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An upholstery project on a 1948 Ford to make your eyes pop

Projects | May 1, 2024 | By:

As car show season gears up in North America, here’s a look at a 1948 Ford Popular delivery van overhaul that’s making the rounds Down Under—and even in Hot Rod New Zealand magazine in 2023.

The Ford Pop interior was previously all metal and hard surfaces—no fabrics on the floor, doors, walls, ceiling, anywhere. It was a blank slate, but the lack of interior necessitated extra steps for Napier Auto Upholstery, of Napier, New Zealand. 

For that classic car look, the upholstery team had to figure out where the bows would be and make them, weld taps to the steel insert and install a steel flange around the edge to attach the headliner, for example. “You have to think about the final look to start with and work backwards,” says Bobbi-jo Wilkie, Napier’s workshop manager. To contrast the orange exterior, the client chose
a light tan fabric to keep the interior feeling spacious.

The seats that the client desired were Mongoose racing seats, an upgrade from the vehicle’s original basic models. To create a comfortable thigh position for driving, though, Napier needed to craft extra-big bottom bolsters, since the seat frames bolted directly to the vehicle’s flat floor and the seat frame itself wouldn’t have created an angle for people’s legs like in a passenger car. Other challenges included having armrests and speakers in set places that had to be designed around on the doors, and the tight confines of the vehicle itself presented difficulties in general.  

The project won Napier an award in the Upholstery, Vehicle category in 2023 for the Advanced Textiles Association New Zealand. The 2024 award winners will be announced at its conference June 19–21.

Project Name: Ford Pop

Award: 2023 Advanced Textiles Association New Zealand Awards for Excellence Winner: Upholstery, Vehicle

Design and Installation: Napier Auto Upholstery, Napier, New Zealand

Fabrics: Vinyl, box weave carpet, light neutral headlining

Fabric Supplied by: Shann NZ and Le Mans Auto Fabrics in Wellington

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