Log in

A Seat Horror Story

13 Feb 2024 4:41 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

“Well, well, well, what do we have here, sir?” “It’s not what it looks like, officer, honest!”

After a night in the cells and a forensic examination of the mystery substances, the charges were dropped.

OK, maybe that part of the story is fiction, but the substance is very real and not as its maker intended.

The symptom

When I started researching 1970s Aston Martin V8s with a view to buying one, I soon discovered that ‘rotting from the inside out’ seems to be the norm. It’s no better illustrated than what happens to the front seats. Apparently, it’s fairly common to see ‘foam dandruff’ scattered around the base of the seats. It’s vacuumed up easily enough and otherwise not much of a nuisance.

When I bought my car, it was no different. Although, I soon get fed up of vacuuming and tried to block up the spaces around the bottom of the seat backs to reduce, if not eliminate, the problem. Some spare leather, double-sided tape and non-permanent sealant helped, but only a little.

I started to seek professional opinions, most of which coalesced around “you’ll have to re-cover the seats”. I was reluctant to replace the perfectly good leather when only foam rubber was needed (in my amateur opinion).

Luckily, I have a mate who’s been upholstering cars for many years and indeed doing complete rebuilds to concours-winning standard.

Enter Roger McCouat

In addition to the foam dandruff problem, Roger was intrigued by the flat profile of the usually convex seat and back cushion fluting.

Having expressed my view about retaining the leather, Roger’s response was “I’m sure I can do something. Leave it with me.”

Two weeks later…

The job was done. Two front seats looking like brand new.

However, getting there was anything but simple.

The good news was that both seat frames were in good condition and the side bolsters had retained much of their integrity. The bad news was the cushion foam had disintegrated to tiny pieces and in some areas nothing more than powder… three vacuum machine bags full of the stuff!

To fix the problem, Roger unpicked the stitching of all 32 flutes to scrape out the residue material. At this point he discovered that my ‘non-permanent sealant’ was stuck fast (sorry Roger!). He then inserted modern (correct) foam and re-stitched, by hand, 64 feet of backing cloth. For our younger/non-UK readers, that’s almost 20 meters of tough hand stitching!


It seems that when my car’s seats were fitted with Vantage-esq head restraints in the 1980s, either the wrong foam and/or the wrong glue were used. If that wasn’t the cause, perhaps a bad batch of foam was the less likely culprit.

Roger’s work also included fitting the correct support webbing which, combined with his cushion work, has resulted in seats which look good, do their job and don’t shed suspicious looking substances that might attract the attention of the law!

And now for the evidence...

Inserting the vacuum cleaner nozzle was the beginning of the long process of dismantling the seats

Part of 3 vacuum cleaner bags full of rotten foam rubber

Oh dear, yet more rotting foam

Only the fixed straps and the side bolsters offered any 'support'

The seat back looking the worse for (many years of) wear

Thankfully, the 'barnacle' encrusted frames were in good condition.

Anyone want to buy some secondhand, genuine(?) Aston Martin parts?

Evidence m'lud!

New and correct foam inserted then stitched into place by hand

Fluting backing required 12m of hand stitching

Lovely new Pirelli webbing in place

Underside webbing

Old and new. The leather was in fine fettle, but see how flat the flutes were before Roger worked his magic.

Great workmanship that few people will get to see in the flesh (seat backs)

Ta da!... some lovely 'new' seats

The man himself tests his handiwork (thank you, Roger)

And back where they belong... with no 'dandruff'!

All but the last 2 photo are Roger's.

Using images from your albums.

The albums below are your own personal albums that are stored in our system. They contain images that you have uploaded.  A web link address for these images can be copied and pasted into the email, article, blog  or news post above. The pasted images will then be displayed full width in a blog post article.  Please don't attempt to re-size images as it will affect how they are displayed on other devices. So whilst the document may look OK in your current browser display, the view on a hand-held device can become difficult to read if text is intermingled with images.

To add an image from an Album, click on the 'Uploaded images' link below each album. All the pictures in that album will then be shown. You can also upload a single image.  To display an image full size, click on the one that you want. Once an image is displayed full size,  you can copy the image address and then paste it into the window above.

If you do not see any albums above, use this link to create an album.

Powered by Wild Apricot Membership Software