A Place For My Arm, a Holster for Cups, and a Cubby for Tapes

April 24, 2013 at 11:42 pm

When you own an older car, the list of improvements you can make may appear odd to most consumers. Things like navigation, side airbags and interior vacuum cleaners just aren’t on my radar screen. But you know what I’m looking forward to most this weekend? Cupholders, an armrest and cassette storage.


A company from Wilton, Connecticut called Husco made an OEM accessory for 1980s BMWs that combined an arm rest with cup holder, and mounted directly to the factory console. In what can only be seen as a barometer for where most car shoppers’ priorities (or expectations) lay, not many E30s came equipped with this marvelous contraption. After some message board investigating, I found one for sale with a matching console that had the mounting holes pre-drilled. Believe it or not, I think this was pulled from a car that had this nifty piece installed at the factory, given the clean drilling job into the fragile console plastic. It’s brilliant, and I can’t wait to use it.


The next OEM accessory I found on eBay and is also an original BMW option. The Fischer cassette storage box was a must-have when rocking your Van Halen and Ace of Base tapes, perfect for the factory Premium Sound cassette deck a buddy gave me for free. It mounts below the armrest and required cutting out a mounting hole in the console, and each drawer pops open to swallow a cassette. I still have to wire up the deck, but once complete, the E30 will inch ever closer still to being a factory-correct, well-optioned car. Imagine – just being content to have a place to store your tapes. No need for a multi-pixel display capable of telling you the weather, your horoscope and what clothes to wear on Friday.


It’s amazing to think that options brochures once consisted of a few pages splashed with bolt-on accessories that required no wiring, just some washers and careful drilling. In my recent post, I mentioned how I found an original Honda CRX accessory in the form of a reflective center tail light panel; that $15 junkyard score turned into a $350 eBay home run. But you know what? I get it. I’d pay out the nose for a rare factory part from the 80s. Assembling this arm rest reminded me of just how ingenious car manufacturers used to be without the need for Wi-Fi connectivity and Bluetooth headsets. I could give a rat’s ass if it makes my life “easier” or “better”, a purely subjective sentiment. Whatever happened to being grateful just for something that was functional? 


Like the days of your parents making you wear L.L. Bean clothing while the cool kids wore Starter jackets that disintegrated after a few runs through the wash, it’s nice to arrive at a point in life where it’s more enjoyable to accessorize a vehicle with things that work rather than things that impress.