With 50 years of abuse on its seats, Project Biting The Bullitt, is definitely long overdue for some upgrades inside the car. This became even more evident after we recently completed restoring and transforming the car’s exterior this summer. We wanted to bring BTB’s interior up to modern levels of comfort and materials, without sacrificing the car’s classic appearance. To do this we turned to TMI Products.
Based in Corona, California, TMI, began making interior components 32 years ago. Sometime in the late 1980s they added Mustang interior parts to their product line as well as other muscle car products. Since then they have continued to innovate in the materials and styles they offer, catering to both the concurs restoration crowd, as well as the custom and restomod customer.
TMI builds everything in the USA at their 240,000 square foot facility. They pride themselves on providing products that fit like the originals, and have the look and feel of original products (if that’s what the customer desires). TMI produces everything from stock-style replacement interior components for classic to late model Mustangs, to major upgrade components such as those we’re using in Project BTB.
A lot of customers were trying to fit aftermarket or modern seats in their Mustangs. We thought what if we reshaped the foam, added some bolstering, and adjusted the upholstery to match? -Larry Ashley, TMI
Ashley tells us, that the idea for the Sport series of seats was inspired by market trends and what they saw their customers doing. “A lot of customers were trying to fit aftermarket or modern seats in their Mustangs, and struggling with the brackets or other issues. So we thought what if we reshaped the foam, added some bolstering, and adjusted the upholstery to match? This way they don’t have any problems with the installation.”
One of the coolest things about the seat cover and foam options from TMI is that there are hundreds of ways to configure your car. Between seat foam styles, seat cover styles, and custom options, you can select what’s not only going to make your comfortable, but something that will also ensure your Mustang stands out at the next show, cruise, or race. TMI can also cover these in either a vinyl or leather material depending on the customer’s preferences and budget.
The seat components from TMI fit the original seat frames, and this is a project that almost any enthusiast can handle in their home garage. The beauty of this is that the seats will fit like stock, because their frames haven’t changed. It really is a way to get the best of both worlds, the support of a modern seat design, with the fit and look of a classic seat.
For Project BTB we chose the Sport R series of seats and covers. We chose the black and gray vinyl and suede seats. Since we’re running a racing seat for the driver’s seat we didn’t install that seat for this article. We did however, reupholster and install new foam in the rear seats, which included foam bolsters and patterns to match the passenger front seat, and the rest of our new interior.
If you’ve ever had to put a headliner in a classic Mustang then you already understand why this headliner from TMI is such a big deal. The original bow style headliner requires that the front and rear windscreens be removed in order to install it. This means that installing a typical classic Mustang headliner requires some very special tools, a call to a glass company, and the possibility you may need a new front or rear windscreen before it’s all over.
If you’ve ever had to deal with the factory headliner, you know that replacing the traditional bowed type can be time consuming and expensive.
This headliner is a molded design, “You basically cut your old headliner out, slide this new headliner in, and it is held in place by the rubber moldings for the front and rear glass,” says Ashley. The included A-pillar panels and sail panels also help hold up the headliner as well. While having a buddy handy to help you position things, this does turn installing a new headliner into a one man job, that any enthusiast can perform, without the need to remove the windscreens from the car.
Another added benefit of the one-piece headliner is that it’s molded to the roof of the car. With the elimination of the factory style bows, this means more headroom, and a headliner that’s not loose, or wrinkled. More headroom is always a great thing for BTB’s owner and primary pilot, our Editorial Director Mark Gearhart, who’s noggin tends to swell a bit after he rips off a fast pass at the track behind the wheel of BTB.
In addition to the various styles and color seat covers that TMI offers they can also produce custom interior options based on customer needs, just as they did for our interior. This includes custom colors, custom cover materials, and even to some extent customization of the seat foam. This service can provide any vehicle with a truly unique appearance.
TMI achieved a more aggressive and modern theme with the dash pad by covering it in materials that match the car’s upholstery. This allows those going with a custom pattern or color to have a dash that compliments the appearance of the interior. Additionally the pad features a suede insert in the center, and double stitching along its perimeter to match the seats. “The pad is still made out of the same base materials as the original, so it has that soft padded feel, but it doesn’t have that traditional textured look, we’ve given it a much more modern and aggressive appearance.”
BTB frequently makes fast blasts down the quarter-mile. We installed a roll cage in the car long ago to keep up with the type of performance it was capable of. To that end, we were somewhat limited in our options for the car’s door panels. We had TMI send us a set of their two-tone door panel inserts to match our seat cover selection. This will allow for proper clearance with our roll cage, without having to modify the panels. It also completes the look and feel of BTB’s interior upgrade.
With the interior now looking as good as the exterior, Project BTB is finally ready to head back to the track, or just down the road to the local burger stand for lunch. Either way, we’ll be riding more comfortably than ever before thanks to the new interior components from TMI.