Used seats live to dye another day?

Much like last week’s discussion on flexible interior paint, fabric dye is another affordable interior tweak that gets you the look you want with a meager cash outlay and a few hours of your time. While I’m leery of re-dying large components, getting creative with a few threads never hurt anyone.

car seat and supplies
Sajeev Mehta

And in the case of these Caravaggio race seats, purchased used from a C6 Corvette Grand Sport owner, sometimes the opportunity to get creative while enjoying a serious upgrade at the same time is a no-brainer. The recipient of these fine thrones? It’s an older C5 Corvette with a host of performance upgrades in dire need of more aggressive seats.

But let’s be real: this isn’t the time to invest in C5 modifications or restorations, as this generation is sadly at the bottom of the depreciation curve. Even worse, since they never made a C5 Grand Sport, the embroidery and racy red stitching is a bit over the top for my taste.

Enter the Sharpie pen. More to the point, enter Sharpie’s Stained line of fabric pens.

car seat embroidery and stiching
Sajeev Mehta

But first, what to do with that Grand Sport embroidery? The seats are easy to disassemble, as they are the usual one-piece frame found in other race seats. After five minutes peeling away the leather, attack the backside’s stitching with a beard trimmer (yes, really) to turn the thread into a soft pulp that easily brushes away.

thread puller removing car seat embroidery
Sajeev Mehta

Then grab a seam ripper (available at Walmart, craft stores, someone’s sewing kit, etc.) and carefully remove the exterior threads from the leather.

car seat stitching dye from red thread to black
Sajeev Mehta

While the leather’s perforations remain, note that leather filling compound is available: The “memory” of these seats’ Grand Sporting intentions is entertaining enough for me to stop here, and carry on with the color matching.

finished seats dyed and installed into car interior
Sajeev Mehta

It took several coats of fabric “ink” to stop the red from bleeding out, but eventually the Caravaggio seats presented the same understated, monochrome dullness present in the rest of the C5’s interior. I am not a fan of C5 interior dress up kits (Caravaggio full leather interiors notwithstanding), so this upgrade is just dandy.

These seats exponentially improved the Corvette C5’s performance and comfort. Combined with removing the awful factory run-flat tires (years ago) and these two modifications make the C5 feel much newer than the VIN suggests. And when you pop the targa top and go to a car meet, how many people would even see the deviations from the factory interior?

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