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Old 03-16-2009, 02:19 PM   #1
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Join Date: Feb 2009
Location: Northeast Ohio
Posts: 2,778
My Ride: 2001 330CiC
DIY: New-Gen radio retrofit for Cabrio (Diversity Antenna)

Okay, after a lot of research, I figured out some things about the MP3/Sirius/Aux Input capable "new-new gen" radio retrofittings for the E46 Cabrio's.

BMW has updated the internals of the "original" BMW Business E46 radio a bunch of times but kept the appearance basically intact:

My late 2000 build '01 330CiC did not have a "new-gen" radio. It cannot play MP3 CD's, interface with the factory Sirius module, or accept an auxiliary input. It can operate most aftermarket iPod adapters, but is rather finicky. So, the must-have radio's are from 05-06 E46. They feature all those listed above and apparently integrate with aftermarket iPod adapters very nicely showing artist, song, playlist, etc on the display which my 01 radio did not do. (I haven't received my '06 radio from the junkyard yet, so I cannot comment on that)

If you have a coupe or cabrio produced before 03/01, you will need to perform this retrofit of the antenna amplifier. (For NAV equipped cars, you may need to do this retrofit as well when installing the BM53 radio for Sirius and auxiliary jack inputs if your trunk mounted radio unit also has two antenna inputs)

This is because of the different antenna diversity system BMW used in the earlier coupes and cabrios. The old style system requires the use of two coax connections from the amplifier to the back of the radio as can be seen in this pic. Note the larger coax connector on the left, and the smaller (brass colored circle) one on the bottom right near the main harness connection:

E46 cabrios and coupes from 03/01 production only use one coax input for the radios. Furthermore, BMW completely changed the antenna connection to a smaller style plug on the radios. Luckily, BMW Parts offers a retrofit cable so you will not have to replace yours. (more on that later)

If you install a new-gen radio without performing this update, most people report losing most or all AM and FM reception.. or you may not. I did not experiment.

First, you will need the "updated" antenna amplifier from an 02+ E46 Cabrio. You can either order it from a BMW dealer part number: 65206912817 (cost: approx: $180), or do a quick search on and find any 03-06 E46 cabrio, and ask the yard to pull the antenna amplifier for you. I found one in North Carolina, and they charged me $75 shipped. Here is a comparison of the old and new style amplifier units. As you can see the new unit deletes the extra magenta-colored plug.



First thing to do is remove this tray. Nav equipped cars are similar.

Then remove this clip holding the trim to the body:

Remove the tail light access panel and unplug it:

Fold back the trunk lining just enough so you can access the amplifier module:

Loosen the 2 10mm nuts on the back of the unit.

Slide the unit up to unlock it and pull it out from behind the frame:

Disconnect the plugs by pinching the side locks and pull out. Reconnect the to their respective colors on the new amplifier.

You will have a left-over magenta plug. This is for the old-style system and is no longer used.

Simply tape it to the main harness.

Reinstall the new unit in the same way, lightly tightening the 10mm nuts and replace the removed trim, light and tray.

If your new-gen radio has the smaller square-style coax connector and your harness has the large round one, just order the retrofit cable from BMW or Part: 61126913955

Now, test your New-gen radio reception and keyless entry/alarm system to make sure it is functioning correctly!

Last edited by iansanderson; 03-17-2009 at 08:23 PM.
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