Well, (get ready with the flamethrowers) I'm going to have to side with Steve on this one.
I follow the "hod rod mechanic" school of thinking more than the "factory mechanic" school. I believe in "whatever it takes to make it work" more than "if the factory intended it to be that way, they would have made it that way, so it must be the best way the way it is." Think about it, Daimler Benz has to make comprimises so that the cars they build will suit the broadest range of their customers. On top of that, they do not hold the monopoly of having ALL of the brightest automotive engineers, others can be as or more clever.
Would I pay someone to cut my Mercedes apart? Depending on who they were, where and how they cut it! Afterall, that's what the top tuners do (in essence) to modify M.B.'s finest. Is anyone going to call what they do butchery? The purists I suppose.
Hell, I'm doing some of the cutting on my own car. I know whoever had it before me butched it, it had a *gasp* BMW airbox in it on the exhaust side of the engine. Probably because it fit there. Granted, that's PURE butchery, but what does one do for an airbox on the exhaust side? I opted for a cleaner looking K&N filtercharger off each turbo. Butchered? Maybe still to the purists. And the Electomotive system I'm installing will render my factory ignition and fuel controlling units into dead weight, so I will cut them out in the name of performance. More butchery. I plan on GIVING the Euro. spec. computer up to Jim C. for the benefit of all other 300E owners if Jim truly branches off into Benz tuning software.
Don't get me wrong, I LOVE this site! and have learned much from the posts and responses from ALL that have contributed here. I have held off on some minor (in significance) parts purchases waiting to support this site when the parts dept. opens, but I would hope that this site would offer alternatives to repair and performance that one wouldn't neccesarily find from the stuffy corporate, "by the book" way of the doing things. To reiterate a point another poster made, "not everyone who owns a Benz is wealthy." Not everyone can or wants to pay for a personal mechanic.
And seriously, what IS the true harm in cutting an access panel into the heater box, if it is done right, other than it is unorthodox? Anyone??
Thanks again for this great site, Erik :~)