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In preparation for light rolling tent duty, I decided to install a rear door handle in the hatch to let it open from the inside. I know I'm not the first to do this. It was surprisingly easy to do. Difficulty 2/5, 5 being major fabrication required, 1 being applying a sticker to the dash. This method of mine is much easier than others I've seen, mounting the door handle to the plastic instead of trying to line it up and fabricate a bracket to attach it to some metal behind the handle. It doesn't have to be attached to steel, we're pushing the door, not pulling. Then I also added a piece of webbing above the door handle to pull on to close the hatch from inside. Both mods are independent and can be done separately or together.

Materials: Rear door handle and cable (Honestly either side is fine, the cable is so long you can spin it around), back strap, screws, fast nuts, 1" webbing x 10" long, zipties

Tools: Drill, saw, utility knife, marker or pick to scribe

For clarity, I will refer to the driver and passenger sides of the hatch plastic as the plastic is mounted in the vehicle, meaning with the hatch closed, the driver side is on the right when viewed from inside the car.

Step 1: Remove the hatch plastic. There is a small push clip in the drivers side of the latch, and the hand hold on the passenger side, remove these first. Then it just pulls down and unclips.

Step 2: Measure the area. The factory exterior handle is on the passenger side, so our handle goes on the driver side. Pioneering this, I got my measurement a bit off. I would move your handle more towards the center of the car, the outer edge should be more like 11.5" from the edge instead of just under 11" in my picture. From the bottom of the plastic, measure up 1.5". The hole for the handle is 4 5/8" wide x 2 1/8" tall. Cut off the cloth sound fluff that is attached to the back of the area to be cut. Measure and scribe a rectangle with rounded corners. Cut this hole out, test fitting as you go. Note: Cut the hole small initially then gradually enlarge it. You can always cut more off, but filling a hole never looks good.

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Step 3: Mount the handle. I used a piece of back strapping, a small bar of mild steel that has holes punched in it exactly for uses like this. Bend the strap into a wide U-shape, ensuring that there is a gap between the strap and hole of the handle (that is, the strap is taller than the handle is deep.) Using fast nuts, run a screw through the hole in the handle and into the strap. The strap should bend and press into the interior of the plastic panel as you tighten, securing the handle to the panel nicely. Making the strap taller than the handle is deep will apply spring-like pressure with the screw fully tightened.

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Step 4: Attach the cable to the interior hatch mechanism. I slid the existing cable out, slid my new addition into the gap past the old cable's keep, then reinstalled the old cable. The L bend in the end of the cable for the rear door handle will catch nicely, no cutting or crimping required. Liberally apply zipties to the cables to hold them together. I also figure a small hose clamp would do well here. This is a cruddy picture, sorry! Try to have the ends of the cables equal in length at the latch mechanism.

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Step 5: Add a pull handle. This is actually super easy. Again using a piece of back strap as a large washer, cut a piece of 1" wide webbing into a 10" long strip. Fold it in half and run 2-3 screws through the back strap and webbing, into the upper slightly-driver-side-of-center area below the rear window. This is roughly above where our new interior release handle is going. The closer to the window the less bow in the plastic you'll experience, but no cutting a hole for this strap is necessary!

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Step 6: Attach the cable onto the new handle. Pop the plastic panel back onto the hatch. All done! The interior handle should feel like a normal door handle now. Since my measurement was off, the bulk of the cable attachment just barely hit the metal frame of the hatch, so I spun my handle around 180 degrees. It's upside down, but oh well. The cable is more than long enough to accommodate left or right handles both right side up and upside down. And that pull strap is more than sufficient to close the hatch, even with the 3" upgraded vw bug shocks on the hatch.

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