Jerry Heasley
January 1, 1996

Step By Step

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This Mustang door is not rusty, but the sheetmetal is severely dented and dinged. In this case, reskinning will take less time than bodywork, and the result will be a straight door with no plastic.
With a narrow scraper, remove the weatherstripping around the rim of the door. Don’t worry about ruining the old window felts inside the door, you’ll need new ones anyway.
Completely "gut" the door of its window mechanism, side mirror, door handle, latch assembly, and other fixtures.
Grind the rim of the door on the doorjamb side. As soon as the wheel consumes the edge of the door skin, it will pop loose.
Notice how the outer skin separates from the shell of the door. The upper portion is the part of the skin that is folded over the edge of the door hull.
With a pair of pliers, pry up the top fold of the door skin and then continue grinding loose the skin around the rim. Follow by prying it off.
The door skin is spot-welded and brazed to the door shell on your Mustang. Use a cut-off wheel to sever the brass welds.
The door skin is also spot-welded to the door hull. David used an 8mm spot-weld cutter to sever these connections to free the existing door skin.
The old door skin lifts free from the door shell. Actually, the small tab on the right didn’t need to be cut loose because it wasn’t welded at the factory.
Notice the surface rust on the inside of the door shell (top). It’s easy to sandblast this surface rust, but, if the metal is rusted through, it’s much better to hunt up another donor door. According to David Bell, "We have bought six, eight, 10 doors to get two or three good ones. They are hard to find. This is a good door and the outer skin was not rusted through, which is very unusual."
David used "sugar" sand to sandblast the surface rust off the inside of the door. After sandblasting, the metal is bare and unprotected. Every bare piece of metal must be treated before it is primed and painted. David used Ditzler DX 579, then followed with a conditioner, Ditzler DX 520 SG, to stabilize the metal so it will not rust further. After the cleaner and conditioner were applied, David opted for more protection with Wurth Rust Guard Silver.
Before priming, fold 3/4-inch-wide masking tape evenly over the outer and inner rims of the door where the new skin will be welded to the hull. (This strip makes for a 3/8-inch-wide top and bottom.)
Follow by hanging the door and applying the primer.
Pull up the 3/4-inch-wide masking tape and protect this unpainted edge (both sides of the door hull) with zinc spray. Why? This heavy zinc coating protects the metal from spot-welding. Otherwise, the spot weld would expose bare metal that would begin rusting. However, don’t spray zinc in small corners where the skin is brazed.
Be sure to remove the vent window bracket from the old door skin. This one had surface rust, but it was in good shape and very solid. New door skins do not come with these brackets. We sandblasted the vent window bracket, treated it (as we did with the inside of the door), and primed it.
Evenly space 3/16-inch holes in the lip of the new door skin for spot welds. Winged Graphics uses a special hydraulically operated hole punch. Of course, a drill with a stop will do the job.
Door skins are more than thin metal. From the factory, they came with heavy undercoating so your Mustang wouldn’t rattle like a tin can when the door was shut. You can spray heavy undercoating onto the back of the doors, or use sound deadening pads (a David Bell/Winged Graphics trick). These pads feature a self-adhesive, peel-off backing. Use the handle of a screwdriver or something similar to apply the pads.
After placing the new door skin over the door shell, center and secure it with a C-clamp backed by a wooden paint stick to keep from damaging the metal. Then, using a ball-peen hammer, pound the edge over the door shell.
Back the lip of the door with a body dolly and pound the lip of the door skin flat.
At each 3/16-inch hole, spot-weld the lip of the door skin to the door. Follow by grinding each spot weld flat.
As a final safeguard against rust, coat the door cavity with body wax. It’s also available in a spray can.
David Bell (left) and Ron Mohr of Winged Graphics show us the newly reskinned door, which is ready to install on the car.

David Bell, owner of Winged Graphics in Fort Worth, Texas, pulled the door on his ´66 fastback and showed us how to reskin a Mustang door using Dallas Mustang Parts as his source for the sheetmetal. The body shop manual calls for six hours installation time, but it will take a first-timer longer. However, the result will be a door that looks brand-new--no dents, dings, or scratches.

Door skins retail for $79.95 for ´65-´68 Mustangs and $189.95 for ´69-´70 models. The installation procedure is the same no matter the model year. Door skins are not yet available for ´71-´73 Mustangs.

Are new door shells available? They were offered by the Mustang restoration aftermarket for a while, but quality was so poor they were quickly dropped. Follow along to see how you can reskin your Mustang’s doors!

Completely "gut" the door of its window mechanism, side mirror, door handle, latch assembly, and other fixtures.