Doors out of Alignment

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ssiegel4

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1973 Mustang Convertible
I purchased my '73 vert about six months ago and both doors were out of alignment. I'd taken it to several body shops to see about getting them aligned. At the body shop I took it to today the owner told me that he's seen this with many convertibles (I hope I'm able to explain this accurately); he says that the subframe rails have flexed over the years due to there not having the additional support of the roof; therefore, the car is bowing down to some degree, causing the doors to be misaligned. Does this sound possible? He says that the proper procedure to resolve this is major surgery involving the cutting and removal of the old rails and the installation of new ones, which means gutting the interior. This could run $8,0000-$12,000. Now, please believe when I say that he wasn't trying to sell me on such a procedure; his is a very busy shop and he's not attempting to talk me into it. He did, however, say that there is a much cheaper alternative which involves jacking up the center portion of the car until the doors are aligned, then bolting and tacking in new subframe connectors. He said that's about a $1,500 procedure but that he personally wouldn't do it - that it's not the proper way to go. What are you thoughts about this?
 
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I think he is right. Similar behavior led me to starting the (neverending) restoration of my '71 convertible. I had noticed the drivers door was getting harder to close, requiring a bit of a slam to get it to latch. I also noticed the top of the b-pillar flexing into the interior as the door engaged the striker. In my case the undercarriage rust was actually minimal. My problem was with the welds at the lower portions of the b-pillars - they were cracking. The repair was to strip the car, realign the frame and unibody panels, weld and bolt in support beams to hold everything in place and then reweld all of the lower sheetmetal. The support beams were then removed. Now the doors latch with fingertip pressure.

Going the cheap route may buy you a few years, but eventually the fix will fail. It all depends on what you want out of the car.
 

ssiegel4

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Thanks Mike, I really appreciate your response. The proper way to go is certainly clear; however, it sounds like you'd have to be an auto body professional to accomplish this kind of work; otherwise, it would cost many thousands of dollars to have someone do it for you. I'm definitely not in the kind of financial position to spend that kind of money and I doubt the value of the car would ever be greater than what would need to be spent on it. Given that, I suppose I'll have to live with misaligned doors for at least a while.
 

ssiegel4

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Not terrible. I'll provide some photos tomorrow. In the meantime, Happy Thanksgiving!
 

donkost

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Long time Pontiac guy, jumped ship, now driving a '71 Grabber Green Mach 1 with "J" code 429 Cobra Jet, close-ratio 4 speed, 3.50 Traction-Lok rear.
Not my call or my $$$, but if I were you I'd go the subframe connector route at some point. Heck, all of these could use them, even the non-convertibles.
 

351c1971

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1971 Mach1
You might consider jacking the car up at the rear of the front frame rails (using 2x4 blocks on the jack pad). Take before and after pictures of the door gaps. If they are better when jacked up at these points, jack it up the same way when adding the subframe connectors. This might help.
 

InjectedMach

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1972 Mach1
2011 Grand Sport Corvette
2008 Toyota Tundra Crewmax
This is very common with older unibody convertibles. Have the suffrage connectors installed but not at the proper gap, make the top gaps too big because even with the connectors it will still close up when set back down. If there's rust In the floors don't waste time and money do it correctly from the start with a new one piece full floor, inner rockers and suffrage connectors.
 

steves73

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Toronto
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73 rusty convertible
My 73 Cougar developed this misalignment gradually over many years. Nothing wrong with the structure, it sometimes happens with heavy unibody old cars. You can look at this spot on pictures of mustangs and Cougars for sale to see how common it is.
 

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351c1971

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Hi InjectedMach,
Your post makes sense. Even when I jack up my 2001 convertible, the gaps change slightly.
 
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73 Mach 1 (x2)
73 Grande'
68 Coupe
70 Cougar-72 Fastback parts cars
72 Sprint convertible, 1 of 50 (sold)
69 GT 500 (sold)
68 Fastback, "63D" (sold)
I bought one of those 50-1972 Sprint convertibles from an original owner in the mid 80's. It had a trailer hitch installed to tow his boat. To get the driver's door shut all the way, I had to start it, then put in drive with my foot on the brake. I'd give it a little gas which would flex the body enough to fully latch the door!

When the new owner restored it, the car got inner frame rails and a B pillar replaced to make it so the doors aligned again. Check the bottom of your B pillar to see if the spot welds are OK...
 
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