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Armrest Replacement

Below are pictures of the "Euro" armrest that I installed to replace the ugly, nonfunctional, uncomfortable standard US armrest with the phone cradle. This is the smaller, non-sliding vinyl version (part number 51-16-8-196-936 for black). I've been told that this is standard equipment on versions of the E39 other than the 540i in Europe. There's also a larger, sliding leather version that is the same thing as the stock US armrest, but without the phone cradle.

Personally, I like this version better than the larger leather replacement. It provides the same amount of storage inside, but the external dimensions are more slim and it isn't as bulky between the seats. I also think it fits the car better, both in terms of looks and function. It sits lower and provides a better position to rest my arm and for shifting. The sliding version also tends to get in the way of the parking brake lever when it's forward.

The leather armrest has the advantage as far as comfort. This one is padded, but the padding is thin relative to the more "plush" padding of the larger unit. If you're really an arm-rester, you'll probably like the leather one better.

The major advantage of this one is that it's about $100 versus over $300 for the larger leather version.




Installation is trivial, probably a 15 minute job at most.

A comprehensive guide to the various versions of the armrest available and detailed installation instructions for replacement can be found at:

Also, I know that a few have modified the standard armrest to provide tilt and storage as above, and still maintain the sliding function and phone cradle. I'll find and post a link when I can.


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Copyright © 2002 by M. Andrews. All Rights Reserved.

The information presented on this site describes modifications that I have made to my car.
Should you choose to attempt any similar modifications, you do so at your own risk.

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