JONATHAN: With the newest of the Fox bodies being manufactured in 1993, you can imagine, there's a lot of wear and tear on those interiors. Now, you're faced with a decision. You can go back with something factory appearing, or you can upgrade as much as possible while keeping an OE appearance. Well, that's exactly what you can do with this '03-, '04-style Cobra upholstery for Fox bodies from TMI Products. It allows you to keep your stock seat frames, upgrade your foam, upgrade the materials, and get the sharper looks of the '03, '04 Cobra.
First thing you want to do is get your seats out of the car. Starting with the front, remove your front seat foot covers. Use a 15 millimeter wrench to remove the two retaining nuts. Slide the seat forward and lean the seat back forward. Remove the two 15 millimeter bolts. Lift the seat up. Unplug the power seat track, if equipped, as well as the power lumbar. And remove the seat from the vehicle. Repeat these same steps on the other side.
To remove the rear seat, apply pressure from the front of the seat toward the back and lift upward. That will release the retaining clips on the bottom. Remove the rear seat bottom from the car. Lower the rear seat backs down. You've got three 1/2-inch bolts on each side. Remove those bolts, and you can fold the bracket out of the way and slide the rear seat back off of the center pivot. Repeat this for both sides.
When it came time to get the information for removing and installing our Fox upholstery, where better to turn than the source himself, Dean from TMI.
DEAN SATTERFIELD: Well, good. Like I said, this is a great project for the weekend do-it-yourselfer. Anybody with reasonable mechanical skills can do this. We designed it exactly the same way that Ford put them on. And they needed a quick production process when they're assembling them online, so it's not that difficult. And so, if you want to follow these steps, you'll be able to install something for a complete professional installation, and save a whole bunch of money.
JONATHAN: First thing you want to do is remove your seat tracks. They're held on with four 10 millimeter bolts. Then you'll want to move on to the hinge cover and remove the two Philips head screws that retain it to the hinge. Grab you a half-inch or a 13 millimeter socket, and remove the two bolts retaining the recline side of the hinge to the seat base, and go to the other side and use a T45 Torx socket to remove the single pivot bolt on the seat back.
Then unplug the power lumbar feed line, and separate the base from the back. To disassemble the seat base, start by removing the bolster adjusting knob. Grab you a 5/64 Allen wrench. Loosen the set screw and slide the knob off the shaft.
Take you a small flat-blade screwdriver and remove the finish plate of the power lumbar switch. Remove the two Phillips head screws that hold the switch panel to the seat. Pop the electrical connector loose from the seat frame. Slide the switch out of the seat, release the two retaining clips and slide the switch bezel off of the switch.
To remove the knee bolster, grab you a pair of pliers or hammer, and remove the two roll pins. With those out of the way, you can remove the bolster from the base entirely. With the cushion side of the seat base facing down, remove the two hog rings that are holding down these two pieces of welt, remove the four plastic clips, roll the rear section of the upholstery up over the foam, being careful not to break the lumbar tube.
With a razor blade, cut the front along the edge of the front bolster, about four to five inches, and roll the upholstery up over the foam. Remove the two heavy metal clips that are retaining the upholstery rods to the frame. Remove the two rods from the upholstery. Remove the three hog rings along the front edge of the upholstery. Roll the upholstery back and remove the three hog rings from the center listing.
You could now remove the upholstery from the foam. From the sides of the seat base, you can access two hog rings per side. Clip those, and pull the foam free from the base frame. The last part of the front seat disassembly comes down to the pull-out knee bolster which is found on '84 to '91 models. These can be found in some pretty sad shape, kind of like ours here.
DEAN SATTERFIELD: But that's not a problem because TMI has made a replacement plastic insert piece for the cardboard that it originally came in, plus new foam, and the hardware. So it's complete, and it comes with all foam kits.
JONATHAN: Slide your plastic piece off of the pull-out bolster. Normally, you would have four bolts. Ours only has one left. Go ahead and grab you a 5/16 socket. Remove those. Then you can remove your metal frame from the foam. You can pitch the foam. You only need the metal.
