Jerry Heasley
August 1, 2017

Bodywork is a pain in the neck and demands a lot of patience and concentration—don’t let anyone tell you differently. But one part of a car’s body is often easier to replace than to try to fix with a hammer and dolly. That’s the door skin.

Replacing a complete door requires moving all the window and lock mechanisms, and spending time to fill the door gaps. Whereas replacing just the outer skin of the door usually only requires a grinder and a hammer or dolly. That is much easier, quicker, and cheaper. With new door skins available for $150, doing expensive bodywork didn’t make dollars and sense on the 1970 Mach 1 that Jason White is turning into a Shelby clone. Jason could have purchased an entire door assembly, but this extra expense wasn’t necessary. The original inner structure of our door was in excellent condition. So he decided to just replace the outer skin of the door and show us how he did it, using old-school cutting, grinding, welding, and hammering that didn’t take much more than an hour. According to Jason, this procedure is the same for every Mustang we cover in this magazine from 1964 1/2 through 1978.

1. Jason bought a brand-new door skin finished in primer from a Mustang vendor.

2. The original door housing was in good condition and did not need to be replaced.

3. A factory door skin is hammered flat and tack welded every 5 to 6 inches to the lip of the door housing.

4. To release the old door skin, grind along the bottom and sides of the door. Jason mounted a 60-grit Roloc disc on an angle grinder.

5. You can see how grinding pops the door skin loose.

6. Continue grinding the sides of the door to release the old skin.

7. Lift the old door skin off the inner structure.

8. Chisel off factory tack welds that attach door skin tabs to the door clips at each end on top.

9. Jason found evidence of rust repair on the bottom of the old door skin.

10. Use a pair of duckbill pliers to roll off the remnants of the door skin.

11. Grind away surface rust on both sides of the lip of the door structure.

12. Use a hammer and dolly to flatten the outside lip.

13. To install the new skin to the original door structure, first hook the new door skin tabs around the clips—one inside each end at the top.

14. The door skin sticks up at a 90-degree angle to the door edge. Hammer and dolly this door skin flat against the lip of the door structure, which leaves slight ripple marks on the edge of the new door skin.

15. A clamp helps to secure the door skin while you hammer, especially useful along the long lower part of the door housing.

16. Spot-weld each door skin tab, one per side, to the clip inside the door structure.

17. To fully secure the door skin from moving, spot-weld about every 6 to 8 inches along the lip on the bottom and sides of the door. Jason uses a wire-feed MIG welder.

18. Grind the spot-welds off the bottom and sides of the door.

19. The door is ready to prep for painting, which will include a little metal work on the slightly rippled edges.