Now that I’ve finally made up my mind about what I’m doing with my ’81 Pontiac Parisienne, I’m starting to search for some of the little oddball parts that need replacing again.
Last summer I started working on one of the rear doors as it had some rust creeping up from under the edge of the stainless trim. I removed the trim panel without fully understanding what held it in place. The little plastic spring clips under the panel seemed to have dried out and were pretty fragile to begin with. Needless to say, I broke several of them and now can’t put the trim back on without sourcing more. The only good to come out or that little adventure was finding that the rust that looked to be creeping up from under the panel was really just a little bit of surface rust, presumably from the panel rubbing on the door skin. I had expected to find most of the door panel rotted away underneath the stainless trim. Sometimes you get lucky. It was a simple matter to grind it down to bare metal and get it primed.There are enough tiny little stone chips that are starting to rust, all over the car that I just sanded and primed the whole door. It’ll probably be easier in the long run than trying to fix a lot of tiny little spots. Hopefully, I can rattle-can the car in small portions without it being too obvious.
The issue now, of course, is to find those little plastic trim clips somewhere. By some freak occurrence, I happened to find another ’81 Parisienne over at Cambridge Auto Wreckers. It seemed that the clips I could see were in no better condition than mine and are likely to break with the slightest provocation. As the car’s wheels were removed and it was sitting directly on the ground, it would have been a fair amount of work to get the other stainless panels off, only to have them break on me during removal or during re-installation.
I’m fascinated by how many trim clip suppliers and manufacturers there are around the ‘Net. The clips that I have are very similar to a lot of other clips that I’ve found in a lot of places, but none of them have been the exact clip that I need. This GM Part# 20201200 seems to be something of a rare bird. I’ve found a good selection at northlandfasteners.com and gmpartsgiant.com but neither have what I want. gmpartsgiant.com at least has the part number in their catalog…but they’re out of stock.
The clip itself is in good shape overall and I think cleaning and treating would do all of them some good. The real issue is the “spring” pieces on the top that the trim parts hang on. You can see in the photo at left that the “spring” pieces on the right end are broken off. There should be a couple of plastic extensions that look a little bit like antennae from some weird insect. The trim should be removed by pressing down slightly on the top edge to allow the “antennae” to flex enough to unhook the bottom edge of the trim from the door panel. Unfortunately, if the top edge gets pushed down too hard, these pieces break and now the clip is useless.
I tried hunting around the ‘Net pretty extensively as it’s something that I’m particularly good at but all I found were places that were out of stock, couldn’t get them, or only had something that was slightly similar. One vendor seemed pretty anxious to help and I sent some photos of what I was after but never heard from him again. I gave one of the clips to my father and he carried it around in his pocket for a few weeks while he delivered parts, asking guys at body shops and various classic car restorers, but none seemed able to find it for me. I feel really certain that these are out there, probably under a new part number and now hard to find. In the end, I’m certain that will make the finding of them that much more satisfying. I still have plenty of time as the door still needs to be sanded and painted and the trim cleaned and polished before I can reinstall it on the door anyway so the hunt continues.