Remove the single Phillips head screw that holds on the seat back release bezel, and then remove the seat back release knob. Unzip the zipper at the bottom of the seat back. Cut the two hog rings on each side holding in the upholstery retaining rods, and then remove the two upholstery retaining rods. Roll the seat over and split the upholstery from the bottom to the top, along the sides. Be careful not to cut up the middle, because you will damage your lumbar support bladder.
Peel the bottom part of the seat foam up off the frame, and access the headrest retaining clip. Release the clip with a flat-blade screwdriver and pull the head rest free from the frame. Make sure you've got your balance. You don't want to fall over. Roll the upholstery up and release the center listing rod from the foam. Roll the upholstery up all the way to the top, and clip the three hog rings.
Remove the upholstery from the foam, and remove the foam from the frame. To remove the headrest cover, release the plastic clips on the base, and then you can either squeeze the foam out of the upholstery, or you can split it up the sides and just pop it off the headrest.
Next, you'll need to grab your old seat bottom cover and seat back cover. Remove the two listing rods out of the seat back, and then remove the two listing rods out of the sea bottom. Remove the single Phillips head screw that holds on the release lever, and then the three Phillips head screws that hold on the release lever bezel. Grab you a push pin removal tool and work your way around the perimeter of the upholstery. You've got 19 push pins that need to be released.
Roll the edges of the upholstery and gain access to the six hog rings that hold the upholstery to the foam. Clip the two on the right side. Clip the two on the top. Clip the two on the left side, and remove the old poultry from the foam. After you've got the upholstery off your rear seat backs, now is a great time to go ahead and replace your carpet as well, because it is just sandwiched in there with the upholstery. And you also probably noticed that your push pins that were retaining upholstery, half of them broke.
Don't worry. We've got a new push pin kit to get you taken care of. Your carpet, held on with a couple of Phillips head screws and a few staples around the perimeter, comes right off. The new will go right back on. You don't have to re-staple it because the upholstery will hold it in place.
You have a bunch of hog rings around the perimeter of the bottom of the sea. They run along the front, the rear, and both sides. You can use a pair diagonal cutters, needle nose, whatever. You can pull them, cut them, just get them off, and then the cover will slide right off the foam.
This install can be done with mostly common hand tools, but there are a few specialty tools you'll want to pick up before you get started. One of which being a set of hog ring pliers and hog rings, along with the some body shop grade spray adhesive.
DEAN SATTERFIELD: You're also going to need an industrial staple gun and some trash bags we'll show you how to use a little later as well.
JONATHAN: And the moment we've all been waiting for. We get to go back on with our new upholstery. We're going to start with the rear seat bottom. Dean's going to take the lead, and I'm going to do exactly what he tells me to do.
DEAN SATTERFIELD: Well, the main thing is make sure you've gotten all the hog rings are removed. And then you'll notice, there's a metal frame inside the seat foam as well. And that's where all the hog rings were attached, but there's little holes in each part of this metal frame all the way around. So you got to make sure you're located back in the same spot that you took the hog rings out. So you're not running into hard metal in there as you go through.
You'll start by pulling the front section up over, and just sliding it up around the corners. And again, as Jonathan said, It's one of the easiest parts of this whole installation. We'll wrap it around, pull it tight, and then we'll start hog ringing. Start in the center in the very front, and you'll hog ring in the center position, and work your way to the outside, along that whole front end. There's about a dozen or so hog rings on this position. Just work yourself out the outer edge. Pull tightly as you're doing this, so it stretches the upholstery smoothly over the entire section.
As you're on the back section, you follow the same procedure. Hog ring from the center, and move yourself outwards, little by little, until you get to the outside corners. You'll be pulling and tugging as you get there. The outside corners, there's a little bit of extra material there are sometimes, and so you want to stretch up into the inside corner as tightly as possible, and hog ring them as quickly as possible. And it's OK to roll over the vinyl to get a proper stretch and position to hog ring. It doesn't matter. It won't hurt the vinyl to do that.
JONATHAN: With the rear seat bottom complete, let's hop on over to the rear seat back.
DEAN SATTERFIELD: You need to put the listing rods back into the listing loops in the back side of the upholstery. There are three of them, but you'll need to trim and cut an opening in each of the listing loops. Insert each one all the way around. Now we want to hog ring these down in position. You start at the upper horizontal listing rod first, and you'll have two positions to hog ring that in the channel. Now reach down and connect it by the hog ring directly to the wire that's in the foam itself.
