M Roadster Gauges
Last Modified Mar 11, 2012
I've been wanting an oil pressure sender and gauge since I bought the M. The S54 bearing shell failures in other cars increased my interest, particularly since the fix for the M3 included an oil pump replacement.

The problem boils down to looks. Jon Maddux looked into having a VDO Vision refaced to match our stock gauges, but North Hollywood Speedometer quoted him over $1000.

LeatherZ wound up having VDO NA put chrome-ringed bezels on a VDO Vision gauge. The chrome ring matches our stock gauges, but the VDO Vision gauges have a black face instead of gray.

So, as of yet, there's no inexpensive way to get a stock-matching oil pressure gauge or voltmeter. I'm debating tearing apart a VDO Vision gauge to see if I can get something to work with self-adhesive film intended for backlighting, but I'm also seriously considering just replacing all three center console gauges. I want a voltmeter anyway, I might as well replace the stock oil temperature gauge too.

I'd like gray faces, and black would be my last choice. I'd like backlighting, but I can probably live with side-lighting. I want chrome bezels.

I'm looking at 6 different sets of gauges:

I'm considering changing the whole color scheme for the lighting in my car. While the orange isn't bad, and in general the instrumentation in the M looks nice, I'd like to see something different just to know my options on overall color scheme. To do this, I'd need to replace or cover three 194-type bulbs in the instrument cluster, three 194-type bulbs in the gauges, the bulb covers in the A/C and recirculate buttons, bulb(s) behind the HVAC controls, bulbs in the heat seater switches, the bulb in the DSC button, and the bulbs on the window controls. Am I missing any?

Stock Gauges

Pictures of the stock gauges.


Pictures of the ISSPR EVM gauges.

The ISSPRO EVM are backlit. I suspect I'm not going to be thrilled with the look in my car. The font isn't like anything else in the car, the markings are blue, and the needle is blue. On the other hand, blue is a significant color in the BMW roundel, and two shades of blue are in the M logo.

Reviews seem to indicate these have the best backlighting on the market right now (December, 2003). They also have 270 degree sweep on oil pressure and oil temperature. The voltmeter is a 90 degree sweep.

If I go with these gauges, I'd want:


Pictures of the ISSPR EVA gauges.

The ISSPRO EVA are backlit just like the EVM gauges. They're machanically the same as the EVM, but have a black bezel, black face, white lettering and white needle.

ISSPRO sent me three fold-on chrome bezels (for free!) to place over the stock bezels on the EVA.

If I go with these gauges, I'd want:

VDO Cockpit White

Pictures of the VDO Cockpit White gauges.

The VDO Cockpit White do not have chrome bezels, but Jon Maddux said he can get them with chrome bezels (but it'll cost more than the VDO Visions). With chrome bezels, these are likely the best match to the instrument cluster in terms of needles and font. I also like these for their minimalist, race-oriented look. Easy to read, no-nonsense gauges. They have traditional side-lighting.

If I go with these gauges, I'd want:

VDO Contour

Pictures of the VDO Contour gauges.

The VDO Contour have chrome bezels and domed glass. The font and markings will be a poor match to the instrument cluster. I'm mostly interested in the domed glass. Is it possible that LeatherZ could have it used on any of the same-sized VDO gauges?

If I go with these gauges, I'd want:

Classic Instruments Silver Series

Pictures of the Classic Instruments silver Series gauges.

The Classic Instruments Silver Series look to have a face color that would work well in matching the stock gauge face color, and would work well in my black/gray interior. From pictures, I'm not thrilled with the look or the needles, but on their web site it looks like I can choose the needles, as well as bezel and glass. They also appear to not have the ranges I want for oil pressure (I want 80PSI max, they have 100psi max) and oil temperature (they have a 160-280F gauge).

I've also been in contact with Classic Instruements about custom gauges. They do a lot of custom work, and they hand-assemble all of their gauges. Hence there is no setup fee, only a one-time customization fee of $400. I can send them the artwork (Adobe Illustrator file), and they'll also color-match to the stock gauges. I'd like the silver circle and red ring removed from the Silver Series, the function to be in white type instead of black, and the ///M logo on the gauge.


The oil temperature sender port is M12 x 1.5. The unused port on the oil filter housing is also M12 x 1.5. Randy sent me a picture:

The VDO pressure sender that Randy has is M10 x 1.0.

To get to the unused port on the filter housing, I need an extension hose; the sender itself is too big to fit. I need to remove the air intake clamps, which are one-time-use (I need to order some).

The Classic Instruments gauges are American range: 240-33. Senders for this range are typically not metric, so I'll probably need an adapter on the extension hose if I use these gauges.

I believe the ISSPRO senders are 1/8" NPT? ISSPRO makes an M12x1.5 to 1/8" NPT adapter (P/N R7962), but it's brass; need to be careful to not break it. I don't think this is what I need anyway... I need an angle adapter on the oil filter housing. Randy says the VDO angle adapter mounts M12 (with a Banjo bolt) and has an M10 tapped port for the remote hose. I can get a steel M10x1.0 male to 1/8" NPT female adapter from McMaster-Carr (P/N 4936K153).

Randy has offered to make an angle adapter that's M12 to NPT. I might take him up on the offer if I go with American-range gauges.

For oil temperature, I'm not sure what I can do yet for senders that aren't VDO range. The ISSPRO and Classic Instruments senders are all NPT. Here I suspect I'm stuck with a part like R7962 from ISSPRO, and hope I don't twist it off installing it or find that it puts the temperature sender in a bad position (out of the oil flow).

The stock oil and outside temperature sensors are routed through the controller (A3984 in the ETM) behind the glove box. In the ETM, the oil pressure switch is B6231, and the M version is shown in 7100.0-45-1 (the Z3 version is in 7100.0-41-1). The oil temperature sensor is B6238 and shown in 7100.0-41-1. The thermal oil level switch is B6254, which has a hot-in-run-and-start lead on pin 1, a run to DME connector X60003 pin 39 (gray/brown wire), and a ground on pin 3. It is pictured in 7100.0-48-3 in the ETM. This is for future reference when I install the Turner oil temperature sensor flange.

Note the ETK only shows 'TEMPERATURE SENSOR OIL/WATER' and shows it inserted in the water 'RETURN PIPE'. It's part number Look here for the page from the ETK.

Randy, ever the gracious individual, sent me yet another good picture: the senders.


To-do list:

All gauge pictures.