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Rejuvenating the seats

Click to enlarge - XJC front seatsWhen I purchased the Jag the seats were in reasonably good condition, 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 Click to enlarge - XJC seat before repairacceptable for a twenty five year old interior.  The vinyl was in excellent condition except for coming unglued in a few areas.

Once I had dismantled the interior, to assist with the body restoration, it became obvious that this was an ideal opportunity to renovate the seats and trims.

After a bit of research I decided that the Leatherique range of products was ideal to add some new life to the leather and so began the redying saga which I did over a 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 couple of days), thoroughly massaging it into the leather and stitching.  The Rejuvenator Oil softens and revives the leather and so I left it 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 bClick to enlarge - XJC rear seatsest and you have to be careful to avoid any build up as the water based dye will dry in lumps.  Particular attention is 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 am very pleased with the final result which is a great improvement on what I had before.  The seats are  well presented and show no signs of the wear and age lines  that were evident before the Leatherique treatment.  Although the seats don’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 Click fto enlarge - XJC consoledash 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 it now looks how Jaguar should have finished it when it was first built.

Restoration completedReturn to top of page

After being off the road for twelve months (December 2000 to November 2001) my XJC is now back on the road.  The restoration cost  a hell of a lot more than I planned and took four times longer than expected mainly due to an ever expanding list of items included in 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 is a magnificent Jaguar XJC 5.3 that I am sure I will get a great deal of pleasure from.  I did get a bit carried away and rebuilt or replaced a lot more items than I originally planned but I have rebuilt this car to last 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.


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