A100 Hell Project: Red Metalflake Naugahyde… or Reproduction Dart GT Vinyl?

Murilee Martin
by Murilee Martin

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?






Murilee Martin
Murilee Martin

Murilee Martin is the pen name of Phil Greden, a writer who has lived in Minnesota, California, Georgia and (now) Colorado. He has toiled at copywriting, technical writing, junkmail writing, fiction writing and now automotive writing. He has owned many terrible vehicles and some good ones. He spends a great deal of time in self-service junkyards. These days, he writes for publications including Autoweek, Autoblog, Hagerty, The Truth About Cars and Capital One.

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  • Rory Carroll Rory Carroll on Apr 12, 2011

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

  • -Nate -Nate on Sep 16, 2012

    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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