I had been running the car without any carpeting or sound deadening for about three years, in fact since I removed it to alter the gearbox tunnel to fit the overdrive gearbox. The work on the 5 speed gearbox conversion was finished and so I had no excuse to leave the interior bare any more - unless that is the stripped out 'race/rally' look was what I had planned. In fact I really hadn't given it much thought with all the work on the greasy bits. So the car looked more than a bit bare and was quite noisy particularly on a run.
The old carpet that I had taken out was way beyond repair, being holey and faded and some of the front sound deadening / under felt was pretty ropey too. Just a word on the under felt; this is a layer of shredded foam, bonded together into a sheet, on top of this is a 5mm layer of bitumen, followed by a layer of tar paper like that used to waterproof flat roofs. Clearly the foam is there to act as heat insulation from the engine bay and exhaust, the bitumen deadens the sound and the tar paper adds a waterproof layer under the carpet. The problem that I had was that over the years the bitumen layer breaks up and the tar paper tears with it, leaving gaps and a nasty granular tarry mess everywhere, I have a plan to replace it, but I need to look at some sample materials - I'll write it up when I have sorted it out.
I took a sample of the original carpet to a local trim shop to find out what BL had used, with a view to ordering some carpets to be made up and fitted. The guy turned up his nose and showed me a swatch of the matching carpet material,
He said, "You know, this is the cheapest stuff going......, what you want is some of this." He flashed some quite lovely rich, deep carpet on a roll.
I asked, "How much is it?"
"£55 per square metre, not bad huh?".
"And how much is the original stuff?"
"Well if I can get it, maybe £18 a metre."
I thought, "In other words, I'd like to sell you this stuff from another job that has already been paid for."
I asked about how long it would take to do and he said that he reckoned a day to make and fit and came up with a cost of £300 labour plus material which he reckoned would be at least 4 metres, but he couldn't do it for 5 months as he was really busy. I thought that I would try doing the fitting myself and decided to leave it.
I then did nothing for a while until I saw an EBay auction for Marina carpets by a seller called 'carhoods', as I needed a non standard piece to go over the raised transmission tunnel, I emailed the guy asking if he could manufacture non-standard pieces. From his reply, I rang him and we chatted about what I needed. The company is based in Birmingham and the owners name is Ian Sims and he can be contacted on 07882 455890 or email@example.com.
Ian was really helpful, he explained that rather than have a single front piece and a single back piece the front is made in three parts, a transmission cover and two foot well panels and what he could do was to cut the transmission hump wider, we settled on an extra three inches (75mm) added on to each side. The carpet is provided with webbing edging on all exposed edges and the drivers foot well has a heel pad sewn in. Best of all he would do it all at the standard EBay price of £105 plus postage (Spring 2009).
Carhoods have Marina patterns for the saloons and coupes, and will cut carpet to any shape you want, for example if you send a paper template for a boot liner or for an estate load bed they will make it up for you.
I ordered the carpet and webbing in Midnight Blue to match the original trim, Ian will do the webbing in non-standard colours, so if you want Ochre carpet with black webbing (or whatever you prefer) he's definitely up for it. Delivery time was quoted as 4 weeks as Spring is their busy time of the year with everyone trimming their interiors before the show season.
Three weeks later the carpet was delivered by DHL and was just as described - recommended.
I decided to retain as much of the original under felt as possible and also the pre-formed hessian carpet backing to give the carpet some shape. The old carpet peeled off very easily and I used Loctite carpet adhesive to stick the new stuff on (available from Halfords etc).
I lined up the new carpet using the handbrake slot, before sticking the backing and the new carpet together. Once together, I used the backing to show me where to cut the slots for the seatbelt catch in the centre and the lower seat belt mounting holes at the bottom of the door post.
As you can see the inner rubbing strips for the front seat runners are in the wrong place, as they are only stitched on, I shall unpick them and re-attach the original plastic runner which I retained when I took the old carpet apart.
Unlike the rear carpet, the front carpet has the previously mentioned under felt to refit, you can see where the tarred paper is peeling away and how the raised gearbox tunnel meant some compromises to the heating and insulation. When I had previously raised the tunnel line for the overdrive gearbox, I had to delete the diffuser that sits below the heater and steers the warm air into the foot well. The air control flap that opened for the foot well heating still dropped down OK, but now with the carpet and underlay the flap is permanently closed. For the future, I shall find some small switchable vents to let into the air box to do the same thing. You can also see that raising the tunnel means that the transmission cover isn't long enough. I must stress here that the 5 speed conversion doesn't need the transmission hump and if you are thinking of doing it, that you won't have this problem.
Having got the under felt down, I covered it in the hessian backing from the old front carpet, I used a spare piece of hessian under felt to bridge between the front section and the rear section.
I fitted the centre carpet section first, taking my time to position everything, before cutting the hole for the gearstick and surround. Rather than cut out the hole, I cut an eight slotted star and folded the carpet underneath, I teased the rubber gearstick surround through the carpet so that the widest part of the rubber bellows sits on top of the carpet, trapping it.
With the centre section in place, I loose fitted the foot well carpets, aligning them so that I could trap the carpet edge by the door under the carpet retainer.
Stainless Steel Carpet Retainer
When I first bought the Coupe, both the original black plastic carpet retainers were broken, so I had a batch of stainless steel retainers made up to replace them. I chose a brushed finish so that they are fairly similar the the outside brushed metal step plate, if you would like a set contact me, as I still have some spares for sale (Email here). I fitted them with the plastic protection on to protect the finish and then stripped it off when I was happy with it.
So does it make any difference? Yes, it is quieter and less rattly. Would I recommend Carhoods, yes, but be realistic about what you are getting, the quality of the carpet is similar to the original BL carpet except it has a rubberised backing to help with control dampness. It's not the best carpet in the world, but it looks good, time will tell on how it wears.