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A True BMW Accessory Oddity

The 1998-2002 (?) dealer installed OEM CD based navigation system - with IR remote and dash mounted display screen

by Joe Ancona - June 2015

I have yet to find a good reference for this particular BMW GPS system on the 'world wide web', so I thought I would take this opportunity to briefly document its removal from a 2002 E36/7 M Roadster that I recently acquired.

As neat and unique as this (apparently) rare GPS system is, I have decided to pull it from the car. It no longer seems to work and would be horrifically outdated map-wise even if it did. What's really annoying though, is that it bounces around on the dash like a Hawaiian bobble head hula girl. These days, top notch mapping and directions are available on any smart phone, and there are endless options for in-dash or windshield mount GPS units available. To be honest, I really don't use GPS much anyways. This M Roadie is my 6th BMW, following an E63 M6, two E92 M3's, an E86 M Coupe, and a '97 E31 850Ci. All of them either had OEM navi or an aftermarket head unit with navigation. I don't recall using any of them, ever.

First, a little about the car.... This S54 powered M Roadster is a 'one of one' car for model year 2002, and there was only one other roadster built in this color scheme (Oxford II over grey/black), for 2001. The car has lived its whole life in Arizona. The car's first 14 years were tended to by an older gentleman here in my home town  of Tucson, until  November of 2014. After his passing, it was sold by his widow to a private dealer and ended up with an enthusiast in the Phoenix area. This fellow (whom I've had the fortunate opportunity to become in contact with), installed coil-overs and racing slicks but only tracked it for two separate events. He decided that this car was in too good of shape to be raced, so he traded it in on a Z06 for dedicated track duty! I acquired the car in June of 2015, and became its official 3rd owner.

Here are some quick shots, even before my first test drive. Note: Nitto NT-01 + coil-overs = go cart fun!

Here is the GPS system as installed, and powered up.

When I first saw the GPS unit pictured in the dealer's advertisements, I thought (like anyone else would), "who was the clown that mounted a G-damn Garmin box on the dash of this car!!!". Once I saw the car in person however, I quickly realized this was something very unique. As soon as I turned the key on, the display lit up with a big "BMW" on the otherwise black screen. I found the remote control in the glove box with the same BMW logo. Hmmm,  this looks to be 100% OEM!

It may be OEM parts, but the installation was decidedly dealer. You can see that the top edge of the center vent was cut with a Dremel to allow for the mounting bracket and a notch made for the communications wire. Fortunately, I have already sourced a replacement grey vent assembly to replace it with. The screen appears to be some kind of backlit TFT display. I wouldn't think LCD would work well in this application.

Here are some shots of the unit from the outside looking in. You can see the rusted metal ball swivel, which was locked down nice and tight.

Here is the remote and remote holder. I was hoping they didn't screw the holder into the console, and thankfully as you will see in subsequent slides, that was not the case. I was worried however, since there were two small Philips screws on the holder. You can also see some of the GPS wiring starting to hang down from underneath the console, on the center tunnel.

In the rear of the car, we find the CD based map drive along side the factory 6-CD changer. As you can see from the factory 'plug buttons',  the car was pre-wired for alarm, CD changer, and the BMW phone system. However, there was no button for the navigation pre-wire. The dealer must have installed the whole harness...and what a harness it turned out to be. (note that I've removed the trunk light since the lens was melted and deformed somewhat. I will replace with new lens and LED bulb)

Now it was time to start the epic journey of uninstalling the entire system, which took almost 9 hours. Please keep in mind this was my introduction to wrenching a Z3, so I did take my sweet time. A lot of the plastics on this car are a horrible type of ABS, which have been made worse by Arizona sun.

Center vent out, and the display's mounting bracket is easily visible and detached from the added cross beam (also removed).

Note the Hodge-podge Dremel work done on the old vent (L) as compared to an unmolested on (R). Still, not too bad considering they could have ruined a lot more parts than just a center vent to make the installation permanent. The used replacement vent only cost me about $25.

Here is a detail shot of the 10 pin locking DIN connector found on the back of the display unit. Eventually, I had to cut this connector off to remove the harness from the rear of the car. I tried to save it, but not at the expense of trashing the rest of my wiring harness.

I never got a good shot of the main harness wiring connection before I cut it out, but the GPS unit was powered with 4 wires tapped in behind the factory radio, using blue 'OEM looking' wire taps. The lines were battery power, ignition power, ground, and one called 'speed' or something to that effect. I wonder if the unit took speedo data from the gauge cluster? Anyways, here's an overview of my nightmare! You can also see the later generation 2 button wireless entry alarm module (taken apart), and the absence of the glove-box! What a terrific P.O.S. that design is! It was basically hanging on by a thread, from previous attempts to repair the sag. I've since removed the metal protection plate from the door and will re-engineer the mounting of the glove-box later. I almost am considering leaving out the glove box all-together, but storage is already at a minimum in this car.

Removing the IR remote holder. I was relieved to find out the screws don't go all they way through to the console.

Instead of screws however, a NASA grade double sided tape was used. I literally thought I was going to rip out a hole in the console the bond was so strong. Until I started to get some movement, I bet you could have lifted this car off the ground by this plastic holder!!! Thankfully, no damage was done to either part or substrate.

