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Thread: Reupholstering e34 Interior. Any suggestions 🤔?

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jun 2022
    Victoria, BC
    My Cars
    1991 535i e34

    Reupholstering e34 Interior. Any suggestions 🤔?

    Hello Everyone, I just bought a red 1991 e34 535i that sat for a long time and been badly sun damaged. The seats are cracked, interior glue is coming apart and the top of the car well... the clearcoat has seized to exist.
    But no rust, engine cranks healthy-> relay clicks, fuel pump even doesn't turn on, new part will arrive on thursday(soon), all fluids are there, doesnt seem to be leaking any where, the radiator looks new and not corroded, but coolant will definitely need a flush, tranny full overhaul was done 50k km ago (odometer shows 374k km) so I'm waiting to find out how it runs first.
    Next thing on my list is to redo the interior upholstery, I want to do it as cheaply as possible but also make it so that it looks good.
    So the first option is to buy new pre-sewed leather for the seats on Ebay all I have to do is take off the old skin and put on the new and slap the seats back on and that would cost approximately $1400-1500 CAD
    Second option is to buy 2 different rolls of synthetic leather from alibaba, one roll with a pre stitched pattern and second is without the pattern but same color. And then redo the whole interior into a different color by my self which also means I'll have to learn how to stitch. Which I'd love to learn but have no clue how it's done with a machine. So my question is, is it possible to remove all of the old skin from the interior and glue on the new, has anyone done it? Or is it worth to just spend the extra $ for pre-sewed leather that is just for the seats and not door cards(but those can be cleaned and glued back together) any suggestions? Recommendations? Experiences?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Dec 2004
    CT, USA
    My Cars
    e28, e34, e39
    Take a look at these leather covers for $349 front or rear. Some have done their e28's with them and they looked good.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jan 2015
    Tempe, AZ
    My Cars
    1992 525i/5
    The cheapest way to redo your interior while still looking good would be to just buy some good used seats. Upholstery is not something you can just learn quickly, and all the pre-made covers look terrible.
    1992 525i 5-speed - Thread

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Aug 2012
    Simi Valley, CA
    My Cars
    328, 525, 740, R1200RT

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Oct 2018
    Hackensack, NJ
    My Cars
    99 528i, 90 535i, 07 X3
    The cheapest way to redo your interior while still looking good would be to just buy some good used seats. Upholstery is not something you can just learn quickly, and all the pre-made covers look terrible.
    This right here. Seat upholstery is an art, and it's extremely difficult to find a good shop (even if money is no object). Most upholstery shops in the US are specialists in American seats which have much simpler shapes and easier stitching (big, wide benches as opposed to contoured buckets. Forgiving tufted and ruched leather/cloth as opposed to the tighter designs used on Euro interiors).

    The same can be said for replacement leather covers - these are mass produced and probably won't fit correctly (you'll be able to get it over the frame but the fit of the leather and location of seams will be visibly off. Stiches probably won't be straight and compound areas like the bolsters will look irregular).

    A poorly redone seat will always look worse than a torn or dried out seat.

    Your best strategy (and probably cheapest too) is to find a good set of seats out of a garage-kept car. Failing that, get a decent set of seats where the leather isn't dried out and re-dye/fill areas that have worn out.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Sep 2009
    Milwaukee WI
    My Cars
    540i/6, 740il,M Roadster
    Unless I'm way off base, the red's in '91 were all single stage. My son just did an brilliantrot E30 vert that was dull pink, and 18hrs of buffing later looked like it was just repainted. don't count yours out yet.

    With your location a decent interior should be easier to find then a rust free body. Buying mechanically totaled parts car is your best and most economical solution for the interior. since, in sun-baked cars it's not just the seats that get destroyed.


  7. #7
    Join Date
    Mar 2020
    My Cars
    E34 540ia
    The covers will be a $700+ project. And depending on color, the darker (black) or richer tones seem to come out better, when refinished and re-coloured. There seems to be so many factory color available now a days, I would take seats out and sand and patch then refinish with the spray on leather factor color paint.

    The cost would be less, but more work and from the YouTube examples, they look really great. I would try this first, if you botch it up, then you can just get the covers. Think of it a some DIY fun and see how it turns out.

    If you are looking for hassle free, then the covers are the way to go front and back, so they look factory. Some complained that the thicker material on those seat cover made the head rest and arm rest feel too puffy, so maybe they can try removing some of the thicker material on these parts with scraper and some sand paper, leather seems to be material you can thin out with removing material. But you can just leave it and just install hassle free. Good deal for under $800 DIY.
    Last edited by E34 Lives; 07-02-2022 at 04:08 PM.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    May 2020
    My Cars
    E34 520i 1996
    A friend of mine got new covers from (for a different make of car) and I was really surprised by the quality. They look OEM in there.

    I have a minor repair needed on my drivers seat and I've been considering replacing the covers on all the seats with these. It gets a bit pricy to get them from the US into the EU though.

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