Basically, you have three options for this project in terms of budget:
- $$$: If you're baller, you can just buy brand new door panels straight from Aardvark Racing, and just pop the old ones off and the new ones on: http://www.2002parts.com/bmw/door-panels.html
- $$: This is the route I went, using the much more affordable door panel rebuild kit from Aardvark, cleaning up and reusing my old vinyl: http://www.2002parts.com/bmw/door-panel-kit.html
- $: For the true DIYer, you could cut your own new plywood panels using the old fiberboard cards as templates.
The first step of course is to remove the door panels. Since 75% of all of my clips were broken, this was easy for me. If that's not the case for you, you'll need something nice and flat and wide to help pop the clips out of the door. Once it's free, the whole thing lifts straight up (though it's a bit of a tight fit, so may take some coercion) at the top by the window and comes out.
(Yuck! If yours also looks like this, then you should definitely be doing this job too!)
Once it's out, you can begin taking out all of the staples that hold the vinyl to the old card and then peel the covering off of the card. It's glued down in strips with some sort of thin fibrous fill in between and can get a bit messy, but my came apart without much fuss:
From here you'll need to finish removing any of the fill material that's still left on the back side of the vinyl, and also remove the trim hardware from the old card. There should be 4-5 clips that hold on the strip of window felt and the chrome trim along the top, and the black steel top molding has bent tabs that go through the door card to hold it in place. I just kind of ripped it out of the old card first and then unbent the tabs, but this might not be so wise if you need the old card more or less in tact to use as a pattern if your cutting your own new boards. Make sure not to loose any of the upper trim clips!
Now time to clean up that old grungy vinyl! I picked up this leather cleaning kit from Advance Auto and it sure seemed to work well for me:
Now for reassembly, I started with installing the black upper molding to the new door panel. Being thicker the securing tabs didn't really go all the way 'through' the wood, but once inserted I managed to spread them enough with some nose pliers so that they gripped well enough to hold everything together:
Then, I used some thin quilting fleece and glued it to the back of the vinyl with 3M spray adhesive to replace the now-shredded original fill material. This gives just a little bit of loft and softness to the vinyl, which I think is worth having, but isn't strictly necessary:
Finally, it's time to install the vinyl cover onto the new door card. I started with gluing the top of the vinyl in place over the steel molding to keep everything in place. Then, I put the chrome trim pieces back on reusing the old clips, and then snapped the window felt back into the clips also:
Once everything is in place up top, just start gluing the vinyl/felt to the front of the panel. I chose to glue the whole thing, assuming that if and when I ever need to do this job again, the vinyl won't have enough life left in it to be reused any more and I'll just need to pop for new ones. Again, I like the same 3M spray adhesive that I used for carpet and headliner gluing:
Now is a good time to cut holes through the felt so that the door hardware (handle, window winder, vent knob, etc.) can all poke through properly, and then the finishing touch is to wrap all of the sides of the vinyl around and glue them down to the back of the panel. I just stuck with the glue again here and didn't bother with staples, but you could re-staple the sides too if preferred:
It is WELL worth the extra $13 to get the new clips from Aardvark instead of trying to salvage the old ones, especially because you can leave the old clips in the old card to help you figure out which locations they all go into (there are more holes in the panels than there are clips). They just twist in by hand and then you can pop the finished door panel back on the door! I found it easiest to do with the window down; get the top pressed down into the top of the door first until all of the clips line up with the holes. Remember to fish the door lock pin up through the hole in the top of the panel when installing, which unfortunately is probably the trickiest part of the whole job, but once you have it through the grommet and the top seated, you can go around the perimeter and pop all of the clips home into the door.
And that's it! Re-install all of the door handle hardware, grab a good bier, and be proud of your excellent handiwork!