Carlos, I really appreciate that effort. Thanks.

Still not understanding this. There's a frickin' chain on mine—along with the rod that's welded on.

The stock door handle is also a welded rod with a 90 on the end that you reach into the void and push down on to pop the door.  

Let's start with the basics. How is the hole in the plate this handle's attached to supposed to be oriented?

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Ed, I trust you got the pic and video I sent? Mine is just like Carlos' latch, has a welded (stainless?) rod to the handle mechanism. When you lift the handle, the rod pushes down and contacts the door release lever on the latch. No permanent physical connection. 

Ed,

If you have any more trouble, give me a call.  The metal plate simply bolts inside the door using the same 2 Alan head bolts that hold the striker to the for jamb area.  This allows them to be retro fit without having glass in a plate with studs on a finished car.

The chain simply hooks up to the striker in the same place the pull cable is currently hooked up.

The original car used 2 intertwined springs hooked up the same way as we hook up a chain, I just found the springs didn't work well with the stiffer modern latches like they did on the original 550.

Finally got back around to the door handles today. Got em sorted to work like Carlos's.IMG_0681IMG_0682IMG_0683This was accomplished by swapping them left for right, taking off the nice thick steel mounting plates, removing the chains and then shimming in and gluing quarter inch-thick fiberglass reinforcement plates behind the handle and mounting bolt (used one to get it to look more like the original; might add the other later if it's janky). Push down to open.

I might still grind the corners off them where they come almost proud of the door voids.

I am pleased to say the door gaps are pretty good and the panels are pretty close to on plane also. Thanks to everyone who contributed advice and photos.

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