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Article - Seat Restoration

Frequently Asked Questions about Seat Restorations

Is Your Corvette Ready?

Seat restoration can seem daunting. Yet, after countless hours on the road, almost every Corvette can use a fresh seat. We’ll give you some info on what to look for, even if you let the experts handle the actual restoration.

Whether your Corvette has seen years of road time, or only makes the car show circuit, your seats can wear down and deteriorate over time. If you see yellow dust on your carpet and interior, this may be your seat foam deteriorating. Compare the feel and appearance of your driver’s seat to your passenger seat, which typically gets less use. Are the bolsters on your seat worn and faded? Is the leather cracking? These are telltale signs to look for when considering if you should restore your Corvette seats. Luckily, there are also experts who know how to do the job, getting your Corvette back on the road – or to the show – in no time!

Restoration Indicators: What to Look For

Seat Frames

C3: A common problem with early C3 Corvette Seats is that the seat frames need repaired from rust that, if left untreated, can often end with a broken frame. Something as simple as a leaky T-Top can accelerate the oxidation process on the metal frame and leave you with a damaged seat frame. Check for symptoms such as an incorrect seat back angle, a seat bottom that is “sunk down” too far, an uncomfortable ride, seat slides that are inoperative or any other obvious signs that something is broken under your seat. During frame restoration, the seat frames are sand blasted, welded, painted and restored back to correct functional condition.

C4: Fortunately the C4 Corvette seat design is less prone to damage than its C3 predecessor. If you feel your seat is sinking or you experience seat sag when you get in your Corvette, you may want to take a look at your C4 seat trapeze. The seat trapeze is what holds your seat foam in place. When inspecting the trapeze, look for rusted or broken metal and broken or torn webbing. The webbing can get dry and brittle over time and be prone to breakage.

Seat Trim

C3: Remember to also check your trim pieces for rust and cracks. These often get overlooked, and replacing these pieces on your seat with new bezels and trim will refresh the look of your seats, bringing them back to new condition. Also remember to check behind your C3 Corvette seats to see if your seat back is cracked. These can get hard and brittle and crack over time.

C4: The C4 Corvette sport seats came with controls on the side of the seat that are surrounded by a bezel. Those bezels are inexpensive to replace and can be a quick and easy improvement to the appearance of your seats. Remember, when doing a seat evaluation, check the hoses, gears and cables for damage.

Seat Foam

C3: A very common problem with C3 Corvette seats is the breakdown of seat foam over time. The foam deteriorates, shrinks and crushes from years of use. The deteriorated and crushed foam will leak out in small portions and leave a yellow dust on your carpet. This yellow dust on your carpet and interior is a clear indicator that your seat foam is ready to be replaced.

C4: Another sure giveaway for C4 Corvettes is a loose seat cover. As seat foam breaks down from usage and wear, it no longer retains the original shape and can make your seat cover sag. Replacing the seat covers and foam will ensure that the new covers fill out the leather as intended. Remember to check the obvious problem spot on the C4 bolster for foam break down. This area wears quickly, as it’s hard to get in and out of the car without coming in contact with this area of the seat. Without a new seat foam on hand, it’s difficult to know how bad your seat foam has deteriorated; however, you can compare it to your passenger’s seat that has less wear and tear.

Seat Covers

C3: If your leather seats have any age on them, it’s very possible they are cracked, faded or worn. Maintenance with leather care products can certainly reduce the possibility of cracking, but sometimes it’s too late to maintain and it’s time to replace. Over time, your seat covers might also suffer from fade that can be caused by prolonged exposure to harsh sunlight. Like your seat foam, it’s a good idea to compare the wear of your driver’s seat to the wear on your passenger side seat. This might help gauge the wear on your seat, especially if you have a tendency to drive solo more than with a passenger.

C4: Again, when considering a seat restoration for your C4 Corvette, check the driver’s side bolster of your seat. That tends to be the worst area for wear and abuse, due to driver’s using the bolster to assist them into the car. Check your convertibles for sun fade, as well as your coupes, if you have a tendency to leave your targa top removed on hot summer days. When considering seat cover replacement, remember to keep in mind you have a choice on whether you want to keep your car’s original color or personalize it with a two-tone seat cover for a custom look. If you have a convertible or a coupe with targa tops, it might be a good idea to compare your seat covers to an *interior swatch to determine if your seat covers have retained their true color, which can be hard to catch if your seats have faded equally over time.

*Mid America Motorworks Corvette Swatch Program. Time and sun exposure can cause your interior to fade. Be sure of your Corvette’s true interior color by requesting a FREE color swatch! - 877.639.2844

Expert Seat Restoration – The Beginning

Seat restoration is an important step in the maintenance of your Corvette. The process begins by removing your seats and shipping them to Mid America Motorworks through UPS or another shipping outlet. Once the seats arrive at our facility, our staff will assess the condition of your seats and determine if reinforcements or other add-ons are necessary.

