The Roadmaster’s door panels are really in very rough shape. It appears that a previous owner, at some point, needed access to the inside of the door panels and had no clue whatsoever how to get the interior panels off. I suspect that somebody was trying to diagnose the power door lock problem that it had when I got it. In any case, the door trim mounting clips are destroyed, even the slots on the trim panels that the clips mount into are broken. Some ham-handed boob even pried off the arm-rests, destroying the mounting assemblies. They rectified this by driving trim screws through the arm-rest into whatever plastic they could find. A common issue with these mid-90’s B-Body cars are the state of these poorly made plastic interior panels. The faux woodgrain often pops off on them and the leading edge of the panel pretty much always cracks and splits from the vibration of the door opening and closing as well as the leading edge meeting the side of the dash pad when closed. As you can see at some point a previous tinkerer opted to continue the woodgrain theme on my driver’s door panel to fix the crack.
Needless to say, this is unacceptable and I can’t leave it like this. I expected door panels to be difficult to find so I began hunting from day one. It’s been over a year of searching and I’ve finally found suitable replacements. Fortunately, the interior door trim panels for Roadmaster sedans and wagons are interchangable which gives me a much wider selection of parts to choose from. Finding rear door panels for a wagon will be a greater challenge but one step at a time.
Months of searching revealed many door panels that were either as damaged as my own, or the seller priced them with the apparent intent to pad his retirement by selling them. At long last I located a pair of panels at Plazek Auto Recyclers in Caistor Centre, Ontario. The Plazek’s boast the largest recycling yard in Canada and I’m tempted to believe them. Their 100 acre yard is a sight to behold. It’s large enough that there are several employees with trucks tasked with shuttling customers out to their desired vehicle and back. It would take more time than provided in a day to walk the yard, which incidentally is not allowed. All customers are chauffered into the yard and back out again. While I’m accustomed to prowling wrecking yards, truth be told, this is fast becoming a rarity. Smaller yards still allow Pick-N-Pull while most larger ones seem to opt for an inventory system that lets them move parts on eBay more easily. Plazek seems to have discovered a middle ground. Parts can be ordered, and paid for directly on their website or customers can show up and have the inventory checked at the front desk. Plazek will even pull parts from the cars once they are paid for and have them waiting for you when you arrive.
Owing to my love for road trips, I opted to ignore my geeky, online ordering tendencies and drive out there. I had first confirmed that the door panels I wanted where there but didn’t reserve them and just drove on out. The staff were friendly and took me right to a ’95 Roadmaster sedan who’s front end had been damaged. This was an empty husk of a beast with the LT1 powerplant having already been removed and much of it’s guts strewn about the interior and surrounding grounds. I was pleased to find two intact door panels, the drivers side having the ever-so-common crack on the leading edge. I this case the crack is repairable. One door panel was laying loose on the ground and will need a bit of cleaning but overall they are recoverable. Not only was I permitted to keep all door-panel related accessories, including all of the speakers, lights, and switch assemblies that are usually parted out separately. Even the typically broken door hand inserts were in good shape and each panel included the Concert Sound II tweeter inserts which haven’t been present on any panel I’ve previously located. As an added bonus I was given all of it at a 1/3rd discount in exchange for taking both panels rather than just one.
The primary hurdle with these panels is not the cleaning, or the beginnings of a crack in the plastic, but in the colour. My ’94 Roadmaster has a Medium Adriatic Blue interior and this ’95 had the much less impressively named Grey interior. Make no mistake, these panels are filthy and slightly worn, but all of that is easily remedied with some soap, water, and elbow grease and polishing compound. The more fiddly part will be in using some vinyl dye from SEM Products to recolour the panels and try to reclaim the carpet inserts from my existing panels for reinstallation onto the replacements once they are the correct colour again. This is a project that I hope to tackle as soon as the weather outside gets agreeable. Stay tuned!