5 tips for installing new carpet in your vintage car


Installing the carpet in your classic car seems like a simple task: just lay the woven material on the floor pans and then move on with your day. It's not, however, quite that easy. I know this because I recently tackled this project on my 1965 Chevy Corvair. Here are a few tips to make your carpet install less of a headache than what I experienced.

This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at https://www.hagerty.com/articles-videos/articles/2018/09/10/5-tips-for-installing-new-carpet-in-your-vintage-car


It’s also really helpful to find someone who installed carpet in a vehicle like yours. I met several guys at a meet that had installed the same carpet kit that I bought for my car. They loaded me up with tips, notes, and dozens of photos on how they did it, and I’ll be forever grateful.


Excellent advice. Use whatever help you can find. Most cars have websites that are used by people who love that brand and will give you all the help and advice you need. Car people, for the most part, are the best!


i have also discovered by trial and error to install everything before trimming the carpet at the doors and installing the door sill plates.


I’ve found that when using a molded carpet it’s best to install in on a warm day rather than a cold one. Also, it’s good to leave the carpet out laying flat in the sun for a while before you lay it in the car because it makes it way more pliable.


When I did my carpet I went to the local homecheepo and got threaded rod in the same size of the seat and belt bolts. Then I cut them about 2.5" long and gave them a point with the grinder wheel on one end.

After an initial fitting of the carpet to make sure it was nice and flat and laid out where it needed to be I lifted one side then the next and threaded in the cut rods. Then using my soldering iron I put a little pressure over the points with my hand over the rods and cut nice clean holes in the carpet around the rods with the iron till the rods poked through.

The melting makes nice “cauterized” holes that will not fray and were just big enough for the bolts to go in. You can also work on the holes around the bolts to make them as big as you need. Makes clean and easy work of it. But it does stink a bit LOL


Molded carpets are easier but may not be available for every car. Try to save the old carpets to use as a template if necessary. Research on the internet to find a supplier who specializes in your marque. We found Esty in Tennessee; Esty makes custom kits for BMW 2002 and E21 that are concours quality (note that these kits come in about a dozen pieces and are fit section by section). Also, with carpet out, consider underlayment that matches original if you are going for a judged, concours-level look. If not, consider any of the branded sound mats that deaden noise, vibration, and heat (NVH) for a nicer ride experience. Finally, try to place carpets in a warm place before working with them; they will be more pliable and easier to work with.


You mention sharp tools. Genuine carpet cutter blades are way sharper than utility and box cutter blades. Just don’t even bump into them with your fingers, trousers, sneakers or anything else you don’t want to fillet open!

Even with carpet cutter blades that carpet material is tough and dulls them out after just a few slices. Don’t try to force more life out of them as that’s when cutting gets dangerous.

Getting ready to do my '39 Buick with non-custom flat carpet. Should go well, but I may insert some pie slices of carpet to ease over the relatively flat transmission hatch.


I totally agree with buying the molded carpets or at least the carpet set that was designed for your vehicle. Another tool I like is an awl… it helps locate the holes or sockets for fasteners. I also make use of a yellow tire crayon. It allows you to press some on a point that you want to reference, press the carpet backing on that and then have then mark transfer. Also be sure to see if you can find some of that felt backed foil insulation/sound deadener. It comes on a roll and is great for insulating the firewall, transmission tunnel, back end, etc. The most important thing is to take photos of the carpet in place before you take it out. Then label and store all the pieces. I also do this when I replace interiors. It’s a good way to reference how something was mitered at corners, trimmed, or if it went on top or underneath another piece. Another good technique is to mark the centers of all the sides of large pieces. It helps orient the piece once you get it in the car, use tape or a remnant of bar soap.