The Corolla AE92 GT-S Project

A website about my ongoing project

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Boot upholstery/trunk liner

After I had relocated the battery to the boot (or trunk, whatever part of the world you live in) of the car, I needed to see how this would get on with the upholstery that came from the boot.

I had been so long since I even seen these parts, I totally forgot how they looked and had to search for a while before I found anything that resembled something that could have lived in the rear of the car.


After all, besides moving them to the new workshop a few years ago, I haven't handled these parts of the car since I pulled them out at the beginning of the project. I had to look up some pictures I made back then, to see how it all fitted back in there and how it was fastend.


Corolla kofferbak bekleding


Corolla kofferbak bekleding achter


Corolla kofferbak bekleding rechts


Corolla kofferbak bekleding links


When I was searching for them and I had them in my hands, I didn't even recognize the pieces of cloth as being the boot upholstery because I really didn't now anymore what it looked like.

So I really didn't remember that it looked this awfull!


My European Corolla hatchback had a pretty well finished boot and it used nice and sturdy moulded ABS plastic panels on the sides.

But the Corolla GT-S coupe had these 5 ragged pieces of cloth to finish of the boot. They are only held in place by a few plastic clips and double sided tape direct to the car body. It really looks very, very cheap.


This was certainly not going to work for this project. There was much room for improvement here!


The battery would have worked with the factory upholstery though. All I needed to do was trim a little piece off the floor mat and it would have fit right in there.


Corolla kofferbakbekleding met accu


But that would have meant that the battery would be exposed and sitting right there in the boot of the car for all to see. Again, that wouldn't have looked right in my car and I was still going for that factory feel for this car. Toyota wouldn't have done it this way, so I had to come up with something better too.

I figured Toyota would have kept the battery safe and out of sight behind a panel.


So now all I had to do was create a new panel that would hide the battery and blend in nicely with the rest of the boot upholstery, which I also had to recreate.


At first I thought I would use the same technique I used for reshaping the dashboard. I used chicken wire to build a foundation for the fibreglass and polyresin.

I still had some of that same chicken wire lying around the workshop and decided to give it a try and create completely new panels from scratch that way.

But after wrestling with the chicken wire for a bit, I realized that this wasn't going to work the way I thought it would. It worked nicely on the dashboard where I used small pieces. But here the pieces were simply too large and the shapes to complex to get it into shape well enough.


So I had to abandon that idea and come up with something new. Then I started to wonder why I couldn't just use the old upholstery. It was just flimsy pieces of cloth, but the were already shaped te right way and huged the contours of the body nicely. If I just soaked them with polyresin, I could still use them as a good base to build from for the new panels.


I decided to try this and ordered a good amount of polyresin and other necessities to tackle this little project. 


Polyster lamineerhars


This should get me a long way in recreating new panels for the boor of the car.


But before I could get going on the panels themselves, I needed a way to fix them to the car. The plastic clips used to fix the original upholstery to the body wouldn't be enough anymore for the new panels.

So I made two strips and welded these to the body of the car. I could use these to properly fasten the panels to the body without risking them from flapping about or cause anoying vibrations or anything like that.


kofferbak beugel onder

The bracket I made spot welded to the floor of the boot.


kofferbak beugel boven

And another smaller bracket spot welded to the top edge of the boot.


Now I could move on to prep the original upholstery for their new function. So I layed them into the car to get them precicely into the desired shape and soaked them with polyresin to give them a little more body.



While the resin had tu cure and harden, I started to make a base for the new panel. I used a very thin sheet of triplex. This would be a nice flat, firm base for me to build the new from.


triplex tussenwand kofferbak accu achter scheidingswand


I tried to get this piece to follow the contours of the surrounding panels as best I could to get it to line up nicely. But just this one piece of would wasn't going to be enough to get the battery out of sight.


triplex kofferbak scheidingswand

In this picture you can already see that the panel is held in place with bolts going through the new brackets.


Now that I had a solid base to work from, it was time to close the gaps between the wooden panels and the now hardend original upholstery. I decided to use a technique I hadn't tried before, but was confident was the right way to go for this application.

