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I bought a beautiful 2000 Boxster S a couple of years ago, and now the leather has shrunk in two places and is on its way out in a couple of others.  I have purchased two cow hides, one black and one graphite gray and planned to do the door panels and dash myself, and have my local car upholstery guy do the seats.


Has anyone ever recovered the door panels with new leather?


It appears that the door panels are plastic welded or plastic riveted together.  I was hoping that the door panel could be disassembled, but, it doesn't appear the be the case.


Has anyone ever done this before?  I'd love some tips or tricks to make my life easier, maybe pictures.......  At this point, it looks to be a pretty straight forward job, albeit difficult if the panels cannot come apart and be reassembled.


Also, is there anyway to remove the cover for the airbag and put it back together?  I bought some absolutely beautiful new leather, and it is leaps and bounds better than the original, but, it appears that these are covered in leather first, and THEN assembled and the plastic "rivets" melted after the leather was put on the pieces.  Is that true?


Any tips or tricks would be appreciated.





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No prior experience doing this, but could you disassemble the pieces by grinding down the plastic (melted down) rivets, then install metal rivets or screws in their place before re-skinning? This would allow for the individual parts to be reassembled.

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Not sure I'd suggest messing with the airbags from a safety perspective.  Can you be sure your airbag comes out on time with no added debris? Said as one who totaled a Boxster.

The air bag is in the door frame itself, and is a unit completely separate from the door panel itself.  The leather portion is on the door panel.  I don't even have to touch the air bag to recover the leather that covers it up, I just need to make sure that the seam is there so the air bag can break thru without ripping the door panel off.  That seam is open, I just need to replicate that.

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No prior experience doing this, but could you disassemble the pieces by grinding down the plastic (melted down) rivets, then install metal rivets or screws in their place before re-skinning? This would allow for the individual parts to be reassembled.

You know, that was my very first thought.  Having restored an old British two seat roadster before, I am well versed in the grinding of rivets and spot welds and then replacing them.  The problem is that there are two different kinds.  One of the looks fairly easy to accomplish that, and the other ones, not so much.  They almost look like plastic screws that have been pushed over and melted flat.  Its a very strange setup, and I'm not really sensing that I can break them apart, and actually be able to re-assemble them.  Then, the only way to rivet them back together would result in the nipple part of the rivet poking into the leather on the outside of the panel, and that won't work.  I think what I am left with is simply keeping the whole panel assembled and just carefully and painstakingly using plastic tools to push the end of the leather pieces into those "tucked" portions.  Maybe that's why they are there in the first place on the leather equipped cars, and they are absent on the vinyl molded pieces.  If it wasn't for those seams, then an enormous piece of leather would be required, and that would make those panels even more expensive.  When I get to it, I will take lots of pictures and will detail it here.  Thanks Folks!  any other ideas?  pictures maybe?  somebody has had to have this done before, these cars are getting to that age now.  I took my car to the upholstery shop, they wanted $4200 to do the whole car the way that I wanted.  OUCH!

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Does anyone have a wrecked, or otherwise worthless door panel that I can try to take apart and then put back together?  I imagine that it would have to be one that originally had leather, as they are somewhat different from the molded in one piece door panels with the vinyl.


I would like to try and disassemble it by grinding the plastic "rivets" apart, and then riveting them back together after recovering them.  I don't want to try this on a good panel, but, something that was maybe smashed in an accident, or, is in some way no longer worthy of being on one of our little chariots.


I imagine that reupholstering the insides of these cars is going to be a common thing here shortly for many of us that have some of the first Boxsters.  I'm willing to post pictures of my results if anyone happens to have a messed up door panel.  


Thanks,  B 

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  • 2 weeks later...

I am doing something similar.  I have a set of black leather door panels, in excellent shape, and want to swap some of the leather with black Alcantara.  The method that I have seen to separate the panels is by heating the "rivets" with a hot air plastic welder with the appropriate sized nozzle and prying them appart.  Done carefully, it should go back together somewhat easily.  At least that is my hope...

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I'd love to see that.  What about the ones that are bent over?  They look like they're plastic wood screws that are heated and bent over.  Are you going to reheat them, and bend them straight, and then when done, heat them again and bend them back over?  That could possibly work.  I'll check that out.  Good Idea.  I also think that I can recover them without even taking them apart, by using a nylon tool to push the excess leather into the "seams" or grooves on the front.


I haven't actually started working on it yet.  Still trying to track down a minor alarm issue.


I'd love to see pictures of your method.



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