Repair and Restoration Of Your Imperial's Interior Vinyl

Imperial Home Page -> Repair -> Interior -> Vinyl

Question from Don:

I need to redye a brown dash I have in excellent condition to replace the tattered blue dash in my '67 Sedan. It seems the previous owner was part pit bull and liked to chew on dashes and door panels(sigh). Any good recommendations for vinyl dyes that will do this? I've tried vinyl paint on one door panel. Although it looks good every little nick takes the paint off.


From Greg:

I have a similar situation as I chose to get a dash pad out of a donor car to replace the badly cracked one in my '65 Crown convertible. I went to one the local automotive paint suppliers and had them color match the paint from another interior part. It is a special type of paint they mixed and the vinyl has to be totally clean and free of any grease of dirt so I also bought a product to prep the pad prior to painting. Why don't you speak to someone knowledgeable in your local automotive paint store. I'll bet they can provide you with the product(s) you will need.

From Mikey:

SEM brands make a prep spray that is very useful when painting vinyl and plastic interior parts. It chemically " cleans" the part and lets the paint adhere much much better than just spraying the paint on. You may have to go to a shop that sells paints and paint prep products to body shops and such to find it. It can be found in spray cans as well as in bulk as I recall and its not expensive.

From Don:

I second Mikey on SEM products. They do a very good job on vinyl and other plastic parts that need renewing. I even sprayed my boot on my convertible and it looks great.

From Ernie:

Drop into a local car dealership and get the name of the company they use for vinyl repair, they do use a dye product that doesn't come off. Probably work out better than doing it yourself.

Addition from Don:

The SEM products work great and are not hard to use for us casual auto buffs. They do not rub off in my experience and are easier to use than normal spray paint products. They also work on carpets and I have used the SEM flexible coating to recolor the faded areas of my burgundy carpet (yes you can spot spray areas to renew the color). In my opinion its great stuff and easy to use!

Question from Don:

Is there any good (solvent?) test to verify where leather trim ends and vinyl begins? Some of these vinyls are hard to tell from leather.


From Dick:

The surest way is to find a place where you can see the back of the material. Leather will look like suede, vinyl will have a cloth mesh backing.

From Elisabeth:

I have worked with upholstery for many years and all upholstery with leather/vinyl trim that I have worked with have vinyl on the sides and on the back of frontseat. The leather are just there you sit.

From Kate:

If it's leather, is will be much more absorbent than vinyl - try a bit of leather treatment, either a lotion/balm type or simply a bit of soapy (NOT detergent!) water - vinyl is nearly impervious unless it's so dry as to be inflexible. Leather in any condition will continue to absorb and rehydrate until it is flabby with moisture.

Question from Dallas:

Hate to admit it but I know nothing about recovering the seats in my 61', headliner etc. Found a guy that will do all of this but said I needed to purchase the vinyl or cloth I want to have on the front & back seats in my car. I said "okay". Anyone know where is the best place to purchase?

Reply from Kerry:

Find a good fabric store that has marine vinyl (its the best but still dirt cheap). Interior upholstry fabric will work for the cloth.

Question from Mick (1958):

I have a '58 Crown Coupe, with trim code 060=Monaco tan. The problem I have is that I have just got the jacquard cloth for the seats and door trims from SMS auto. Now I have to get the vinyl for the door trims and part of the seats. Most of the seats is metallic leather and jacquard cloth. The leather I can get over here, it is a pearl Finnish leather. But the vinyl I cannot. SMS said they can get it for me but need a sample. I have no original vinyl on the car. SMS said they have a dealer album for 58 Chrysler, but not Imperial. So this is the question, 58 Chrysler has the same vinyl '58 Imperial? Is Monaco tan is Chrysler trim as well as Imperial? The same vinyl I mean. The jacquard has crowns and "I's" in it they are a darker than the cloth around it The Crown's are the same color as the top of dash. The other color in the jacquard cloth is probably the same color as the vinyl, I would only be guessing. Any info may help.


From Kerry:

Mick, if you cannot find the correct vinyl, you can dye and repair the original. Leatherique products ( can match your color and provide the pearl component. My '64 has pearlized white die and came out great. You can see photos and a story about the process on the IML site.

From Arran:

You are lucky, most people have the exact opposite problem in that they can find the vinyl but not the matching leather. When you say pearl finish I assume you mean the kind that has a metallic sheen to it, correct? Don't go by the colors in the Jacquard fabric to match the vinyl, the cloth and the vinyl were likely made by two different manufacturers and were more then likely picked to complement one another. If you don't have any of the original vinyl to go by then all that you have to do is find a vinyl that matches the leather in color and finish. Have a look through the Imperials by Year section on the club website to see how most of the seats were upholstered in these 58's. The vinyl that you seek is available through most upholstery shops over here because it was used in many different cars from the 50's to the 70's. To answer your question I highly doubt whether Chrysler used special vinyl for Imperials, more then likely the used it in some other cars but just gave the color a different name. Fortunately I don't have this problem as I still have the original upholstery to go by and black is black when it comes to the seats.

This page last updated June 17, 2004.  Send us your feedback, and come join the Imperial Mailing List - Online Car Club.