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History When did body panel-door gaps become an issue?

Discussion in 'The Hokey Ass Message Board' started by crminal, Jan 21, 2016.

  1. Build it and post it, I'll flame it for ya. :D
    volvobrynk and ClayMart like this.
  2. blackanblue
    Joined: Feb 20, 2009
    Posts: 408


    Haha reminds me of working in the electrical trade boss always wanted fluorescent bulbs with the print faceing up and switch/plug plate screws clocked so slots were vertical became habit after while.
    loudbang likes this.
  3. Mike51Merc
    Joined: Dec 5, 2008
    Posts: 3,856


    --->>> Not a fan of scallops.
  4. LOL vertical so they won't catch water. It really shouldn't be raining in the master bedroom. ;)

    I guess the gaps became a problem with the deuce. I personally think that if the gaps are so bad that Helen Keller could have seen them, that is a problem. If they are a little off its just another old heap and should be admired for being what it is. One thing that we forget in this world of newstalgia perfection is that hot rods were not perfect they were just cool.
  5. seb fontana
    Joined: Sep 1, 2005
    Posts: 6,954

    seb fontana
    from ct

    At least verbally!!
    volvobrynk and Atwater Mike like this.
  6. Proper gaps prevent paint chips, which look like ASS on any car.
    cretin and Squablow like this.
  7. 54fierro
    Joined: Jul 6, 2006
    Posts: 493

    from san diego

    Well it was definitely after 54. lol
    The A pillar on my car was attached to the roof a little too far back making the gap really tight in just that spot. The line doesn't match the line of the door.

    ..and I don't have any interest in correcting it. :)
    loudbang and Spoggie like this.
  8. Squablow
    Joined: Apr 26, 2005
    Posts: 15,036


    My '51 Merc project had some floor pans and rockers haphazardly welded in without the door gaps being addressed, the driver's side was pretty good but the passenger side had some sag without any wear of the hinge pins. It has created a lot more work to undo what was already done to get the doors to close nice.

    Good panel alignment is a must before any serious body welding work is done. My car would have been a more straightforward project if nothing had been touched.
    cretin likes this.
  9. I don't necessarily agree with this. Factory appearing gaps don't mean quality work wasn't done. All these perfectly gapped cars are a result of the smooth look pioneered by Boyd and Little John in particular (and that was way before TV show nonsense). It's just like when they "Pancake" the sides - If you look down the side of a proper original car, you will see some "Coke Bottleing" where the doors meet the cowl and the quarter - now days these high end builders take and slather the entire side of a car in mud and then block it perfectly flat. Well, that's NOT the way the car was designed, and in many cases it loses some of the character, the soul of the car. Door skins in particular were never intended to be flat surfaces, and it is harder to get the surface smooth and Not loose that shape then it is to just block the shit out of it. Now having said that, I am not implying that door gaps should have big sloppy variations (that usually hints at accident damage or ill fitting replacement parts), but "Perfect" gaps are a by product of striving for something different than what the factory built, and there is nothing wrong with that if it is what you are going for. And everyone here will have a different opinion of what a "properly gapped" car will be, some will stand for nothing less than 4 decimal point caliper confirmed perfection, others will use a well calculated eyeball. But to say that some gap variation is the sign of non quality work is just WRONG in my opinion.
    Last edited: Jan 21, 2016
  10. TRuss
    Joined: Jan 7, 2007
    Posts: 549


    I'd guess those original imperfections the nonpancakeness had more to do with the stamping of the panels than design intent.
    cretin likes this.
  11. verde742
    Joined: Aug 11, 2010
    Posts: 5,644

    1. a veteran died today

    build it, drive it, have fun, or buy mine: IMG_3089 (1).jpg
  12. happy hoppy
    Joined: Apr 23, 2001
    Posts: 2,328

    happy hoppy

    I own a 1950 Ford coupe. original California car with 60K miles. Never wrecked, no sheet metal replaced, almost no rust. Its been re-painted one. Its a very nice car. The gaps SUCK, by todays standards. With cokebottling, as mentioned by Hotroddon ( thanks Don, I love that term ) The truck lid almost touches the 1/4 panel on one side, yet no evidence of the lid ever being removed. its the same with the hood. These were just affordable transportation vehicles back then, door gaps were hit and miss at best.
    I do remember helping my brother build his first lowrider showcar in 1980, we spent a few days getting the gaps right.
    loudbang likes this.
  13. Hotroddon, your posts are always grounded in reality. No denying.