Detail of holder, one locking ear had broken off and ended up inside the holder, probably many many years ago.

Here's an underside shot of the solid rubber base, with a non-standard BMW part code. Is there any ID info from this part number? Probably not. Mold code shows a mfg date of Jan. 1999, which is one good data point at least.

Remote detail. BTW, the IR remote works, but the only function I could get the unit to do is turn the screen on and off by toggling the ON button. Occasionally, I could get the screen to have some error message in small yellow print, but that was due to removing and inserting the disc, and pressing some random buttons. I never saw a map or anything useful whatsoever.

CD drive removed from trunk and harness. 4 threaded stud rivets were installed into the roof of the trunk, but I do not know if the holes for the studs were there from the get-go, or drilled at the time of stud installation.

This is the harness end that I elected *not* to chop off to remove the wiring from the car. The square grey connector is the coaxial GPS antenna lead.

Finally! A real part number! BMW 82 11 0 003 985

From this, I was only able to find two links on the web, one of which was an ECS tuning part page, confirming the existence of the Siemens drive:

The second link was more interesting however, from a German forum dating back to 2004: (Translated by Google)

Siemens Auto Scout? Navteq? Astranavi? Experimental only unit??? All really interesting clues but since I did not receive the GPS manual with the car, it is still a mystery until I do some more digging.

Starting to pull the harness out now, and I tracked down the GPS antenna wire to a location above the center vent plenum! There, a magnetic GPS antenna was stuck to a metal plate, which was itself stuck to the plenum with double sided tape. This tape however was not NASA grade, and had already become destroyed from the hot Arizona days...the plate pealed right off with hardly any force. The bumps are there to keep the magnetic antenna base from sliding around on the plate.

Another wire goose-chase: In following another 'lead', I had to remove the knee bolster cover and the knee protection panel (which everyone ditches anyways). I thought maybe there was a kick panel fuse box or something that they tapped another two-conductor wire into. Nope! Mounted to the knee bolster panel was a fricking huge speaker! I didn't see this one coming! Looks like they used a large hole-saw to rip a nice bore for the threaded collar mounted speaker. Probably the nicest speaker I've seen for a GPS unit! I wonder if the unit was a woman's or man's voice? German accent? We may never know.

It was a real pain to pull the harness back through the subwoofer/rear-deck area into the trunk, as they had stuffed it in pretty good with the standard harness. When I finally got near the end, *another* random wire started tugging toward the rear of the car... It turns out there was one more wire to go. They had tapped a wire into one of the reverse lights! I don't know what this could be for, as there weren't any rear facing cameras installed, but maybe somebody can relate that connection to other GPS installations they've seen. Note the blue factory wire tap, just like the ones used behind the stereo.

Including the wiring, remote, GPS screen, CD drive, mounts, and speaker, this GPS system incurred a weight penalty of over 9 pounds to the little roadster!

Pretty amazing what was needed for turn by turn navigation back in the late nineties! Between this GPS  system and the CD changer, I think I lightened the car by 15 pounds. Without this GPS unit, I might not know where I'm going, but I should be able to get there just a little bit faster now :)

all photos ©2015 J. Ancona Productions

I would like to thank Jon Martin for providing the best buyers and sellers resource for these great M cars. I've been watching his buyer's guide website for many years now, looking to pull the trigger on a nice E36/8 M Coupe (so I could go to Dorkfest LOL), but somehow I ended up at a point in my life where I wanted to try out some open-top fun. Back I went, this time to Jon's M Roadster site, and found 4 viable cars in mere minutes, including the one pictured above. Thanks again Jon!

P.S. Still hope to have a clown-shoe one day.


Update: 6/11/16

Just by a complete stroke of luck, I have now had a chance to play with a working OEM navigation system.
As I have one of my M Roadsters for sale (S54), I had a very nice local gentleman come and look at my car.
He didn't end up buying mine, but he apparently appreciated my work enough to have me perform a basic PPI
on an S52 M Roadster which he also found locally. Amazingly, this car also had the OEM GPS system installed!
Both my car and this car were purchased new in Tucson, so maybe our dealership back in the 1998-2002 time-frame
was one of the few dealers authorized to install these 'experimental' navigation units. I already felt very lucky to have
had a chance to see the inner workings of this system on my car, and now, even more fortunate to have a chance to
play with an actual working unit!

All in all, it's exactly what you might expect...a very rudimentary display screen, and an arduous process to enter data
into the device. Surprisingly, the remote control unit, with its very large multi directional IR blaster worked fine
in broad Arizona daylight, even when left sitting in its cradle. Quite impressive on that front. But from a tech perspective,
it is all 1990's vintage. I'm pretty sure the pictures below will tell the tale quite clearly as to its very simplistic nature.
The owner does use the GPS however, and although the DVD discs are well past their usefulness in a fast growing city
like Tucson, it certainly can get you from town to town without much trouble. Enjoy!


Matt brownell
Thursday, July 2, 2015 12:35:41 AM
I'd very much like to purchase this for my e30 as a gimmick. Please email me. Brownellmatt at Gmail . Com
Thursday, July 16, 2015 8:10:48 AM

Sent you a message Matt- check your SPAM folder wink

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