The OEM+ Carbon Interior

The OEM+ Carbon Interior

"I have previously documented how poorly the E46 M3's interior ages and decays upon planning and beginning my interior restoration of the Phoenix and the restoration of interior trims

This journal entry covers the fun stuff: upgrading the interior to OEM+ specifications with period correct 1x1 interior carbon trims and a preview of the CSL center console."

What I mean by period correct.

The signature CSL 1x1 weave

The M3 CSL marked the commercial use of carbon composites across various use cases. 

Most of the carbon was in 1x1 weave pattern made using pre-preg methods. The roof, bumper, splitters and diffuser all featured the plain pattern. The airbox exception was the exception: sporting 2x2 weave.

They most likely opted for 2x2 as it is easier to conform to complex shape and surfaces.

Full disclaimer: OE+ is a stretch. 

The E46 M3 was never delivered by BMW with carbon interior trims. The CSL prototype interior trims were milled from iridium. 

Below is an original pre-production CSL interior trim. Don't ask.

My OEM+ interior goals. 

I previously fitted OEM+ Recaro Pole Positions reupholstered with M-texture and replaced the A & C pillar peeling trims, leaking mirror, torn up steering wheel, teared shifter knob and scratched center ashtrays & brackets.

Next on my list: I sought to tackle the peeling OEM titan silver trims and decaying, squeaking center console. 

I seek to restore and improve upon my E46 M3 original M-texture interior.

On the topic of carbon trims. 

Carbon interior trims can be tacky if done wrong, but done right - they can enhance the interior look, feel and most importantly: durability. 

What differentiates your inexpensive local carbon guy and OEM quality trims is often left unexplained.

It's all in the carbon process.

René first sands down brand new BMW trims before applying pre-preg carbon layers. 

Pre-preg is usually associated with a mold and autoclave. Sounds counter-intuitive for interior trims? It is.

The weave pattern is optically angled like genuine BMW M trims. 

This is how BMW M does it on their interior, and it's how René @ CarboProject does it. 

With the trims, there is no mold. 


It is then put into auto-clave to be cured at high temperatures. The pre-preg manufacturing process allows for a thin, visually consistent layer of carbon fiber.

Once it has cured, the trims are then clear-coated, wet sanded, and polished. 

My previous experiences. 

I have had extensive experiences with carbon trims on the E60 and the E92. The E60 sports a gloss carbon interior that rejuvenated its aesthetics while the E92 uses matte carbon trims for a more subtle, purposeful appearance. I ended up adding a carbon center console to the E92 as well. 

Both cars used the signature M Performance 2x2 weave. 

The matte finish completed the more toned down interior of my E92. 

My Specs. 

I felt the E46's interior could use a small touch of gloss considering none of it touch points and trims are from the factory. I received the kit and hastily installed it - I was hyped! Unfortunately, no unboxing impressions on this one. 

I spec'ed a complete kit along with armrests in 1x1 weave pattern. 

It includes the shifter surround. SMG owners get the SMG specific cover as well. 

The dash trims were all easy to fit and properly contoured the panels. 

It was all business. 

The 10/10 fitment continued all the way to the passenger side vents. The carbon optical alignment looked great from here. 

The armrests fit perfectly - and didn't have the *squawk* *squiwk* feeling of the former trims. 

Installing the rear armrests was a complete PITA with the Pole Positions installed - but worth it. 

Durability improvements. 

The OEM E46 M3 armrests bottom section is coated with BMW's signature rubberized coating. Its a signature for all the wrong reasons: it greys out from sun exposure, and scratches & peels from daily wear & tear.

René sands down this coating and paint the bottom armrests section in black paint with gloss 2 component clear-coat. 

From experience, this is much further durable than rubberized coating and can also be polished to eliminate swirls from daily wear & tear. 

Bespoke customization. 

Using the exact replica of the CSL center console from Karbonius, it meant the mirror adjustment switch on the drive side armrest would be relocated to the center console. 

René offers bespoke customization touches and offered to shave the gaps on both driver and passenger side armrests. 

It's a small, sleek touch that I appreciate. 

I can source the trims year long for you here.

Up next: I chat CSL center console.

It's a simple project by all appearances.

Like most things CSL [...] it's isn't as simple as it looks.

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