Many classic Mustang’s door panels are in serious need of replacement. Dirt, constant use, heat, age, and moisture can all cause door panels to degrade and warp. The result? Door panels that are literally peeling away from the door.
When it gets especially bad, the door panel might fall out whenever you open the door. While this isn’t as pressing an issue as damage to the engine or body, it’s still annoying. And unlike some more serious issues, installing new door panels is an easy fix.
Selecting a Replacement Door Panel
You can replace your Mustang’s door panel with a direct replacement. Or you can take the opportunity to upgrade to the Pony interior you always wanted. You can even get some restomod improvements like power door locks. Really, the sky’s the limit.
If you’re not sure what door panel your Mustang came with stock, then you can use our data plate decoder. That and our interior trim guide should help you figure out what your Mustang’s stock option was.
While adding a lot of bells and whistles can be complicated, the steps for a replacement are pretty simple.
Tip: Always pick a high-quality replacement. Some companies use cardboard backing on their panels, which can lead to warping. It can also make installation more difficult.
Before You Get Started
Each installation will be a little bit different depending on the door style. Trim locations in particular can vary.
One thing that won’t vary is the need for door panel clips. New door clips are cheap, and they’ll help you enjoy your replacement door panel for longer. If you’ve decided to install a Deluxe or Pony door panel, you’ll need deluxe door panel clips, which are longer than the standard clips.
Installing a door panel is easiest on early classics. Around ‘69, several added comfort features made installation slightly more complicated (though still easy enough for novices).
Installing a door panel for the 1965-1968 Mustangs is different than installing a panel for 1969-1970 Mustangs. Select which one is appropriate for you. If you have a 1971-1973 Mustang, you’ll basically follow the same installation process as the one for ‘69-’70 Mustangs.
Upgrade Your Whole Door Now to Save Time
It’s a good idea to consider making other installations at the same time. This is a great time to swap out door locks or window cranks that are beyond repair. But in particular, installing new weatherstripping is a good way to make the most out of your installation time.
1965-1968 Door Panel Installation
For this install, we used TMI’s Pony Interior door panels on a 1965 Mustang. Other door styles will have their trim in different places, but it will usually still be held on by the same style metal clips.
- Door panel removal tool
- 4 mm Allen key
- Phillips head screwdriver
- Small flathead screwdriver
- Small Phillips head screwdriver
- Crank removal tool (optional)
Step 1: Remove Door Panel Cup Screws
There are two screws in the door panel cup that hold the panel to the rest of the door. To remove the small pad over the screws, you can use your flathead screwdriver to lift it up. Then, simply unscrew.
Step 2: Remove Door Handle
While our door handle and window crank have a screw to hold them in place, some classic Mustangs have a crank without a screw. For these you’ll need a crank removal tool.
Step 3: Remove Window Crank
Remove the screw holding the window crank in place. Just like with the door handle, you’ll either have a screw holding this in place or you’ll need a crank removal tool.
Step 4: Remove Door Panel
Use the door panel removal tool to pop the retaining clips out. Then you’ll be able to pull out the door panel.
Pro Tip: If the stainless steel trim is in good shape, you can transfer it to your new door panel. Otherwise, you’ll also want to replace your door trim.
Step 5: Put Inner Trim onto Door Panel
Your inner metal trim is side-specific, so lay it on top of the door panel to make sure you’ve got it on the right side. Then, pop up the metal clips with a flathead screwdriver and line up the trim with the holes on the panel.
This step is time-consuming. But when properly done, it looks great and will stay in place for years.
Pro Tip: Bend down one metal clip every few holes to keep the trim in place. You can bend down the rest once you’ve gotten the clips through every hole and are sure everything lines up.
Step 6: Add Outer Trim to Door Panel
Line outer trim up with the outside edge of the door panel. Press in place as tightly as you can.
Step 7: Secure Outer Trim
Insert and tighten the screws that hold the outer trim in place.
Step 8: Add Door Clips
Take some door clips and add them to the marked spaces on the back of the door panel. Insert the door clips and then slide them forward to secure them.
Step 9: Squeeze Door Panel into Place
Line the door panel up against your door andn squeeze it into place to get the clips in.
Pro Tip: Don’t make the mistake of trying to slap it into place! Remember the clips need to make proper contact.
Step 10: Push Door Panel Clips In
Adjust clips as needed.
Step 11: Reinsert Door Panel Cup
Place the door panel cup into its space and secure it with the screws you removed.
Press the rubber insert into the bottom of the cup to hide the screws.
Step 12: Reinstall Door Handle
Slide the escutcheon plate, washer, and door handle over the mount. Secure the handle with a screw if yours came with one.
Step 13: Reinstall Window Crank
Press the window crank onto the mount and secure it with a screw (if applicable).
Door Panel Install for 1969-1970 Mustangs
Just like with earlier first-gen Mustangs, door panel trim varies based on which packages your Mustang came equipped with. For our installation, we used a Mach 1 door panel on a 1969 Mustang. Depending on which door panel you select, you may have fewer total steps.
