Project Bombadore interior resto - Our Shed

By: Glenn Torrens - Words & Photos

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An interior transplant and dash restoration for his farm-find Commodore has Glenn Torrens sitting pretty

Even before I’d collected my 1979 VB Commodore V8 sport-pack sedan from my mate Paul in mid-2020, I’d begun buying the parts for its resurrection. Months prior, during a weekend road trip to Queensland with Morley (to collect a motor for his Celica) when we’d driven past, I’d inspected my ‘new’ Commodore in Paul’s back paddock.

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1. Interior resto almost done: dash replaced, air-con fitted, instrument cluster re-furbed (with LED lights, too!) and Ausclassics premium cut-pile carpet – with correct heel mat - installed

I knew the interior was pretty-much destroyed: The dash and its binnacle was warped and cracked like a Hawaiian volcano’s lava; the seat vinyl so brittle that it shattered like the surface of an icy puddle and the carpet and headlining were rotted and torn. My plan, obviously, was to replace everything.

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2. This is what I began with. As you can see, 40 years – including 20 years dumped in a paddock under sizzling summers and wet winters – the trim was reduced to rubbish

Thankfully, I live local to a couple of well-stocked Commodore wrecking yards. At one of these yards there was a ’79 Commodore that I raided for its four door trims, headlining and seats. I required a dashboard and instrument binnacle, too, buying these from a car being parted-out locally in a backyard. With those parts in-hand, I had the basics for a restored interior.

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3. Using mail-order replacements from Australian Door Cards, I was able to easily restore my door trims. Luckily for me, the 41-year-old vinyl was in excellent condition

However, the new parts were coloured Buckskin: Holden’s creamy beige. My car’s original interior colour was green and after 40 years, finding parts for the less-popular green trim is difficult so I decided to change the interior colour.

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4. At times it is hard to pick the rust from the dust

After being outdoors in a wrecking yard for years, the Masonite-type door cards I’d bought were rotted and warped. I ordered brand new ones, transplanting the vinyl facings and the door-top ‘metals’ from old to new. Thanks to a few Facebook buy/sell pages, I found a steering wheel in Melbourne and a horn pad – a one-year only VB-series part – from Perth!

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5. Before the fresh interior went in, I added Holden’s luxo-spec cabin soundproofing including these cotton pads above the headlining

It was around this time, too, that I changed my tack with the interior: At first, I was going to ‘rebuild’ the interior to a similar rough-and-ready - but safe and road-worthy - condition to the car’s exterior. But after seeing how nice the now Buckskin-coloured dash and door cards looked after being restored - and after Morley offered me his even-better-than-mine seats from his Commodore track car for the right price - I decided an ‘as-new’ interior would be a far nicer place to be than ‘farm-find’. With that in mind, I bought brand-new cut-pile carpet and I raided a VK Calais – a more luxurious model - for its extra interior sound-proofing.

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I also decided to install air-conditioning. The first Commodores had an optional but complex fully integrated air-con; I have this system in my Commodore SL wagon. However, Holden changed to a simpler air-conditioning system for some later series cars and with a bit of mucking-around, it can be retro-fitted to the earlier cars, too. I raided a Commodore wreck for all the air-con’s under-dash components. I’ll install the engine bay components – the compressor, condenser and pressure lines – after I re-register the car.

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6. As it was re-built with parts from various cars, my replacement dashboard was prepped and painted with colour-matched vinyl paint

After repairing my Commodore’s rust and replicating the factory-type sound deadening to the cabin and boot floor, I made the modifications for the air-con system before fitting the restored and resurrected parts: dash, instrument binnacle, door trims headlining and seats.

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I reckon the interior of this Commodore will be a genuinely nice place to cruise!

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7. How much for the lot then? 

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8. New screen and seals were fitted

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9. GT has transformed the cabin to its former glory

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10.  The new carpets, dash console and steering wheel, Fresh off the GT production line

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11. Seats from my local wrecking yard. Then I grabbed a better set from Morley’s track-spec Commo when he stripped its interior 

 

Read more:

Project Bombadore - panel wrangling

Project Bombadore fires up

Project Bombadore - cutting & shutting a sill

Project Bombadore - tackling the rust

 

From Unique Cars #453, May 2021

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