Refurbishing / Replacing Kick Panel Upholstery
First-generation Ford Mustangs used plastic kick panels. If you had the standard interior, that’s all it was— a big piece of plastic. Deluxe (Pony) interior cars added kick panel upholstery and a bright piece of stainless trim to jazz things up a bit. Essentially Ford glued a piece of carpet trimmed with color-keyed vinyl to the same plastic panels that came with the standard interior. While that doesn’t sound like much of an upgrade, the net effect is a pretty snazzy look by comparison.
My kick panels were in serious need of replacement. Fifty years of California sun combined with the harsh kicking the kick panel upholstery received took its toll. The plastic was already cracked before I removed the panels from the car, and the carpet has been bleached by the sun to a light purple. The stainless trim might be salvageable, but a set of perfect reproductions came with the interior kit, so that’s what I used.
I’ve Got Glue on my Fingers…and my phone
Auto Custom Carpets produces their kick panel upholstery carpet in the U.S.A, and since they also make the carpet kit I’m using, the carpet should match perfectly. Before I glued anything, I wanted to mark and punch the holes for the stainless trim. Because the panels are the same for standard and deluxe interior cars, the holes aren’t punched. The auto punch and a pencil made short work of getting the holes started. After that, I lined up the carpet, tested the vinyl for fit, and applied the glue. Weldwood contact cement trim adhesive is apparently the best, but it’s hard to find here in CA. 3M Trim Adhesive is what I ended up using, and, as is typical for 3M products, it works great.
I’m not crazy about the cut of the carpet, but it works. I had trouble with edges protruding, and that made it hard to stretch and roll the vinyl over the back. Even with that fudging, it only took me about 90 minutes to put together both kick panels. I’m grateful that there’s a pre-fabricated option, but I almost wish I’d made my own kick panel upholstery. Of course, I don’t have an industrial sewing machine, so it’s a moot point, but it would’ve been a fun little project. Then again, the last thing I need is another time-consuming project.