- Phillips head screwdriver
- ¼” Ratchet
- 9 mm Socket
- Needle nose pliers
- Small pick or flathead screwdriver
- Plastic pry bar
Step 1: Remove Window Crank
Remove the screw holding the window crank in place.
Pro Tip: This is a good time to replace your window crank if it’s not in good shape.
Step 2: Remove Door Cup Screw
Lift the rubber cover at the bottom of the door cup with a pick or flathead screwdriver. Then unfasten the screw.
Step 3: Remove Remote Mirror Bezel
Unscrew the bezel around the control for the side view mirror.
Step 4: Pull Panel Off
Depending on the state of your doors, this may be exceptionally easy or may require the use of a door panel tool. Take your time.
Step 5: Unplug Courtesy Light
Disconnect the courtesy light.
Step 6: Remove Reusable Parts from Door Panel
Before discarding your door panel, remove any reusable parts. Typically, the mirror bezels, retaining hardware, and molding will be able to be used again.
Step 7: Apply Decal to New Door Panel Insert
For kits like ours where the insert isn’t pre-finished, you’ll get to select which decal you apply. We selected woodgrain. Carefully apply this decal to your insert.
Step 8: Make Holes for Emblem (Optional)
Using your punch, poke through the designated holes. This is for the emblem. If you’re not using an emblem, skip this step.
Step 9: Install Door Panel Cup
Take the door panel cup and line up on your new door panel. Use screw to secure.
Step 10: Attach Insert to Door Panel
Place your insert on top of the new door panel. The metal tabs may need some encouragement to go through the designated holes, but they should all eventually go through.
Step 11: Secure Metal Tabs
Flip the door panel over and bend the metal tabs to keep the insert firmly in place.
Pro Tip: Depending on your level of finger callous, you may want to use a flathead screwdriver on the sharp tips.
Step 12: Insert Door Emblem
The door emblems are side specific. Make sure your pony’s running forward, not backward. Secure the pony emblem to the insert with included nuts.
Step 13: Insert Courtesy Light
Like the door emblems, these are side-specific. Make sure the light is facing forward. On the back side of the door panel, secure the courtesy light with its retaining hardware.
Pro Tip: Be careful not to overtighten your retaining hardware, since it can strip easily.
Step 14: Add Molding to Door Panel
Like the insert, these install by flipping up the metal tabs. Push the metal tabs through the corresponding holes. Then bend to secure in place.
Pro Tip: Clean up any loose nylon on the carpeted door section by trimming with a razor blade.
Step 15: Install Mirror Bezel
Add the bezel for your mirror controls.
Step 16: Secure the Door Panel Cup (Optional)
Adding a screw or rivet to your door panel cup can hold it in place better.
Step 17: Evaluate Watershield Lineup
Hold watershield against the door skin and evaluate lineup. Most watershields have pre-cut holes for accessories and clips. If yours doesn’t, you should mark locations.
Step 18: Ready Watershield for Install
Use a razor blade to remove precut holes and make sure watershield is ready for installation.
Step 19: Lay Adhesive on Door
Use some strip adhesive to keep your watershield in place. Space the adhesive out around the door, so you don’t need to cover every inch with it.
Step 20: Install Watershield
Place watershield on the door skin and press against the strip adhesive to keep in place.
Step 21: Install Door Panel Clips
Add door panel clips to the back of the door panel. Slide into place to secure.
Step 22: Punch Through Mounting Holes
Many doors have screw holes as well. Use your punch to make sure these holes are clear before putting the door panel in place.
Step 23: Reconnect Courtesy Light
Plugging your courtesy light back in should be a breeze. But be sure to check and make sure it powers up before continuing with your door panel install.
Step 24: Put Door Panel in Place
Line up the top edge of your door panel. Make sure the door locks and window controls are in the correct locations.
Step 25: Push Door Panel Clips in
Go along the door’s edge and push the door panel clips in.
Step 26: Install Door Panel Cup Screw
Replace the screw in the bottom of the door panel cup. Cover it with the rubber square.
Step 27: Install Window Crank
Screw the window crank in. Test it to make sure it works.
Step 28: Secure Window Bezel Nut
Screw the bezel nut back onto the remote window control.
Step 29: Insert Door Panel Screws
Depending on your trim, there may be six screws along the bottom of your door panel. If these screws don’t line up with their holes exactly, you may need to drill a new one.
Step 30: Add Door Locks
Finish off your install with a door lock knob.
Enjoy Your Mustang’s New Door Panels
Installing new door panels is one of the most popular projects for classic Mustangs. That’s not just because it’s easy and inexpensive. It’s also impactful. In terms of simple projects that make a big difference, it’s one of our favorites. You can check out more inexpensive, easy Classic Mustang projects here.
While just new door panels will put you well on your way to having a fantastic interior, check out our guides on installing new carpet and reupholstering your seats. Together, these three projects can make a Mustang look almost new on the inside.