Inner door panels are relatively inexpensive and easy to replace. There are, of course, differences in quality among manufacturers, but the better known brands tend to be roughly equivalent and very close to the OEM parts in appearance. If your car’s original door panels are in good condition with minimal to no damage, you should reuse them. If there is no undesirable wear at the armrest area or at the bottom near the door sills (the most common wear spots), these can be reinstalled after cleaning. Exceptions are rips/tears on the front or damaged clips that anchor on the fiberboard. These usually become a problem only when the door panels are removed too often and/or when a lowerquality product is used.
If you think the door panels may have to be removed frequently, you can buy panels that use plastic instead of fiberboard; they’re less prone to damage in the clip attachment areas. Opinions differ on how well such parts replicate the originals, but this may only be a concern to those desiring maximum authenticity. For daily drivers and weekend cruisers, this approach can also minimize the warping and/or waviness in the panels that sometimes occurs.
This Tech Tip is From the Full Book, HOW TO RESTORE YOUR MUSTANG 1964 1/2-1973. For a comprehensive guide on this entire subject you can visit this link:
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Door Panel Installation Step by Step
MUSTANG RESTORATION: DOOR PANEL INSTALLATION- STEP #1
Another example of improved materials technology are reproduction watershields designed specifically for specific applications. Not only are these items cut to fit precisely over the required area of the door, but they also are made from a much more durable material than the originals. They may not look exactly the same but they won’t be visible anyway so that’s no problem. Before installing the new watershields, we applied the correct adhesive/sealer using a caulking gun, as shown. The old material does not necessarily have to be completely removed, but eliminate any high points or rough spots before the new stuff goes on. Use enough material to get a good seal without it spreading too much.
MUSTANG RESTORATION: DOOR PANEL INSTALLATION- STEP #2
The watershields typically come pre-punched for at least the retaining clips, but you may have to punch holes for the other items like the door and window handles because these may vary with car factory options. We used a standard “cardboard” style door panel. There are also plastic versions, which are supposed to be more durable and less susceptible to damaged clip holes. We also used some improved part-plastic clips along the lower edge of the panels to reduce the chance of pulling out or not lining up.
MUSTANG RESTORATION: DOOR PANEL INSTALLATION- STEP #3
The metal strip pieces for the lower edge of the doors needed a little attention. We used steel wool and paint to refinish the front side. The speaker openings needed some new fabric to hide the speakers. This is a special fabric that does not overly muffle or distort the sound. It simply is cut to size and then is held in place with adhesive. Here we see how the adhesive can be spread more carefully and sparingly with a flat blade screwdriver tip.
MUSTANG RESTORATION: DOOR PANEL INSTALLATION- STEP #4
As for the lower metal trim piece on the door, we can see how much better it looks. The door was painted in the correct finish while the new inner panel sits flat and looks just like the original. The new armrest is clearly a vast improvement over what we had. Finally, some steel wool and chrome polish really made the bright work look better too.
Inner door panel removal often requires some insight and tools to the remove door handles and/or window crank handles. Considerable skill and care are needed when undoing the many clips that hold the panels on. To highlight this, I show a few of the things we addressed when replacing the door panels on our car.
Written by Frank Bohanan and Republished with Permission of CarTech Inc