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How To Rebuild Your Door Panels

Don't Cover It With Sheetmetal, Learn The Correct Way To Rebuild Your Door Panels.

By Jefferson Bryant, Photography by Jefferson Bryant

'There aren't many things better than cruising your ride down Main Street. The rumble of a finely tuned engine, the smell of mildew-infested upholstery-oh, wait, that's not supposed to be part of it. Nothing ruins a sweet ride faster than a ratty interior. While it may sound expensive and hard to replace, in reality, it is quite simple.

One aspect of interior replacement that is a major source of annoyance is the door panel. Because several cars feature designs and materials that are long extinct, just picking up a catalog for a complete panel isn't going to happen. Professional help is needed; in this case, reproduction door-panel upholstery from Original Parts Group. OPG has a full line of restoration products for most GM musclecars, which is good since we are working on a '69 GTO Judge.

Replacing the upholstery isn't a plug-and-play operation; there is some labor involved. All of the original trim needs to be removed as well as the original stamped-steel upper panel that slides over the door. There are replacement upper panels, but these should only be used in cases where the originals are gone and original pieces cannot be located, as the replacements are usually not as good. Once that is done, the upper panel mount requires a little prep work. The factory used star-punched holes that were hammered into the cardboard backing of the door panel. While it is possible to reuse the original punched holes, it is much easier to drill new holes and use Pop rivets to secure the new door-panel backing board.

The upper section of the upholstery ships loose, which requires spray adhesive to complete the assembly. A heat gun or hair dryer makes the process easier, as the vinyl needs to be stretched a little for a factory look. With the basic assembly completed, the trim can be reinstalled. While most of the trim holes are prepunched in the cardboard backing, the panels are made to fit a variety of trim packages and styles. This means that some of the holes don't line up or are simply left out altogether, depending on the car. It is wise to lay out the trim on the panel before cutting the vinyl, as some holes aren't needed. On this GTO, the upper and lower stainless trim strips required drilling new holes, as the prepunched holes did not line up. The original plastic armrests were in pretty sad shape after almost four decades of dutiful service. OPG sent out a set of reproduction armrests, pads, and chrome bases, which mount just like the originals. The plastic armrests require drilling three holes to mount the chrome trim.

By Jefferson Bryant
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praveen kumar98
praveen kumar98

To start with, vacuum and clean the leather seats thoroughly and pay special attention to remove dirt and surface grime from the seams. Keeping them free from dust and spills is an ongoing process. Clean the leather seats with a soft cloth dipped in a mild detergent and warm water or denatured alcohol. Rub the cloth using circular motion to get rid of the initial dirt. 


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