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The CR4 Book Club

The CR4 Book Club is a forum to discuss fiction and non-fiction books that have science, engineering or technology thematic elements. The club will read and discuss several books a year. All CR4 users are invited to participate. Look out for book announcements and the ensuing discussions that follow, but beware of potential spoilers!

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Book Review: Muscle Car Interior Restoration Guide

Posted September 28, 2009 5:01 PM by Steve Melito

"A lot of car guys shy away from upholstery because they think it's woman's work," explains Dan Strohl, a blogger for Hemmings Motor News and frequent contributor here on CR4. Men who build 600-hp engines won't touch a seat cover because they worry they'll have to learn how to use a sewing machine. Guys who don't think twice about rebuilding a transmission won't even touch the tools for repairing a leather seat.

Fortunately, Dan Strohl isn't your typical car guy. In Muscle Car Interior Restoration Guide, the AMC aficionado applies a "no sew" approach to the art of interior restoration. "This book," dstrohl told CR4's Moose during a recent interview, "is basically automotive upholstery 101".

Strohl's first book is also the best book on the subject. Aside from some service manuals and technical articles, there's precious little information in print about how to finish the job of restoring a muscle car.

The Right Book at the Right Time

For Strohl, the Muscle Car Interior Restoration Guide was "the right opportunity at the right time". When CarTech approached him with some ideas for a book, this student of hot rod history saw an opportunity in the unoccupied space on his automotive bookshelf. In addition to his work as a blogger, Strohl reviews books for Hemmings – a task that helps him know which roads have been traveled a few too many times.

But writing a book in your spare time, with no leave of absence and a full-time job, is no Sunday drive. During the course of 10 months, Strohl gathered information and visited repair shops in Massachusetts, New York, and New Jersey "to see how different people do things". He also did his own work, repairing the carpet and headliner and completing the plastic interior restoration for his HMX project (1979 AMX Spirit).

Ultimately, writing the book was the easiest part. The photo shoots were the hardest, mainly because so few shops in the northeastern U.S. specialize in muscle car auto interiors. Still, while pounding away on his laptop and spending "lots of time on the couch", Dan Strohl found the time to write a book. And that's not something a lot of car guys – even ones who aren't afraid of upholstery – will ever do.

More than Seat Covers

The Muscle Car Interior Restoration Guide covers a lot more than just seats, however. With expert insights into the tips, tools, and techniques for restoring a muscle car like the pros, Strohl's book includes instrument panel, dashboard, and pedal restoration as well as steering wheel and steering column repairs. There's also information about electrical system restoration, and plenty of advice about restoring carpets and headliners, doors and door panels, and even automotive glass.

Resources:

Muscle Car Interior Restoration, CarTech Auto Books and Manuals (2009)

CR4 Interview with Dan Strohl, 09/24/09

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