I already bought myself a nice big roll of stretch fabric that could be stretched in two directions. I would span this between the two pieces and soak this in the polyresin as well to make one solid piece.

Later on I could apply another layer of glass fibre and poly resin to strenghten it up a bit.


stretchdoen ingesmeerd


I stapled one end of the fabric to the back of the wooden panel and stretched it over to the original upholstery and fixed it there as well. When it was all nice and tight, I soaked the fabric in polyester resin and gave it a night to really cure and harden.

When it was all hardened, I now had 1 solid panel I could remove from the car. It would hold its shape now and I would be able to work on it on the workbench.


There I trimmed back excess material and removed some creases that had formed in the fabric.

Now I could apply a layer of fibreglass and polyresin to strenghten the panel a little more. After that had cured (which takes about an hour) I did the same to the back of the panel.


kofferbak bekleding op werkbank

The new panel is starting to take shape.


poly binnenkant linker paneel


When this again hardened, the excess material could be removed and the panel was ready to be sanded down to its final shape.


linker paneel in kofferbak


linker paneel in kofferbak


After the sanding, it was starting to look more like 1 piece and the final shapes could now be seen.

And if I do say so myself, I really liked where this was going. It's now 1 solid panel that fits nicely in the car.


Now it was on to the next step. When this panel is installed, I still need to have access to the battery in case it has to be replace, I have to jumpstart it, when I need to place a battery conditioner to it when it goes into storage for a while in the off season, or whatever other reason you can think of.

To have easy access, I needed to make a hatch in the new panel. So after taking some measurements I determined how large the hatch needed to be and I marked this on the panel. Now I could take the saw to the new panel...


luik afgetekend op paneel


luik uit paneel gezaagd


luik geopend


As can be seen in the pictures, the hatch is well big enough to have easy access to the battery and fiddel with cables or something like that and I can easily replace the battery if needed.


To keep the entire panel in place in the car, I still needed something to fix it with to the brackets I welded in earlier. So I came across a box of assorted Toyota spec fastners and clips. This also contained the fastners I wanted to use. I was already familiar with these fastners as Toyota also used them the keep the panels in the boot of my old Corolla hatchback in place.

I already liked working with them there, so why not use them in the coupé and keep thing looking pretty OEM.

They work good as well, they keep things securely into place, but are easy to remove and re-use.


I finished the holes in the panel for these fastners as well, so now the panel can be fixed to the brackets and the panel be held in place like I intended it to.


assortimentsdoos Toyota bevestiginsclips assortimentsdoos Toyota bevestigingsclips


bevestigingsclip op z'n plek


After cutting out the battery hatch, I had to make it so that I could put it back in the place as well.

So I made a lip all along the inner edge of the hole where the hatch could be pressed up against.



I made the lipp from the same wood I made the base of the panel from. After cutting out a piece to size, I stapled it against the inside of the panel and coated it with another layer of polyester resin as well to keep it firmly in place and make the panel 1 piece again.

Besides the lip, I also added a little more strenght by adding a inner wall to the panel between the outer and inner piece. This firmed it up a little more and kept it in shape better when the panel was fitted to the car.


Now, for the battery hatch, I could have gone with hinges and make sure one side was fastened to the rest of the panel with those.

But I'd rather be able to remove the hatch completly and not have something hinge into the boot.

But how do I keep the hatch firmly in place in the panel then?

Well, I made a little CAD design for a set of clamps I could use for the bottom of the hatch. When attatched to the insde of the hatch, these clamps would clamp behind the little lip I just made in the panel and make sure the hatch is kept in place at the bottom.

I'll have these clamps 3D printed out of sturdy material (aluminium reinforced plastic) and I'll bolt these to the hatch once I receive them from the printers.


CAD ontwerp luik klem


Now I only need something to hold the top side of the hatch in place. And after searching long and hard, I found a supplier for the latches I was looking for.

This type of latches are widely used in machinebuilding for panels that need to be removed quickly for maintenace and such. If it works there, then it should work in my car as well.

