seats and cut a small piece of leather and vinyl from under the seats to be used
for colour matching the dye. I sent these off-cuts to Sydney to the Australian Leatherique distributor. When I
looked closely I found that the interior had a number of various shades of colour in the leather and vinyl, therefore the colour was matched to “average” the original colours.
Using general purpose automotive paint thinners and heaps of clean
rags I stripped the original lacquer based dye from the front and rear leather seat facings. This removed the old dye and provided the best
possible surface to apply the new dye to. I was very careful to keep the thinners and old dye off the vinyl surfaces to prevent damaging them.
After stripping the dye I applied several generous coats of Leatherique Rejuvenator Oil (over a few
days), thoroughly massaging it into the leather and stitching. The Rejuvenator Oil softens and revives the leather and I left it to dry for a week to allow the oil to soak in.
I then applied two coats of Leatherique dye which had been colour matched to my samples. I used
small foam brushes on the flat surfaces (to stop brush marks) and a small paint brush with hard
bristles to work the dye into the stitches and seams. Thin coats are best and you have to be careful to avoid any build up or the water based
dye will dry in lumps. Particular attention was needed in the seams and around the stitching to thin out the application and spread the built up dye.
After leaving the seats to dry for a week I gave them a good buffing with towelling to bring out the satin lustre in the leather.
I was very pleased with the final result which was a great improvement on what it was like before. The seats were well presented and showed
no signs of the wear and age lines that were evident before the Leatherique treatment. Although the seats didn’t look new the improvement
was accomplished for a few hundred dollars instead of thousands for new leather trim.
Additional Timber Veneer
The interior of the Coupe was crying out for some extra timber veneer. The central dash and glove
box lid were the only areas originally finished with polished timber and the rest of the dash and
console area was finished in either silver metal or black vinyl. To add a further touch of class to the interior I purchased a timber veneer kit from Carwood to replace the original centre console, radio,
ignition switch and light switch surrounds. The additional timber veneer really lifted the appearance of
the interior and delivered the finish that Jaguar should have provided when it was first built.
The XJC was off the road for just over twelve months and the restoration cost a lot more than I had planned as well
as taking four times longer than expected, all due to an ever expanding list of items that I added to the rebuild. At times the restoration was my worst nightmare come to
haunt me and at other times the source of a great deal of pleasure and satisfaction.
Thankfully the good times outweighed the bad and the end
result was a magnificent Jaguar XJC 5.3 that will provide a
great deal of pleasure for many years. I did get a bit carried away and rebuilt or replaced a lot more items than originally planned but I restored
this car to ensure that it lasts for at least another twenty five years. Would I do it again? Absolutely no way! Any future classic car that I buy
will be fully restored by a previous caring and fussy owner like me - I have learnt my lesson (Well, no not really!).