    Verde742, always dug that truck. Was yellow, right?
    I shortened my frame and went for a stepside (beat me up fellas, I like 'em).
    Ford body styles had two-tone nailed in the late 50's. Unfortunately doesn't work well on a stepside.
  14. woodiewagon46
    Joined: Mar 14, 2013
    Posts: 1,860

    from New York

    On one of the TV shows, when I saw someone measuring the door gaps with a Vernier Caliper, that's when I said, enough! Drive your car on NY roads for 6 months and then tell me about door gaps. When you are that anal, you need another hobby!
    kiwijeff and Spoggie like this.
  15. jcmarz
    Joined: Jan 10, 2010
    Posts: 4,633

    from Chino, Ca

    Just a crazy useless thought that came to mind. However, to put some input into the question itself, who cares if the gaps are not prefectly spaced. They hardly ever were from the factory. The factory didn't waste time on that. They just wanted to build the cars as fast as they could.
  16. Dan Timberlake
    Joined: Apr 28, 2010
    Posts: 1,312

    Dan Timberlake

    A Car and Driver road test of some Pontiac product in the 60s commented that the quality of Pontiac's body panels was excellent, and the lack of waviness put the rest of GM to shame
  17. There is a range of finish quality between perfect and sloppy. You have to decide where you want to be.

    On my current 1929 Ford cabriolet build, I am pushing myself for as good as my skills can get me. Not perfect, but pretty good, especially as compared to how I built the same car as my first car, over fifty years ago. Then I was in a big hurry, now I have the rest of my life; but the car is now in final painting and I did not take forever to perfect it to the level of quality I wanted. ...a consideration is that better fits will result in less future paint damage from rubbing panels.

    If you are doing the work, you decide how important each fit is. If you are paying someone else, your budget becomes a factor.
  18. missysdad1
    Joined: Dec 9, 2008
    Posts: 2,993


    Gaps are important on a well-finished hot rod. They demonstrate an attention to detail. This is especially true on lighter colored cars. A person can put all kinds of money and time into bodywork and paint but poor fitting panels and wide gaps will ruin the overall effect.
    cretin and Spoggie like this.
  19. Atwater Mike
    Joined: May 31, 2002
    Posts: 10,593

    Atwater Mike

    Stepsides look like pickups. 'Fleetsides' and 'Stylesides' look like Portuguese plumber trucks. :p
    Why do you think mid '70s Chevrolet came out with the narrow bed and projected rear fenders? (Fiberglass bed, but many were sold because they looked like 'Stepsides'.)
    crminal likes this.
  20. Bandit Billy
    Joined: Sep 16, 2014
    Posts: 7,648

    Bandit Billy

    Judging from the gaps on the 60's era GM muscle cars in my garage, the "Mark of Excellence" on Fisher bodies was generally a paint chip caused either by their lousy gaps or the body men who tied in vain to correct them.

    I see corvette over-restorations were they gel-coat and skim coat the entire body (doors and hoods glued shut) and then cut open the doors and hood to reveal a perfect, laser straight gap. My original bodied plastic fantastics were never that fantastic with relation to gaps.

    I'm going with that ball bearing commercial theory that Oldolds cited.
    loudbang likes this.
  21. indyjps
    Joined: Feb 21, 2007
    Posts: 4,160


    I look closely at door gaps.

    BUT, I worked in a collision body shop for a while mostly hanging cheap Chinese replacement parts on wrecked cars, gaps had to be pretty good on collision repair or the adjuster wouldn't buy off.

