This article was formerly published on my old blog in March 2014.
When I started the process to replace all of the carpet in my Porsche, I hoped for an uneventful project even though, deep down, I knew that no project involving a vehicle goes smoothly. Originally all the carpet and seats were tan, but over time it had become more of a blotchy brownish color. I replaced the front seats with black leather ones, and then acquired a full set of burgundy carpet and black rear seats to finish the job.
At first it did go well. I stripped out everything from the front seats back, and the new carpet fit almost perfectly. After a long and exhausting three hours spent hunched inside a tiny car, kneeling in gravel, and bending over for extended periods of time, the sun went down and I closed it up to be finished the next day. When I shut the driver’s door, there was an unusual snap and a clatter. I tried the handle and it wouldn’t open. Tried the inside handle, and still no luck. Of course, I knew exactly what had happened, but I was really hoping that I was wrong. I left it to be dealt with later.
I came back to it the next day, finished reattaching seat belts and other little things, and then sat and stared at the firmly latched door.
At this point I was stumped. I knew what was wrong, but the nature of its wrongness precluded a straightforward solution. Since sitting there staring dumbly at a door will not, in fact, cause it to open, I started by removing the interior trim panel as much as I could and poking at the latch mechanism inside the door. None of my aimless prodding or prying did any good. So I shut the passenger door so it just latched, but not tightly, and noticed I could see the latch through the gap.
When I removed the weather stripping from the driver’s door jamb, I could see about the same amount of the latch. The next step was to see if there was any way to trip the latch through that gap/ I opened the passenger door and found that pressing down on this little prong of metal below the latch piece will make it open.
Armed with this knowledge and a long screwdriver, I assaulted the gap between the driver’s door and the jamb. Due to the angle, however, the screwdriver couldn’t reach where I needed it to go. So I raided my brother’s closet, found a hangar with a sturdy wire hook, and made this beautiful piece of failure:
After another stretch of time that could’ve been half an hour or two hours, I resorted to whimpering and repeatedly pulling the latch release as if my pitiful desperation would make it miraculously work. I also had periodic fits of rage during which I tried kicking the door, pounded on it with my bare palm until the sheet metal dented, and accidentally caused damage to the interior panel which I ignored because I had to replace it with a black one anyway.
When I reached a point where I was about ready to drive my car off a cliff and perish with it, I took a break to post on Porsche forums asking for help, and eat some pizza. Somewhat calmed, I went back to the demonic car and stared at the door for a little while. Then I did some more random stabbing and poking. A flood of desperation surged through my body, increasing my IQ while simultaneously granting me almost superhuman strength. I grabbed the screwdriver, shoved it into the gap, and wrenched it sideways to bend both the car and the screwdriver.
I turned my properly curved screwdriver around, stabbed it violently into the general vicinity of the latch, and pried. Within seconds the latch came free and the rebellious door finally opened. I removed the latch and sure enough, my suspicions were correct.
In 2010, I had to replace my driver’s door entirely because I was too sleepy one icy morning. When I tried to remove the latch from my old door, one of the bolts was too corroded and stripped out. I cut through the bolt and in the process, that little peg, so small and yet so very important, was cut halfway through. I briefly tested its strength, and then filled the cut part with JB Weld and installed it.
My mistake held up for three years of constant use, and I stopped worrying about it until I heard that dreadful snap. Fortunately I had a perfectly good latch from my parts car so once I got the door open, it was a two-minute fix.