I've been meaning to post this for quite some time, since I took care of this all late last summer. Just finally got around to it.
When I went out to the desert last summer I realized I wanted more protection underneath from some of the rutted and gravel tracks I was on.
So I investigated.
Here's a really heavy duty skid plate from a German company that converted early X3's into rally machines. But it wasn't available for my 2007, plus it looks heavier than I want for my daily driver that takes only occasional trips out to the wild.
Here's another skid plate available from a German company. This one's 5mm aluminum and was available for about €400 + shipping. This was available. I decided against it because it only extends about 1 meter from the front.
Last choice was the "official" BMW accessory. This was very pricey, but extends as far back as the transfer case yet is fairly lightweight. Unfortunately, I couldn't find anyone who had ever installed it, even though I checked with a couple of BMW dealers in the California desert who I was sure would be familiar with it if anyone was.
Here's the picture from the BMW accessory catalog. Doesn't show much!
And here's the drawing of that accessory from REALOEM.
real oem schematic underride protection-001
Well I decided to go with the "official" accessory. Price was about $1,150 including shipping. BTW, I ordered it from ebmwparts.com and I was very satisfied with their prices (beat everyone else!) and their service. The item actually shipped by air from Germany to Massachusetts which is where ebmwparts.com is, and then they forwarded it by ground to me in California. Took about 10 days overall.
I had it shipped directly to my indie mechanic. According to BMW, it was supposed to install in 2 hours, but it actually took the shop 4 hours to install. I split the difference, so total price installed was about $1,500.
Here's what it looks like underneath.
Unlike the German items it's not a solid plate, but rather a grid of tubes with a rather thin (just 1 or 2 mm) solid plate up front under the radiator. So small gravel can still penetrate but there's protection against large stones and other obstructions. It weighs about 45 lbs, so that was a tolerable addition to vehicle weight.
Here's the front view. I kind of like it from for style points here.
front view 898 for Bimmerfest .081211
And a side view. You can see that it reduces clearance just slightly.
underride protection side view.081311
Well, after all that, I haven't been back to the desert since last summer, probably won't be back for another few months. But I'm ready. I think this is a reasonable though pricey solution to my needs for a versatile vehicle (daily driver + recreational). But it certainly doesn't give the same iron tank protection of the full length skid plate in the second picture above.
Thanks for reading.