It’s What’s On The Inside That Matters With TMI Interiors

For automotive enthusiasts, we offer you this thought: An awesome exterior begins with an impressive interior. There’s not a true car person anywhere in the world that gets inside a vehicle and doesn’t feel something while sitting behind the wheel. A really well-thought-out build has all the separate elements working in harmony, and that definitely includes the interior. From that we can agree with the common phrase, “beauty comes from the inside out.”

With car builds, you can’t always control what goes on with the exterior. Without special fabrication and/or painting skills, the outside is what it is. But you can always control what goes on inside. We reached out to our friends at TMI Products (TMI) to help guide us with what the company has adopted as a mantra, “It’s What’s On The Inside That Matters.” 

How Others See Your Pride And Joy

Maybe you plan on entering a car show once your project is finished, or maybe you just plan on taking friends and family on Sunday cruises. Whatever the case, your pride and joy – and the work you did to it – will be judged. Maybe not on a scorecard, but anyone getting into the passenger seat will notice certain aspects of the interior. Most assuredly, they will feel a certain way about it.

Trained judges will look to see if the interior is unrestored, restored to original, or a new take on an old idea. Obviously, the interior score will suffer if it is worn, ripped, tattered, or soiled. Some will go as far as taking points off if the heater vents are not clean. These same principles apply to your invited passengers. If the interior is dirty, ripped, or does not match the overall theme of the vehicle, they might not say anything, but it will be noted.

1969 Camaro Indy Pace Car restoration project with TMI interior.

The authenticity of a restoration is not always a factor in judging. That is unless you enter a Concours event where the judges focus on what is wrong with the build rather than what is unique and improved. As our friends at TMI often tell customers, changes for safety and overall comfort for everyday use should be a priority.

Originality And Unique Features

As car enthusiasts ourselves, we look for interiors with unique features and a continued theme that is represented inside the car. These simple aspects can really define the status of luxury in your project build. For us, originality doesn’t always mean restoring to original specs. We think of original components or features that a car owner is proud to show off or something that others will like to see.


The GMC Truck designers never envisioned this level of comfort.

Uniqueness features prominently in the interior design elements of a project build. These are the things that not everyone can do or have done to their cars. Something with your own personal flair added. Sometimes these include a feature or features that you may only see once in a lifetime. Sometimes it is a combination of items that speak of the owner’s personality. This is where TMI Products can help.

The TMI Way

TMI’s Marketing Director, Ross Berlanga, led us through the typical process used by the longtime automotive interior manufacturer. “It all begins with our sales reps,” Ross said. “They are there to guide the customer through the interior design.” This process includes finding out what the customer needs by asking a series of questions and letting the customer “design” their own products. The sales rep will offer suggestions based on trends, experience, and style expertise.

A custom 1966 Chevy Nova interior.

Some of the typical questions the sales rep asks will help define the finished product. For example, the TMI team needs to know what type of vehicle the customer has, what is the goal (restoration, restomod, full-custom, etc.), and what modifications have been done or are planned to be incorporated into the build. Many of these can have a huge effect on the fitment of many interior components. Mini tubs can affect rear seats, modified transmission tunnels can impact front seating and/or use of a console. The team asks about shifter location and if the dash is original or custom.

“Of course the buying process is a big part of what the sales reps do, but that part only takes 20 to 30 minutes,” Ross explained. “The order is processed, but if there are further questions, the order is saved and material samples can be sent to the buyer to help them decide.”

VW Bug interior.

Comfort And Cost

“Seats make up the vast majority of first questions to the sales reps,” Ross added. “That’s the most popular item for customers to ask about when they start their interior build.” While seating is the start of the build process for most home garage builders, it is important to consider the entire theme of the car’s build.

“Our sales reps remind customers that it is easier to think of the whole interior at once, rather than over the course of several months,” Ross noted. “This has multiple purposes. First, the materials are more consistent when ordered as a complete set. Plus, shipping is free with larger orders, which can make a large difference in the overall build.”

Inside of a Fox Body Mustang.

TMI reps are well known for respecting customer decisions, and they take detailed notes for any further customer interactions. This is why the company is highly regarded in the aftermarket automotive industry.


A car’s interior design should include factors that we’ve touched on earlier. Things like comfort, beauty, entertainment, and safety should all be considered. It is easy to fall in love with a look that you’ve seen in photographs, but the downside to that look is rarely apparent. That is what the sales reps and their years of experience bring to the conversation.

A Chevy Bel Air with a red interior.

Some customers do not know the differences between the various seat types that TMI offers, or what features the different seats have. Some are flatter, like the original OEM versions, while others have a more contoured feel with higher bolsters. The difference can be huge in terms of comfort, as well as personal preference. A sales rep can highlight the differences and make recommendations based on what the customer prefers.

Will the customer be choosing leather, automotive-grade vinyl, or cloth? The seats at TMI can come in any number of combinations of materials to suit your needs and preferences, while the final design is really up to you and the patterns you choose. Yet again, the TMI sales representatives are there to ask questions and offer suggestions based on years of experience.

Silver 1969 Camaro rear passenger area.

When it comes to automotive interiors, the one that makes the car owner the happiest, and makes everyone else want to take a ride in the car, is the one that is perfect for that situation. Getting to that level of perfection takes a team. For more information on TMI Automotive Products and their various lines of automotive interiors, visit them online at

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About the author

Bobby Kimbrough

Bobby grew up in the heart of Illinois, becoming an avid dirt track race fan which has developed into a life long passion. Taking a break from the Midwest dirt tracks to fight evil doers in the world, he completed a full 21 year career in the Marine Corps.
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