Now move around to the side, and you will put two hog rings into the first vertical loop, and hog ring that down to the wire as well in two places. Move to the opposite side and repeat. Now, you will start folding over the upholstery and installing all of the push pins that will hold it into place with the carpet. Roll it under because it makes a blind seem as you attach it to the back rest. Now, you'll need to line up the holes with the carpet, and you may have to open up those holes a little bit so that the pins will line up with each of the holes in the carpet, and then go into the plastic backboard of the back rest.
Sometimes a little bit additional encouragement with a soft mallet, and perhaps protect it with a rag as you knock it down in place to make each of the pins lock into their holes. Continue until you complete all 19, all the way around the back rest. You're going to want to reinstall the hinge assembly. Make sure to line up the original bolt location by the scratches that are on that bracket itself. And then, at the bottom of the carpet, reinstall two screws to hold the bottom part of the carpet down. You want to make sure you're in far enough from the outside edge so that you can actually access the hinge points and brackets in there as well.
Moving up, you have the latch bezel. Put that back in, and put the three screws back in place. And then put the latch handle on and put its screw back in place.
JONATHAN: We're done with the backseats, so it's time to tackle the front seat bottom. All right. First step to assembling your knee bolster, you want to make sure that it's oriented properly. Glue the foam to the plastic piece provided with the new foam kit. Spray the foam with your headliner or body shop glue, then spray your plastic piece. Let the glue tack, and stick it together.
DEAN SATTERFIELD: Take the glued knee bolster pad to the plastic backboard. Slip it into that light plastic bag. This is one of the best little secrets. It makes it slip easily inside the upholstery cover. As you slide it in there, you'll bring it up and draw it up tight. Gather up all the rest of the plastic and then cut it off.
And then you begin to work the upholstery from the sides first. Staple it. Staple the other side as you pull it in. Go to the bottom and pull it over. Staple at several places while holding it tight. Go to the front and pull it up over the plastic edge, and staple.
JONATHAN: Slide your plastic bezel over the metal frame. Take your finished knee bolster, put it up to the middle frame, and use the four bolts provided by TMI to attach the knee bolster to the frame.
DEAN SATTERFIELD: Position the seat foam on the seat frame, and cut out along the marked area for the power lumbar switch to go, and for the side bolster adjusting knob. There's a stud right there. Clear that as well.
There are four listing rods on the seat bottom two long large ones on the outside and two smaller ones that go side to side. The furthest one back in the rear section of the seat, slide it into the pocket of the listing, and hog ring it down in three places. One in the center, and two on the outer edges. Pull the upholstery forward and wrap down and attach that listing rod to the front listing rod on the frame.
Now the long rods slide into the listing pocket from the front to back of the seat. The L-shaped section goes to the front. What's important to remember is to slide all the way back, and it has to be elevated in the front to shoot down an angle to go under the loop in the back of the foam. And attach it with either reusing the original square metal clips that came on it, or a couple of hog rings. Do the same on the opposite side.
Now start wrapping over the upholstery over the bolsters, and pulling, and tucking, and smoothing it out as you go, to pull it down underneath the upholstery. Now we need to open the pathway for the air supply tube for the power lumbar unit. Go back up underneath and position of where it exits through the frame, straight up through the foam, pushing with either a screwdriver or a sharp pick to poke through that, and poke through the back portion of the upholstery, so that it can be relieved to go out to the right-hand side of the seat.
Now, start peeling the upholstery back to the finished position, and start with the back upholstery section, and then clip and flip it to the backside of the frame. Moving to the right, move around and wrap that side panel over until it clips into the side of the frame. Then pull to the front and stretch it a little bit further than the sides of the frame, but it goes all the way into the middle on that rod on the very, very front of the frame. Then go to the opposite side now and finish by pulling it into the side near the power lumbar bolster section.
Cut a small square right around the actual physical switch itself, just barely enough to cover that. And then slide the bezel over that and attach it with its screws. And then put the facer plate on that says Power Lumbar over that switch. The side bolster adjusting knob, and you'll need to cut a hole, a small hole, for that to clear the shaft, and then slide the knob on and use the hex key to tighten that onto the knob in the position it needs.
