There are some nice dash mods that you can buy to get rid of the boring red / orange lights in the E36 but they are fairly pricey or I am tight, one of the two!
Anyway I don't really want mine looking like a Christmas tree but I love the VW Bora blue clocks so thought I would have a go at a homebrew mod and it sort of worked!
I stripped down the dash which was pretty easy until I got to the plastic sheet with all the numbers on. Using a fully extended craft knife I inserted it between the hard plastic of the dashboard and the plastic sheet to cut through the glue. This is actually quite easy as it is a jelly type of glue and it took me less than 10 minutes to remove it.
I then laid it face down (number-side) on a towel and covered the rear of it in WD40 which got all the glue off. I noticed there was still enough glue on the main part I took it off of to stick it back on so didn't need any other glue.
The reason the numbers are red is because of a red type paint on the back of each digit so I got a razor blade and started scratching! This thing is surprisingly tough and it is quite ok to go over the edges as the front of it is black and won't let the light through anyway. Once I realized that I got out the Dremell with a wire brush attachment to do the rest!
You do need to be aware of what your making 'see-through' though unless you're ok with a petrol warning light the same colour as your dash lights! I decided to keep that red!
I didn't bother scratching out the KMH values and actually covered the red with a black marker pen so they wouldn't show at night.
As I said, forget being neat and tidy, there is no need. The back of mine looked like my 6 year old had done it but as you can see in the picture it worked perfectly. Actually I didn't do the petrol and temp dials enough as I got in a hurry so I will need to take it apart again to finish it off. I also forgot to do the oil thing too, not that it is much of a loss.
The lights I used were some Prism 4 x high power blue LED's from Maplin Electronics (picture also uploaded) that were less than a tenner! I cut the leads down and soldered them into the bulb holders making sure the top of the LED was the same height as the bulb was. LED's polarity also only work one way round so if you find some don't light, un-twist them, turn a bit more and re-fit them.
It sounds like hard work but it was actually pretty straight forward. What do you think on the end result?
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You want to make sure you lift the needles off straight. I used a dinner fork and you do have to give it a little force. Put a soft cloth over the needles rests and pull those off the same way with pliers. Peel the backing off of the white plastic back and remove all the glue with WD40 and a stanley blade (shitty job). You don't need to glue it back on, the needle rests and the front face will hold it in place. Make sure when you put them back on that you fit the rests last to ensure the needle is touching it but not being pushed from it's start position.
You can also remove the steel plate from the LCD, lift out the LCD and scratch off the orange (leave the other colours and the red spot) and have a nice white mileometer. You can't use blue LED's in this or it messes up the service lights, besides the white is a nice contrast with the blue.
Here is a pic of mine after I scratched off the red backing. I used a black marker to tidy it up a bit and block out the KMH.
Update: Scratch doing the digital readout, removing the orange still leaves it orange for some reason, I'll look into this later.