Building a Track Car – Miata door panels fabricated

I can’t get any credit for originality here, but I really like how these ABS plastic door panels turned out on the track Miata.  I searched about on the Internet to see what others had done to improve on the factory door panels.  Some used aluminum and some used ABS plastic.  I found some fiberglass and carbon fiber versions as well.

I removed the speakers from my doors as well as the electric outside rear view mirrors.  The electric windows were converted to manual wind-ups.  I had toyed with the idea of removing the window mechanisms entirely.  That would have saved some weight and during HPDE sessions the windows have to rolled down even in the rain. 

Converting from electric to wind-up

There are some window glass supports that allow you to slip the glass into holders for when you trailer the car, but since this Miata will not be trailered (unless I have a bad shunt, but that it a whole nuther story) I am keeping the wind-up capability.

This old panel gets to be a template

While I have door bars installed from Hard Dog they don’t interfere with the doors themselves like a NASCAR style roll cage might.

I took an old panel and taped it to the door so I could see where the hole for the window winder would need to be cut as well as how I would need to shape the ABS plastic that I was going to use.  I picked up a 4×4 sheet of ABS from Grainger Supply in Raleigh for about $72.

Traced onto the ABS plastic sheet

After making measurments and deciding on the shape that I felt would best fit the door I placed it on the back side of the ABS panel and traced it out using a white-out marker.

Not too bad for the first pass with the saws

I have an electric jigsaw to cut with as well as a set of hole saws.  I was told that I needed to use a large tooth blade on the jigsaw as the heat generated from the blade would just melt the plastic back on itself as I cut if I used a fine tooth blade.  That was good advice.

Once the first panel was cut I test fitted it to the door.  I must have done something right because all the holes lined up perfectly.  I still had some minor trimming of the outside shape, but things were looking good.

This old door panel would give up the top padded section

I needed a way to complete the top of the door panel.  The tough part was that I also wanted to do something that would provide a window seal on the inside of the glass as well.  The answer was to take some old door panels and unscrew the padded top sections from them.

On the back side were small philips head screws and one melted plastic piece that I just pried off.

I didn’t try to screw them onto the ABS panels like they were mounted to the factory masonite panels.  They seem to stay in place well enough on their own.

Not too shabby

I did need something to grab on to in order to close the door since the arm rests were not part of the design.  I had some bright red strap left over from another project.  It was made from nylon web and I formed a loop to grab on to.

I heated up the blunt end of a drill bit and used it to form a hole in the straps for the mounting screw to go through.  I also used a large washer under the screw and over the straps so that when I pulled on the strap it wouldn’t pop up the padded door panel.

Its hard to miss seeing the grab loop 🙂

I am happy the way they turned out.  I won’t claim to have saved any weight, but I like the look and they function well.

Let me know what you think.

This entry was posted in Automobiles, Car Stuff, Care and Feeding, Cars, Life and Cars, Modifying Cars, Racing, Road Racing, Sports Cars. Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Building a Track Car – Miata door panels fabricated

  1. Jim's sister says:

    Love the strap idea. The doors are really coming along, Jim.

  2. Looks good. I always wondered if/where you could buy sheets of ABS! Did you find the ABS pliable enough that if you heated it you could form bends and make compound shapes? (to cover things that aren’t straight like a door)?

    • jimsgarage says:

       I had thought about doing just that and bending it around at the top of the door by where the window goes up and down, but opted for just using a top section of an old door card. Judging by how easily it melted if you used a fine toothed saw blade I think it would bend quite nicely if you used a heat gun to soften it a bit. If you over heated it – well it could be a mess, but you would have to think about the technique for bending it.

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