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Discussion Starter #1
Hi all,

Taking inspiration from this DIY: Add BMW Console Cup Holders To Your E46 Rear Armrest! A Pictorial DIY - E46Fanatics, I decided to add cup holders to the back seat of my E46. I like things to look OEM, but I don't actually care if they genuinely are or not... I also don't mind people eating and drinking in my car. If either of those are important considerations for you this DIY probably won't be your thing. :)

I bought an E38 retracting cup holder unit from German eBay (part no 51 16 8 212 129): BMW E38 Getränkehalter Dosenhalter Schwarz Hinten Rücksitzbank 8 212 129 | eBay. This was much cheaper than buying it from the US and having it shipped, especially since US breakers seem to have realised that the cup holder unit has wider application than just the e38.

When it arrived I measured it and drew a dummy template on a piece of paper, cut that and made sure that the cup holder would fit properly.

I removed the rear seat base from my car, and put parcel tape on the area to be cut, for marking and measuring.
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I plotted out the lines to be cut on the tape, and nervously I made the first cut, using a box cutter/Stanley blade.
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Next I took a kitchen knife that was approximately the same length as the depth of the unit, and started cutting out foam. This requires some force - the foam is very dense.
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I found that the position I was cutting in meant that I cut through the bottom of the seat base. When I installed the seat base in the car this gave the cup holder unit additional stability, and it allowed me to pack foam around the void between the two 'prongs' at the back of the unit. Nonetheless if you don't want to cut through the bottom of the foam you will want to position your unit higher than I did.
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I pushed in the unit, and used some of the left-over foam to pad out the area around the void, to make it easier to create a flush fit between the lip of the unit and the seat. The fit isn't absolutely perfect, though it's close. Nonetheless I may use some glue at some point to perfect the finish.
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The final job was to reinstall the bench, which I'm sure I don't need to explain. The unit looks great in situ:
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Et, voila! This took about 30 minutes. I'm planning two very long driving trips (one to Paris and another to Lake Guarda, from London) with back-seat passengers... Hopefully this DIY will make it a bit more comfortable for them. Also, the holders grip very, very strongly, so it should help avoid spillages too.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
I don't have them offhand, but my last car was an E36 328i Touring and the rear bench was thicker on that. It also had a frame, and so was more 'solid' than the E46 (which seems to be supported only by the dense foam and tensile strength of the leather).

So, I'm pretty certain that the rear bench on the E36 is large enough to support this, but I don't know if the foam is deep and dense enough... It's worth pulling the rear bench out to inspect it for yourself.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
I don't have them offhand, but my last car was an E36 328i Touring and the rear bench was thicker on that. It also had a frame, and so was more 'solid' than the E46 (which seems to be supported only by the dense foam and tensile strength of the leather).

So, I'm pretty certain that the rear bench on the E36 is large enough to support this, but I don't know if the foam is deep and dense enough... It's worth pulling the rear bench out to inspect it for yourself.
Actually, when I think about it the 'cassette' for the unit was 38mm tall by 160mm wide... I'm not sure how deep it is, but that's not desperately relevant to your question since it's certainly much less deep than the E36 bench.
 

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I don't have them offhand, but my last car was an E36 328i Touring and the rear bench was thicker on that. It also had a frame, and so was more 'solid' than the E46 (which seems to be supported only by the dense foam and tensile strength of the leather).

So, I'm pretty certain that the rear bench on the E36 is large enough to support this, but I don't know if the foam is deep and dense enough... It's worth pulling the rear bench out to inspect it for yourself.
i have a spare bench anyway to practice on lol and they are pretty solid tbh .and ive just bought the cupholders in black for £15 del bargain or what .

karl
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Certainly a good price! Did you get it from a breaker?

Good luck with the install... I'll be interested to see how it goes on the E36.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
As do I! :)

The other thing to consider for your install is the angle at which the cassette should go into the foam at, for the lip of the unit to sit flush against the seat. On the E46 the angle of the face of the unit and the pitch of the front of the bench is basically the same, so the cassette slides straight in, parallel to the ground. If I remember my E36 well enough, the front of the bench is more upright, which will change the angle you install at... Just hold the face of the unit against the bench, upside down, to show you the angle at which you need to dig out the foam.
 

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Certainly a good price! Did you get it from a breaker?

Good luck with the install... I'll be interested to see how it goes on the E36.
yeah i just emailed a guy who was breaking 1 and he had 2 available .i will get some pics up on your thread at weekend when i am done and dusted ..my last mod was the cruise control light on the cluster .
 

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Discussion Starter #14
Great job! Your holders look more level than mine when out (since the seat front is more upright). Definitely worth posting a DIY for E36 owners.
 

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yes i went looking for other bits and there it was got rear lights indicators warning triangle £60 for it all this can from t reg saloon 2.8 it even had its rear spoiler on with light
 
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