Not every Ghia has a silver lining

It’s been a few weeks since I posted a progress update,  not because I’ve not done anything, but simply as I’ve been too busy to be able to to spare the time to blog about it. If you’ve been checking my photo stream you would have noticed that I did manage to upload some pictures of what I’ve been up to and you would have noticed that the build is ticking along nicely.

The main work that has been carried out since my last update is the installation of the headlining. I had originally booked this into the same trim shop that trimmed my seats, but after several postponements, I got fed up with waiting for them and decided to do it myself. I had already purchased the headlining material when I ordered my carpet set from Spirit of the 50′s this must have been some 10 years ago and unfortunately both the carpet set and headlining material had been folded up in the original packaging. Whilst not a major issue, this did leave some creases in the material.

I decided the best thing to do was to try to iron out the creases and so set about it with the iron and ironing board. Unfortunately, the heat required to remove the creases also flattened the pattern in the material (it has a raised textured pattern).  In spite of this I decided to press ahead, I’ve previously installed convertible hoods with similar creases and they eventually drop out, so decided that it wasn’t too much of an issue.

The material I chose is a non standard material that is not perforated and has a textured pattern to it. It’s a silver grey colour to match the car and interior (grey leather and carpets). One great thing about this headliner is that it stretches in both directions meaning that it is much easier to fit than a standard headliner which only stretches in one direction, this makes removing ripples and creases much much easier. This is not something that I knew when ordering it, but would advise anyone wanting to fit their own headliner to consider.

Being a sunroof car, the headliner would have originally had a zipper parallel to the rear window to allow emergency access to the sunroof motor, I obtained a correct length zipper some time ago and set about fitting it. Whilst my sewing machine skills are not exactly up there with the likes of Bernard Newbury, I can usually turn out a reasonable job with stuff like this. Sure it will not be 100%, but it’s all my own handiwork and is still better than some professional jobs I’ve seen. I did a few trial runs to work out how the material behaved and found that it was almost impossible to replicate the way that the zipper had originally been installed. The main issue was that originally the zipper was not sewn into a seam, but into the middle of a solid piece of material. This left relatively little material left to hem the zip in.

After battling with this for some time I decided that I had two options – Install the zipper in a seam, or leave it out altogether. I decided the latter. My reasoning is that if the motor fails, I can simply remove the rear screen to get access, and if the sunroof is stuck in the open position and I need to get access to the gearbox to close it, I will simply cut the headlining and replace it.

So, with this small issue  solved, I finished making the headlining (it has one seam sewn in for a headlining bow) and pegged it to the washing line in the sun to heat it up a little and hopefully assist in removing the creases from storage. It also allowed me to easily fit the support bow.

Installing the headlining involves patience, and a LOT of bulldog clips. It’s not a hard thing to do, and probably much easier with a non-sunroof car. (If you are not of a patient disposition, you might want to entrust this to the professionals). The first issue that I found was that the headliner bows that I had were all the wrong length. There are three different length bows on a standard coupe, and whilst the rear one should be the same length for both the coupe and the sunroof models, I found that the one I had appeared to be too long. Easily fixed – I cut some off of the end of it, only to find out that now it was too short :( Fortunately, I managed to find a suitable length of steel and made a new one – to the correct length.

Being a sunroof car the sunroof aperture is fitted with a thin foam surround to help soften the appearance of the headlining material around the aperture.  I glued this into position using a contact adhesive. The contact adhesive that I used was a proper automotive trim glue, this is good for higher temperatures and will not come unstuck on hot days. It’s an aerosol spray glue made by Auto-Parts and is by far the best stuff I’ve used. The stuff generally recommended is 3M Super Trim Adhesive, Part No. 051135-08091 but this is not available here in Aus. I got the Auto-Parts stuff from Rare Spares – just up the road to me.


With the glue dried, foam bits in position and the bow fitted in place into the holes in the roof, the next job was to roughly peg the material to the roof. I used bullldog type clips, which I purchased from a local ‘cheap-as-chips’ shops for something like $2 for a tub of 50 odd clips. The trick here is to work from the centre of the apertures outwards. Initially I fixed only the front and rear screen apertures, and then when I was happy, I did the same for the side apertures, using the roof gutter to clip the material to.

I found that the corners were the trickiest, the rear corners being the worst.  The issue here is that the material that has been stretched from the centre has a natural tendency to want to crease, and so these creases need to be ‘worked’ out by carefully tensioning the material on each side of the roof support. I also found that it helps to trim the material to the correct length as the excess material has a natural tendency to crease up, but make sure you are happy with the rest of the fit before you cut, as once you have cut it there is no turning back.

With the headlining stretched into position, I left the car overnight to let the material settle. A good trick here, especially if you are in a colder climate is to do this is a heated environment or place a heater inside of the car. I did this when fitting my convertible hood to my old Triumph. Fortunately the weather is better here in Australia.

In the morning I found that the headlining was still looking good so decided to leave it and move on to the pillar trim. Originally the front and rear roof pillars were covered with headlining material. I decided to cover the rear pillars but leave the front ones painted. Fortunately I retained all of the old trim and so made a pattern from the old covers, I then stretched these into position the same as the roof lining – with plenty of bulldog clips. Happy with the fit, I applied some contact adhesive to the pillars and the rear of the material and fixed them position.

With the rear pillar trim pieces in position, I turned to the headlining itself. The trick here is to do one aperture at a time and let the glue set before moving to the next. I started with the rear screen aperture and undid the clips to apply the glue. it’s important to remember that the headlining sits under the window rubber and needs to wrap right over the window flange. When the glue had become tacky, I started at the centre and worked my way outwards – in exactly the same way that I did originally. I used a continual row of bulldog clips to ensure that the material was held tight into the window flange.

After the glue had dried, I then moved on to the front aperture, and after the sides. The trick to remember is always work from the middle outwards.

With a coupe, at this stage the headlining would be finished, but being a sunroof car the sunroof aperture needed to be trimmed. To do this I started off by removing the trim pieces and sliding the side rails out, leaving the sunroof cables free.  I then carefully cut a hole in the material leaving a 2 inch excess to fold back around the aperture. I cut ‘darts’ into the material at the corners and folded it back around the aperture using the tried and trusted bulldog clips to hold everything in position. Once happy with the fit I removed one side at a time and glued the material in position. With everything glued in position, the only part left was to cover the sliding panel with the same material and then carefully reassemble everything. With everything now dry, I trimmed the excess material back with a craft knife, and removed all of the bulldog clips to reveal my new headlining in all it’s glory. So whilst not every Ghia has a silver lining, mine now does :)

My next project..
a fairly quiet weekend.

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