I’ve been planning, gathering parts, and working on this silly door panel project for about 6 weeks. Various parts took a while to come in. I realized I wanted other parts. It was crazy scope creep. But here we are! Super-vintage-retro doors.
So bland. I hate this. I swapped them out with my slightly-prettier 97 door panels back in January when I first got the 95. Sorry for the angle of the sun. This is the only shot I ever took of these hideously boring things. And NO arm rest!!!! GAH. I rest my elbow on that thing almost constantly while driving.
So here’s step 1. You buy some vinyl. You MEASURE how much you need first. I didn’t do that and got lucky. There was juuuuust enough to cover both panels with the diamonds going long-ways.
Step 2 – Remove the stock vinyl from the door card. That gives you an instant pattern. I stuck it down with some of my wife’s sewing pins and cut my precious new vinyl.
And there we go! Old and busted on the bottom, new hotness on the top. Gotta love that orange padding.
Once we have the vinyl cut out, all that’s left to do is staple it down. The stock vinyl was held with a combination of spray adhesive and staples. I used all staples. I had this small helper, see. He wanted to get “jiggy” with the staple gun. It was cute till he went after the cat.
Following the stock vinyl pattern for the corners really helped. I got perfect fitment and no bunching. And I used a LOT of staples.
Not much to it. At this point I was somewhat amazed at just how easy it is to recover these Miata door cards. It’s definitely not a modern car with big plastic bolsters. Just a piece of fiberboard…
I couldn’t help but flip the panels over and lay the speaker covers on top. Things are looking good! I just used my straight 95 door tops in this shot. They’ll not be going on the final product. I love the look of the more bolstered 97 tops.
A quick break from vinyl. I’ve had the KG Works door handles for a couple years and love them dearly. They feel awesome when you wrap your fingers around them. Very much worth the money. But they’re plastic. I’ve always worried about them breaking. When I found a set of Aerodramatics aluminum ones on ebay for $40, I jumped. They look EXACTLY the same. They’re indeed identical except from the material used. But it was worth it to me to not worry about ever having to go back to the stock handles.
Back to vinyl.
Yes, this is the next thing to modify. The 95 door cards have smaller speaker openings than the 93LE speaker covers. I traced the hole, cut the vinyl with scissors, and then went to work on the wood with my dremel. The house smelled like a camp fire when I was done. Yes, the 100 degree heat drove me inside for this project.
One round hole, no waiting! After cutting this, I took a black sharpie to the orange vinyl padding so as to hide it a bit better behind the grille. It worked. You can’t see it anymore.
Done! Looking not bad at all in my very humble opinion. Mounting the 97 door tops on the 95 door cards was easy. I just drilled a couple extra holes at the right spot (in the back where the bolster is thicker) and was able to screw them down. Why go to this trouble? I like my 97 door cards still. I might want to swap back to them.
On the top: 97 door panels with KG Works plastic-chrome handles, Aerodramatics door cups, and Home Depot-sourced speaker rings. Not bad.
On the bottom: The Door Panel Project. 97 door tops, 95 door cards, 97 armrests, 93LE speaker covers with new grilles, diamond stitched vinyl from EZ Boy Interiors, and Aerodramatics aluminum door handles and cups.
So worth all the effort. Hope you liked the show.