Before chopping off sheet metal with a reciprocating saw, a number of harness relocations, markups, and small item modification/removals will make the metal cutting job go easier and reduce the chance of unintended damage to retained parts.
1. Rear impact bar
The Beetle’s rear end incorporates a large horizontal impact bar that is hidden behind the plastic bumper. Road debris and moisture frequently causes a bad case of rust, especially on the M12 bolts that hold the bar to the impact absorbers on the left and right.
Remove the small metal clips that hold the license plate wire leads on the left and right, and pull this harness extension through the large center hole; the rubber grommet can be cut away and discarded. The license plate lens and connectors will not be reused and may be cut off.
Since it’s easier to make the rear sheet metal cuts without the impact bar in place, this is a good time to remove it. For 1998-05 models, replace the holding bolts if rusted (bolt VW part is N 101 410 03 and the corresponding nut is N 907 088 02); post-2005 model do not have bolts. Wire brush off surface rust as much as possible.
Retain the two plastic vents; these are positioned for airflow through the cabin and will help keep the chassis under the truck bed floor dry. Pop out the small plastic body plugs (one has been removed in photo above on the left) since they are close to the metal cut line.
Refurbish the impact bar with rust proof paint and reinstall after making the metal cuts.
2. Carpet trim
To aid in harness relocation and later cleanup, use a sharp knife to trim back the carpet about half way up the step from the cabin floor.
If you plan to keep the carpet, make sure you don’t cut too much off.
Note the large fuel level sender cover under the carpet flap that will remain accessible through the truck bed floor.
3. Side plastic grid spacer
Remove the two rear torx screws that hold the black plastic side grid spacers at the roof line. Carefully pull the end of the spacer a few inches towards the middle of the cabin so it can be trimmed with a sharp blade or Dremel tool.
Cut off the grid past the last torx screw and leave the vanes (these can be trimmed again later if necessary). Refasten the two torx screws. Repeat on the other side.
After the grid spacer is shortened, relocate the antenna wire (right side) and rear lid harness to the B pillar, safely away from metal cuts.
4. Sunroof rail
If your model has a sunroof, close it completely. Find the rear channel brace and the drain tube. Remove the torx screw holding the brace to the roof infrastructure. Pull off the black drain tube. Repeat on opposite side.
5. Rear speakers
Detach the harness connector from the speaker and label it. Drill out the four rivets that hold the metal speaker mount to remove it. Pull out the styrofoam fill. Repeat on opposite side.
While the rear speakers can be reused, their outer grille is incorporated into the door panel and not easily repurposed.
6. Monsoon amplifier/CD changer
If your model has a stereo Monsoon amplifier and/or CD changer located in the luggage area, these components must be relocated.
Unscrew the Monsoon mount and pull off the two large harness connectors (CD changer is similar).
RETAIN AMPLIFIER since all speaker connections go through this component and re-wiring is a complicated affair. If you plan to upgrade your stereo system, most new units will not operate with older CD technology.
Carefully unwrap the harness and separate the two large connector amplifier leads from the other wires. The harness wrap tends to be very sticky. Pull the harness off plastic side mounts and relocate away from any metal cut lines.
7. Filler lid actuator
On the right side, unscrew the bracket holding the filler lid actuator and carefully pull it away from its fender mount. Detach the wire cable and label the actuator body. Pull the cable through the grommet hole. RETAIN ALL ACTUATOR PARTS.
8. Rear harness
Detach the rear harness from all plastic side holds. Unscrew the chassis ground leads (see photo above) protected with plastic mesh cups and label them. Place the harness safely away from metal cut lines.
9. Rear seat fittings
Five rear seat fittings interfere with the truck bed placement.
Cut or pound down the four hoops (yellow circles in photo) and cut off the pivot mount flush with the chassis floor (green circle).
10. Roof cut lines
The roof skin cut line is 3 inches past the trailing door edge and, with a sunroof model, 12 inches from the trailing sunroof opening. Mark the center line of the roof (use the antenna opening for reference) and locate the intersection with the roof skin cut line. Then make another mark 1 inch further back and draw a second line parallel to the first cut line; this is the roof substructure cut line.
Drill two small pilot holes (green and purple dots on photo above) for reference. Check the locations on the inside of the roof to verify proper measurement.
The two pilot holes should match cut line positions on the inside of the roof.
11. Roof gutter molding
Pull up the roof gutter molding about two feet on both sides so that cutting tools can pass underneath them. The moldings can be completely removed but if you do so, label them because the right and left sides are not exactly the same.