Seat Covers/upholstery kits/shops

Capt. Mike

Reposted from archives

Superlamb® (brand name) seat covers going bald:

VW, in its infinite inability to show much common sense, put a pale, gray velour upholstery in the late Vanagons & Westies. A stupid combination that is a magnet for typical dirt, stains & spills of a camping trip. Knowing that, I covered everything from day 1.

A local upholstery shop made me rear seat and mattress covers from a nice, compatible heavy duty truck material. Strong, soil resistance treated, and easy to clean.

For the fronts, I bought Superlamb®brand genuine sheepskins. I've had sheepskins before and loved them; cooler in summer, warmer in winter, and tough as nails. Naturally, they only had the sets for Vanagons with arm rests in their deluxe line. $797 list price!!!

First, they never did fit well, always creeping forward so it looked like your seat was wearing a maternity dress. The straps for attaching are in the wrong place and the seat cut doesn't match the seat.

But what really burns is my sheep are going bald! The warranty is 2 years. After about 2½ -- with warranty expired -- the hair started coming out of the driver armrest where it gets the higher wear of the arm going back and forth to the gear shift. Then the bolster on the left side of the seat back quickly followed, showing hide where you rub getting in and out. The lesser used passenger seats are starting to follow.

Reporting to Superlamb® brought a terse "out of warranty" response.

It's going to cost a bunch to remedy the covers. Basically I'll plan to have new covers made from scratch. I'll probably use leather and maybe salvage some of the originally sheepskin for material to do inserts seat belt rub covers or something. I doubt the arm rests can be salvaged at all, unless to put a leather rub patch on the ends where the most wear is. [Done fall 2002 with satisfactory results. Not pretty but gets a little more life out of the covers.]

Summary: Superlamb® isn't for those of us that actually use our cars and expect the covers to do more than look good in the garage.

8026 Miramar Rd.
Sand Diego, CA 92126
(619) 566-2031
CA 1-800-821-4737
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New member
I just bought sheepskin seat covers at Costco. They have a gray that matches the interier of my EV perfectly. The seat cover isn't a perfect fit, but for $30.00 a piece, I think they're great!

Capt. Mike

I've used Auto Interiors (per above) for several jobs. The owner, Lenny Gardner, gave a tech session on upholstery to my AACA chapter recently.

Auto Interiors is one of the better VW experienced shops around. They are capable of rebuilding (often required with VW) seats including spring replacement/repair. They can reupholster using either ready-made kits (there are some good ones out there) or from scratch with materials of your choice. They will do custom covers.

They also do headliners and carpeting.

Tommy Gardner
Auto Interiors & Tops, Inc.
303 N. West St.
Raleigh, NC 27603


New member
Has anyone used Sewfine? They're based in Littleton, Colo., and they have a 32-page catalog of upholstery stuff just for the Bus and Vanagon, including what they claim are matching fabrics. Sewfine Products

Capt. Mike

I queried SewFine on the "matching" interior and got the following response. The response, from their president, is complete, thoughtful and I believe sufficient to answer most of your questions. I'm particularly pleased that they are taking both customer input and have purchased a 'working' Vanagon to test their products in. For the bulk of our members, who want factory look-alike but are not competing for exact factory match such as in AACA meets, these products should suffice.

Thanks for the inquiry. I'll try to answer your questions as best as I can.

The "Matching Vanagon Fabrics" are not exact duplicates of original. I had a guy travel thru Europe last summer looking for them for me, and he had no luck at all. As far as I know, there are no original fabrics left anywhere for seat covers and door panels. I called them "matching Vanagon Fabrics" because they are close, and didn't know how else to represent them. I discuss this with most every customer that calls. The "Grey Dot" in the catalog is almost an exact match to the original, I'd call it a 95%. The others are not that close, but would blend well with an existing interior.

