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Colours and Materials

Colour Focus: Primary and Secondary Materials

16th APR 2020

Reading time: 6 minutes

Our material and colour library is extensive. With so many options to choose from, how do you start to piece together your interior colour scheme?

Here we explain our Primary and Secondary categories, and how these create the basis for the key considerations that will inform your interior colour choices. 

Primary & Secondary Materials 

Whilst our Material and Colour Library is extensive, we have made it easy to navigate by organising our materials into Primary and Secondary categories. This approach is in accordance with the original factory production lines. It’s useful to learn how we have structured our material and colour library to help inform your colour scheme choices. 

Primary Materials

‘Primary Materials’ refers to Vinyl and Leather. These are used across panels and seats to determine the dominant colour of your interior and are available in an extensive range of colours. 

Secondary Materials

‘Secondary Materials’ refers to Carpet, Moquette, Furflex, Hardura, Armacord and Headliner. These are used across flooring and other assorted areas of your car. Available in a small, concise palette, your choice of colour for these materials is usually determined by the panels and seats but could also be influenced by the exterior bodywork paint colour. The colour range has been built to complement, but not necessarily match exactly, to our Primary Materials. 


Choosing your Primary Material colour 

As the name suggests, the ‘Primary’ material is the best starting point when considering your interior colour scheme. Many of our customers begin by looking at their original Heritage Certificate or sales brochure associated with their car. These documents will give details of the original exterior and interior colours used to the car when it first left the production line. For customers considering an ‘as original’ restoration, this is incredibly useful information.

Heritage Certificates often detail the interior colour as a single word – ‘Red’ or ‘Green’ for instance. This describes the main leather / vinyl colour of the seats and panels (hence, the ‘Primary’ colour). The colour of the carpets, headlining and other trimmed areas (the ‘Secondary’ colour) often went un-noted, and this is why we put the emphasis on choosing your ‘Primary’ colour first as this will naturally determine your Secondary colour choices.


A quick note on Original colour schemes…

Generic colour descriptions on Heritage Certificates have led to much debate throughout the industry as to what colours are deemed to be accepted as original. For this reason, depending on the make and model of the car, we offer multiple shades per colour category.

For instance, for Austin Healey restorations, where ‘Red’ is detailed on the Heritage Certificate, we accept Bright Red, Cherry Red and Matador Red as original colour shades. This gives our customers some flexibility of colour choice within original production parameters.

In our online shop, you can select from pre-defined colour options or a ‘Custom’ colour option next to all our products. The pre-defined colour options are determined by original colour specifications associated with the make and model of car – these colours are based on historical data and what we know to be true and accepted as original. The ‘Custom’ option gives you the choice of any colour from our library, regardless of original factory production line parameters, and selecting this option will incur a small surcharge.

Choosing your Secondary Material colour 

One of the best pieces of advice we can give is to not get too caught up in Secondary Material colour choices. Your Primary Material is the dominating colour choice – get this right and your Secondary choices will follow organically.

Secondary Materials have been curated to ‘complement’ our Primary Materials, rather than provide an exact colour match. To help you in your colour choices, we have suggested our closest matching Secondary Materials to each of our Primary Materials in our Materials & Colours Library.


A quick note on colour names…

The names we have given to our colour shades may or may not match colour names used by other companies throughout the industry. When referring to colour, always go by the shade and work from physical samples in hand. Colour names can be mis-leading and inconsistent.

Our online Materials & Colours Library is the most comprehensive guide to colour in the industry. With extensive swatch collections and complementary colour recommendations, you will find this library a valuable tool when building your interior scheme.

Primary and Secondary Materials – The Process 

To better help understand the structure of our Materials and Colours Library, and the process of selecting Primary and Secondary materials and colours, we have outlined a real-life example below. We are using the example of an E-Type OTS S1 3.8ltr.

Step 1:

Identify the original ‘Primary’ interior colour that will have been used across the seats and panels from the Heritage Certificate. In this case, it is ‘Red.’


Your Heritage Certificate will identify the original interior colour scheme of your car. The interior trim colour shown on the certificate will refer only to the seats and panels.

Step 2:

Talk to us about your colour scheme and the information on your Heritage Certificate. We will send you samples based on our knowledge of originality, and the accepted shades for ‘Red’ based on the year of manufacture. For this E-Type example, we accept both Cherry Red and Matador Red vinyl and leather as original ‘Red’ colour shades for the seats and panels.


Cherry Red and Matador Red are accepted shades for ‘Red’ for an E-Type OTS S1 3.8ltr. Both colours are available in Smooth Leather, Grained Leather and Vinyl with a consistent colour match across each quality which is ideal for customers considering a LeatherFaced interior that uses both Leather and Vinyl within the same Trim Kit.


Step 3:

We will then advise you about the ‘Secondary Materials’ that will have been used across the interior of your car. For this E-Type OTS, these will have been:

  • Wool Carpet for flooring
  • Hardura for the A-Post Panels, Rear Bulkhead and Underseat areas
  • Moquette for the Wheel Arch Covers and Lower Rear Bulkhead

Wool, Hardura and Moquette are not available in ‘Cherry Red’ or ‘Matador Red’ as a direct colour match to the vinyl and leather, so we will advise the most suitable complementary shades we have available in these materials. In this example, we would match the Secondary materials as below:

  • Wool – Red or Bright Red
  • Hardura – Red
  • Moquette – Red

All these shades tone well with Cherry Red and Matador Red.

Here, all the Secondary Material options provide a good tonal match for either Cherry Red or Matador Red. Although the colours are not an exact match, they pull together cohesively.

Step 4:

For flooring items, you will also need to consider the edging colour. In this E-Type example, we are going to look at the closest complementary shades available in our leathercloth binding.

Both the Hardura and Wool materials require edging.

Leathercloth binding is available in Cherry Red and Matador Red shades – this means that you can match the edging to the Primary colour of your seats and panels to bring your colour scheme together cohesively.

However, whilst Cherry Red or Matador Red leathercloth edging won’t give you a direct colour match between Red Hardura, Red Wool or Bright Red Wool, both options tone together very well with all materials, helping to bring together a very complete and beautiful scheme.


E-Type OTS S1 3.8ltr in Cherry Red with Red Hardura and Red Wool Carpet with Cherry Red binding. The interior looks impressive, with all the varying shades of red across all materials working together to create a cohesive colour scheme. By using Cherry Red leathercloth binding, the eye is drawn seamlessly across the seats, panels and floor areas.