How to Replace Your Classic Car's Door Panel

Michele Hamer.
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How to Replace Your Classic Car's Door Panel

1960 Mark II Jaguar's back door before picture
1960 Mark II Jaguar's back door before picture. Michele Hamer

Restoring your classic car's old, saggy and torn interior can be a daunting task. We suggest you purchase a "ready made kit" for your model year if you have never taken on this type of project before.

Replacing the door panels from a kit makes this job much easier, and we've got some more helpful hints that should cut your project time in half.

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How to Replace Your Classic Car's Door Panel

Remove panel and hardware
Remove panel and hardware, then clean, fix and protect. Michele Hamer

To remove the door panels, you need to remove the armrest, window crank, door handle and any other hardware first. Then pop loose the door panel clips by using a broad blade screwdriver or U-shaped clip-lifter tool.

With the door panel removed, now is a good time to lubricate and make any necessary repairs to the window and door mechanisms. You should also clean and treat the door’s interior with a rust inhibitor. Change any bolts and screws to stainless steel or automotive SAE.

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How to Replace Your Classic Car's Door Panel

Modifying the holes to fit the new panel clips
Modifying the holes to fit the new panel clips. Michele Hamer

More than likely you will need to use new panel clips to install the new door panel. The newer clips may not be the same size as original so be prepared for any modifications. On our 1960 Mark II Jag, the new clips were slightly larger which meant we needed to increase the diameter of the hole by using a 5/16th drill bit.

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How to Replace Your Classic Car's Door Panel

Line up the panel clips to the holes in the door
Line up the panel clips to the holes in the door. Michele Hamer

When you secure the metal clips into the designated holes on the new door panel, we suggest that you line-up these clips, one at a time, as close as possible to their placement in the door, rather than trying to align them all at the same time.

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How to Replace Your Classic Car's Door Panel

Prep the clips for an easier installation
Prep the clips for an easier installation. Michele Hamer

Once you have all you clips in place, you should "prep" each one of them by taking ​pliers and squeezing them closed a couple of times to give the metal a bit more flex and help them slip into place a bit easier.

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How to Replace Your Classic Car's Door Panel

Seal the inner door with a thin plastic
Seal the inner door with a thin plastic. Michele Hamer

Before you attach the new panel to the door, seal the inner door with a sheet of thin plastic. This will keep moisture that seeps into the door's window from soaking into the door panel's cardboard backing and causing such things as staining, warping, and mildew.

We took the plastic bag the panel came in, cut it to size and used spray adhesive to keep in in place.

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How to Replace Your Classic Car's Door Panel

Top clips go on after the panel is in place
Top clips go on after the panel is in place. Michele Hamer

Gently tap the door panel at each clip placement with the heal of your hand to slip them into position; this should give your panel a tight grip on the door.

If your door panel is not finished at the top because the door has a chrome lip or wood trim like this Jag, it will need clips secured along the edge once the panel is in place.

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How to Replace Your Classic Car's Door Panel

The panel is secure and ready for the hardware
The panel is secure and ready for the hardware. Michele Hamer

Now all you have to do is replace the door handles, window crank and trim.