As you may be able to make out in the shots above, I treated myself to a rather generous Christmas gift... A car scissor lift. After hoisting Vanessa's new beetle and fixing the exhaust, I made up some custom adaptors and mounted the oval body on the lift.
I removed what was left of the drivers side heater channel and started to properly dissect the remnants from the car. What came next was the realization that the drivers side will need considerably more help than the passenger side.
Before I can replace the heater channel, I will need to replace the metal it connects to. Specifically on the drivers side this will require a lower door pillar, a section of the inner front fender area, the rear quarter (that will come last), the inner rear quarter, the rear under seat area, and the rear inner fender heavy steel part. Since no aftermarket stampings are particulary accurate, I decided to make my own parts for these areas...
In the images above you can see the start of the process, using cardboard for templates, a sharpie, a band saw, shears, and my metal brake / shear / roller machine. So far I am very happy with the results.
Not pictured is the modifications I've made to the heavy duty aftermarket door pillar. I cut only what was needed, then drilled and tapped the inner door mounting tab (the oval uses 4, it was only tapped for 3), and then drilled the second access hole and dressed the new hole to match original.
Next step will be further refining the panels, trimming them, and tacking them in place. Once in place I should be in a position to mock the heater channel in place, then the rear quarter.
As a sidenote, in most cases the cardboard parts I've made can be mirrored for use on the passenger side, which is handy. Although it is in better shape, I will need to use some metal on that side as well. I've also been able to use the passenger side as a model for the drivers side, then mirror it, where too little original metal was left to copy on the drivers side.