Saturday, February 2, 2013

Isetta Interior Panels - Part 2

I'm finally getting back to work on the Isetta. These are the two original interior side panels. Not in the best shape, but I'm glad they're still with the car so that I have something to work from making my reproduction panels. In the bottom photo you can see how the right (passenger) side panel is all scratched up. This happens when you take the seat in and out of the Isetta. It's a very tight fit, and the frame of the seat tends to scratch the right side panel. To avoid damaging my new panels I'm going to use a thin sheet of something to protect it when I remove or replace the seat.

The first step was to trace the original panels onto my panel board. Since the original panels were a little damaged in areas, I needed to go back and clean up my pencil lines to what I thought was close to the original shape. I used an utility knife to cut the straight edges and I roughed out the curved lines on my bandsaw.

I used a spindle sander and some hand sanding to get the curved lines to their final shape. 

The two side panels after sanding them to their final shape.

I am bonding the vinyl to the panel board the same way I did with my rear parcel shelf panel using wood glue and a vacuum press. The panel and vinyl will be squeezed between two sheets of MDF with vacuum pressure. In this photo I'm preparing the cover sheets so that the vacuum pressure is applied evenly across the panel.  The next step will be to roll out the glue on the panel.

After I rolled out my glue on the panel board, the vinyl is placed on top and as soon as I put my top MDF cover sheet on top of the vinyl, it's ready to go in the vacuum press.

This is the whole stack inside the vacuum bag.

After a few hours, I removed the stack from the vacuum bag. In this photo I've flipped the panel over so you're seeing the backside of the panel and vinyl. You can also see the parchment paper I placed underneath the panel while it was being pressed. The reason I did this was if there was any glue that squeezed out, the panel would not be stuck to the bottom sheet of MDF.

The next step was to draw a line around the perimeter of the panel board and trim off the excess vinyl.

The excess vinyl was pull tight over the edge of the panel board and glued to the backside using a hot melt glue gun.

The front of the passenger (right) side panel after rolling over and glueing the vinyl.

The next step was to glue the windlace around the wheel well part of the panel.

The installed passenger side panel. Next up, the driver side panel.


  1. When removing your seat, you can avoid scratching the passenger side panel with this simple trick. Pull the seat back forward and remove the spare tire from its storage compartment. This will give you an additional few inches to swing the upper driver's side seat back into and avoid hitting the other side.

  2. i will give you another useful hint:

    remove the seats in two portions (the seat back first, the seat bench last) from your side windows openings or your sunroof.
    No damage to the side panels, and it's dead easy to do ;)

    By the way, compliments for you blog and your Isetta restoration.
    Your attention to details is astonishing. That car is now better than new!!

  3. Hi. What's Up with isetta? Is it finish? Thanks.