E36 M3 Leather headrest restore

Some things are better left to the experts, even when you have some DIY pride. For me, one example is the headliner I replaced a couple years back. Always interested in saving a little dough, I read up on the process, and figured I’d be over my head on that one. Still, I did save some bucks by removing the headliner baseboard myself. I had a pro remove the old fabric and glue in the new stuff. I’m glad I took that approach.

Caring for leather is just a matter of regular maintenance in my world. Restoration, on the other hand, is out of the question. No research, no DIY, just head straight for a pro. In this case, it’s Brandon Merz. Pretty much every day, he’s working his restoration magic on one kind of collectible or another. I figure he knows his stuff.

Fortunately, my leather, although 20 years old, is in pretty good condition. With one exception. The headrest on my ’97 M3’s vaders (I like that name) had a section that showed some wear in the form of cracking. It was like that when I bought the car with 58,000 miles on it. I’m pretty sure it wasn’t going to get better on its own, now with nearly 110K on the clock.

For Brandon, this repair was pretty much a cake walk. It looked more like wizardry to me. Actually, the process was fairly simple, but required the right products, skill and technique. Cleaning, filling, sanding, dying and applying texture were all part of the process. He threw in an added bonus I didn’t expect: restoring the nap on the back side of the part of the headrest where it meets the seat’s backrest.

The difference in the before and after is remarkable. I no longer have those cracks bugging me every time I get in my car. To boot, I know I’ve stopped the deterioration. If you want to watch Brandon in action, check out the video.