To replace vintage Volkswagen door panels, first remove the door hardware. Then remove the door handle cover, the window arm and the armrest if necessary. Remove the old door panel, retaining all clips, clip boots and coil springs. Reinstall clips, clip boots and the armrest, if necessary, on the new door panel. Place it back onto the door body, and reinstall the coil springs, handles and door hardware.
The details of the replacement process vary with different Volkswagen model years. Vintage VWs through the middle of 1972 have the armrest attached to the door panel, but armrests on late-1972 to 1979 models are removed by accessing exposed bolts beneath the armrest prior to removing the door panel.
Use a small wooden or plastic wedge to incrementally pry the door panel away from the door all the way around the perimeter. Pull up the armrest to disengage it from the armrest retainer bracket on models through early 1972, and for later models just pull away the panel. Be sure to note the placement of the coil springs for window crank handles, and for chrome door handles on models through 1964.
Check the condition of the plastic sheet that is glued to the door body, and replace it if necessary, along with any missing or damaged door clips. On early models, remove the armrest and retaining bracket from the old panel, and reinstall them on the new panel before replacing clips and clip boots. After placing the new panel on the door body, carefully place coil springs in their respective holes, with the small side toward the handle. Align and push panel clips through their holes with the palms of your hands. Gently use a rubber mallet for stubborn pins if necessary.