    I also spent 8 years in stamping and assembly plants as a tool and die engr, I can't tell you how many engr changes I did to get gaps right.

    So for me, I look at it, and if they're not right on my car, it bothers me.

    When I bought my first new truck, I told the dealer to get me the same truck he had on his lot from a different dealer, his had 2 out dings on the box, and a couple paint defects, I didn't want his shop to fix them and blend in a red paint job. We almost didn't do business.
  22. Hopefully not these robots... :oops:

  23. cavman
    Joined: Mar 23, 2005
    Posts: 645


    If you've got OCD, gaps are a big deal. I do and they are. Just another thing worth makin' right.
  24. moefuzz
    Joined: Jul 16, 2005
    Posts: 4,950


    Well GM didn't waste time on that but it doesn't mean that the people
    who would prefer to build quality into car/design don't.

  25. moefuzz
    Joined: Jul 16, 2005
    Posts: 4,950



    If you've ever reskinned doors, replaced fenders and replaced quarters,
    Most times You Have No Choice but to worry about door gaps.

    I use a 3/16 drill bit, an eyeball, a rollock/die grinder and a welder.

  26. jetnow1
    Joined: Jan 30, 2008
    Posts: 1,803

    from CT
    1. A-D Truckers

    Actually GM cared enough to have the test Camaro that was given out to press tests when they were
    introduced that they had there shop tear down and blueprint the gaps etc. Car and Driver even commented
    on how improved the quality of the body fit was over previous GM cars they had tested. Guess they were
    disappointed when the production cars hit.
    loudbang likes this.
  27. Hackerbilt
    Joined: Aug 13, 2001
    Posts: 6,248


    Gaps have always been important and having nice ones is a sign of good build quality.

    They became VITALLY important on "nice dailys" when someone realized they could be used as a way to look down upon another persons car and by default claim themselves superior.
    You know how it goes....
  28. Model T1
    Joined: May 11, 2012
    Posts: 3,309

    Model T1

    On my last project.....still unfinished, I spent over a week of afternoons on each door of my 1948 Chevy panel truck. Glad it has only four doors. May not be perfect and I didn't use a paint stick, but they look good enough and nothing rubs............. yet!
    I gave it to my son-in-law and a few weeks ago, New Years Eve, they came and trailered it to Illinois. Sure hope he likes my door gaps!

    I didn't want to do it but the lower driver door stuck out so I did a little beating then the Bondo body work trick.
    Door Fitment 1.jpg Panel Progress 4-30-06 013.jpg
    loudbang likes this.
  29. BamaMav
    Joined: Jun 19, 2011
    Posts: 4,866

    from Berry, AL

    Quality on the assembly line differed by location, employee, and the parts installed. The automakers wanted to make them as fast as possible, and there were always a go-no go tolerance allowed, if it was close enough, it went on down the assembly line. I'd bet there were differences in parts that came from different stamping dies used by different suppliers, too. So, you add up the allowance on each part, and it either ends up close to design, or a bit off somewhere. Most people never notice unless somebody points it out to them. Making the gaps perfect, or over restoring, is trying to make the best representation of what the factory designed, but didn't control closely in the assembly, the factory picking speed and production over perfection. I would imagine the coach builders back in the day that produced hand made, hand assembled bodies had near perfect gaps because they were trying to build the best, not the most volume. When the early customizers started smoothing and restyling bodies, they wanted everything to match perfectly like the coach builders did, instead of a so so fit like some of the factory stuff. So perfect gaps were a sign of a quality custom build.

    I have seen factory panels that would fit one car, but wouldn't fit another just like it. I've also seen aftermarket panels that fit better than factory, and some that were nowhere close. Sometimes it makes you think the old saying about not buying a car built on Friday or Monday had something to it, but how would you know?
  30. rusty rocket
    Joined: Oct 30, 2011
    Posts: 4,188

    rusty rocket

    I figured I,ve gone this far I might as well have good gaps IMG_0029.JPG
    Johnboy34 likes this.

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