Gallery: Refurbishing the Interior of a Police Pursuit Charger

Last month, we made significant strides in the Charger’s restoration by reassembling and painting it in the original factory black color. This month, our focus shifts to the interior, as we aim to remove as many of the Police Pursuit parts as possible and refurbish the well-worn interior. If you’re joining us for the first time, check out the previous installments of the Charger’s return to action to see how far we’ve come.

Above: The interior was gutted, leaving only the exposed floor pan. On a Police Pursuit, the rear HVAC ducts were mounted under the front seats rather than having airflow through the console. A good vacuuming was all needed to prepare the floor pan for the new carpet. 

Retired Cruiser Returned to Action – Part I
Beginning Collision Repair on a 2006 Dodge Charger Pursuit – Part II
The Body Work on this ’06 Dodge Charger Police Pursuit Continues – Part III
The Collision Repair & Paintwork Concludes on Pursuit Charger – Part IV

When the Charger was in the body shop, I had been busy acquiring interior pieces to make the interior look less police-like and more like a nice SXT or R/T Charger. The first thing to address was the rubber flooring. I am not a fan of rubber carpeting. Luckily, I found all three carpet modules stored in a garage for years from a totaled low-mileage 2007 Chrysler 300.

Above: The rubber carpet, while a practical design for easy cleaning, was not to my liking. It was dirty and had several areas of damage. After careful consideration, a three-part carpet assembly was located to replace it, a decision that was driven by both aesthetics and functionality. 

With the rubber carpet removed from the Charger, I was pleasantly surprised to find only a few Tootsie Rolls, some Dunkin Donuts napkins, and $0.56. After thoroughly vacuuming, I began installing the rear module, followed by the passenger and driver front modules. The black carpet fit perfectly, transforming the interior from a police appearance to a refined, civilian look.

Most Police Pursuits were delivered with a modified and smaller center console than a production Charger. The smaller size allowed for installing all the radios and computers necessary for today’s police officers. The center console in my Charger had additional cuts and modifications to fit more equipment. It looked terrible, and I was fortunate to find a wrecked 2007 Charger with an intact dark-slate console. I plunked down $112.50 (an excellent price) for the assembly.

Above: Each carpet module dropped into place without any difficulty. The carpet was from a totaled LX vehicle and in great shape. The car must have been driven to the beach often because it took me hours to vacuum the sand from the carpet modules. 

After cleaning the console, I installed it with the factory hardware I purchased at the local Dodge dealership. It looked like a factory installation because it fit the car as if it were the original console. I left the console’s rear factory AC vents non-functioning because the police Charger did not come with the factory ducting necessary for the airflow to the vents. The airflow ducting exits under each front seat for the rear seat occupants.

One of the challenges I encountered during the restoration was the condition of the seat belts. Due to the constant use and abuse by the officers, the belts were in a sorry state – frayed, twisted, badly faded, and filthy. The belt anchor at the base of each B-pillar was also corroded, possibly from the rear interior being constantly washed to remove the debris left behind by the perps.

Above Left: I won an online auction for a used console. Even though a Police Pursuit console came with the Charger, the factory mounting provisions for the larger civilian console remained in place and were used to mount the console to the floor. Above Right: The console looked great. I still need to find an ashtray and fabricate something to fill the hole where the factory shifter would have been located. 

In another online win, I scored two seat belt assemblies on eBay to replace the damaged belts. The units were in great shape and an improvement over the beat-up seat belts. I installed both belts and tested them to verify they retracted appropriately once secured. I checked the Supplemental Restraint System (SRS) with the Chrysler WiTech scan tool to confirm that the module recognized the new belts and the pyrotechnic devices. Both belts passed the SRS system tests.

The costliest interior repairs were the two front seats and the rear seat (bottom and seat back). The rear seat in the Charger was considered a throwaway item since the day I purchased the car. I had no idea who was placed on that seat, and there is no telling what was spilled, leaked, or dropped onto it.

Above Left: All the interior trim was in poor shape, so it was replaced with new pieces I picked up at the local dealership. The curtain airbag can be seen in the photo. Above Center: Before installing the rear seat, I installed the trim at the base of the door opening. Above Right: I continued the trim installation around the door opening. The passenger-side rear door opening trim was installed in the same fashion. Note the faded door panel compared to the new trim. That will have to be addressed in the future. 

While visiting family in Georgia. I saw an ad for a brand-new rear seat, so I met with the seller to verify the seat was what I wanted and if we could work out a deal. He had two tractor-trailers full of Dodge Charger day-one takeout seats that he purchased at a government auction; there must have been two hundred seats in each trailer! He told me to “find one you like, and we will work out a deal.” I selected a pleather (vinyl) seat bottom and back in black. I got a 40% discount off the asking price, and I could take my find home without incurring any shipping charges.

Above Left: The front door opening seal trim was installed after the plastic trim had been clipped in place. The headliner was the original, which had been thoroughly cleaned before reinstallation. 