I have been able to do fairly well with the vinyls, in both color and texture. I would say the "Vanagon Tan, Blue, and Brown, and Grey" are all about 98% of original. I have done extensive research on the vanagon materials, because I know there are lots of customers concerned about original. Unfortunately, I cannot say any of my products are made by the same manufacturer as the original Vanagons. All I can do in today's marketplace is search for the best match I can. I have received many, many samples from many manufacturers, and the 4 I have decided to carry are as close as possible in today's marketplace. Having original reproduced is just out of the question, because the manufacturer would usually require about a 10,000 yard minimum order...I've checked into that, too.

On the headliners, I do have good news. I will list in my next catalog the original headliner material. I have found some yardage of it in the grey and tan color. It has the 39" width of perforation down the center, with solid on the sides. My source says it is all that is left in the world, so I purchased all he had. It was a very premium price, and there is only enough to do maybe 3-5 of each color, and then it will be gone.

On the "white Textured" material on the rear panels of the camper models, I have found a textured vinyl that is the same thickness, but the texture is a little different. I have purchased quite a large supply of it, and have made 2 sets of panels for it so far, and the customers have been quite pleased. Again, not knowing exactly how to represent it, our new catalog will show it as "oem style, with an updated texture". It is very difficult as a manufacturer to find just the correct words to describe your products, without being misleading. Again, usually a long discussion happens before the order is placed.

As for the carpets, our kits are not made like the original molded 1 pc front. Ours is a 9pc front kit that fits beautifully, but not original. As far as colors go, the "smoke" is a very, very close match to original, almost dead-on. The other colors are not as close, but good alternatives. I am having the most trouble with the tan color. My biggest problem is that I need to purchase carpet in a 72" width, to have enough size to cut the very large pieces needed for the Vanagon. Most automotive carpets are manufactured as 40" wide, which just won't work. I do believe there is one carpet other than ours on the marketplace made with 40" wide carpet, and I THINK they seam pieces together. I AM NOT CERTAIN ON THAT. We just feel it necessary to not have seams, so stick with the wider carpets. Again, we've searched every carpet manufacturer available, and have chosen the closest we can. We have had converstions with GOWESTY about the final colors, and they believe the ones we have chosen are the best available, as well.

So now, mu current search is for just the right mounting clips for the door panels. That is not an easy task, either. We have ordered about a dozen different clips, and have bought our own "research" vanagon to try them out on. Last week, we found a clip we are satisfied with.

We have been doing research and taking notes for about 7 years now, and there is still so much more to learn. We make progress every day, though.

We are now finding that many customers are switching to "custom" interiors. That is a new thing; up until this year almost everyone wanted original. For these customers (and all of them really), we just have master patterns here for all the seats, cushion covers, door panels, and headliners. When an order is placed, we just use our master pattern, and sew any fabric combination the customer desires. The accumulation of master pattersn has also been a 7 year process, and we are updating them almost everyday. We have found very few mistakes in our research thus far, but everytime we think we've found all the variations, a new one shows up!! We peak into the windows of every Vanagon we pass, and it is just daily conversation here with what someone found new. We have a lot of fun doing it, and think we're almost there.

The Vanagon customers are really wonderful people, and have been so willing to pass on information, or clarify a point we are confused about. The research has been long, with endless pages of notes, thousands of photographs, many trial runs of seat covers and panels, to test the final fit; we take this very seriously.

Releasing our first catalog was a bit intimidating, because we knew we were not 100% on everything yet, but felt it was time to take the first step. I am in process of the next version, that will be ready in maybe 2 months, and then we'll start on the next,and then keep at it until we get everything 100% right (if that could really happen???)

Please do let me know if there is any further information I could offer. We are trying very, very hard, to have a wide variety of products for the Vanagon, and we are always open to suggestions and information.

Thank you again for your inquiry.

Carol Werner
Sewfine Interior Products
806-622-5104 Fax

Mike Robinson

New member
Inexpensive seat covers

I need new seat covers. I have looked at the Sewfine ones but they hit above my budget.

I was wondering how well some of the pre-made, off the shelf ones fit. Is the '82 Vanagon westy seat similar to anything out there?


'82 Westy Diesel 1.9TD