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BMW E30 Rear Speaker Installation

Pelican Technical Article:

BMW E30 Rear Speaker Installation

Jared Fenton


2-3 hours






Flathead screwdriver, Phillips screwdriver, tape measure

Applicable Models:

BMW E30 3-Series (1984-93)

Parts Required:

Rear 6x9-inch speakers, speaker spacers, wire

Performance Gain:

Improved stereophonic sound for the auto enthusiasts who are also audiophiles

Complementary Modification:

Replace the front speakers

BMW E30 Rear Speaker Installation

Next in my series of tech articles on upgrading the E30 sound system is the rear speaker installation for the E30. In my previous article, I detailed the steps involved with installing the front speakers. In this article we will focus on installing the rear speakers.

As I said before, the stock "premium" sound system on the E30 BMW 3 Series is a good system for the average Joe, however if you are a total music freak like me, the stock 5-1/4 rear speakers just don't cut it. I had a set of really nice JBL 6x9 3 way speakers left over from my dearly departed E21 320is. I really wanted to use these in my 325is, however they won't fit in the stock locations. The stock speakers in my E30 were in two enclosures on the rear deck that also held a tweeter angled at 45 degrees. The whole enclosure screws onto the rear deck. The first step is to remove these enclosures. They are held in place with screws around the perimeter of the enclosure. Very carefully pry off the speaker grilles and remove the screws. Now lift off the enclosures and disconnect the leads to the speakers.

Now with the enclosures removed, there is a hole and recess built into the rear deck. I tried for a while to figure out some way of getting the 6x9's in the holes, however they won't fit. I briefly considered even cutting out the sheet metal to gain clearance, but I really don't want to cut any metal on the car. I eventually went down to the local best buy and found some really nice universal fit speaker spacers. These sit over the factory holes and have enough height to allow the 6x9's to fit in with no clearance problems. I had originally considered painting the spacers tan, to match the interior of the car, however the black finish looks very nice and seems to "fit" in with the esthetics of the car.

Before we start to install the new spacers, we will need to run new wiring for the speakers. The factory BMW wiring uses a common ground system of wiring for the speakers. There are ways of adapting the current wiring to make it work; however I found it easier to simply run new wires. I started by measuring off enough wire to run under the backseat, down under the doorsill plates, up through the dash and up into the head unit. Do this for both sides of the car. It's important to remember to use a single piece of wire with no splices when hooking up speaker wires. Every time you cut or splice the wires, you cut the signal from the head unit or amplifier in half.

Now run the speaker wires on either side under the rear deck and into the factory holes for the old enclosures. Next, place the new spacers over the factory holes, and screw them down onto the rear deck. Now pull the wires up through the spacers and connect them to the speakers. Now stuff the wire down into the enclosure and install the speaker into the spacer, as you would mount any speaker. This varies from model to model of speaker, however it is essentially the same idea for every speaker. Now place the grille over the speaker and push it into place. Repeat for the other speaker as well.

Well, there you have it - it's really not too difficult at all. If you would like to see more technical articles like this one, please continue to support Pelican Parts with all your parts needs. If you like what you see here, then please visit our online BMW catalog and help support the collection and creating of new and informative technical articles like this one. Your continued support directly affects the expansion and existence of this site and technical articles like this one. As always, if you have any questions or comments about this helpful article, please drop us a line.

Comments and Suggestions:
e30thailand Comments: Don't you have photos? So it easily to follow all the steps
August 5, 2015
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: We do not, sorry. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
Al Comments: Please post the manufacturer and part numbers/model numbers for the adapters you used.
March 4, 2015
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: I will reach out to the author and see if we can add that indo. In the mean time:
Give our parts specialists a call at 1-888-280-7799 and they can help figure out which part or repair kit you need.
- Nick at Pelican Parts
DanD Comments: My 1985 325e VIN9625095 last digits are not pre-wired for tweeter speakers?
November 13, 2014
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: No, it does not look like they are prewired for tweteers. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
Luis Comments: I have an E39 2001 and my right passenger speakers are failing. I took the panel out and tested the 3 speakers with an amplifier and they all sound to perfection. I wonder if there is a fuse or chip that controls these?
All wires seem to be okay. The only thing is when I trun the radio off. I can hear a quick bad sound out of those speakers?, any suggestions
November 1, 2009
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: If the speakers are fine, then chances are it's the amplifier electronics that are controlling them. I have the same car, but I have not taken apart the stereo system. I would guess that the amplifier / head unit controls all of the speakers and/or is channeled through a crossover or amp that controls them (might be located in the trunk). When you turn off the stereo and hear that crackling sound, that is a sign that the amp is going bad, so I think your speakers are probably okay. - Wayne at Pelican Parts  

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