You approve the project before our staff removes the existing seat covers and foam to begin the restoration. On C3 Corvettes, a full frame restoration is also available, including sandblasting the frame, adding reinforcements if they are needed and painting the frame to prep for new seat foam and covers. Fourth, Fifth and Sixth Generation Corvette seat frames were built differently and don’t typically break, but painting is available to prevent rust and corrosion. A new trapeze can be installed on the C4 Corvette seats if you are experiencing sag.

For more information on restoring your Corvette Seats, call 800.500.1500.

Seat Foam – Is It Important?

While some seat covers are available by themselves, we always recommend that you purchase new seat foam for the best fit and function. Seat foam deteriorates over time, in as few as five years. Not only will putting new seat covers on old foam sacrifice the appearance of the restoration, it can also cause rapid wear in areas where the seat foam is compromised. To be sure that your restoration is worth the time and anticipation, opt for seat foam.

For the C5 Corvette, Mid America Motorworks created seat foam that has been engineered with a reinforced seat bottom and reinforced bolster pockets to extend the life of the foam.

Seat Covers – From OE To Custom

A variety of seat cover options are available to suit the needs and wants of every owner. From OE-style leather and vinyl, to the rugged AltraVinyl and durable 100 percent leather, you select the seat covers that fit your needs. Once you determine which material you want to use, there are several style choices to make your interior perfect. Choose from any of the below options, or contact the restoration experts directly if you have a custom project in mind.

Seat Cover Material

  • 100 Percent Leather

    Genuine, 100 percent leather weighing a durable 2.5 ounces per square foot.

  • OE Style Leather

    Follows GM’s original design, utilizing a combination of leather and vinyl patterns, with vinyl used in areas subject to the most distress during use.

  • Vinyl

    Vinyl seats were standard equipment in pre-1976 Corvettes.

  • AltraVinyl

    The best combination of great looks and real leather feel, paired with rugged durability.

Seat Cover Styles

  • 2 Tone Options

    On C3 and C4 Corvettes, the outer (bolster) color will be black and you choose the inner (insert) color along with accent stitched French seams. On C5 and C6 Corvettes, choose inner (insert) leather color and outer (bolster) color along with accent stitched French seams.

  • Corvette Logo and/or Script Options

    All or our Original Equipment Style Seat Covers are Licensed GM exact reproductions and include embroidered Corvette or Special Edition logos, or script as original. Full Color or Tone-on-Tone, embroidered logos and script make your interior come to life and are available for models that originally had no logo.

Other Considerations to Keep in Mind

Some Corvettes originally came with cloth seats. Cloth is not available in the marketplace today but may be fitted with leather or vinyl replacement covers. Replacement seat control bezels are available to complete your restoration and provide a finished look.

  • C4 Corvettes

    Bladders and some seat switches are not readily available for replacement. Sport seat covers can be installed without the bladder controls to keep the sporty look.

  • C5 Corvettes

    Bladders are not readily available for replacement. Sport seats have an opening in the headrest, standard seats do not. Sport seats have a bigger bolster than standard seats.

  • C6 Corvettes

    Disconnect the battery for the recommended amount of time and ground your self to the car before unhooking the air bag. Sport seats have a side air bag.

Quick Reference

As you know, not all Corvette seats were created equally. Each generation has subtle changes or additions to the design and seats are not exempt from this evolution process. Look for these tell-tale signs if you’re considering a seat restoration.

C3 Corvette

  • Check the seat back for cracking and fading
  • Look for seat foam deterioration (yellow dust on your carpet)
  • Cracked or faded vinyl
  • Rusty chrome parts and rusty frame

C4 Corvette

  • Check the seat bottom trapeze for proper functioning
  • Cracked or faded leather or vinyl
  • Worn bolsters on seat covers
  • Worn seat foam
  • Inoperable Lumbar Bladders

C5 Corvette

  • Seat track play – repair bushings available
  • Lumbar bladders not working
  • Broken seat frame
  • Worn bolsters on seat covers
  • Seat foam on bolsters worn through from sharp edge on bolster support
  • Crushed seat foam from entering and exiting the car

C6 Corvette

  • Worn bolsters on seat covers
  • Crushed seat foam from entering and exiting the car

Talk to the Restoration Experts at Mid America Motorworks

Seat restoration is only the beginning. This is also a great time to replace carpet, add accent interior pieces and give your entire interior a whole new look. Call 800.500.1500 for more details