...Now we're going to tell you how we got there! We were sold on the idea from E&G, and ordered the kit right away as an exact replacement for the stock white leather. E&G has the ability to customize your seat colors as well, with different colored piping, or multi-colored sections in your seats. They also did custom embroidery of which we ordered the running pony stitched on our headrests. For this project, we were only interested in getting it as close as possible to the factory design for complete originality. We received the new leather custom-made within a week. Below are photos of our old leather to show comparison.
The only specialty tools you'll need are the hog ring pliers ($20 at 50resto.com) with hog rings, and a T47 Torx head bit. You'll also need metric sockets up to 16mm, wrenches, utility knife, pliers, screwdrivers, tin snips (or other metal cutters), and a little elbow grease.
COST & ORDERING:
UPDATE 8/1/05: E&G has stated they are no longer in the leather business and you cannot order a leather replacement from them. You might want to try Katzkin Leather as an alternative although we do not have any personal experience in dealing with their organization.
Installing a complete leather kit is best performed by an experienced upholstery shop. But if you have the time, patience, and proper tools, it can be done in the comfort of your garage. I tackled this project single-handedly in order to save the installation cost, and to prove that it's not as daunting a task as it seems. We've written this article with the understanding that you are already familiar with basic mechanics and tools. If you do not understand this article as it's written, you should probably leave the work for an upholstery shop.
The rear leather is much easier to swap out and that's where we advise starting to get used to the process if you're new to upholstery. With this being our first time, and taking photos along the way to document the steps, it took us roughly 2 hours to complete the back seats. The front seats were much tougher, and required about 3 hours per seat. An experienced installer would probably knock this out in a fraction of that time.
REAR SEAT INSTALLATION:
There are 2 main pieces to the rear seats. Push in and pull up on the lower seat cushion to pull it out. To remove the back cushion, remove the only two bolts holding the lower frame in place. You can then slide the unit downward off it's hanger and then out of the car.
We started with the lower cushion and began removing the old hog rings holding on the leather. We used tin snips, but any metal cutters will work. For your own safety, USE SAFETY GLASSES when doing this! The hog rings will go airborne when they are cut, so protect your eyes. Once you get the perimeter cut off, lift up the edges and you will find additional hog rings attached near the center of the seat holding on the "wire stays". These help provide form and lines to your seat. Once you cut off those hog rings, your old leather should be completely off. You will need to save the metal wire stays that were tucked into the pockets of the old leather. You will transfer those to the new leather in the same location which are used for securing your hog rings.
Place your new leather over the lower cushion but do not fold the edges over yet. Slide the wire stays into the built in pouches on the underside of the leather. Once you have the leather centered over the seat, attach a hog ring over the wire stay into the crease where it was previously attached. Take a second to re-evaluate that the leather is positioned correctly before attaching more rings. Use the seat belt holes as an alignment guide. Attach a couple hog rings to each wire stay. Once those are on, you can fold the edges down over the cushion and begin attaching the edges with the hog rings exactly as it was from the factory. When you're finished, the leather should be fairly tight, with no cushion showing. Tuck the seat belt hole flaps down into the holes.
The back section is the same process. The only thing to note is that the 2 long wire stays you pull out are slightly different lengths. Make sure you make a note of which is which before reinstalling.
FRONT SEAT INSTALLATION:
The front seats are more time consuming, but not necessarily more difficult than the rear. We'll lay out the details of the passenger seat below but the driver's seat is nearly identical with the exception of the power seat mechanism.
Begin by removing the 4 seat bolts/nuts, disconnecting the wiring plug, and pulling the seat from the car. Remove the 4 bolts holding the metal track to the seat. You will need to remove all buttons and accessories from the seat and put aside for re-assembly later. The round knee bolster knob requires a small hex key to remove, everything else is mostly screws. Pull the black air bag line apart on the back edge between the 2 halves. You must now separate the seat halves. Remove the plastic cover and then the 2 bolts holding the spring mechanism on one side. The other side will have a T47 Torx head pivot bolt. Once those are out, you can separate the seat.
Pull the plastic retainers off the frame, and roll the edges of the leather up on top of the seat, inside out. You'll see 2 thicker wire stays holding the left and right sides down. Instead of cutting off the larger wire clamp at the front, go to the rear, and force the stay out of it's hanger by pulling it out. (Or if you prefer, cut off the wire clamp and reattach later with hog rings.) You will also need to cut off the hog rings attaching the center wire stays similar to how you did on the rear seats. You can then slide the leather off the wire stays that you didn't cut.
Once you've slipped the old leather off, you will need to turn the new leather inside out to install the wire stays as shown below. Start attaching the front of the new cover by sliding it down over the wire stays that you didn't remove. Then using hog rings on the center wire stays, you can begin attaching. Once those are attached, tug and pull the leather over the knee bolsters and down over the corners. Be careful not to rip your foam. Push the thicker wire stays back into their "hanger" at the back of the seat, and pull that edge of the leather over as well. Once you reattach the plastic retainers over the metal seat frame, you can begin cutting holes for the knobs and buttons. It's best not to cut the holes until after the leather is fully in place, so that you don't cut in the wrong place and ruin your new covers. Feel for the openings where the knobs go, and using your old seat cover as a reference, slice into the leather only big enough for the knob to connect.
Next is the seat back. Remove the black plastic seat tilt cover from the back of the unit. Pull the plastic retainers apart at the bottom edge. Cut off the hog rings holding the big wire stays at the bottom and slide out the stays. Next you will need to release the headrest assembly. If you are keeping your old leather, then you don't want to just cut it off, and you will need to reach up in the seat back with a small screwdriver. The second photo below shows where your screwdriver goes in relation to the latch but you will be doing this blindly unless you've cut off the old leather. Pry up with the screwdriver, and pull the headrest out. Once the headrest is off, you can use a small Torx bit to remove the black seatbelt holder on top.
The leather on the headrests was by far the most difficult of the entire installation. We would rather have attempted to put an inflated basketball inside the shell of a tennis ball. It's an extremely tight fit, and takes some patience, strength, and... did I mention Patience?
The opening of the leather that E&G provides is exactly like that of Ford's factory leather. It's smaller than is needed to squeeze the headrest through it. So even though it appears impossible, after 20 minutes of stretching and pulling on the leather cover, you will eventually begin to get it over the edges of the foam. If you slide one end of the headrest into the hole as far as it will go, you can then begin to use your fingers to work it over the other edge. It might help to cut the threads near the seam edges of the leather (under the headrest), but that will also make it easier to tear the leather. Be careful not to rip your new leather cover, and most importantly control your temper, as it WILL test your patience.
The bottom of the headrest had a hardboard cutout nailed to it. We couldn't get the nails to work once we'd pulled them out, so upon reattaching the board, we simply put screws into the bottom to hold it together more securely.
E&G Classic did a great job with duplicating Ford's original leather. The tight specs and measurements made the new leather covers fit the factory seat and padding perfectly. Changing out the leather has made a profound effect on how much more we enjoy driving the car. That new leather look and feel is something our tired worn-out leather could not have produced.
Written by: Steve Shrader, YMR