ELIZABETH’S E63 630i SPORT / #BMW-E63
With almost all the niggles on the 630 sorted I decided it was time to treat it to some mods and one thing I have never been a fan of is chrome. BMW, and most other car manufacturers, seem addicted to the stuff, seemingly equating the amount of chrome with a car’s luxury level but unless you’re talking about something classic like an E9 or E23, or something like an oldschool Rolls-Royce or Bentley, then to me it just looks cheap and a bit tacky. With my 6 Series being a Sport that meant that I didn’t have any chrome window strips to worry about, with the window surrounds finished in gloss black, and even my washer jets are gloss black but it still retained the chrome front grilles and side strips. The side strips weren’t too bad but the E63’s kidney grille is pretty massive and that meant there were two big lumps of shiny plastic on the front end that I really hated looking at. I decided that I wanted the kidneys and the strips to match the rest of the exterior trim so they had to be gloss black and for these I turned to MStyle. If you want something for your BM and it exists rather than just being a figment of your imagination, MStyle probably sells it; the company’s catalogue of BMW styling and performance parts is simply enormous and I quickly found the parts I wanted on its site. However, it transpired that the gloss black side strips I wanted were out of stock and would be for the foreseeable future. As the E63 is not the most popular model of BMW, there really were no other shopping options for me.
But then MStyle head honcho Paul offered a solution: I bring the car in and the guys paint my side strips gloss black while I wait. I liked the sound of that so booked the Six in for a bit of a makeover.
When I popped into MStyle’s Romford HQ the workshop team wasted no time in getting the car in and whipping out the front grilles and removing the side strips to get them ready for painting. I also decided that I’d treat the 630 to a set of MStyle’s high-output LED angel eye bulbs and get them fitted at the same time as everything else.
As standard the 6 Series came with rather dull, yellow halogen bulbs for its angel eyes which don’t look particularly sexy. As well as not being very bright they really look out of place next to the xenon headlights and MStyle’s LED bulbs looked like they were exactly what I needed to give the headlights an upgrade. While my strips were baking and everything else was being installed the guys in the main office looked after me with plenty of coffee and episodes of The Grand Tour and before I knew it the Six was ready for me.
First of all, the new front grilles have made a massive difference to to how the car looks; as they’re so big and the front end is curved outwards the kidneys are especially prominent so they’re a big part of what gives the car its identity. In chrome they did the otherwise stylish Six no favours, but in gloss black they’ve really freshened up the front end and have made the car looks a lot more aggressive; they remind me of a pair of flared nostrils on an angry animal. Gloss black front grilles are a big win on the E63 as far as I’m concerned. The side strips, while a lot more subtle, definitely look a lot better gloss black; they’ve always been a slightly quirky design element of this generation 6 Series but where before they really stood out like a sore thumb on the 630’s smooth, clean and otherwise chrome-free flanks, finished in gloss black they now blend perfectly with the big loop of gloss black trim that surrounds the long side windows. MStyle’s paint department did an excellent job and the strips have a perfectly smooth finish that makes them look like they’d never been anything other than gloss black. Finally, the LED angel eye bulbs have also made a big difference and, as well as being much brighter than the old halogen bulbs, when they’re on they instantly give the front end a much more modern look, in line with BM’s current offerings thanks to their white colour. So, big thanks to MStyle for sorting out the 6 Series and it’s always surprising how big a difference just some small mods can make.
There were two other things that I also decided to take care of recently and that was the gear selector and the steering wheel badge. For some reason, BMW loves of bit of silver on its auto gear selectors and I’m really not sure why; on my E39 the gear selector trim matched the rest of the interior wood trim – very nice – and on E38s the whole top of the selector was finished in wood. With my 630 coming equipped with the rather nice dark grey birch wood trim that all pre-LCI Sports received you’d think it would make sense to maybe fit a similar strip of wood trim to the top of the gear selector so that it matches the rest of the interior. But no, BMW decided to fit a cheap-looking matt silver trim piece that looks more like it’s meant to match the interior door handles than anything else and which gets easily and badly scratched, revealing a horrible shiny surface underneath. It had to go. I discovered that BMW did offer an Individual gear selector with piano black trim, a much better match for the wood in my car, and I even found one for sale… for £300, so that wasn’t going to be happening anytime soon.
