Power Window & Lock vs. Manual Doors

BigDaddyStu

BigDaddyStu

Not-quite-so-new-guy
Sep 1, 2017
24
12
3
Wisconsin
#1
Hi all, long time Cutlass fan but new to restoration. I'm in search of rust free doors for my 1986 Cutlass Supreme, and have a question to verify with the experts.

My car has manual door locks and windows. Can I use either power OR manual 81-88 Gbody Olds doors if I find them? How tricky is it to take a power door setup and convert to my manual existing doors (that are rusted on the bottom but the mechanisms are fine)?

Thanks in advance!
 
69hurstolds

69hurstolds

Master Mechanic
Jan 2, 2006
490
291
63
#2
IIRC, you can take the guts out of the power doors and transfer them to the manual doors. Just a matter of labor and being careful not to bend stuff that shouldn't be bent. Door shells are the same. I haven't personally done it, but it appears fairly straightforward. I do know most, if not all, the actuating rods and pivots for the power door locks vs manual are different between the two, as well as the window scissor mechanisms. I think the door lock mechanisms are the same for either, so it's more of a linkage thing. You will either need to bolt on or get some big pop rivets for the motors if transferring over.

As for the wiring harness, I have never researched what it would take to convert to power when you don't have any to begin with. I'm sure it's just a matter of a door harness or two.
 
BigDaddyStu

BigDaddyStu

Not-quite-so-new-guy
Sep 1, 2017
24
12
3
Wisconsin
#3
IIRC, you can take the guts out of the power doors and transfer them to the manual doors. Just a matter of labor and being careful not to bend stuff that shouldn't be bent. Door shells are the same. I haven't personally done it, but it appears fairly straightforward. I do know most, if not all, the actuating rods and pivots for the power door locks vs manual are different between the two, as well as the window scissor mechanisms. I think the door lock mechanisms are the same for either, so it's more of a linkage thing. You will either need to bolt on or get some big pop rivets for the motors if transferring over.

As for the wiring harness, I have never researched what it would take to convert to power when you don't have any to begin with. I'm sure it's just a matter of a door harness or two.

Thanks for the reply! I'm actually going the opposite way - my car has manual windows/locks and the rust free doors I'm purchasing are complete but have power windows/locks. So i'm hoping I can remove and replace with my manual guts.
 
84dragcutlass

84dragcutlass

G-Body Guru
Aug 20, 2009
677
152
43
North Vernon IN
#4
Its possible, especially if you already have the manual doors and are planning to turn the power ones to manual. Just swap over the entire assembly. It will not however be a very fun experience however as 69hurstolds said the door shells are the same and they are made very close to each other so that on the assembly line they could assemble either manual or power doors and not have to change a bunch of stuff. Large pop rivets are a must for reinstallation just like the factory did. Also make sure to keep the large plugs from your old manual doors to plug the holes where the wires go through on the power doors (if that tells you how similar they are either style has the wire holes)
 
BigDaddyStu

BigDaddyStu

Not-quite-so-new-guy
Sep 1, 2017
24
12
3
Wisconsin
#5
Its possible, especially if you already have the manual doors and are planning to turn the power ones to manual. Just swap over the entire assembly. It will not however be a very fun experience however as 69hurstolds said the door shells are the same and they are made very close to each other so that on the assembly line they could assemble either manual or power doors and not have to change a bunch of stuff. Large pop rivets are a must for reinstallation just like the factory did. Also make sure to keep the large plugs from your old manual doors to plug the holes where the wires go through on the power doors (if that tells you how similar they are either style has the wire holes)

I will probably try to tackle the swap, so I can use my existing nice door panels, and so it matches the options on the original window sticker :)

But, I guess I could look at it the other way too -- using the nicer rust free power window doors -- and trying to find dark red interior panels with power windows/locks to match up with them and go with my existing interior. That might be just as frustrating!?

Is the wiring not even available on the body to attach to the door wiring if the car was built with manual.
 
pagrunt

pagrunt

Royal Smart Person
Sep 14, 2014
2,412
1,204
113
Shelocta, Pa
#6
Get a Fisher Body manual, it has the info you need to convert manual doors to power. All the holes needed are already there.
 
BigDaddyStu

BigDaddyStu

Not-quite-so-new-guy
Sep 1, 2017
24
12
3
Wisconsin
#7
Get a Fisher Body manual, it has the info you need to convert manual doors to power. All the holes needed are already there.
Thanks pagrunt!

I quick search of google shopping it looks like there are year/model specific Fisher Body Manuals, so to make sure - I need to monitor ebay etc. to see if I can find one specifically for 1986 Cutlass G Body, correct?
 
69hurstolds

69hurstolds

Master Mechanic
Jan 2, 2006
490
291
63
#8
Yes, you would be best off if you find a Fisher manual for your year-specific model, 1986 in your case. What I'm gathering is that you have manual door locks and windows on your CURRENT set up. You kinda figure you WANT power door locks and windows by simply swapping the doors. (at minumum get the door jamb areas of the "new" doors painted -unless they're the same color- which would be bonus) before mounting the doors. PITA otherwise.

You can swap the doors straight out. The inner door panel- what does yours look like? If it's the one that has the long pullstrap along the side of the doors with the walnut woodgrain pattern behind the strap and the end covers, I think, although not 100% sure, the original door panels would fit without issue. You would just replace the front woodgrain window handle cover with the power window switches/cover. Has to come from an 86-88 though to match the woodgrain. As far as the window and door lock wiring harness....you may need to get one from a junkyard jewel or someone may have some underdash wiring for it. As stated, I believe the rubber boot is still used between the front door and the body up front whether it had power or not.

Keep this in mind. Power window lift mechanisms and motors WEAR OUT and get sloppy over time. VERY sloppy if you don't stay up on the adjustments/tightening. Never had a manual window G-body so I can't attest to that, but just letting you know.
 
69hurstolds

69hurstolds

Master Mechanic
Jan 2, 2006
490
291
63
#9
As for the PDL- on your lower inside door panel, on the back side should be a "template" area of sorts that you can cut out. Be careful to get it straight. Then get a PDL equipped lower door panel and take the switch and the little square metal reinforcement ring out of it and put a new switch in your existing door panel. Unless you can find the same color lower panel that already has all that.

If you can use the power doors you can be miles ahead in making this a fairly straightforward swap. And if you need harnesses, MANY MANY G-body Cutlasses had PDLs and PWs. You should be able to snag all the wiring harness stuff you need from someone or a junker somewhere. Unless it's been in a fire or Harry Hacksaw came in and chopped the wiring up, you should be able to find it somewhere fairly easily. Maybe. :) Check the GM service manual (electrical) to see where all this taps into.
 
mr evil

mr evil

Moderator
Moderator
Aug 4, 2009
828
213
43
Parksville, BC, Canada
#10
Fully possible either way, there have been tech articles in past that may still exist. As for power, there is a cross car harness needed for power that will not be in your car if it was manual originally. You would need to source that, should be lots around though.
 
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