By on April 7, 2011


As the 1966 Dodge A100 Hell Project progresses (slowly), I’m finally at the point at which T-shirts and towels draped over the trashed seats— nuked by over a decade of outdoor storage in the Colorado sun— no longer cut it. It’s time to fix ‘em up!

The framing and foam rubber are in beat but usable condition, but the original vinyl covers are totally hopeless. I could find some junkyard seats narrow enough to fit (e.g., Miata or MR2 seats), but that just won’t cut it in an A100. Now I face a dilemma: Do I go all-out custom and find some totally stony red metalflake Naugahyde, then get a custom upholstery shop to make my seats look like something out of a booth in an upscale Wisconsin bowling alley, circa 1964? Thick red piping, the works? Or do I call up my ex-coworkers at Year One and order me up a set of 1965 Dart GT seat covers? The Dart GT and most of the Chrysler factory drag race cars of the era used light and simple A100 buckets, so I could be all vintage-correct and get some colorful Dart covers sewn onto my van seats. What to do?

For now, I need a temporary solution, so I can drive the van without getting covered with crumbly foam-rubber chunks. Hey, Tradesman-based RVs of the 1970s use very similar seats to the A100′s!

This junked 1975 Dodge RV had seats that were first cousins to the ones in my van; the external dimensions are identical, though the spacing of the tracks are narrower in the A100. For 20 bucks, though, I’ll take one!

All I need to do is remove the RV’s seat tracks and drill new mounting holes for the A100′s. Fortunately, the front-to-back distance is the same for both, so I don’t need to fabricate funky brackets to get the A100 tracks installed.

Here’s the A100 seat.

The old tracks come off easily; they’re not even particularly grungy. Sometimes junkyard seats have narsty petri-dish-grade biological material packed into the track hardware, but not these.

The A100′s tracks are spaced about 9-1/2″ apart.

Measure once, cut 15 times!

After drilling fresh holes in the RV seat’s frame, I used nuts and bolts to attach the A100′s tracks.

Ready!

Installed, the new seat is a bit grimy but a huge improvement over what was there before. This temporary measure buys me some time until I can decide between wild custom or semi-factory-correct (I’m not even considering getting repro A100 seat covers, since they came in boring solid neutral colors only). What would you do?

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39 Comments on “A100 Hell Project: Red Metalflake Naugahyde… or Reproduction Dart GT Vinyl?...”


  • avatar
    Educator(of teachers)Dan

    Naugahyde, Amigo.  Fits the spirt of the project and is the domestic version of M-Tec vinyl.  Do it now before the wild Nauga no longer roams freely. 

  • avatar
    racebeer

    Come on ….. keep it MOPAR and go with the Dart GT covers!!!!

  • avatar

    This isn’t like a set of period-correct aftermarket wheels or an 8-track player, you have to go Dart GT!  If you go metal flake, you gotta do the same on the outside!

    • 0 avatar
      Jimal

      Agreed. The red metalflake is a statement… and a commitment. If you’re in with the loud funky seats you’ll have to go with the wide whitewall drag slicks, no front brakes on the raised nose and a Rat Fink somewhere… actually, that would look pretty cool but that probably isn’t what you have in mind.

  • avatar
    Dr. Kenneth Noisewater

    Oh, for the days when vast herds of naugas would roam the vistas of the heartland, munching on wild grasses and frolicking along streams, then lowing softly after the rise of the moon.  And now?  Due to massive hunting, they’re very close to, if not already, extinct.  I weep for the naugas.

    • 0 avatar
      racebeer

      ……. and their hydes

    • 0 avatar
      Jimal

      My great grandfather was a nauga herder back in the late 19th Century. My grandfather created quite a stir when he left the family business to work in the sequin mines of Nashville.

      • 0 avatar

        My zayde’s family raised alcantaras in Poland. After he immigrated to the US he and a partner would drive a stake truck to the stock yards of Chicago and bring back a few head of alcantara for the kosher butchers in Detroit. They had a flat, against my grandfather’s advice his partner tried changing the tire. One of the animals moved, the truck fell off the jack, crushed his partner and my zayde decided that scrap paper and rags was an easier way to make a living.
         
        Zayde would wear leather or pigskin, but if someone even mentioned alcantara, he’d tear up.
         
        (nott: actually based on a true story)

      • 0 avatar
        akitadog

        At least your families’ work isn’t funding warlords like we see with rhinestone deposits around the world.

  • avatar
    chalmers

    I gotta vote Naugahyde Zodiac Burgundy with Zodiac Silver piping all around (or even better do the body in Burgundy and get a back insert in Silver)
    Naugahyde even recommends it for RV/Vans.
    http://www.naugahyde.com/productline.asp?pctg=4&id=32

  • avatar
    michal1980


    I might have missed it. But why are you spending so much energy on this?

    • 0 avatar
      ClutchCarGo

      If you have to ask, you’d never understand anyway.

    • 0 avatar
      Felis Concolor

      Having just finalized the Frog’s paint scheme (Emerald Jewel Metallic from the 2008 Saturn Sky,  striped with Blaze Yellow and Tuxedo Black Metallic from the 2011 Ford Fiesta), and with finger hovering over the “go” button for 45 sq ft of teak wood planks, I can only reiterate CCG’s statement.

  • avatar
    obbop

    Customization!!!!
     
    70s era shag carpeting upon the seats, floor, walls, roof, dashboard and door panels.
    Alternating green and orange.
     
