Piston Slap: A less-spicy Cougar interior color?

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1970 Mercury Cougar 2dr brown interior
Mr.choppers / CC BY-SA

Joseph writes:

I have a 1970 cougar XR-7, and the people that owned it before me lived in Phoenix, where the dashboard lost some of the “ginger” color. That’s OK, because I have been changing the ginger over to a black interior. I noticed that store-bought glass and dash cleaner took more of the color off the dash, and that it was black underneath. My question is there a better way that I could get this color off and leave the black dash underneath without damaging it?

Sajeev answers:

I bet that product is fine for wiping off the (heavily oxidized) ginger color coat, as a little digging on Glass + Dash cleaner suggests it’s safe, provided you don’t dunk parts in a bathtub full of it.  I’ve used far more aggressive cleaners to remove gooey messes from interior panels, so consider yourself lucky that the ginger brown color just wipes off with that stuff.

For textured plastic panels, try using soap, water, and gentle application of an abrasive scouring pad (like a Scotch-brite household pad). Odds are it works just as well but is significantly cheaper.  Saving green when going black is good, because a full interior conversion (without a donor car) isn’t going to be cheap.

Be it factory reproductions or off-the-shelf material installed by a local upholsterer, you’re gonna be out a large chunk of money on the seats alone. Door panels and the console follow suit, except the door panels aren’t currently being reproduced. Carpet is cheap-ish; same for headlining. And you might be able to get away with painting the other parts.

A flexible interior coating will quickly finish your project.  Color matching is generally tough with off-the-shelf aerosol cans (some paint shops can custom mix and shove it in aerosol can for about $20), but that’s irrelevant for a black interior.

Remember that black isn’t a color—it’s the absence of light—so no need for a color code; just pick the level of gloss preferred, follow the instructions (especially in the preparation), and enjoy your color-matched parts. I went with SEM Landau Black on my black interior swap (Fox body Mustang) and was happy with the results.

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