Interior Carbon Modernization

Interior Carbon Modernization

I touched on how BMW designed arguably one of the worst looking interior of all time with the pre-LCI E60 on my previous journal entry here

"The E60 was a leap forward in its days, and some didn't survive the test of time, and some designs were still straight from the 80s."

In 2003 BMW first introduced the E60 and touted it as the latest and greatest integration of electronics and chassis material science. 

Some of it stood the test of time.

The E60 has superior chassis build quality than the E9X in various areas with widespread use of composites and aluminum across the body and chassis. 

Gone are the days of the E39's rust. 

Some totally faltered.

The CCC iDrive may as well run off MS-DOS.

If one of the MOST module fails - the entire electronics ran via the fiber optics are down.

The E60 commonly fries modules across its CANBUS and gets you chasing battery drains all over. 

The trunk might leak and fry your battery too. 

Some 1990s design solutions were hidden under the skin. 

I understood how BMW perceived luxury design as I pulled the damn door panels off. 

They thought having actual trims of the door handles was a good design feature.  

Because, yes, in 2003 BMW hadn't yet mastered and implemented the use of high quality clips to trim an entire interior. 

Bolts, yes - bolts hold the door panel trims that is sandwiched between two sections of the door panel.


You wanted soft closing doors with a soft, heavy clunk?  

This is how BMW conceived it back then, and in previous generations. 

Removing and Installing E60 Interior Trims

Trim tools will be your friend, and keep a Philips screwdriver around along with a T25 & a ratchet. 

The Dash Trims

The Main Dash Trim

That part is relatively easy. I went in knowing how the large dash trim was removed. 

Use trim tools and start by the passenger door to pull out the trim. Work your way to the ignition button. 

You'll need to unplug the Hazard / Door Lock button. It can first be unclipped from the air vents to give you more play. 

When installing new trims, make sure to fit the top part of the main dash trim under the seam. 

I suggest you hold both end of the trim to fit it tightly underneath the seam by the door and ignition button. 

The picture below shows how not to do it.

The Driver Side Dash Trim

This how isn't tricky per say - but if you think it's just a case of pulling, you're in for broken clips and vents. 

You need to first pull on the lights panel to reveal 2x Philips head bolts. Remove those, and then you can pull the trim out. 

The Center Console


Once the dash trims are out, remove the face plate that is held with 2x small screws at the top, and some clips. 


Now you can gain access to the lower face plate panel. 

You don't actually need to unclip it as the accessories button panel is clipped into it. 

You can pull that out with it, and unplug the connectors. 

Pull the knob out, pull the iDrive selector out too. 

Pull! C'me on!

The SMG surround can be pulled out easily, however don't pull too hard as you need to unplug connectors for the EDC, Power, ESC and DriveLogic. 

Removing the surround reveals 2x bolts. 

That's it - once those are off, use a trim tool to pull near the iDrive buttons and voila. 

The Door Panels

Get ready - and expect to fail a few times. 

I suggest you begin with the rear doors: they're the most challenging, yet those you'll rarely look at. 

In case you totally fail :) 

The Connectors Dilemma

The E60 has integrated air bags in the door panels, a great security feature. 

And secured to the panel it is! ... with a connector that will give you nightmares. 

You have a choice: unplug it all and make your life easier to install the trims - or don't and support the panel from below and let it hang a bit. 

I chose the later. 

The Rear Doors

There are 2x small leather covered screws to remove with a Phillips head screwdriver. 

Pop the airbag plastic cover and it will reveal a T25 bolt. 

Remove it. 


Start popping the pop in clips using trim tools starting from the bottom. 

There are also metal clips by the window, do those at the end. 

Now pull. 



My E60 has rear windows manual sunshades. 

This needs to be removed to gain access to the top bolt of the trim. 

You'll need a few different Torx heads. 

The front doors are easier: they only have 1x leather covered screw and you have direct access to the bolts to remove the OE trims and install the new ones. 

Fitting the door trims is a total nightmare. 

Welcome to bolts and sliders: BMW's idea of luxury in the 90s that made its way to the pre-LCI E60. 

The bottom of the trim has several slider type plastic fittings. There's also 2x in the middle of it that are critical to firmly positioning the trims 

You need to slide the trims first, and hope the screws with a square end fitted to plastic trims will hold as you firmly press and push on the trims to get them to slide. 

You will swear. 

Once you get it in firmly and the fitment is like OEM, this means the sliders are in the right spot. 

You can then bolt down the bolts to firmly press the top of the trim against the curvature of the panel. 

Don't torque them too hard. 

You will otherwise break the plastic clips holding the screw's square end. 

Then you need to live with subpar fitment. 

Expect to have to come back to these a few times as you figure it out. 

You'll become a master of pulling door panels in a few minutes. 

Enough whining, here's how it looks. 

My E60 came equipped with the Maderia Wood Interior Trims. 

A 1990s idea of Luxury in my opinion - but hey 2003 was still a crossover era. 

The end result was more than worth it.

I rant on about OEM+ quite often, but I truly believe this is something BMW should have done, and would have done. 

That's the essence. 

I'm happy with how far my early generation E60 M5 interior has come.

From what was arguably the worst interior of all time, it's now something purposeful, sober with an acceptable electronics interface.

I still have a few touches to finish it off.

I do wish I could iDrive delete & single hump this thing.

My short term realistic plans include restoring the shift knob and SMG surround. 

It takes quite the budget to restore and upgrade, not going to lie:

- New door sills, steering wheel trim , start/stop button & thigh extender gears.
- CIC & Combox retrofit
- 9040 Alcantara steering wheel
- 2x2 Gloss Carbon Trims

You're in for 5,000$ + US in parts easily.

These are not cheap to own, maintain, nor upgrade - but they're like nothing else.

- Matt

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