    So groovy!!!!!!!!

  • avatar
    Zackman

    I’m mystified at the whole project. Junk it and just buy a newer van and be done with it. China needs to make a few more lead-paint trinkets. I can hear the kiddie workers screaming now.

    EDIT: I wish I had this kind of time for a project like this, even 32 years ago I didn’t have the time to finish my ’57 Chevy restoration and sold it off in boxes! So, after I think about it, go for it! Make the interior original-grade!

  • avatar
    spatula6554

    Naugahyde…why waste hydes the noble nauga perished to give us?

    • 0 avatar
      Educator(of teachers)Dan

      http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/8/80/Naugahyde_Advertisement.png
       
      Or how bout this one that has me thinking about custom Naugahyde seat covers for my next vehicle?  FYI I’m planning on having many children.  http://farm1.static.flickr.com/102/283780913_f7d8d659cd_o.jpg

  • avatar
    william442

    Waste of time. All you needed was a roll of cheap duct tape.

  • avatar
    Crabspirits

    What would I do?
    Those old neck-snappers scare the hell out of me. I would probably defile it with some new Recaro buckets.

  • avatar
    tonyola

    Red metalflake naugahyde, and then you can buy a drumkit and bowling balls to match.

    • 0 avatar
      racebeer

      +1 … then Murilee could borrow my 60′s vintage Ludwig Red Sparkle drum kit, throw in a couple of Jack’s guitars and amps along with a Peavey PA system and tour the west “in style”.

  • avatar
    Educator(of teachers)Dan

    Yeah, well, you know, that’s just like, uh, your opinion, man. – His Dudeness

  • avatar
    bumpy ii

    Why was the track on the A100 seat offset like that? Clearance for the engine cover?

    Anyway, get one of those toadstool seats that work vans used to have for the driver’s side, and a Sparco racing bucket for the passenger side.

  • avatar
    Feds

    Whatever you do, go one step further and replace the foam.  Behind good tires, new foam (or if you’re crazy, several layers of varying density) does wonders WONDERS for the comfort of an old vehicle like this.
    If you’re going to keep the colour of the van the same, sketch up a grey/white scheme for the seats, and have an upholstery shop take care of them for you.  Your body touches the seat every second you are driving.  There is no other surface on the vehicle that makes that matches that.  make ‘em comfy, make ‘em look right, and enjoy.
    (I might even recommend getting those high-backs re-covered, you know, for safety’s sake)
     

  • avatar
    CraigSu

    Regardless of material, just make sure it matches your new Porsche Valve Cover Bribe Lamp from LeMons.

  • avatar
    Mark MacInnis

    Just like in euchre, baby.  Go big, or stay home!  Red metalflake naugahyde RULES!

    But do yourself a favor and find some high-back seats that fit…maybe out of an old ‘Cuda? Nothing looks lamer than a seat which comes up to the middle of your back….

  • avatar
    DougD

    I vote for the Tradesman RV seats.  When I do stuff like this the temporary repair becomes a permanent one, so just accept it and forget about the original seats until you need to worry about the visuals.  The RV seats nicely fit the general decor, although they could be a bit sticky in the summer.

    I’m just waiting so see how this fuel injection saga turns out, it’s a sad commentary on society when the A100 Hell Project is the most interesting thing on the net.  Or is that a sad commentary on me?

  • avatar
    friedclams

    Get captains’ chairs out of a later 70s Dodge conversion van. I had one once, the seats were awesome. I believe they were naugahyde while the rest of the interior was slathered in shag.

  • avatar
    ellomdian

    If you are going to get seats fabricated/upholstered… Why isn’t MBTex at the top of your list? While it may not be “kosher” in the Dodge world it is AMAZING. I would even argue that you could RetCon DaimlerChrystlerBenz technology into other parts of the van for added insanity.

  • avatar
    LeBaron

    I’d have bought both of the seats from the Tradesman and called it a day.

  • avatar
    BoredOOMM

    How many Naugas will it take to cover that seat, again?
     
     
    (could not resist old joke)
     
     

  • avatar
    Jedchev

    I love the metalflake ‘hyde, but it will take a serious commitment to changing the van’s color and establishing a custom theme with it. Do you want the van to live in the 60′s or 70′s? I would say the metalflake interior, a metalflake red and pearl white paint job, some Cragar SS rims with raised white letters and some extreme pinstriping would give it a nice 60′s “Barris era” look. It won’t look good if you cross-pollinate it with the body add-ons, murals and shag of the 70′s, which I also love. Just make sure you’re going in the right direction.

  • avatar

    I think Red Metal Flake is OK, but what you really need is some exotic animal skin.

  • avatar
    -Nate

    I’d say match the van’s colors (appears to be gold & white in my monitor) with the Dart GT seat covers from a gold Dart GT ~ that’d be plu -perfect *if* you’re keeping the original exterior color scheme .

    Picture # 6 shows the Z springs digging into the foam , removing the foam biscuit and adding a layer of burlap or canvas over the springs will prevent the loss of original foam buscuits and makes the seat far more comfortable by speading the support area .

    If you decide to $pend $ , always use black firm foam from the Upholstery store and trim to suit with a $2.00 electric carving knife from the Thrift Store .

    Covering the springs is a must no matter how you go .

    I have a broken back and drive well over 800 miles / week , I have no issues with low back seats because I ensure they’re properly built .

    -Nate


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