With the back seat problem resolved, I still had to focus on the front seats, which consisted of a power driver seat and a manual passenger seat, both in terrible shape. Although there were no holes in the seat covers, the seats were considerably worn and faded. The seat foam support was non-existent; it was completely worn out and flattened like a junk car after being run over by a monster truck.

After looking for seats for sale locally and online, I could not find excellent seats at an affordable price that matched the interior color and the back seat pattern. Anything purchased out of town would have a shipping price tag that would crush my budget. Although I was set on finding a pair of power front seats, I decided that the seats I had functioned, and I did not have to worry about modifying the wiring harness to power the passenger seat. I decided to have the seats rebuilt locally.

Above: After securing the front seats to the floor pan, I installed the remainder of the interior trim. By picking up all-new trim, I was assured the pieces would fit tightly and not squeak and rattle like the old trim. 

I selected Weaver’s Auto Upholstery of Williamsport, PA, to handle the stitch work and the new padding. Weaver’s has done several other projects, including custom work on my ’69 Dart and stitch work on my ’75 Dart. I asked if they could make the seat covers for the front seats match the rear seat, and the response was, “Absolutely, no problem.” I ended up with a pair of beautiful custom-made seat covers. They are much better than I expected and perfectly match the rear seat.

Above: The front seats are the originals, recovered in leather and pleather and fitted with the factory trim. The rear seat is a day-one take-out replacement unit. Weaver’s Auto Upholstery recovered the front seats, which are beautiful and extremely comfortable. 

Black leather was used on the cushion and backrest plates of the seats, and pleather was used for the seat collars. The new foam filled the custom seat covers, and the seat patterns matched the rear seat design. Since the seats were factory units, the installation of all of them was simple: plugging in the SRS connectors and the driver-side power seat connectors. Each seat required four fasteners to attach it to the chassis.

After installing the carpet and console, I focused on the plastic interior trim. The plastic interior trim pieces in the back seat area of the Charger had been modified or removed to make room for the installation of the perp cage. I worked with Van Campen Motors in Williamsport, PA, to get new replacement trim parts. I purchased all the plastic trim parts for the interior, as most of the current trim parts were broken, discolored, or missing from years of service and dealership repairs.

Above Left: The front seats were installed, and both fit well around the center console. The carpet holes matched the seat frames and the mounting locations in the floor pan. Above Right: After installing the rear seat, the interior appeared more like an SXT or R/T rather than a police car. 

Before starting the trim installation, I installed the new weather seals in each door opening. With the weather seals in place, the interior trim installation moved quickly from the C-pillar area to the rear door opening, to the B-pillar area, to the front door opening, and then to the A-pillar area. All the trim pieces interlocked with the following trim piece, and clips or fasteners secured the parts to the chassis.

Above: The front seat area of the Charger looks much closer to a factory-produced car than a police car. I still have to pick up factory floor mats, but overall, the interior looks inviting and comfortable. 

Some trim around the seat belts had to be installed in a particular order so the belts would fit properly. The assembly order was listed in the service manual. Once the trim was secured, the front and rear seats were installed. The new interior plastic trim, newer carpet, updated console, and recovered seats hid almost every indication that, at one time, the Charger had been a police car protecting and serving.

At this point, the Charger is a complete car requiring little to be roadworthy. The door water shields are on the way, and once installed, the door panels can be permanently installed. If a nice pair of door panels pop up at a reasonable price, they may make it to the interior of the Charger during this process.

Above: While the interior work was finishing, I found an engine cover for the 5.7-liter Hemi. Police cars do not have an engine or shock tower covers, so I added both.

Although the center console has been installed, an “unused” ashtray has yet to be found. In addition, the police car Charger has a column-shifted automatic, so I must devise a plan to fill the hole in the console where the factory floor shifter is located. The wheels need to be painted and wrapped in new rubber, and then the Charger will be ready for the always-exciting Pennsylvania state inspection and emissions testing.

Above: The budget is getting used up quickly. Luckily, most of the big-ticket items have been purchased. There is still plenty to finish on the Charger, and there is about $2300 left in the budget. Hopefully, we can address the remainder of the Charger’s repairs without breaking the budget. 

Lastly, a new (to me) steering wheel needs to be found. The wheel currently in the Charger will do the job, but it is significantly worn and in generally poor condition. The Charger project has progressed well, and the costs continue to add up (Table 1). I am approaching my budget maximum for this project, but many big cost items have been addressed. Join us again next month as we get the Charger closer to returning to action.

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Chris Holley

Technical Contributor Chris has been a college professor for 25 years; at Pennsylvania College of Technology in Williamsport, PA. for the last 20 years. Chris instructs automotive classes in HVAC, electrical/electronics, and high-performance, including using a chassis dyno, flow benches, and various machining equipment. Recently, he added a vintage vehicle upholstery class to his teaching assignments. Chris owns a '67 Dart, a '75 Dart, a '06 Charger, and a '12 Cummins turbo diesel Ram, and he is a multi-time track champion (drag racing) with his '69 340 Dart, which he has owned for 34 years.

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