It’s Not Just the Cat’s Pajamas…It’s the Cat’s Skin!

By Sue Mead


When T & M Motors president Mike Milazzo wanted to start a re-do of the interior of a 2010 Jeep Wrangler he is upgrading, the outdoorsman began with Katzkin leather seats—and added heat for the front seats. Milazzo, who grew up in the automotive business, in northwestern Massachusetts, runs the full-service automotive center, along with other family members; he also has a body shop for collision repair. When he’s not busy at work, he spends time as a pilot, hunter, and backcountry adventurer, as well as with his family. So, the 5-seat Wrangler Unlimited was his choice for an everyday and off-road vehicle and Katzkin impressed him with the quality of their craftsmanship and the wide selection of materials, colors and patterns that he could choose from for the Jeep.

Katzkin says they are the industry-leader in providing custom upgraded interiors for both new and used non-luxury vehicles. According to Tim Clyde, CEO of Katzkin, with over 30 years in the business, there are more than two million vehicles both on and off-road today with Katzkin custom interiors.

Offering a wide range of aftermarket leather interiors, costing less than factory-installed, Katzkin says new vehicle customers turn to them for leather upgrade or personalization of their new ride with custom designs (Katzkin’s or their own) that include single or two-tone color options, accent stitching or piping and even unique embroidery.

Trucks and Jeeps, both new and used, are the most accessorized vehicles in the market today, says Clyde. In recent years, sales of pickup trucks and the Jeep Wrangler have skyrocketed. Accordingly, more of their market focus is on those types. Data shows that about 70 percent of pickup trucks are sold with cloth seats creating more opportunity for premium leather upgrades. Pickup truck and Jeep owners, when adding custom wheels, bumpers, racks, lighting or other features, most often also want to upgrade the interior to custom premium leather.

Original front seats, before Katzkin
Original front seats, before Katzkin

“People often spend a lot of money on a truck or vehicle and it still can come with cloth seats,” says Clyde, “but, for someone who’s hunting or fishing, leather brings comfort, durability and cleans up well. We do a lot of truck interiors and many are for people who want something different and unique-something they can customize.”

There are more than 3,000 vehicle seat patterns on file at Katzkin enabling them to quickly provide custom-tailored leather packages for the most popular trucks, Jeeps and cars in the market. Katzkin upgrade orders placed with car dealers for new vehicles or at one of more than 4,000 reseller/installer shops (for used vehicles) across the country are factory cut, hand sewn, delivered and installed generally within 24-48 hours.

Katzkin leather replacement seats
Katzkin leather replacement seats

The value proposition for a Katzkin interior transformation has multiple elements. For new vehicles, a premium quality leather interior from Katzkin is cheaper than a comparable factory installed option. A typical interior retrofit package costs around $2,200. Katskin interiors also provide flexibility for both dealer and buyer if the vehicle is already on the lot without leather or the trim level does not offer a leather option. In either case, the buyer can get the leather installed and vehicle delivered in a couple of days. For used vehicles, an owner can inexpensively upgrade a vehicle with a high quality premium leather interior it may not have had to start with.

Original rear seats
Original rear seats

Katzkin Designs

Katzkin interiors come in three levels. Factory Design recreates the original manufacturer’s design replacing the cloth surfaces with premium leather. Katzkin Design offers a range of standard colors, patterns and stitching design combinations pre-created by in-house designers. ‘Design Your Own’ gives owners an opportunity to design their own using an online configurator in consultation with Katzkin design staff. There are over 140 available colors, materials and patterns for the customer to select from in creating their own interior package.

Katzkin leather rear seats
Katzkin leather rear seats

In addition, Katzkin offers a range of uniquely designed interior packages from the likes of Rawlings, Realtree, Remington, Foose and Outlaw that include propriety logos, colors, materials and patterns including camouflage.

Heated/Cooled Seating

Additionally, consumers can add heated or heated/cooled seating to the front row of any package. The installation includes the heating and/or cooling unit for each seat plus wiring and custom installation of switches.   The customer can even specify the row to be either heated or heated/cooled or to choose heated/cooled for the driver seat and heated only for the passenger side. The MSRP for heated/cooled seating installed in $2,195 for the row. Adding a single heated/cooled seat is $995. A single heated seat only is $399.

“We get a lot of people who come in that purchased a new vehicle with cloth seats, because leather often comes as part of a package and can add up to $7,000,” said Scott Abbott, of American Auto and Plate Glass, the company that completed Milazzo’s install. “People are always surprised at the price of the Katzkin leather interior and many opt for heated seats, as well.”

For more information, visit the Katzkin website at




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Sue Mead
SUE MEAD began her automotive career as a part-time freelance evaluator for Four Wheeler Magazine in 1988 on the first team that included women as test drivers. Today, she travels the globe test-driving cars and trucks and working as a photojournalist/feature writer for dozens of publications. Mead specializes in 4WD, and has been an auto editor and 4WD editor for CNN/fn. Mead has been inducted into the Off Road Motorsports Hall of Fame and recently won her class as the Driver of Record in the 2011 Dakar Rally. Mead has received a number of awards for her work in the field of automotive journalism. She has written for Four Wheeler, 4Wheel & Off Road, Automobile, AutoWeek, Popular Science, Popular Mechanics. Parade, Women’s Sports & Fitness, Autobytel, AutoTrader and the New York Times, as well as publications around the globe. Mead has written three books: Monster Trucks and Tractors; Off Road Racing, Legends and Adventures; and Rock Crawling.