After 12 years of California sun and heat the headliner in my DB9 started to sag. Specifically the glue between the beautiful Alcantara fabric and the molded headliner form failed, and this caused the fabric to release and sag down on the passengers heads. I have an entire series of articles and videos dedicated to the steps to repair this issue (check it out here). In this article I am going to focus on the actual repair of the headliner material, getting it glued back on to the form already removed from the car.
I’ve done a bunch of work already to get to this point in the project:
- Parts needed to reinstall the Headliner
- How to remove the Drivers Side Dash Panels (optional)
- How to remove the Passenger Side Dash Panels (optional)
- How to remove the Rear View Mirror
- How to remove the A Pillar Interior Trim (Cant Rail)
- How to remove the Headliner
I debated for a bit if I wanted to try and re-glue the fabric to the form myself. I am NOT an upholsterer. Sure, the basics are simple:
- Work with clean hands and in a clean area. Getting the front of the fabric dirty would spell disaster.
Peel the fabric off the form carefully without stretching it.
- Use some sort of sanding block/paper to remove the old glue and foam fuzz from the back of the fabric and the form. The surfaces have to be free of lumps/bumps else they will telegraph through the fabric when re-glued.
- Select some form of suitable spray upholstery adhesive. Probably something from 3M that is high tack but allows a little working time.
- Apply the adhesive according to instructions.
- And finally the hard part. Apply the fabric back to the form, while it’s incredibly tacky, and get all the existing holes at the edge of the fabric EXACTLY lined up with the holes in the form. All while smoothing the fabric out without any creases or bubbles. Or getting it dirty.
The last part is the game breaker for me. I appreciate a craftsman with years of skill and experience. I don’t have this skill, and I didn’t want to make this my ‘learning experience’ and end up with a half-assed result I would see all the time.
Finding an Upholsterer
I opted to track down a skilled and reputable upholsterer in my area that would be willing to tackle this. In California upholsterers make a constant stream of revenue from failed headliners, from all makes and models of cars. Like a plumber snaking plugged drains, headliners need repaired all the time. There is nothing that special about the DB9 other than the Alcantara fabric is nice.
I’d suggest calling your nearest Aston dealer to ask who they would use. You shouldn’t be surprised to learn that all dealers outsource this kind of work to a trusted vendor in the local community. Same for body work too. For as little call they have for this kind of work, it wouldn’t make financial sense to have an in-house expert. In my city (Sacramento, California) there isn’t an Aston dealer for 120 miles, so I opted to call the fanciest car dealer we have, a Maserati dealer. I asked who does their work, and the service manager immediately recommended a local specialist called “Award Interiors” (check out their website here).
I wanted to check for a few other recommendations. I called a local specialist shop that does custom British car restorations, and they too recommended the same local company, Award Interiors. With two unrelated recommendations I was convinced and gave the owner Dan a call to explain what was needed. He was happy to help as long as the fabric and form were still usable.
I loaded up the headliner (along with a few other Dash Panels that had the glue failing on them as well – discovered during this adventure) in my Sweetie’s SUV and drove the parts over and dropped them off. You can envision my sad eyes and plea of “Please take care of these”.
Two days later the repaired headliner was ready to pick up. They were able to line up all the holes, get it re-glued and it looks like new again! They had also successfully re-glued the edges of the several dash panels I took in. The price? A mere $150 USD. That’s still some money, but in the relative world of DB9 repairs, that’s a bargain.
With the repaired parts in hand, its time to start the reassembly process. Check out my next article and video on properly re-installing the headliner along with new fir tree clips and Velcro.
Here is a short summary of the process so far, and a look at what the fabric looked like loose and the leather peeling off.