After the leather was ordered, while we waited for it to arrive, I decided that it would make sense to start sending Cechaflo (first name: Cesar) the parts he would cover in leather.
Initially, the plan was to send in the inside door panels and the rear seat panels, and then do the dashboard/center console last, as I still need to drive my car once in a while I wanted to keep my original dashboard. It also didn't help that I couldn't find a used series 2 or 3 (with passenger airbag) dashboard.
This is when I got lucky - as I kept trying to find another dashboard, when I messaged my buddy Tim "Moff" Nichols in the UK. He's a fellow 33 owner/fan and also runs a car related business, The Moff Shop, where some of what he does is dismantling cars. And yes he had an R33 dashboard and center console, and he was also happy to supply me with those pieces for this project! So, I decided to hold off sending my door and rear seat panels, in the hopes that while Cesar worked on the dashboard, I would be able to find spare Series 3 pieces on Yahoo Auction or eBay.
Tim was kind enough to send over some photos to show that the dash appeared to be in decent condition...
So I paid for shipping and the pieces were on the way to Cesar. Thank you Tim!
However, because the dashboard was missing a few pieces, I ended up finding some more used parts on Yahoo Japan (one seller agreed to send directly to Mexico) and I also took some harder-to-find pieces off of my own car.
Like this gauge surround piece.
And this piece from the bottom of the dash, above the driver's legs
Meanwhile, while Cesar was waiting for these pieces to arrive, we began to discuss some of the detail work that I wanted him to do, for example, as he had never seen an R33 GT-R before, I had to explain what exactly I wanted covered in leather, and what I wanted left uncovered.
Red arrows for what would be covered in leather, and yellow for what is to be left untouched.
Pink to ask him what we should do there.
We also discussed other details, such as his stitching technique, for example:
Incredible! I have no complaints here...
And as you likely saw in the Speedhunters article, he also showed me different thread spacing and coloring options:
Black wide stitching
Black narrow stitching
White wide stitching
White narrow stitching
Wide red stitching
Meanwhile I had my friend Russ, fellow car nerd (mostly FD3s) and known worldwide for his blog RE-xtreme, do some quick photoshop renditions to see whether red or white stitching (and single or double) would look good on the dash:
Single stitch red thread, mock up
Double stitch red thread, mock up
Double stitch white thread, mock up
And where would such stitching go on the doors and rear seat quarter panel?
Hmm. Maybe... I guess this car isn't really designed for stitching...
And the rear seat side panels, I guess this is the only logical way to do this?
After what seemed like an eternity, the dashboard and parts finally arrived at Cesar's shop in Mexico, and he promptly sent me some photos... And then he and his son produced a very slick video for the world to see.
It turns out that Cechaflo would welcome the publicity generated by us working together. Not only would I feature him and his work on this blog, but also on Speedhunters. Can't beat that kind of publicity.
Anyway, first order of business was to decide on where to source the leather. Because I am close friends with someone who is very particular about leather (Dino Dalle Carbonare of Speedhunters) I decided to ask him. He told me to try to get Poltrona Frau Pelle, who supposedly supply leather to Ferrari! Can't beat that. So I sent an email to them, but unfortunately after a few back and forths they were not able to help me. Frankly, not surprised at all.
Cesar had some other suggestions, one which was Hydes Leather. These guys are located in Canada, but import hides directly from Italy. Further, what was interesting to me was, they offer OEM leather used by several hi end marks - yes, including Ferrari, Bentley, Porsche, and others.
So I sent an email and soon had a swatch of black leather sent my way for comparison. I requested samples of leather in both dark grey and black for the 3 OEM brands I thought looked best on the website - Ferrari, Bentley, and Jaguar/Landrover. Once the samples arrived, I compared against the fake black leather in my car.
Bentley grey and black, versus OEM Nissan plastic...
Ferrari black vs. Nissan OEM dashboard...
Bentley on the left, Ferrari on the right
Although I was drawn to Ferrari for the name, with the help of my friend Alessandro (whose blog, http://www.bnr34gt-r.comis a very nice read, even though it usually focuses on the wrong car...lol), I eventually settled on Bentley because it appeared darker, and had more leather like qualities like the feel and smell. I learned from Aaron, CEO of Hydes, that Ferrari leather is actually freeze-dried during production, which gives it a stiffer feel that other leathers. This is good for seating surfaces that require durability, but not necessarily so for other interior areas which are glued down anyway.
Cesar had instructed that the Bentley leather be skived to a thickness of 1.0mm, the ideal thickness for apply to car parts. Meanwhile, I began sourcing the various parts for the car. Then, it would just be a matter of sitting back to wait for the leather to arrive...
After rejecting pre-made leather covers, I thought that maybe I could do the work myself. Order a bunch of leather, and then use some kind of glue. After all, we humans have been working with leather for thousands of years, surely it can't be that hard for a modern man like me??
So I did some more research on aftermarket leather applications to cars and eventually finding several videos on youTube. And that is when I found a guy whose youTube handle was cechaflo, and his channel showed lots of different types and techniques of leather application. More importantly, he had a few dedicated to leather in cars, and after viewing them, I realized that there was no way I could do this job myself. I don't have the time, nor the space, and certainly not the years of experience it would take to do a neat clean job.
After watching more of his videos, I decided to try my luck and ask Cechaflo if he could help me... few days went by and he came back with a "I would be honored." And with that, the project began.