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Technical_   Information_  Subtle Upgrades for the 325

Subtle Upgrades for the 325
Fred Kim

(from a 318iC, 318is, 325es [leatherette] or 325is, 325iC, M3 [leather])

The Good: Awesome thigh and lumbar support, 8-way adjustable, looks cool. Also available in leather.

The Bad: Nice ones are very rare (and expensive); leather recovery isn't cheap either.

The Verdict: Look for leatherette sport seats unless you have some extra money to spare or you're lucky enough to know an upholstery guy. Vinyl is almost indestructable compared to leather, although leather is much softer.and richer feeling.

The Cost: Anywhere from $150 for a pair in fair condition to $600+ for pristine.

(handle from an E36 325i, boot from an E30 M3)

The Good: Uplevel feel, contemporary look.

The Bad: Leather requires slightly more maintenance than the plastic ones. You can't use the leather handle without the boot since it's shorter.

The Verdict: You'd be amazed how much better your center console looks with that Isuzu Impulse-style accordion ebrake boot out of there.

The Cost: The handle cost me $20 at a junkyard, while the boot was $45 from Nick Alexander BMW.


The Good: Gets rid of the rusty looking calipers (and rotor hats, if you wish to paint those as well). Paint comes in a variety of colors, so you can match your car's color or your wheel's finish.

The Bad: Good prepping requires the calipers to be off the car, forcing you to bleed your brakes; use of dusty pads (like Pagid) may render your work useless in a few weeks; unnoticeable to the untrained eye.

The Verdict: Doesn't have that vintage rust look anymore, which was well worth the time spent and minimal cost. Painting of the rotor hat is also a must for the rears.

The Cost: Can of high-temperature aluminum spray paint was $5.

(from various E36 or E46 models)

The Good: Gives decklid slightly fresher appearance.

The Bad: 325e/325es owners need to retain the "e" or "es" since those letters were never updated to the slanted style.

The Verdict: The E36 badge is a very subtle upgrade that only true BMW enthusiasts would notice. Other people may notice the E46 badge because it looks much smaller.

The Cost: Approximately $25-35 at most BMW dealerships.

(from BMW Original Accessories catalog)

The Good: Nice, heavier feel, plus factory shift pattern remains on top. Two tone appearance on some models looks and feels very nice.

The Bad: Expensive. Chrome knob gets very hot in the summer and cold in the winter.

The Verdict: BMW factory knobs are very high quality, are a direct fit, and have the correct shift pattern, but other universal shift knobs may be available for less.

The Cost: Depending on the style, approximately $80 to $100 at most BMW dealerships.

(from E30 325is, 325iC, M3, E28 535i, M5, E24 M6, L6 and later 635i's)

The Good: No longer have to fiddle around for the window switch at night.

The Bad: None.

The Verdict: Cheap, quick, no-brainer upgrade.

The Cost: $10 each at a junkyard, varying prices on eBay ($5 to $40)

(from E30 325es, 325is, or M3)

The Good: Improved grip (especially with the cool thumb-grips), better appearance, direct fitment for non-airbag cars.

The Bad: Leather can be worn, M-Technic II wheels are very rare and expensive.

The Verdict: Nice upgrade if you can find them cheap.

The Cost: $30-$75 for a used M-Technic I wheel, $150-$275 for a used M-Technic II wheel.

(from E30 325es, 325is, M3, and 4-door 86-87 325e's and 325i's)

The Good: Better sound imaging, upgraded component speakers can now be added in the front and rear. Aftermarket speakers can be stealthly installed.

The Bad: Paper speakers don't sound that great, plus the rear shelf has to be cut to accomodate it.

The Verdict: Not so great if you use the stock speakers, but if you replace them with quality aftermarket component speakers they're nice to have around.

The Cost: $40-$90 used. Check BMW classifieds, eBay, and the local wrecking yards for em.


This site has no affiliation with BMW North America, BMW AG, BMW M GmBH, the BMWCCA, or Chris Bangle. Just so you know.
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