Project E36 M3 Pt 4 Ultrasuede CoverProject E36 M3 (Silver): Part 4 – Updating the Interior with Ultrasuede Accents

by Billy Johnson

We spruce up the interior of our beloved 15 year old M3 by having our friends at Coby Wheel wrap the worn and faded steering wheel, arm rest, shift boot, and e-brake boot in Ultrasuede and add Motorsport tri-color stitching to bring out a more modern and sporty character while improving the feel and ambiance of the interior.

Located in Stockbridge, Georgia, Coby Wheel specializes in custom BMW Alcantara Steering Wheel restorations for the E36, E46, E39, E82, E60, and E90 series BMW shift boots, shift knobs, E-brake boots, Arm Rests, and more.  Hand fabricated in the USA and made to order with either a core deposit or preferably your original components with only a slightly longer (but still very short) down time, Coby Wheel can customize anything from stitching, to Alcantara color, two-tone designs, or adding any color center stripe on top of your OEM wheel to match your style and your car’s theme.

Our 1999 M3 has been meticulously maintained over the years and has been without too many headaches.  The stock Harmon Kardon speakers tore a long time ago and were replaced with BAVSOUND speakers which have been awesome over the past 5 years, and while the head unit still has a cassette player; this car was equipped with the high-dollar OEM head unit and trunk-mounted 6-disc CD changer. 


Stock InteriorI’ve always liked the interiors of E36s, especially the “Vader” seats which are easily one of my top 5 favorite production seats of all time.

A common problem for the E36 and BMWs in general, is that the rubber deteriorates badly.  All of the suspension and subframe bushings in Project E36 M3 have been replaced with polyurethane and on the inside of the car, the UUC Clutch Arm Bushings and the UUC EVO3 Competition Short Shift Kit with the Dual Shear Selector Rod that replace the rubber linkages are must-haves.  These were replaced shortly after buying the car (around 130K miles ago) and have worked flawlessly and greatly improve the driving experience. 


HeadlinerOver time the headliner started to sag, which is a common problem in older BMWs.  We opted to recover it in Black Onyx Ultrasuede to give our E36 the modern feel of 21st century M5s, CTS-Vs, and AMG cars.
Rear speaker deckThe stock rear speaker tray started to discolor to a 1970’s shade of purple.  It was also stripped and covered in Ultrasuede.
Stock wheel closeTime has also taken its toll on our steering wheel.  Here you can see the pitting caused by the leather deteriorating, which made the wheel tacky on hot days.  Thankfully BMW’s have much better steering wheels than Mercedes cars from this age, whose rubbery cushion often separates from the metal structure altogether.
BatteryTo replace these components, we first disconnected the ground of our battery with a 13mm socket and waited 15 minutes.
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Tuesday, April 29, 2014 5:15 AM
So to clarify, isn't Acantara just a brand name for ultrasuede? Although it might be better quality in some cases, Alcantara is usually far more expensive than just asking a shop to wrap something in ultrasuede.
Mike Kojima
Mike Kojimalink
Tuesday, April 29, 2014 9:28 AM
Can they do stuff other than BMW?
Tuesday, April 29, 2014 11:56 AM
Alcantara is automotive rated(uv factor) Ultrasuede is for furniture & clothing(no uv factor) both fabrics are made by the same folks and the cost is about the same
Tuesday, April 29, 2014 6:10 PM
Toray owns Ultrasuede (made in Japan) and most of Alcantara (made in Italy). There are slight differences but for the most part are the same. Alcantara does have the UV protection but Ultrasuede does have an automotive line.

They primarily do BMWs but if they are slow, could do other brands. I'm very pleased with their work and might twist their arm in the future to do non BMW stuff.
Tuesday, April 29, 2014 6:57 PM
Had no idea that one was UV protected and one wasn't but I guess it makes sense. I assume what I saw as cheaper was knock off ultrasuede and not the brand name stuff.
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