08-24-2009, 08:08 AM
Check twice, fix once...
Location: Sacramento, CA
Join Date: Nov 2008
Mein Auto: 540it 533i 318ic 325i
E30 AF Center Armrest Installation - 91 318ic
I read a post last month about BMW OEM optional armrests for our E30s. I looked and could not find a new or used one so I looked to eBay for a clone of sorts. Sharing this info as there seemed to be a few folks interested as I was.
So this is a new armrest I got off of either US or UK eBay for less than $50 shipped. I installed it in my 1991 318ic. The black color I think matched up with my interior. Sorry about the dirty interior, (Flower blossoms from one of our trees) I'll claim I'm still working on the car...
It has a non-lockable, lift open storage compartment, with a magnetic lid closure.
There are three retractable soda can holders, not cup holders. They actually work quite well, although, a can in the front one interferes with spirited shifting...
It is attached to the car via three beefy bolts on each side I picked up at Lowes. (Hardware store) Four small screws and washers were originally included.
For installation, I adjusted my emergency brake adjustment to seven clicks, so it would stay low. (I was at nine...) I also mounted the armrest so the rear ashtray was still accessable. The positioning is perfect for me.
I'd describe it as nicely made, but light duty construction. I noticed when taking the previous picture, the corner fabric is already showing. The material is vinyl, not leather. Anyway, I made a few mods to try to beef it up and have it last a bit longer.
I had to strengethen the bracket/armrest attachment point by adding four allen head bolts to get the bracket more support. I drilled the bracket and armrest lower plastic plate and wooden base to accomidate the allen bolts, then I epoxied the bracket to the armrest and screwed/bolted it together. Below is the installed picture.
Note how thin the bracket metal is. I should have taken pictures while I was modifying it. Sorry. Took about 20 minutes. I purchased the allen screws and epoxy at Lowe's
I will modify and attach a pair of glovebox straps to the storage lid, so my 16 year old's friends won't rip the lid off the hinges when they are looking inside.
As far as mounting the armrest, I used six bolts with attached washers instead of the four screws provided in the kit. I had to drill the mounting holes in the supplied side brackets a little larger to accomidate the bolts. After drilling through the drivetrain tunnel, I placed a touch of silicone sealant in the holes before getting the bolts in place for water protection.
So, it definately will support the weight of arms and it is comfortable. The storage area won't hold much and the floor of it is not designed to hold much weight. The can holders do work pretty well for 12 oz cans, taller cans are more subject to centrifugal force.
I will plan to replace the shorter allen bolts with longer ones that I will secure with a nut and fender washer for more rigidity. I just have to keep it low as to not interfere with the rear can holders.
All, in all, I suspect with care, it could hold up. It's not very tough, so if abused, it will break easily. In a vert, it will be subject to the sun and elements. (I'm usually top down everywhere...)
With care, It should last me awhile. Cheers!
1999 540it - Jet Black/Sand Beige, style 5 rims, Zionsville Cooling kit
1984 533i - Schwarz/Schwarz, 17" style 65 reps
1997 318ti Sport - Schwartz II/Schwartz Anthratz, style 68 rims
1995 318ti Sport - Schwartz II/Schwartz Anthratz, style 27 rims
1994 325i Sedan - Bostongrau/Tan
1991 318ic - Schwarz/Anthratz Stoff
1985 635CSI - Schwartz\Sand - Sold
1984 318i - Champagne/Tan, Stock - Sold