I searched the site for a step-by-step on installing sail panel vinyl. I found people who had done it but no detailed instructions to give you an idea of what’s involved and/or give you the tools to carry on for yourself. With cars that are 28-34 years old, I’m sure there’s more than a few of us driving around out there with peeling, unsightly sail panel vinyl. This is a “Big” job when done right. You’ll have a good portion of your car torn apart. Plan on a weekend where you prep one day and assemble the next. Here’s what it will take to get yours back to new.
Tools and Supplies:
Phillips Head Screwdriver – Medium
Phillips Head Screwdriver – Small
Phillips Head Screwdriver – Short
Flat Head Screwdriver – Medium
8mm Socket with Long Extension
Small 1” Putty Knife
Utility Knife with Plenty of Sharp Blades
Blue Masking Tape
Regular Masking Tape
Roll of Butchers Paper (or a bunch of newspapers)
Spray Trim Adhesive
Sail Panel Vinyl Kit (various vendors)
Step 1: Remove Trim
You’ll obviously need to take off all the trim pieces before digging into this task. Remove your (cars) top and start with the large pieces that trim the back of each sail panel. You may want to remove the rear wheel to access the 8mm nut underneath the car. This holds a clip that holds the trim piece at the base. There is one other mount and that’s a Phillips screw. Next would be the front side of the sail panel where you’ll need to remove the rubber weather strip at the back of the door and then remove the Phillips screws holding the mounting track. Use the putty knife to get under the mounting track trim piece as they are glued on with a nice sticky tar substance. I’ll let you work your way through the remaining pieces (basically un-screw, un-screw, un-screw…)
Step 2: Remove Misc. Interior Pieces and Vinyl
You’ll need to remove the interior pad underneath the top of the roll hoop and to do that you’ll need to remove the seat belt mounts using the 17mm socket, coat hangers (has anyone ever used these?) and the trim screws hiding under all the little black caps (of which you have a few missing…) Check the bottom of the roll hoop pad as there’s more screws and caps hiding there. Remove the rear latches with the 10mm socket. Need to reseal your back window? Now would be a great time. At this point you’ll want to make a mental note or even take a few pictures of where the folks at the factory had trimmed the vinyl. Now simply peel off the old vinyl. It should come easily.
Here's a shot of the vinyl off.
Here's another. You can still see some of the old glue as it was...
Step 3: Prep
Prep is the most important part to any great job. Once you’ve got everything off you’ll need to prep the car and the surface that you’ll be working on. To prep the car I used the 3M “Blue” tape that is paint friendly on the body and then tapped butcher paper ($15.00 per roll that should last you a lifetime) to mask it off using the regular masking tape. The glue sprays in a definite pattern but it’s best to have everything masked off so you don’t get unwanted overspray. Final prep involves cleaning the surface to be worked and removing all of the old glue (do it damnit… don’t skip this important step.) You’ll especially want to make sure the corners of the roll hoop are clean as the vinyl will have to be bent and somewhat stretched a bit to adhere. Clean, clean, clean. Use the adhesive remover and make sure the entire area is clean. I performed a final wipe down with Acetone. Test fit your vinyl so you know where it’s going during the heat of battle (final installation).
Little balls of glue coming off...
All clean and ready for adhesive...
Step 4: Spraying on the Glue
It all goes very fast at this point so you should be well prepared and ready to race the clock. You need to have an area where you can spray both the areas on the car and the backside of the vinyl. I used the butcher paper and covered the rear trunk. It’s an excellent area to lay down the pieces. The glue is sprayed on in two coats on each area (car and vinyl). Each coat goes in a different direction (left to right and then up and down) to ensure even coverage.
Step 5: Laying Down the Vinyl
First you should remove the paper and tape that you had protecting the car. It will stick to the back of your vinyl making the job impossible. Its job is done now anyway. The vinyl should be applied when each surface is “tacky” to the touch (not dry like most contact adhesives) and this only takes 1-3 minutes. I set the alarm to 3 minutes. You should not let the surface sit for longer than 10 minutes before applying the vinyl… meaning? You’ve got 7 minutes to get the job done. Start with the hoop top. As mentioned earlier I test fit my vinyl before applying the glue. Knowing where I was going I actually laid the top piece over my head and worked my way from the driver’s side to the passenger’s side. Concentrate on starting it straight and concentrate on the flat top surface only. Once it’s down, press it smooth and start rolling those edges down. Hurry, the clock is ticking. Lay on the sidepieces starting in the bottom corner by the handle. There’s a 45 deg. cut there that should straddle the edge of the panel. Hold the back of the vinyl out toward the rear of the car and make sure you will be just covering your mounting holes for the lower trim piece. Smooth each one up and start working the edges over… Whew! The major task is done.
Top and Side.
Slices needed to allow the vinyl to bend...
