you bring up an interesting point. Putting myself in your position, I'm not sure what I would do. I have an '82 so no cabin release either. I was kind of surprised when I figured out that I had to turn the engine off to open the hatch.

I would say your best bet would be to fix the lock where it is... then open the hatch. That is if you are planning to keep/fix this seized lock. If not... you could probably disassemble/drill the lock from the outside and turn it with a screwdriver to open the hatch... but then you have to keep using the screwdriver until you get a new lock.

Unfortunately, the bolts holding in both the active half and passive half of the latch can only be accessed with the hatch open, so non-destructively disassembling the mechanism while closed isn't really an option. The passive half is in the car... active half on the hatch (you could also figure this out by the key being in the hatch door instead of the rear of the car). The passive half is essentially a square cup, with a little spring-loaded plunger in the bottom that has nothing to do with the actual latch. (I'm sure you've seen this spring behind the rear panel in the trunk compartment.) It just makes the door pop up when the latch is released so it doesn't immediately re-latch. The active half consists of a rectangular plunger that fits into the rectangular cup of the passive half. On the face of the plunger facing the front of the car is a triangular spring-loaded piece that clips under a ledge in the front of the passive half. FINALLY some good news! That little triangle piece is facing the front of the car... so it is facing YOU in the luggage compartment.

It looks like *theoretically* you might be able to slide a very thin, inch-wide strip of metal (like a slim Jim maybe? never used one) into the mechanism from the inside. The metal strip would have to turn down as it enters to follow the front face of the plunger to the spring-loaded latch. Now, because of the angle of the top face of that latch and of how strong the spring is holding that latch in the closed position, I doubt your strip of metal would be able to push it in, but in your position, I would give it a shot before I did anything destructive. Be sure the edge of the strip of metal being inserted is free of burrs, and maybe even put a drip of oil on it.

Did mine 2 weeks ago. it will be hard to explain in writing. You need 2 screwdrivers to do the job.

1. remove tool cover - expose center brace and mechanism.
2. relieve the pressure of spring loaded bottom part from the right just above electric motor.
3. insert flat driver in small slot at the top of center brace
- you will see white plastic there, this is the upper part of the lock - you need to push that part at the same time you relieve the pressure from bottom part.
4. voilą !!

Anyway it worked for me and I don't see another way to open that thing once my lock was broken. The keep to my success was relieving the pressure from spring loaded mechanism...

The upper latch is a couple of pieces - The outside metal shell and the inner plastic latch. The finger on the plastic latch that engages the key cylinder is broken.

See now that first part of your question was easy. Fixing it is a little more difficult. Since you are the original owner and have never replaced the lock I am going to assume the plastic is worn down from miles and age. You can test this by pushing down on the hatch to see if there is any movement. If there is significant movement then you might be in luck.

Just a little discussion on how this thing works. The upper latch is attached to the hatch with two cap bolts These are concealed when the hatch is closed. The lower latch is attached to the body by two cap bolts again which are covered when the hatch is closed. The upper latch slides down into the lower latch and the plastic tongue on the upper latch has a spring that allows the two to mate. Once engaged the tongue of the upper latch is concealed by the lower latch. All this is to prevent thieves from breaking into the hatch. Of course it does nothing to prevent them from making a mess of your car.

You have a couple of options.

1. With pressure you might be able to spring the latch. You can do this from outside the car but that could damage the paint. The best approach is to climb back there, remove the back tool cover and slide a pry bar between the upper and lower latches. There will not be much space so use a long bar to get some leverage. Pry up on the hatch and hope the plastic part of the latch breaks.

2. The second approach is to try to slip something thin and flexible down into the lower latch to release the upper tongue of the latch. You will need something not more than an inch wide and it will take a bunch of pushing.

3. You can use a pair of needle nose vice grips and try to take the top bolts out of the upper latch. Good luck with this one.

4. You can do as I do and go for the maximum damage. Break the rear window for access and use a Saws All to cut the two latch parts apart. But then remember I used to be an auto wrecker so this method is really reserved for professionals. However is it guaranteed to work and takes very little time.

Good luck

Dan Brindle

The drill a hole solution: