A new OE+ option.

A new OE+ option.

"In this Special Series, I document my experiences with CSL carbon bumpers. 

In this entry, I unbox the OE+ CSL carbon bumper and I compare it side by side with the 1:1 replica. I explain the little things that improve upon the original design."

A new take. 

With changes in the restoration plan for my E46 M3, I used the downtime to revisit key components of the build. The CSL bumper wasn't initially at the top of my mind, I was satisfied with the fitment and quality of the 1:1 replica

After many discussions with E46 M3 owners on CSL bumper conversions, the topic of complexity and cost remained a concern for many. 

It's with the intention to solve that problem that I revisit the CSL carbon bumper project with the OE+ CSL carbon bumper made by Vorsteiner. 

I had been in touch with Peter to discuss various projects, ultimately landing on starting with the CSL bumper. I hadn't seen one in person yet, and Peter was adamant that a few key design changes would be appreciated by owners. 

It got shipped and delivered earlier in April '24 via ground freight from California. Strangely, it was more expensive to ship from the US, than from Germany.

I understood why when the box showed up: it's massive. 

The bumper came pre-assembled with the splitters already bolted. I opted for the primer finish instead of raw carbon. 

The carbon differences.

Vorsteiner manufactures its carbon components in their USA facilities using pre-preg carbon, cured in autoclave. It's the highest quality carbon manufacturing process, a step above the vacuum infused carbon of the previous 1:1 carbon replica. 

It is most distinguishable by the dry carbon appearance on the underside. Pre-preg carbon benefits from higher tensile strength for similar weight, and improved stability of the resin across the product. If left in raw carbon, the weave pattern and aesthetics tend to be better as well. 

Vorsteiner adds an authenticity sticker to the underside of all their products.

The exterior design differences. 

I recently had the 1:1 replica primed back to white, it presentedthe ideal opportunity for a proper comparaison.  Vorsteiner has slightly redesigned their CSL carbon bumper with subtle changes. 
Those with a keen eye will spot some differences. 
The signature snorkels are both positioned precisely where the OEM unit is. The Vorsteiner (on the left) design has a slightly different orientation and depth to the inlet. 
You will notice a slightly sharper, wider upper crease going across the Vorsteiner bumper (on the right). Some of the difference is a result of having the 1:1 replica primed again.  
Here's a close up of the Vorsteiner unit. Notice the sharper lines across the bumper and depth of the snorkel. 
Here's the 1:1 replica. 
The Vorsteiner unit also has a slightly redesigned splitter inner section. They closed off a gap, improving the strength of a section most exposed to road hazards. 
This is the 1:1 replica, notice the crease going all the way to the bottom of the bumper. 
Next, I fitted the respective splitters to their bumpers. They each have their + and -. 
Both are made using 1x1 weave pattern. Vorsteiner uses a slightly larger 1x1 weave compared to the replica. 
Peter owned an E46 M3 before, he knows splitters are easily damaged. They increased carbon thickness on the lower sections of the splitters, hopefully resulting in increased durability in the real world. 
From experience, fitting the 1:1 splitters can be a PITA due to the way BMW designed the original bumper and splitters. They come undrilled, and the upper section of the splitter is flat. 
Vorsteiner pre-drills the splitters to ensure proper fitment. They also add rivnuts to the bumper itself to consistently install splitters in their proper position.
The upper section has a tab that allows easier fitment as well. You'll notice Vorsteiner does not cut out the splitters for the round bumper opening. I'll explain later. 
The Vorsteiner splitters are slightly shorter than original replicas. This was a design choice for slight differentiation to an original. 
The shorter splitter creates a crease by the outer section. 
The 1:1 replica splitters also fit the Vorsteiner. I'll provide both. 

The structural design differences. 

At this point, you might wonder why I'm doing this.The exterior differences highlighted above are nice-to-haves - but they solve the complexity complex. The inners of the Vorsteiner bumper are where must-haves are found. 

Yes, it uses the carbon kelvar carrier. This will be the most impactful change for most. 

The 1:1 replica uses an integrated carrier like the original CSL. It uses the aluminum carrier's shock absorbers, and the ASA bolt that is threaded though the absorber, into the carrier. 
Vorsteiner removed the integrated carrier design, revamping the upper section of the bumper by adding a kevlar strip to help secure the carrier into position. I will document the install process in future entries. 
The larger dimensions of the kevlar carrier required the grill opening to be scaled down. As such, the tabs for the original grill were removed, and a new mesh grill to be glued is provided by Vorsteiner. 
The upper grill opening's depth is also shortened to allow the fitment of the carrier. I consider both acceptable, subtle trade offs to run the kevlar carrier. 
Lastly, Vorsteiner opted to scan, 3D print and glue the standard bumper's inner corner sections to fit brackets and accessories. I'll see if there are benefits during installation. 

The Vorsteiner units is a welcomed addition to CSL bumper conversion market. It fills a need for a high quality carbon offering with less hassle. 

It's also more easily sourced for North American owners. 

Up next: we test fit the bumper, its accessories and get it properly painted.  

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