You'll also need to cut the holes for the hinges to receive the back rest as well. There's two on the one side and one on the other side, but make sure you get those lined up. Do not cut until you're absolutely sure you have the correct hole locations on that. Cut just an X just large enough to get the bolt through that. Moving to the front knee bolster, there are two slots in the front of this upholstery to allow it to slide back inside. Slide it into the slot all the way, and put the roll pins back into position, either by hammering or with a pair of pliers to squeeze them into place to keep it in position.
Insert the headrest foam into the light plastic bag that you had, and insert one end in and work the other side inside of it as well. As you keep tugging, and pulling, and drawing it in, gather up all the rest of the plastic and then tear it off or cut it off to get it in enough to fall inside the cover itself. You flip the long, one-piece clip. Flip and roll the vinyl over until it's inside and has a nice clean finished end. And snap it down into the black two-piece clip on the other side, until it snaps and locks in place.
Slip the new seat foam over the frame all the way, opening up the back area to slip that rear crash pad area up all the way down on top until it seats completely onto the frame. You'll want to slip either a light plastic bag over the entire foam if you can, or you could use silicone spray to make the seat covers pull easily more easily over this. To get to the very top listing rod attachment, you will need to turn the upholstery inside out, and even collapse and invert the upholstery to make sure you can get the upholstery rod right into that particular listing loop. Its very tight in there, and so as much room as you can use. And put in three hog rings.
Now that you've secured the top listing rod, roll the upholstery down like a sock, turning it inside out, to the second listing rod location in that next seam that comes down. Slide the rod in place, push it down as far into the channel as you possibly can, so it's sitting flush on the floor of the channel. And then continue to peel back and roll the upholstery inside out again, until you kind of get it finally where it's completely rolled down all the way to the end. You will have to be pulling and tugging. The seat bolsters on this particular Cobra Fox seat is one of most aggressive bolsters, and so it takes a little bit of extra effort to get it to pull completely over, and work all the wrinkles out, and work it all the way down to the full length of the height of the seat back.
You can actually insert the large L-shaped rods that run up and down both sides of the insert. As you insert that into the listing loop, lifting up at the back, but angling it down towards the headrest area, you're pushing down in until it locks underneath the loop that's in the foam all the way up at the top corner. As you pull the rod all the way down, the L-section will turn towards the inside of the seat with the rod that's in the seat foam below. And at this point, you will hog ring down that rod to the other wire in the foam. Repeat for the opposite side.
Continue to pull and work it down, and then you're going to want to pull the upholstery all the way down over the back side, from the back and from the bottom, to meet the J-clips in the center on the bottom. You'll have to pull and tug again, because it's made to fit very, very tight and very, very proper, so it looks professional, and lock those two together.
Now we're going to put on the bezel and latch for the rear seat tilt mechanism, cut a small X in the vinyl right at the point where the pin is sticking through for the knob. Cut it up to the upper portions and down below it slightly so that the bezel will slide in. It has two legs on it. Then put the screw in at the bottom. Then snap the lever back over the knob itself.
To install the back rest to the seat base, install the right side star bolt to hold it in place, then also, while you're at that side of the seat, reconnect the lumbar hose fitting. On the adjustment lever hinge, put the two bolts back into the seat base and tighten them. Put the hinge cover over and return the two screws-- a long screw on the side, and the small screw on the rear.
To install the headrest, go to the top of the seat, feel for the opening in the foam, and cut an X large enough to fit that opening. Don't go too far. Re-insert the plastic sleeve into the hole, all way down flush with the top of the seat, and then slide the blade of the headrest down into the sleeve, all the way flush with the top of the seat also.
JONATHAN: Well, Dean, thank you so much for flying out here and helping us install this upholstery on our seats,
DEAN SATTERFIELD: We really appreciate it at TMI Products and the partnership with Late Model in being able to bring these great-looking seats to you guys.
JONATHAN: Of course, you can pick up this '03-'04 Cobra-style upholstery at latemodelrestoration.com. While you're there, pick up a matching set of door panels with the matching suede inserts, along with the matching suede headliner and sun visors. Or if suede's not your thing, we also have cloth and vinyl, and everything else that you need to fix up your Fox interior.