Old cars are like a comfortable pair of jeans – one day with a shock you realize it’s already threadbare and starting to wear through in places!

Some old cars, like older VW Beetles, used to come fitted with rubber floor mats. Over time these got torn and tattered, and perished – even in the case of Dolly, my 1962 Beetle that I inherited from my aunt who was the original owner.

By late 2020, those original rubber mats had deteriorated to the point where they were coming apart just where they were. Something had to be done. I looked online for replacement sets, which are available, but at a premium exchange rate and import cost that I wasn’t willing to spare. A few local entrepreneurs are offering carpet sets tailor-made for Beetles, but again, some of them looked very dull and plain, and also again, expensive. Besides, there was no guarantee at all that after I did the EFT, I would ever see my carpets! Sad times we live in, I know.

The only alternative, I felt, was to do it myself.

I could’ve gone to buy some smaller floor mats from China Town or the like to do this, but honestly I don’t like new carpets much. They’re expensive, even for small ones, and they’re frankly not as good quality as older carpets!

I had a couple of off-cut carpets left over from our previous move (1985!) in storage, and so I pulled them out, dusted them off, and set to work! Bearing in mind that these offcuts come from carpets my mom had laid in our flat just before the 1978 floods in PE – they were under two feet of water when our flat flooded out that year – and moved with us through another three moves after that, and endured me playing on them as a child and getting all sorts of things stuck in the fibers – well, these are damn tough carpets! We still have one complete one in the parlor. The other ended up as off-cuts.

The first thing I needed to do was to remove the original mats from the car as intact as possible so that I could use them as templates. In the Beetle, there are two mats – one for the front, and one for the back. There are also two side pieces that cover the side-channels at the doors.

I had to remove the front seats to accomplish this, but after a little effort, this was done. I laid the pieces of carpet upside down in a big enough space on the floor to expose the underside. Then I placed the broken pieces of the original mats on top of the most suitable piece of carpet, upside down as well, and pieced them together like a jigsaw puzzle! Once certain that the pieces of the rubber mats were complete and in correct positions in relation to each other, I whipped out the marker pen and traced the outline of each complete mat.

I had to guess in some places, or flip the mat over to create a mirror-image outline to complete the image where parts were missing. In some places I simply had to guess to fill in the blanks.

Once the tracing was done, I dropped the old rubber mats in the trash – they were really good for nothing else. I used a craft knife aka a box cutter to cut the carpet sections free. Raw carpet edges tend to “run” and unravel, so I used a cigarette lighter – one of those nice mini-gas torches – to seal the mats around their edges to prevent this from happening.

After vacuum-cleaning the floor spaces of Dolly, it was time to fit the carpets!

I laid the side pieces first, inserting the outer edges into the metal clamps that run along the edges of the floor of the door opening. Then I fitted the rear carpet, which fits loosely, but snugly around all the metal fittings in the floor (seat-rails, handbrake mounting etc). Then the front carpet, which covers the floor from the front at the pedals and front wall, to overlap over the front edge of the rear piece, in front of the seat rails.

Voila! Dolly now has a neat, clean, warm carpet instead of a rotting, disintegrating rubber mat! And the speckled brown color matches Dolly’s ‘antique ivory’ paint. Looks much nicer, no?

That’s all for today!

Pictures included – enjoy!

Have a DIY day!


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