Interior rennovation writeup

I recently set about restoring my 5’s interior, so I thought I’d write up my experience. I will post pics later. The idea was to restore and slightly improve things, but not to go overboard and make it tacky. I think a lot of nice old 5s out there really deserve some closer attention to their interiors, as this is often overlooked (bar terrible chrome stick-ons) when doing rennovations.

First up I bought an armrest cover, handbrake gaiter and gearstick gaiter, all in matching black leather with lovely red double-stitching, from a seller on eBay (gulp). The effect is subtle but the red stitching really brightens up the interior, it’s classy (I will post pics) and could easily be factory-fit. But what amazed me was the quality of the parts - I have never dealt with this seller before, but the leather is of fantastic quality (soft and smells great) and the stitching is good. The armrest cover was not cut right, and took some trimming to get to the right size (and a gentle glue [not super glue!!!] to adhese without damaging the plastic). But the 2 gaiters are flawless. The whole lot cost under £30 and have had a dramatic effect on the interior.

I also spray painted the ash tray with mixed results (there is a thread about it) with 2 coats of plastic primer and 2 coats of satin black topcoat. I fitted a new faceplate for the center of the dashboard (rather expensive but massive difference) from MX5 parts. This along with plenty of cleaning plastics (diluted white spirit and spray-on interior cleaner), fully cleaning the stereo face, and using leather restorer on the steering wheel have ended up with stunnng results overall.

I bought a Momo gear knob which was, as many have commented, a total waste of money - the ‘universal fit’ is hopeless. The adaptors are staggered in 2mm sizes, and the MX5’s size is excluded, and bodging it on didn’t work well as the vibrations of normal driving loosened the grub screws and soon had the knob coming off in my hand. This was fitted once by me, once by Halfords, and once with extreme care by Dandycars, but the conclusion was that it just wasn’t a good fit for the car - get a properly-threaded knob from an MX5 parts supplier, don’t bother with crappy universal fitments from Halfords…!

The leather bits are on eBay from the seller ‘topgaiters’. Again, I haven’t bought anything else from this seller so I can’t vouch for any more than the items I ordered, but they were great. The interior cleaner I used was Turtle Wax’s matt cleaning spray, which was good but does require scrupulously even coverage (spend too long on one spot and it shines), and works surprisingly well on metal (steering wheel centre). It also has very little scent and dries fast, though next time I may go for the gloss finish version. The leather cleaner was a free kit that came with a creme coloured sofa, but was fine for black leather as it’s just a cleaner and a feeding cream.

I’d like to replace or paint the bolts on the steering wheel, change the terrible floor mats, and possibly change the gear knob and handbrake sleeve (I’ll be looking to buy at the rally on Sunday!), but apart from that the interior is done. I really can’t recommend this enough as it’s cheap fixes that make the whole cabin feel vastly nicer - it’s a totally different world in there now, and driving the car feels a much more special experience. It may look the same on the outside and be no faster, but it’s actually changed my day-to-day experience of the car more than almost any other mod I’ve done (bar perhaps the exhaust!).