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Upgrading the BMW G8X M3 engine bay

I give my G8X engine bay some visual upgrades from iND, and show you you to install all the pieces for a seamless look.


Under hood fashion is all the rage these days. I never really saw the need, especially on the E92, where it had that beautiful crackle finish to the V-8’s manifold. But the G8X engine bay is very different, with its prominent strut brace and giant plastic engine cover. After seeing so many clean G8X engine bays at shows this summer, I decided to take the plunge and pop my hood.

G8X engine
The stock engine bay.

I’ll show you how to install everything, where to get it from, and the final result.

Before we begin here, I have previously installed the Armaspeed Cold Air Intake and carbon fiber radiator cover plate, but you can do this in any order. The car is also dirty, but I use AMMO Frothe under the hood to safely clean everything without getting it wet. So, pardon the dust as I work.

Let’s do it!

Downstar Bolt Dress up kit

downstar bolt dressup kit
This is the “deluxe” kit.

The first step here is to change the gross bolts that come from the BMW factory using Downstar’s G8X Deluxe Billet Dress Hardware Kit.

These do absolutely nothing for performance, although ounce for ounce they are probably a bit lighter than the stock hardware. Instead, they give each bolt a nice polished look as opposed to the untreated surface of the factory bolts. One or two already had surface rust, despite my car’s young age.

downstar bolt dressup kit
The factory bolts are fine, but not pretty to look at.
downstar bolt dressup kit

They come in multiple colors to match your G8X (I did blue with stainless steel), and you might as well pick up the “deluxe” kit to ensure it all looks finished. At $224, it’s ridiculously expensive for what amounts to some $2 bolts, but unless you want to take the time to source and match each one, this is the only way.

downstar bolt dressup kit
The kit is easy to install. Only a few are in awkward positions.
downstar bolt dressup kit
downstar bolt dressup kit
I received the bolts a few months before the other parts, but ideally everything is done at once.
downstar bolt dressup kit
You’ll need various sockets to complete the job. Torque everything to factory spec.

Goldenwrench Blackline Performance G8X cap set

Goldenwrench Blackline Caps

These are a set of cover caps for your oil, coolant and charge cooler. Sold separately is the washer fluid cap, and I purchased everything from iND.

Installation is easy, as they don’t replace the caps, just adhere directly over them. The washer fluid cap is a direct replacement, given the stock piece’s flimsy cover. Choose from machined aluminum in blue, red, or polished clear, which is what I’ve selected.

Goldenwrench Blackline Caps
At this point, let’s take off the stock strut brace and engine cover.
Goldenwrench cover
Goldenwrench cover
Goldenwrench cover
And this all get a makeover.
Goldenwrench Blackline Caps
Since the caps will be off for a bit, cover the oil filler hole with a rag to prevent anything from going in the engine.
Goldenwrench Blackline Caps
All three caps install the same way. Clean each side with alcohol, and press them together firmly for 30 seconds.
Goldenwrench Blackline Caps Goldenwrench Blackline Caps
Goldenwrench Blackline Caps
All three go on easy, and look great. Goldenwrench recommends not driving the car for 24 hours to let the adhesive cure.
G8X washer fluid
This is so cheap, the camera wouldn’t focus on it.
Goldenwrench cover
The Goldenwrench cap has some silicon grease to prevent it from “sucking” to the filler hole.
Goldenwrench cover
Pops right into place.

iND G8X Painted Engine Cover

iND painted engine cover.

Perhaps one of the most dramatic things you can do in the G8X engine bay is paint the engine cover, which is simply a piece of black plastic gladiator armor from the factory. Take it off, and you’ll see nothing worthy of being shown, so you might as well make the cover as nice as possible.

Aside from going to a local body shop to paint yours, the only option is iND. For $579, you can choose any paint color you like, along with either silver or black “BMW M POWER” lettering, and of course the famous badge. There is no core option, so you can’t send yours in to get painted, they simply send you a new one.


The finish is beautiful, and matches my factory paint exactly. After removing the strut brace, the cover pulls right off, and you can pop this one in its place. No other mod is as easy to perform while making such a dramatic difference.

iND painted engine cover.
The old one pulls right off – and the new one is a direct stock replacement, simply painted.
iND painted engine cover.
The paint is an exact color match. Well done from iND.

Fall-Line Motorsports G8X Front Strut Brace

Fall-line Motorsports strut brace

Pop the hood on an F8X M3 or M4, and you’ll find a beautiful single piece factory carbon fiber strut tower brace. In its place, the G8X features a two-piece stamped steel system. I don’t know the specific reason why BMW replaced the carbon fiber piece with this steel one, though I’m sure production cost has something to do with it.

So here we are with this functional but not very nice brace, with dull dark grey paint and ugly welded seams. Again turning to iND, I selected the Fall-Line Motorsports Front Strut brace. Yes, it’s expensive. It’s also the best after market brace you can buy.

Fall-line Motorsports strut brace

First and foremost, it’s beautifully finished, with nice detailing and chamfered cutouts. Secondly, it’s cut from a single piece of billet aluminum, so there are no welds to find.

Fall-line Motorsports strut brace
The brace is offered in black or this sort of medium grey. I wish it were a bit brighter, but in some light it can look darker.

There are multiple options out there, but this is a vital component of the chassis. Selecting a random carbon fiber piece, where structural rigidity may or may not be tested, just wouldn’t do. Aluminum is also lighter than the factory steel, and billet components are almost always stronger than welded pieces (though generally, steel is stronger than aluminum).

Fall-line Motorsports strut brace
G8X engine bay
Another route to go is with a carbon fiber bar as shown here.
Fall-line Motorsports strut brace
G8X stock brace for sale…I kno wut I Got.

The Armaspeed cover plate

Strut brace
I’m not thrilled at how it all matches up.

I’m asking many aftermarket parts to come together here. Everything fits, but the Armaspeed cover and Fall-Line Strut Brace connect in an awkward manner.

I’m not thrilled about that. The carbon fiber piece protrudes into the strut bolt area, and though it all fits together, the brace must sit over the carbon fiber. I think it looks fine, but ideally they should not touch each other. There are other options for carbon fiber covers, so if this cracks or somehow becomes damaged, I will replace it with a different unit that hopefully fits better.

My upgraded G8X engine bay

G8X M3 engine bay

The end result is a nice mix of carbon fiber, paint, and polish. This matches the outside perfectly. The only thing left to do was clean it all, which I did with my next wash. To maintain, I can simply dry with with a microfiber towel and AMMO HYDRATE.

From now on, I can pop my hood with confidence. What’s next? Stay tuned…

Want your car reviewed?

If you live in the tri-state area and want me to check it out, send me an email! 

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I use Nikon camera bodies and lenses, a Westcott Ice Light 2, Manfrotto tripod, B + W filters and an iMac Pro to make the art you see here.

Follow along on Instagram @machineswithsouls

3 thoughts on “Upgrading the BMW G8X M3 engine bay

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