Interior Enhancements

1989 Mercury Cougar XR7

Now that the car is running and driving reasonably well, especially after charging the AC system on Friday night, I turned my attention to improving the interior of the car. You might remember that I attempted to clean the carpet last year, but it is still pretty nasty. I was able to locate a good black carpet from a Thunderbird SC that now looks great after a bit of cleaning. So that is what I started with today. Here is a picture of the current carpet after removing the seats:

May 10, 2009

With the carpet out, I took the chance to put down some acoustic sound deadener. I am hoping this will take care of some of the road noise and NVH that the new down tubes and firmer suspension added. There is some factory liner there already, but it isn't that great. The stuff I used is easy to work with, but does require a little time to get it cut and fitted to the car.

Once the new liner was down, I took the chance to fix the passenger side seat belt mechanism that had not been working. My brother helped me trouble shoot the limit switches and motor, and they were all fine. I had an extra passive restraint module in the basement, so I swapped that in and now everything works. There is almost always a problem with the belt mechanism itself, so I was pretty surprised that the module was the issue. Wish I would of checked that before I had pulled the sail panel out of the rear of the car. Oh well.

I reinstalled the rear panel and got the rear seat back in place. I had to fix the bottom mount for the rear seat. When I removing the bolt, it seized up and broke free from the body mount. I was able to take the cut off wheel and remove the bolt and then cut the top of the body mount open and slip a threaded clip in there. Much to my surprise, it turned out pretty well and the seat is solidly in place.

I was running out of light and dryness this evening, so I quickly installed the new carpet. I can't believe how much the new carpet changed the whole look of the interior. I'm pretty happy with the results so far! Next on the list will be to replace the door panels and switch plates, paint the seat tracks, and put everything else back together.

I was able to finish up almost all of the interior work that I had planned. I started the afternoon by pulling the front seats apart. For what ever reason, Ford thought it would be a good idea to not paint the seat tracks. 20 years later and a car that has had some water leaks tends to make for some rusty seat tracks, which in turn stain the carpet. So, I pulled the seats apart and painted the seat tracks.

May 12, 2009

While I was waiting for those to dry, I turned my attention to the door panels. The driver's side door panel was slightly broken, with the grab handle pulled away from the rest of it. I had purchased a very nice set of panels from a 1989 SC that a friend had, and decided to just replace both of them so they would match. The upper trim panels differed due to my car having a leather interior, and the donor car having cloth. A quick swap of the upper trim, and they were ready to be installed.

Since I had the switch holders off, I took the chance to install a set of 1991-1993 style plates. The later style plates are made of plastic so they do not scratch nearly as easy and use a clip on the rear instead of a visible screw through the front. To install these on an '89-'90 door panel, I just needed to make a notch where the screw hole was to accept the clip. A die grinder and a small cutoff wheel worked perfectly.

With the door panels in place, I moved onto the dash to remove a couple temporary fixes I had completed last spring. The first was the multi-function switch. The original one was badly faded and discolored, so I gave it a quick coat of paint last spring. Over the winter, I located a NOS unit, so I went ahead and installed it today. It's beautiful!!

The second fix was the gauge cluster trim. The '89-'90 models came with a gray trim piece, that didn't match the rest of the area at all. I'm really not sure why they ever produced them in that color?? I had just given it a quick coat of paint last year, but did nothing with the letters, so they were hidden on the piece. I was able to get a 1991-1993 black trim piece from a friend. A good cleaning, and a little touch up using correction fluid on the letters, and it was ready to go. The only difference for installation was the need to remove 2 small alignment/injection molding tabs on the back so it would sit flush. While I had the gauge cluster out, I removed the ABS warning bulb.

With those two areas finished, I reassembled the seats, and installed them in the car. I was able to find some bolt covers in my parts inventory to replace the missing ones. I also installed the rest of the trim pieces and the center console, and removed the sun visors and cleaned them. I do not have any pictures of the finished interior as it was dark and wet by the time I finished. I plan to give it a final wipe down on Thursday and take some photos.

The interior is pretty close to where I want it. At some point I would like to redo the headliner as it has some water stains in the back of it, and I'm always on the look out for a nice set of seats. I have been kicking around the idea of a full interior swap to black, but am not too concerned about that right now. Maybe if I get in a parts car with the correct items.

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