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Discussion Starter #1
The door cards on my 87 were looking a bit ugly. A PO had tried to install better speakers and, in the process, destroyed the factory speaker enclosures. The vinyl was faded and the piping hanging down. I looked into buying new cards, but Centerline’s price of $350 each seemed really steep. One thing led to another and I wound up looking at some videos on YouTube of guys making their own door cards for their hot rods and I thought “hmm, I can do that”. (Note: the phrase “I can do that” is second only to “Hey, guys, watch this!” as an indicator of impending disaster”.) So I rounded up the things I thought I’d need and dove into the project. It took over three months because I could only work on it every now and then, but the new door cards are now installed. They certainly won’t win any concours awards, but they’re a lot better than what I started with. Thought I’d share my process and lessons learned. I know there are a lotta folks here that can do it a lot better than I did, so your comments and recommendations are welcome.

I took both panels off and did the passenger side first, keeping the driver’s side as-is for reference. Here’s how it looked. You can see the piping hanging down, a floppy storage pocket, and the gaudy speaker. The OEM speaker had been mounted behind the enclosure; my predecessor cut a big hole in the enclosure and mounted the speakers on top.
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Discussion Starter #2
After taking the speaker enclosure off, you can see the mounting screws and holes behind it. Those holes all came from the factory.
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Flat speakers don’t mount too well on curved surfaces, and mounting screws don’t hold on to air at all.
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Discussion Starter #4
Backside of the panel. The original door cards are made of really stiff cardboard, but over the years, they’d been water-damaged and buckled a bit. And some of the clips are broken or missing.
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Discussion Starter #5
I removed the 11 nuts for the door pull. On the back side, I noted what all the holes were for, then removed all the plastic and metal clips.
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Discussion Starter #6
The door pocket has a plastic bracket to help hold it in place. This one was broken and a PO tried to fix it with shipping tape. Yeah, that worked real well.
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Discussion Starter #7
I pried out about 743 staples and removed the vinyl skin. See all that dirt? It’s what’s left when the foam rubber backing rots away.
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Discussion Starter #8
Now to start the reconstruction. The original cards were made of hard cardboard. I couldn’t find any around here, and the upholstery shop said don’t bother with cardboard anyway because it doesn’t last. They tried to sell me the remainder of a sheet of thick plastic, but it wasn’t very big and they wanted $60 for it. Instead, I went over to Lowe’s and got a 4x8 sheet of Masonite, cut down to two 4x4 sections to fit in my car, for under $10. I figure Masonite will last a lot longer than the cardboard and it’s cheaper than the plastic. And I got a box of 1/4” T50 staples.

Next, I went to the upholstery store. Of course, they didn’t have the odd yellow color that Alfa used for interiors, so I went with black with a slight basket-weave pattern to differentiate it from the door pulls. I got two yards of the vinyl and two yards of the 1/4” foam. Yeah, that’s way more than I needed, but I know how I work: try it once, screw it up, do it again only better. I also got some contact cement that, it turns out, I didn’t need.

And here’s what NOT to do. I clamped the old door down on the masonite and traced around it with a white marker. Hey, it came out of the car, so it’ll fit, right? Nope. Once I got the new panel cut and drilled out all the holes, many/most were off, including a couple that were over 1/2” off. If your panel is warped, it’ll throw everything off.
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Discussion Starter #9
I went back to the YouTube videos for another approach and found this one. I dug some clear plastic painter’s tarp out from my stash of house paint supplies and taped it down on the door. I cut holes where the door latch and door pull mounts poked up. Then I took my time in stretching it over the door as flat as possible. Don’t pull so hard that the plastic stretches, just pull hard enough to get it to lay flat. Then I went around with a Sharpie and marked where the edges and all the holes were.
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Then I taped it down to a piece of cardboard. I got a piece of paper, scrubbed artist drawing charcoal all over it, slipped it under the plastic, and used it as carbon paper. Then I traced the markings on the plastic with a pencil. And then I had to go back over the marks on the cardboard with a Sharpie because I could barely see them. Once that was done, I cut out the cardboard and did a test-fit on the door. Of course some marks were slightly off, but I marked where they needed to be corrected.
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Discussion Starter #11
Then I did transferred the corrected template to the masonite the same way. I discovered that drilling masonite is a lot like drilling cardboard: it tears rather than cuts. I cleaned up these messes with a razor blade and sandpaper. I’m probably showing off my terrible woodworking skills but somebody here will know a better way.
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So here’s the panel. The metal attachment has tabs that hold the door pocket in place. Don’t laugh too hard at my squiggly cut lines and not-round holes. It’s ugly but it works.
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Now for the vinyl. I place the new panel on it and traced around the outside plus the door pocket, door handle, and the two square holes for the door pull attachment. Had to add some extra to provide room for wrapping around the edges and stapling it down.
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Discussion Starter #14
It also needed the foam backing. Marking and cutting was basically the same, except I trimmed off much of the foam where the door pull attached. Otherwise, even when it was squashed down, it pushed the door pull out far enough that it was difficult to get the nuts started.
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Now it was time to fasten it all together. Lay it face down, make sure everything is where it is supposed to be, and start stapling. It’s best to start in the middle of the top, bottom, front, and back, then work your way to the corners. Pull it just tight enough that it will be smooth but not so tight that the vinyl stretches or the foam is smushed. I had thought I’d use glue here, but the staples worked just fine.
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Discussion Starter #16
And here's how it looked when I turned it over.

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Discussion Starter #17
I installed some new surface-mount speakers from Crutchfield. They sound about as good (or bad) as the OEM speakers probably did, but they look a heckuva lot better than what was there before. So the doors are done! Time for a Corona.

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Great job Skip. As with anything I am sure if you did it again the result would be better. I am considering completing the same project, but was looking at using 5mm Luan plywood with new foam and the original fabric. However I am still working on getting her running/driving good.
 
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