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1989 BMW E30 320i

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  • 1989 BMW E30 320i

    The car's an utter frankenstein. Started out as a 325iX Touring, but the AWD running gear and the big engine were removed before I bought it. Now I'm putting it back into shape (new wheels, wings, bonnet, door, leather interior, fixing all the niggling flaws of a 20 year old car...)

    And, of course, fitting a carputer. I'm immensely indebted to gjuu for his insight into how to tackle this, and whilst it will never be as clean or sharp as his masterpiece, I satisfied with what I acheived.

    The front plate is made from ABS plastic, or more specifically, the top lid of a Playstation 2, which is almost the perfect size for the E30 centre console. Behind it is an aluminium plate of 2mm thickness, with the screen section cut and folded back as flaps to hold the screen in place. Top and bottom it is screwed to angle aluminium using the original screw holes for the heater controls.

    Next step is to mount the heater controls underneath the centre console, forward of the gearstick, then make a permanant housing for the laptop docking station, which will go in the glovebox.

  • #2
    Ok, so this weekend I managed to chop out the underconsole and find a way to mount the heater controls. To make them fit here, I had to chop out the aircon switch (this car doesn't have aircon, but if yours does, you can fit it underneath the other switches next to the screen.

    Once that was done, the two halves were filed flat so that they butted together, and then a very thin line of aluminium was used under the top lip to give it some structural rigidity. A top plate with folded "ears" was added, and this bolts up to the original holes that held the front console plate.

    Once this is made, the back foam part of the console has to be cut out to accept the cable mechanism. It will fit, but it's a f**kng pain getting it back there. TIP: Connect the blower motor wires to the fascia, THEN struggle to fit the cable mech. The result looks like this:

    Full cable travel has been retained, but unfortunately you can just see the front lip of the aluminium plate. I can live with that for now.
    Also note the bottom lip and the two top "ears" in the main section; these are where the aluminium frame for the screen bolts up. There are captive nuts behind the holes.

    Next to put in is the screen cage:

    This is just for demonstration purposes; you have to screw the screen in first, then offer it to the hole, so that it looks like this. Make a point of feeding the switch plugs through their holes before bolted together!


    • #3

      Then, just pop the plastic surround on. On the left side it's held on by the switch surrounds; on the right I need to drill some holes into the aluminium and glue some plastic pop-in grips onto the back of the fascia.

      Next step, wiring!


      • #4
        Nice job of re-engineering.

        Perhaps some flat black spray paint on the aluminum that shows would make it nearly invisible, and a coat of Krylon Fusion -- or the EU-available equivalent plastic-adhering paint -- would cover any markings from the Playstation component.

        To hold the right side of the faceplate on, you might consider some Velcro.
        If just enough is really good, then too much ought to be perfect.

        2006 Scion xB with in-dash Atom & Lilliput 889GL -- Worklog at


        • #5
          Some good tips, cheers. The aluminium is only visible with your head low; from the drivers seat it's not visible. As for the other chemicals, Poland is very thin on the ground in this respect, so I'd have to order any special paints from abroad. Still, if it niggles I'll know where to go to.