This week we had a very exciting job. A customer needed car leather restoration on his classic 1959 Maserati Vignale 3500 GT Spyder. The Maserati 3500 GT was first produced in 1957 like the one featured on the British movie Cash On Demand, but it wasn’t until 1959 that Carrozzeria Vignale made the Spyder (convertible) version like the one we have been working on.

Cash On Demand movie Maserati 3500 GT

Initial inspection of the car showed the interiors had been completely neglected as is the case with most barn finds. The leather seats were dry, hard and with a lot of cracks which were spread all over the seats due to the extensive use for many years. The colour had faded and even a gentle wipe with some of our leather cleaner was removing colour away. But somehow these imperfections added to the value of the car and gave it its vintage look. The back seats however, hardly had any cracks or visible patina as they hadn’t been used so much. The challenge was to keep the old vintage look but to stabilise the leather at the same time and keep its original features. 

Photos of the car interior when we first saw it coming soon...

To start with, we had to take out all the seats and dismantle a lot of the interior bits like the side panels from the doors. The leather was cleaned very gently using one of our leather brushes and Colourlock Mild Leather Cleaner. It was then treated with a mixture of Licker oil and warm water and left for an entire week! Licker Oil is water soluble and is ideal to treat any old hard leather prior to it being repaired or recoloured. If the leather did not need any repairs or re-colouring a similar treatment with Colourlock leather softener would have been the ideal choice. Mixing it with water ensures that not too much grease is applied as this would reduce the adhesion power of the leather fillers and the leather dye. 

We then moved onto the other parts of the interior. Since, the back seats hadn't been used as much as the front ones there was virtually no damage or no signs of wear. This looked odd when compared to the rest of the leather in the car as these two seats looked pretty much brand new. We therefore, used special leather solvent cleaners to remove the colour and create the old patina similar to the rest of the car to give it that unique vintage look.

The radio and door cards, trims and all other areas of the interior which had cracks, rips and tears had to be glued back together using Colourlock Leather Glue. Cracks in other areas were filled using Colourlock Leather Filler and then sanded down using one of our leather sanding pads. We then proceeded to create an exact grain of the same area to put it back onto the repaired area. This helped achieve an invisible repair. 

A week later we switched our attention back to the two front seats. The mixture of Licker Oil and water had done its magic. The leather was now soft and ready to be worked on. After a quick dust down of all the surfaces, we degreased the seats using Colourlock Leather Cleaning Spirit. We then sanded the seats with a leather sanding pad to get a smooth surface. We then had to tackle the issue of lots of minor cracks which the customer wanted to be visible. His preference was to be able to see the cracks, however, leaving the cracks as they were and simply colouring on top would have given a very bad finish. This was the most challenging part of the job. We used Colourlock Neutral Binder which was applied using a sponge and dried straightaway with a heat gun. The neutral binder is a transparent liquid that when applied it sits in all the cracks and stabilises the leather. Whilst the cracks still remain visible, they do not feel scaly when you touch them. This treatment is ideal for classic car owners who want to keep the look but still want the leather re-enforced and stabilised. We then sanded the layer of neutral binder to get a smooth finish. 

Maserati 3500 GT work in progress

The next stage in the normal leather colouring process would have been to spray primer, then the colour followed by top coats to finish it off. However, with such old leather, these processes would have made it feel plastic like and hard. The old adage ‘less is more’ applied perfectly in this situation.

We therefore chose to spray a very thin layer of Colourlock Leather Fresh which is our DIY leather dye supplied individually and as part of DIY Leather repair kits. The Leather Fresh leather dye contains binding agents and top coats within the colour to make it easier for retail customers to apply themselves at home. The earlier sanding processes had taken some colour off but when we coloured we made sure we did not apply too much colour so the old vintage look was retained.This was followed by a layer of Colourlock Top Coat. Finally, a day later, the whole leather interior was protected using Colourlock Elephant Leather Preserve. 

 Maserati Vignale 3500 GT before and after detail

Maserati Vignale 3500 GT Spyder Before and after seat repair detail

The customer was very happy with the result and so were we! A very challenging job with great results - even 007 would be proud to drive this beauty around!

Maserati Vignale 3500 GT Spyder