Updated: Dec 27, 2019
By the time a hobbyist gets to this phase of vehicle restoration, things certainly begin to look up. All of the hard work over the little details begin to pay off as colors, trim, chrome, and stainless begin to "pop" visually. The day when the car is "back on the road" is certainly getting nearer. A few posts back we showed the process of installing the EZ Cool insulation and running the wires to the rear of the vehicle. Also completed was the backup light wiring. Since all of these things were in place correctly and since we had finished up the panels and quarter window trim, carpet was next.
The carpet I ordered several months ago was 80/20 loop carpet in an original red color that was pre-sewn (what a joke that was) with loose jute/insulation to place underneath. The quality of the carpet seemed to be very nice, as did the extra insulation. I chose to place the jute on top of the EZ Cool for an added layer. After finding that the jute did not extend to several places over the sheet metal (FoMoCo did it that way as well), I was glad I had installed EZ Cool. All of the loose pieces of jute were laid into position so that fitment could be checked, holes cut, etc. This went reasonably well. The only holes not cut into the jute (because of my own modifications) were the AC drain hose, the shifter lever, the front seat belts, and the overdrive kickdown switch. The photos below show some of the fitment - I thought it was pretty good. The driver's side was especially nice in that the piece was pre-cut with all of the factory holes in place. You can see in the third photo below that the jute did not extend to be placed under the rear seat very much so I went ahead and re-installed the rear seat belts.
Every piece fit well into the position for which it was designed.
I thought it wise to mark each hole and make the necessary cuts so that it would be easier to find access when the carpet was placed into position. I even marked the 8 holes for the shifter boot - I knew this would be a chore to install once the carpet was in position, so having the holes located ahead of time was pretty valuable.
I saved the most difficult job for last - locating, cutting, and installing the AC evaporator drain hose into the firewall. Last year when I installed the AC system I purposely did not cut a hole for the drain hose. My thoughts were to wait until the carpet was being installed so that I could see how everything would go together. I took the drain hose from the kit and selected a grommet that matched the hose and the sheet metal hole I would drill: back to the step drill bit!
I went as far as to drill a hole into a piece of scrap to see how tight the fit would be and just to be sure about what size hole I needed to drill into the firewall. The photos below show the placement and test fit on the car's firewall. The drain hose drops down between the exhaust manifold and starter housing.
I did use some contact cement to place all of the jute into position so that it would stay in place. After the jute was secure, I started laying out the carpet pieces (two large sections, one front, one rear). I was not impressed. I can remember back in the late 80's when I first got the car there were parts of the carpet that did not lay right. Too many humps, bumps, and wrinkles where there should not have been any. Maybe there are just problems with this type of carpet that are inherent to these types of cars? I am not sure. All I know is that the biggest problem in my opinion is that the sections used to make the hump over the transmission tunnel and/or the bell housing contain way too much material. However, the grommets and other pre-cut holes were on the money for the driver's side.
The real trick came when it was time to cut my own holes for the car. The rear portion that also included the seat belts for the front seat were not a problem at all and fairly easy to do. Cutting the hole for the gear shift lever was straightforward as shown below.
And after that came the task of locating the holes for shifter boot retainer. I used a straight dental pick from my tool box to find each one of the small 8 holes - each hole had to go through the carpet, jute, and the EZ Cool insulation, not to mention the sheet metal itself.
Along the way while placing the carpet into final position on the floor, I noticed that various sections or places would have bumps, wrinkles, or just particular looseness. It was far from perfect to say the least, and if I had not purchased the carpet months ago I would have returned it. I decided to use the carpet tape pictured here for particularly difficult sections that were hard to manage:
The tape worked very well, and since it is made for high traffic areas and listed for indoor/outdoor use I figured the adhesive properties should last. The pictures below show the story about one seam that had to be unsewn, repositioned, and then taped. As you can tell it was very difficult to find any difference. Once the front seat is bolted down I don't think anyone will be able to tell a thing. The third photo shows the overlap for the section that goes from the rear to the front - I figured this was normal and planned for the seat frame to hold these in position. Of course the scuff plates on the lower door sill would help tremendously.
As with the jute underlayment, the best work was saved for last: cutting the hole for the AC drain hose and install the hose permanently. The carpet was rolled back and a small hole was cut so that the drain hose could go through the carpet. I was happy with how this ended up. The location is very difficult to see, the hose is sealed to the firewall with a watertight grommet, and yet there is a great angle for gravity to take the condensation away from the under dash unit.