This is sorta long, but here goes....

I've never been too happy with the door fit on my '53 hardtop. Last summer I worked on it some, mostly on the rockers. I got the pass side a lot better and this weekend took another crack at the driver side (it being a lot worse, Dick S. posted a pic of my car at the drags in Omaha last sept and its pretty obvious). The big problem has been that the rear gap is smaller than the front gap despite the door pushed as far forward as it would go. I had 2, 1/8" rubber shims in the driver side front fender at the cowl to get it not to rub when the door opens and still the rear was too tight. This car must have a crooked body shell since I have a <1/16" shim on the pass side front fender to cowl to get that side close enough to the door so not to have a huge gap. I used to think that maybe it was due to all the rust I fixed in the floors and something moved but I have seen other 53K's with poor fitting driver side doors too.

Any rate, I took off the door again (about the 3rd time since the car was restored) to see if I could do something with the hinges. I routered out the sheet metal inside the door to allow the hinge backing plate where the screws go in to move a little more so the door could go farther forward. I think I gained about 1/8" at best. Also unbolted the fender and added yet another 1/8" shim (total of 3!) to the top bolt and about 1/16" to the bottom since the gap at the bottom was wider than the top. So, the door now looks a little more centered and my rear gap is better (at least it stopped rubbing!)

Question tho, is the gap between the body and the fender at the cowl right behind the hood hinge. Is that supposed to be pushed tight or is there some gap allowed? Right now I have a little gap there (maybe 1/8) and I have had it tight before but then the door sticks out past the fender at the top and that looks bad too. The other problem I have is I cannot get the lower back corner of the door to close tight. I have a upper front hinge shim in already and also pulled out the bottom of the rear fender as far as I could to improve it but its got a good 1/8" to go. More upper shim would make the fender to door issue worse. I think if I could put a twist in the door somehow it would be the fix, any thoughts on that and how I could do it? I put a little muscle into the door but it felt too stiff to move (then again since I left the farm 15yrs ago, I don't get much heavy work anymore)


Jeff in ND

'53 Champion Hardtop