I went to the BMW Club’s September Autocross event and while I was there I took a lap as a passenger in someone else’s car. When I got in and went to buckle up I found this strange attachment on the seatbelt and asked about it.

It was a CG Lock and after the driver showed me how to buckle up the benefit became immediately apparent: the CG Lock stops your lap belt from slackening or tightening. If it’s tight then you are firmly connected to the car and therefore more aware of what the car is doing.

I ordered one, installed it (it clamps on with only 2 small bolts) and tested it while driving around today: works great, feels good. We’ll see how it really performs at autocross tomorrow.

CG Lock in 1989 BMW e30 325i

CG Lock in 1989 BMW e30 325i

Update


The CG Lock was an excellent addition to my autocross set up and made me feel considerably more “connected”. However, by the end of the day the clamp that attaches the CG Lock to the belt buckle started becoming loose and the whole thing ended up in my glove box. I don’t feel comfortable using it for every day driving but I expect to use it again next time I autocross.

October 11, 2013 interior

According to many the stock BMW Mtech I steering wheel is the cheapest, best steering wheel for any e30. It’s period correct, sized so that it does not block the driver’s view of the dials and has 3 horn buttons which can be pressed without ever taking your hand off the wheel. It’s perfect for everything including city driving and spirited back road hoonage.

For all those reasons I put off, and put off, buying a new steering wheel. But on May 4th I’ll be participating in the BMW CCA GGC’s HPDE and I felt it was time to update my wheel. The biggest motivator is that there is not enough room for my leg between the wheel and gas pedal when heal-toe braking / blipping the throttle. I’m only 6’1″ but I have to twist my leg in a weird way that just barely works and is generally clumsy. As well my old wheel has no leather texture left and is unpleasant for long drives without gloves.


Admittedly I bought a new steering wheel based on looks and community opinion of the manufacturer. I’m becoming a rally racing fan and the yellow center marking on the Momo Mod 7 has big appeal. Because I was already placing large orders for M20 parts I decided to just add a wheel to my already huge order, save a couple bucks on shipping and just go for it. I put the wheel on this morning and drove to work only once but I can already feel that the light weight and smaller diameter makes the wheel easy to turn and grips nicely.

The BMW horn button is after-market and hard to find. Initially I was searching enthusiast forums but found an inexpensive plastic version with the perfect fitment on Aamzon for less than $20. Links for all items are below the photos.

BMW e30 Momo Mod 7 with BMW horn button

Links:

BMW e30 Momo Steering Wheel Installation Instructions
Momo Mod 7 Steering Wheel
Momo e30 Hub Adapter
BMW Horn Button for Momo Steering Wheels on Amazon

April 22, 2013 cosmetic, guide, interior

Of all my e30’s broken and missing bits the hardest part to source has been the sunroof crank. It was replaced just two weeks ago after almost a year of searching. I bought at least 4 assemblies myself and a friend who ultimately found the right crank brought me 3. Granted part of the problem is finding a crank that’s complete and not broken but fitment was part of the problem too. For the money spent buying used handles I may as well have bought new but now I’m far more knowledgable about e30 sunroof cranks. And I’m going to pass on everything I’ve learned to you.

Photo

Cranks


Regardless of vintage BMW lists only one part number for the sunroof crank — BMW Part Number 54121859594. I’m not sure if BMW has developed a universal part or if this is an error: forum posts and personal experience indicate there are 2 styles of handles and they are not interchangable. The photo below shows the two different handle stlyes (without knobs).

The crank I’ve identified as “early model” is on the left. It’s wider and the knob post is taller. The “late model” crank is on the right. It’s important to get the right handle for your car.

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Knobs


There are essentially 2 styles of knobs and usage depends on the knob post design, again divided by early and late model e30s. I would illustrate the differences with photos but I destroyed most of the knobs trying to separate them from handles (more on that later).  I can’t even find any pictures on the internet so we’ll have to make do with my 3D render:

Postknob

Early Model Crank (Left) 1987 and Earlier
The early model sunroof handle has a plain knob that does not spin when you turn the handle. This is a poor design and I’m not surprised BMW engineers changed it. The knob is pressed onto a tall post and will crack if you try to remove it, even more so if it’s hot. If you are missing the knob you will likely need to replace the entire crank because the knobs are just not removable.

Late Model Crank (Right) 1988 and Later
The late model sunroof handle knob spins when you turn the handle and has a 2 part construction that manifests with a button-like depression on the top of the knob. The knob can be removed from the handle using warm or hot water. I’ve never cracked one of these knobs though there is some kind of glue inside the knob that can be messy and crumbles under heat. If you have a knobless late model crank you can probably find another one.

Crank Fitment


The crank attatches to the sunroof gears via a post. My old handle slipped on and off the gear post easily but when I finally found the appropriate replacement handle it was a very snug fit and required wiggling and pushing to install. I’m never taking it off now!

The hole looks identical between early and late model cranks but I believe they are yet again different. The hole and gear post are subtly keyed: one side of the hole / post is shorter than the other. You must align this to the gear post or it won’t fit.

The two styles of crank combined with this sneaky keyed design have stymied lots of people, according to forum threads I’ve read.

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Conclusion


That’s it. I haven’t done a step by step removal / install because it’s just not that complicated (assuming you have the right parts). And now you know what the right parts are.

Part Numbers

Crank 54121859594 

Links

ECS Tuning sells a budget handle for $12.00 

Service Diagram (via RealOEM):

12

January 31, 2013 cosmetic, interior

Maybe it’s a little ricer but I really like ambient footwell lighting so I added it to my e30. Maybe it’s because my e39 touring has quite a bit of ambient lighitng in the cabin and I’ve just become partial to it. I’ll post some supplementary photos but here’s the summary:

IMG_6396.JPG.scaled1000

  • ordered 2 red LEDs from SuperBrightLEDS.com for $2.00 each
  • cut off the socket for the light that’s normally attached to the cigarette lighter
  • added quick disconnects to the wires
  • stripped and wrapped together the 2 + and 2 – wires of the LEDs
  • added quick disconnects
  • connected everything together and tested it
  • removed my shifter console
  • placed the LEDs about where I wanted them in the footwells
  • put the shifter console, etc. back
  • zip tied the LEDs to the sides of the console becuase there’s no where else to put them (on the driver’s side at least)

The effect is successful, but I’d like to find a better way of mounting the LEDs, without using adhesive. I’m also thinking about adding LEDs underneath the seats or maybe installing courtesy lights to the underside of the doors that would be tied into the cabin light circuit.

November 4, 2012 interior