Leather or vinyl....that is the question. - Alfa Romeo Bulletin Board & Forums
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post #1 of 25 (permalink) Old 01-13-2016, 09:32 PM Thread Starter
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Leather or vinyl....that is the question.

My 84 S3 has what's left of it real leather seat covers. The passenger seat has a lot of patina from 30 plus years, but looks to be in decent shape. Driver's seat, as expected, is a mess. The seat portion is all tore up (currently have tan duck tape holding it together). The back portion not too great either.

From looking prices, seems like to replace them with real leather, would be at least 2x more expensive than the best vinyl.

My goal is to restore the car as close to stock as possible, however, I don't have endless deep pockets.

Anything wrong with using the better made vinyl covers as opposed to the expense of real leather? My interior color, per the factory, translates to hazel nut, not the normal light looking tan often seen instead of the black.

Probably going to replace at least the seat foam pads. Wondering how hard it is to remove the old covers, and install the new. Something about using hog rings and special pliers. Not sure I have the skills to do that, can't even sew on a button.

Carpet is pretty decent, plain to save that, and have a decent top. My thought, is if there were any leaks from the windows, roof, etc., vinyl would be better and easy to dry and wipe off. Tough decision, want to do this thing right.

1984 Alfa Romeo Veloce Spider
2015 Ford Taurus Limited
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post #2 of 25 (permalink) Old 01-13-2016, 09:42 PM
But Mad North-Northwest
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The new vinyls they have are amazingly good. Much better than the original stuff. Everyone thinks the replacement covers I got are leather, and they still look new after ten years.
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1963 Giulia Spider (1750 engine)
1974 GTV
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post #3 of 25 (permalink) Old 01-13-2016, 10:07 PM Thread Starter
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Wonder what the labor charge would be for someone to install the covers?

1984 Alfa Romeo Veloce Spider
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post #4 of 25 (permalink) Old 01-14-2016, 03:56 AM
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Local guy said $200 for both covers.

Gary
87 Spider Veloce
Spring Hill, TN

As of 4/15/19: NEXT: Fix foot-well lights, shift knob. Enhance seats.
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post #5 of 25 (permalink) Old 01-14-2016, 09:29 AM
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It's not so much a question of vinyl being 'Wrong' as it is 1) preference and 2) budget. If your plan is to just re do the drivers side, the two seats won't match anyways, so there's no harm here...other than the fact that they won't match. Only you know how that works for you. To me, saving money and then not liking the result is far more expensive than spending the extra money and really loving the result. Do you really want to sit on vinyl, even the new stuff that's supposedly so good?

Also, regardless of what you do you do not want to make the upholsterer choice based on cost, there's simply nothing worse than 1) Cheap body/paint work, and 2) bad, ill fitting upholstery. The resto requirements of your car can be daunting, it's best to take it slow and do it right, rather than cut corners in an attempt to quickly do as much as you can.

'89 Spider Quad, "Rosa", original owner..still in love all these years...
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post #6 of 25 (permalink) Old 01-14-2016, 10:21 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by purgatory View Post
My interior color, per the factory, translates to hazel nut, not the normal light looking tan often seen instead of the black.
Sadly, no one makes seat covers in your color. In fact, it is a difficult leather or vinyl color to find even if you want to have an upholstery shop make them for you. I bought several seats off ebay and used the best pieces to redo mine. I also did a write up on the interior process back in '05:

http://www.alfabb.com/bb/forums/car-...enovation.html

They still look good today.
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post #7 of 25 (permalink) Old 01-14-2016, 03:21 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks for the additional tips and advice, appreciated as usual. For starters, I intend to do both seats, though the passenger seat is usable as is, I wouldn't want two different colors/material seats in a two seater car, much too OCD by nature, couldn't handle that.

So far, other than custom, you are right, no one seems to make my original color. That's ok also. I could go black, being the car is in its original metallic black paint, but then the dash and all the rest is in shades of tan (sorry, very color blind, so no telling what I am really seeing).

I think I will go with the vinyl for the reasons mentioned above, and to help eliminate future moisture issues, if any, i.e. leaks around windows or top. So will probably choose some variation of tan. More important to me to make sure that whatever I use, mimics the original in design.

200 for labor sounds high, but I have little experience with any kind of upholstery work. Sure that both seats would have to be taken out of the car to do this, and so far, none that I have seen are slip over covers. All require that the original material be removed entirely. Good time to replace any bad foam, and if needed, to repair/pain the seat frames.

If any one has used a particular vendor or brand with good results, please share this info with me.

Thanks, David

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post #8 of 25 (permalink) Old 01-14-2016, 07:21 PM
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Hi David,
I had the seats in the Quad reuppholstered last May in vinyl for all of the reasons you cite. I rarely pay other people to work on my cars but in this case it made sense to pay a reputable shop to do the job. I am very pleased with the reults. The rest of the interior is less than perfect but the seats are great.

Rich Hanning
'65 Sprint GT, '78 Spider, '88 Quad
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post #9 of 25 (permalink) Old 01-14-2016, 07:52 PM
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The new plastics are absolutely fantastic, nothing like the old stuff but if you have to ask total strangers whether you should get vinyl or leather then you should get leather, because that's what you really want.

