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door and body gaps


Well-known member
Nov 1, 2001
southern california
1982 convertible (not factory) stock 350cfi auto
are corvettes notorious for bad body panel alignment I just adjusted my door hinges that helped a little on the front of the door the gap is very close but on the back its at least 1/2 inch, I tried to slide door back but guess my bolt holes are not slotted like that to allow this kind of movementI got the deck area to match the height of the doors and this left the lower front of the door hitting the fenders though maybe taking a file to this area to cure this problem, is this just a major shimming problem I'm having
I spent mondo hours filling, sanding, blocking, priming, guide coating, filling, blocking, adjusting (you get the idea) on my front and rear door gaps. Bottom line, my driver is near perfect, my passenger is down at the rear top gap a tad.

No two really fit the same. There are several ways to adjust short of any filler and paint work. First, yes there are those stacked up think washer plates between the hinge and the A pillar. That just moves the front door gap in and out from the outer line of the body. Both the A pillar hinge post bolts and the door hinge bolts in the doors have slots. The slots are in the A pillar and door, as the hinge is drilled and threaded for the bolts.

The key is to get both sets of bolts loose. Close the door and have a friend stuff paint stir sticks or whatever works best for you to shim it on all sides equal. Then you torque down the bolts.

You may find when you open the door it will sag. If so, put a floor jack under the opended door as close to the closed position as possible. You MUST position the floor jack on the metal frame of the door. Give it a slight upward pump while you are sitting in the car, then readjust/tighten the hinge bolts. This will "pre load" it. Let the jack down and you will see it have a little natural sag. Adjust the door striker bolt as needed, and you should be there.

However, if you are looking for the perfect fit, now you have to grind into the door. Fashion a filler block that gives a predetermined door gap, then spread filler over the door and fender. Come back with a long file block and sand across both the door and fender in a variety of patterns. Keep doing this, and recutting out the gap until you reach perfection.
The panel fit on my car is atrocious, especially around where the front of the doors meet the fenders. I also had an 80 that was no better. I think you will find most are the same.

I did take it to a good paint shop shortly after I bought it to see if it could be sorted out but as you can imagine it would have cost big money to have it done properly. The guy estimated the labour alone was going to be about $2000 :eek then the cost of stripping and painting it properly would have doubled the price.

I recently saw a series of programs where they retsored an old Ferrari and they did all the panel gaps just as 69 described exept they used lead instead of filler and it is a very time consuming job, probably not worth it on a C3 unless it was something special or you had money to burn

Answer: Yes! Vehicles of this era (and especially vettes) had poor fit and finish! It's something we've (thankfully) forgotten, and see little of in todays market comparison! Quality control has come a long way in the decades past! Your door fit problem is no different than anyone else with a C3. As posted, the only way to correcting most of the fit problems is a custom approach. I too have spent many hours shimmin 'n cussin my way thru bad panel fits. Not wanting to break the paint and get in to body work, I just shimmed the best I could, and live with the rest. But hey, it's a C3! I still love it! - Dave
one thing I forgot to add was when I cut the rear clip of my car on the right side there was alot of fiberglass damage on the floors rear vertical piece that goes up to the deck as well as damage to the right side wheel well area this door has the worst alignment problems my guess is at some time car was hit real good.


thanks for all the advice, are you sure I cant talk you into painting mine LOL

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