I wanted a specific type of latch for the size and how they look. They have a very clean look to them, no visual knobs, holes, buttons or keys that protrude from them and still they are sturdy and simple.

Push the lower flush button and the lever releases and comes out so you have something to grab and pull the hatch out with. Push the lever back down and it snaps back into place and the backside of the lever pushes up against the inside of the panel. By adjusting the lenght of the bolt, you can also adjust the force with which the lever pushes up against the panel.


  Luik grendels


I had to cut two holes in the battery hatch to place the new latches in. So I measured out everything and marked where the holes needed to be made. When the latches are dropped in, they can be bolted down to the hatch with the metal clamps you can see in the picture above.


aftekenen luik grendels


grendels in luik bevestigd


zij aanzicht grendels


Luik met grendels in auto


Now I just have to wait for my printed clamps to arrive and then I can finish the panel on the left side for now. All the panels will be upholsterd later on, but I need to finish the other panels too before I can do that.

So on to the next panels.


In the panel for the right side, I wanted to create a storage space  like on the other side to hold a few items I do like to have in the car, but want to keep sored neatly and out of sight. Things like the jack that is already there, but sticking out in plain sight.

making this panel is going to be pretty much the same as the other side.

So again I'll start with welding mounting brackets to the car, use some wood to create a divider, glue some stretchclotch to create a base for the poly, drench that in polyester resin, reinforce and build up with glass fiber mats and sand it back to shape, etc, etc.


bevestigingspunten kofferbak auto

Welded the mounting brackets to the car.


tussenschot paneel ruimte achter tussenschot kofferbak

Make a divider wall from wood as a base for the polyester.


overspannen met stretchdoek

Spanned the stretchclotch.

rechter paneel in kofferbak

And after a few layers of glassfiber and a lot of sanding, the final shape is getting there.

Now all this panel needs, is a hatch to get acces to the compartment behind it.

Toegangs paneel in bekleding gezaagd

verzonken lip bij paneel

As you can see in the pictures above, I've cut out the access panel. I made a recessed lip on the inside of the panel, so that the access hatch will sit flush with the rest of the panel when it's in place.


The brackets I designed on the computer earlier and which I had 3D printed had arrived too. So I could finally mount them and secure the access panels in place. 


3D geprinte beugeltjes

From an idea, to a design and eventually to reality. Great times we're living in if you ask me!


After a few little tweaks, these brackets were mounted up to the panels and they worked a treat! The hatches are now held firmly in place on 4 points.


geprinte beugeltjes gemonteerd

Luik ondersteund op 4 plaatsen

The hatches are now secured in 4 places.


The hatches on the other side of the car got the same treatment and now also has its latches and brackets.

Grendels in het 2e luik

Grendels en bevestigingsbeugels gemonteerdop het 2e luik

The second hatch also has its latches and brackets in place now.


But I wasn't really satisfied with the way the second hatch sat in place. There were still a few minor gaps and it didn't sit completely flush with the rest of the panel. But after fiddling around with it a little and some tweaks here and there, I finally had it sitting how I wanted it to.

All that has to be done now is to upholster it, but that will be done on a later date. That way I can't damage the final finish while it's waiting for final assembly when the car is getting done.


 After some final tweaks, the second hatch is done and sits nice and flush in the panel.


Next up was the back panel. That still had to be drenched in the polyester resin and reinforced with glass fibre. So that's what I did next. After a few layers I sanded it all down a bit to get the panel in shape.


Achterpaneel verstevigd met polyesterhars

The back panel treated with resin polyester resin and sanded into shape.


The backpanel also needed two access panels to get to the rear lights. I wouldn't want to have to tear down half of the boot interior so that I'll be able to replace a bulb in the rear lights. Two little acces panels would make that a whole lot easier. Those access holes were already outlined in the factory upholstery, although not cut out yet.

So I decided to do now, what the factory didn't all those years ago.

Two perfectly placed access holes to get to the rear lights.


Now to create a recessed lip on the inside again for the access panels to sit up against and figure out a way to keep those panels in place. Using the latches I've been using on the other two panels seem a little overkill for this...