Originally I had two dark blue seats out of a Camaro. The material was velour. The thing about velour is that it is terrible. It has that velcro-like quality with fabrics and body hair, so you can’t really shift around in your seat. During the summer, heat simply soaks into velour, especially if it is dark in color. Which means your sweat too will pour into this sponge, making it a petri dish of filthy heat.
I wanted the original low-back seats from a bus. The problem is that most of the seats you can find for less than a grand need some serious work. So I found a junkyard on TheSamba—a place out in New Jersey run by a guy named Richie. He was able to locate some seats from a ‘73 bus, which were fine, I suppose. Richie writes his emails in all caps, which generally wears me out pretty quickly, so I relented and ordered the seats.
In a ‘73, the passenger seat bolted to a bulkhead, so the frames needed welding. My upholstery shop referred me over to a guy named T-bone and we set up a time to meet at the upholstery shop.
As soon as I saw T-bone, I figured it was him. Only a guy named T-bone could sport a leather cabbie hat, a long white goatee, and, what, for lack of any better descriptor, could be called spectacles.
“You must be Mister, uh, Bone,” I said.
“Yeah,” he said and squinted at me. He asked if I owned this rig, this bus.
“It’s mine,” I admitted. “The folks here at Lucky’s say you’re the best around.”
“Am,” he agreed. Then he asked if I knew where Xenia was.
Of course I knew where Xenia was located. I was renting a complete dumpster fire of a house on Kennedy Street in that shithole of a city from a slumlord scumbag who used a complete dunce of a property manager to cover up his negligence and I said so.
“Well, I’m right down the road,” T-bone said.
“Right,” I said and I took the seat frames to him.
In his garage T-bone had a sleigh—as in a Santa sleigh. He and his son, Roger, were welding it together from scratch. As it turns out, they had a complete workshop in their backyard. T-bone was thorough as could be. He welded the frames so they were solid and then he spray painted them to stop any additional corrosion. By the time they were done, they were completely solid and ready to be covered.
I took them to the last standing car upholstery shop in Dayton—Stone’s Lucky Upholstery. The shop itself is in an old two-bay oil change shop. The office is piled high with odd jobs, foam, fabrics and binders of samples. What space on the walls isn’t covered with photos or calendars reveals the original wood paneling. The two chaps who run the place, Dennis and Sean, are as friendly as can be. Better yet, they are efficient.
I bought the horsehair padding from Wolfsburg West and brought the frames in. They pulled the brown covers over the frames and had the seats done immediately. The cabin space looked brand new.
While I was there, I had them pull all the mdf board the previous owner used as door panels. They covered it in the same brown vinyl. Man, it looks sharp.