Paul - 1972 Spider - (2)1991 164S's - 1983 308 - 2001 Discovery - 1997 F350
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post #10 of 25 (permalink) Old 01-14-2016, 08:11 PM
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I re-trimmed in leather, because it breathes better, smells better, I dont stick to it when its hot and it looks beautiful.
How bad do you want the better alternative ???


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post #11 of 25 (permalink) Old 01-14-2016, 09:01 PM
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Well, with the new high-quality vinyls I'm not convinced leather is that much better any more. My Porsche is factory leather, the wife's Mini is factory vinyl, and the Spider is aftermarket vinyl. D-mned if I can tell the difference between them. And the vinyl in the Spider has been very durable and easy to clean, both issues in a top-down car.

The one place I'd argue that leather is better is for steering wheel and shift knob covering, since reacts better with the moisture in your hands. But in the seats? Been a wash for me.

Now, the original vinyl in the '91 Spider was pretty bad. And the less said about the pill-and-dirt-magnet Alcantara inserts the better...

Tom

1963 Giulia Spider (1750 engine)
1974 GTV
1991 Spider
Former: 1987 Milano Gold
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post #12 of 25 (permalink) Old 01-14-2016, 10:10 PM Thread Starter
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Quite the varied opinions, but expected and wanted that. I'm new to all of this. Every vehicle I have owned in the past 10 years had/as leather. But I am dealing with a far from perfect 32 year old car (its 2016 now), and my goal is not to have a show quality car, but a reliable (as reliable as an Alfa can be) fun weekend car. The original paint, considering its age, still shows well, and shines up decent with a good clean up and even basic wax. Rather maintain the natural patina even if it means a few rock chips and light scratches here and there.

Still leaning toward the vinyl, and may have to settle for tan, vs. the original hazel nut, I am ok with that.

Anyone use any of the available dash caps, to cover over the expected cracks. The one's I've seen advertised in the 80-120 range, appear to fit tight over the existing dash, so that you don't have to go through the hassle of actually trying to remove the dash. Anyone experienced with any of those? And how well did it cover, and was it as easy to install as the ads appear to say?

Other than that, the rest of the interior is in pretty good shape, especially the door panels, arm rests, etc. Nothing is broken or missing.

1984 Alfa Romeo Veloce Spider
2015 Ford Taurus Limited
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post #13 of 25 (permalink) Old 01-14-2016, 10:24 PM Thread Starter
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sprintgtc: I read all 5 pages of your interior restoration thread. It was a great read and an inspiration to me for my own car. You did a great job, and obviously put a lot of hard work, heart and soul into the project. Liked what you did.

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post #14 of 25 (permalink) Old 01-14-2016, 11:10 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by purgatory View Post
Quite the varied opinions, but expected and wanted that. I'm new to all of this. Every vehicle I have owned in the past 10 years had/as leather. But I am dealing with a far from perfect 32 year old car (its 2016 now), and my goal is not to have a show quality car, but a reliable (as reliable as an Alfa can be) fun weekend car. The original paint, considering its age, still shows well, and shines up decent with a good clean up and even basic wax. Rather maintain the natural patina even if it means a few rock chips and light scratches here and there.

Still leaning toward the vinyl, and may have to settle for tan, vs. the original hazel nut, I am ok with that.

Anyone use any of the available dash caps, to cover over the expected cracks. The one's I've seen advertised in the 80-120 range, appear to fit tight over the existing dash, so that you don't have to go through the hassle of actually trying to remove the dash. Anyone experienced with any of those? And how well did it cover, and was it as easy to install as the ads appear to say?

Other than that, the rest of the interior is in pretty good shape, especially the door panels, arm rests, etc. Nothing is broken or missing.
Re: dashcaps: I've been meaning to make a trip up to Centerline to pick one of those up. If I can make it up tomorrow I'll take some pics for you.

-Jason
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Jason Arrington
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1974 Spider restoration project
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post #15 of 25 (permalink) Old 01-15-2016, 05:57 AM
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Quote:
Anyone use any of the available dash caps, to cover over the expected cracks. The one's I've seen advertised in the 80-120 range, appear to fit tight over the existing dash, so that you don't have to go through the hassle of actually trying to remove the dash. Anyone experienced with any of those? And how well did it cover, and was it as easy to install as the ads appear to say?
I have dash caps on both my Spider and my GTV6. The Spider job was the easier and the results were better. Plan to spend a day doing it as you will have to trim it to make it fit properly. Take a look at the finished product the next time you are in Columbia.

Regarding upholstery experiences. I bought a vinyl cover for a GTV from Highwood Alfa in the UK and the quality was excellent. I paid about $100 to have it installed at a place that I found in the yellow pages. A few years later I found a retired upholsterer who worked from home. He made and installed seat covers for my Spider for $100 each, including material. His work was better than the upholstery shop. He did several more jobs for me, equally good but sadly he died a couple of years ago. I found him by talking to a guy who restored Corvettes. So ask around. There may be a similar person in the upstate.
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A little government and a little luck are necessary in life, but only a fool trusts either of them. - P.J. O'Rourke

Last edited by alfaparticle; 01-15-2016 at 06:04 AM.
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