Step 6: Trimming the Vinyl
Next you simply trim off any excess vinyl. Starting with the top piece. The factory simply ran a blade along the base of each bend on the front and back of the hoop. I used a piece of angle iron to press the vinyl into these dips in the metal. This little homemade tool worked great. If you decide to use this make sure there are no sharp edges that would mar the vinyl. A word about blades; KEEP THEM SHARP. By cutting and dragging across metal your blade will dull instantly. Feel free to change them after each long cut or whenever they begin to show a sign of dulling. My first job was hanging wallpaper professionally (years ago) and a sharp blade is one of the most important things when working with vinyl. Trim the sides in a similar manner leaving the bottom for last. When trimming the bottom, you’ll want to test fit the bottom trim piece (without the clips in it) and draw a line on the vinyl in pencil. The line should be made “under” the trim piece on a portion of the vinyl that will be trimmed anyway. Remove the trim piece and cut roughly 1/8” of an inch above your newly drawn line. This is “very” tricky and requires a patient hand and an extremely new blade… better yet, a very sharp, single-edged razor blade. You want to try to cut the vinyl only and not dig into the paint. As you know, water can gather here and any slice through the paint and down to the bare metal will… rust.
Test fit the trim pieces to gauge final cuts.
Here's a shot of the final bottom area that needs to be cut. You can barely make out the pencil lines.
Step 7: Put it all Back Together
Not much I can tell you here. Start buttoning it back up and enjoy your new sail panels. I'm awaiting new trim pieces (damn that hurt the ole wallet) so no completed pictures until I snap them in.
Hope someone will get some use out of this!
Looks awesome. Nice write up as well. You could be Bob Villa. Next week... on this old house...
I vote this for best of/classic thread. Good know how.
Instant classic, IMHO!!
Eric, is that the six you're going to sell me for $20K when it's done?
No... $19,900.00 and you better be nice to her.
Thanks Jen and Dave.
Great write up and great pics!
This is a classic for sure
Please remind me to move it to the classic threads
(I'll leave it here so others have a chance to post some comments)
Great job Eric, that car is gonna be SWEET when it finished. I took mine for a romp today, went over East Canyon then through Morgan then 84 to 80 home, had a chance to really push the motor and see if I was getting any skipping at high RPM's. I pushed it more than once to over 5K almost 6K. Man my car is running sweet, kept saying to other cars on the freeway, get the hell out of my way. Looking forward to a jaunt to Park City for some refreshments with ya.
As you can see... I'm finishing up the trim stage. I have a few more pieces of rubber to get and she should be swinging soon.
PC here we come! We should see if any of those Denver teeners would want to meet in Vernal off I-40 sometime. A trip to Dinosaur National Park would be cool. (take our dinosaurs there...)
that would be a VERY fun trip...
when you want to do it...
as a group the colorado people have a hard time with planning.. its probably best to pick a schedule rather than make it a democratic thing....
now if I only had a car that ran.. ha...
GREAT write-up/instructions Thanks.
Great write-up I'll be doing this myself soon.
Great job and great write up, but I'll never understand putting vinyl on a sports car???? 914's look so nice without it.
Nice write up Eric. I'll definitely be able to use this info later on. I should be able to do a run be late spring next year.
If anyone has any questions, feel free to contact me regarding this.
East Coaster - I like the look with it on better. Especially on a bone stock factory six restoration. I don't think Jim would cough up $19,900.00 if the vinyl wasn't on there Even on my GT project though... I still think it makes the car. I understand the vinyl thing but... hey, that's what they did in the 70's. Me likes it. They had vinyl on them when they crossed the finish line first in GT at LeMans in 1970
Brandt, let me get this thing on the road and we'll pick a day. Heading out next week to Michigan and won't be back until the 8th. Maybe around the end of August...? Or we wait for Gint...
No vinyl, no $$$$$$ !
seeeeeeeeee... told ya so, told ya so.
Nice write-up... I second/third/whatever the motion for Classic status.
P.S. When removing the curved piece of trim, the nut on the bottom is a wierd size... M5. Don't lose it. Most auto-parts places won't have it on thier board. (Don't ask how I know.)
Nicely done Eric. Nicely done.
when you think of it later and have the time after your trip and all... start a new non hijacked thread about dinasaur... and I'm sure we can get it worked out.
I'll try to get a car running and I'm sure there is a way to hook ginter with one.
have a safe trip..
I love the yellow car!
Very helpful writeup. A couple of quick questions.
- What spray vinyl did you use? Is 3m Super 77 okay?
- How did you handle the spot where the untrimmed targa bar piece overlaps the space where the sail piece goes during installation? Did you trim the end of the targa ends before installing the sail vinyl?
Thank you for posting Eric!
Its time to redo mine again.
A suggestion.... make sure if you are cutting out the vinyl piece to be sure to make it long enough so that when it starts to dry out that it doesn't shrink above the trim. It will start curling at that point.
Wow, excellent write up, thank you.
Thanks Eric. I bought some 3M Super Trim Adhesive 08090, which may be a bit of overkill, but seems like it will work as well as the Super 90.
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