I briefly considered just buying a new original gear selector but then found that you can buy aftermarket ones on eBay which look pretty good and, at around £50, cost about half the price of a new one from BMW. I examined all the pictures I could find and read some forum posts about these selectors and everyone seemed pretty pleased so I decided to take the plunge and bought myself a piano black one. When it arrived, it was clear that the new selector was a much a cheaper item than the BMW part, but then it was much cheaper so that was to be expected, really. Where the body of the BMW item is covered in (supposedly) leather, my eBay selector’s body was made from hard, matt plastic; it was also slightly larger and taller than the original item but the piano black trim looked miles better than the nasty silver stuff from BMW so I was happy.
Fitting was easy – you can either start the engine to move the selector out of park or, with the engine off, pry up the plastic surround after which you can reach inside and press the emergency release button, which enables you to put the car in neutral. This now gives you plenty of room to pull off the standard gear selector and then you simply insert the new one. Because the construction of the selector’s insides is not identical to that of the stock item, it doesn’t fi t as snugly and, initially, would often come loose in my hand as I was moving it around. I was not impressed but decided to add a bit of Loctite around the edge of the metal lip on the bottom of the selector shaft that the selector itself slides onto and grips around. That seems to have done the trick as it now feels far more secure and has not once come off during use. It still feels a bit cheap and plasticky when you’re holding it, but the trim looks so much better so I can forgive it. I am planning to wrap the trim from the old selector in gloss black, though I haven’t got around to it just yet, but I’m keen to see how that will turn out. My prediction is not great, but we shall see.
Now it was time to sort out my steering wheel badge; when I took the delivery of the car I noticed that the badge, which is made of metal, had been pressed in, I assume because someone pushed it hard when going for the horn. As time went by it started to bother me more and more until I decided I had to do something about. So, you’re probably thinking ‘What’s the big deal? Just buy a new badge, easy.’ Expect it’s not. You see, the badge isn’t stuck onto the steering wheel, it actually has to legs that extend into the steering wheel and wrap around the airbag, meaning it’s impossible to remove and you basically need a whole new airbag unit from BMW if you want a new badge. Not impressed, I started searching for alternative solutions.
Initially I tried to see if I could pull the dent out using a suction cup but that got me nowhere so I went back to scouring the Internet. That’s when I discovered that BMW produces a very, very thin metal adhesive roundel designed to go on some specific centre caps that is exactly the same size as the badge on the steering wheel (45mm) and looks almost identical. What’s more it was just £10 on eBay so I ordered one. Once I had the badge, my next challenge was making sure I stuck it on as straight as possible over the existing badge. My solution was to line some masking tape up vertically and horizontally with the cross that passes through the middle of the #BMW
roundel, delicately trim around the original badge, remove the tape from the centre and then stick matching masking tape strips onto my new badge, allowing me to line them up with the ones on the steering wheel, hopefully getting the roundel perfectly straight. Against all odds my system actually seemed to work and it looks like I managed to get the new roundel on perfectly straight, so I’m very pleased. It looks really good too, so much so that you’d never realise that it wasn’t the original badge and, most importantly of all, I don’t have to keep looking at that dent as I drive along, so I’m very happy.
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Chrome kidneys were not ticking Elizabeth’s boxes #Chrome-side-strips
needed to go too. Halos brighter, whiter and much nicer with LEDs. Gloss black kidneys look so much better. Side strips were painted gloss black to match. Old gear selector looked tired and worn. Piano black a much better match for wood trim. #Ebay #selector
a little larger than OE. New roundel fits perfectly and looks great. Masking tape employed to get new badge on straight.