After doing some spot sanding on the panel I saw it was kind of an ugly plywood just held in by the surrounding trim that was rotting away. So, I'm just going to replace the whole panel. I figured there's no sense in sanding it down if it's going to go away anyways. I also picked up new trim to go around the windows and panel which I think will change the feel of the door quite a bit too. Right now it's a quarter round with some detail, but I'm going to change it to a small, rectangular strip to make everything more boxy, simple and craftsman.
But, this week I found a 1998 VW Passat for $1,000 that only needed the alternator replaced. It was a hell of a deal that I got from a very nice, young family. Luckily my dad said he'd be able to replace the alternator so I wouldn't have to take it into the shop and spend money on labor and parts. It's a fun little car though. It has a 5 speed manual transmission, a leather interior, a sun roof and as I just found out this morning, heated seats! I think this is going to be a great winter car.