My name is Mario and I’m addicted to aftermarket mirrors.
They are a very niche detail, and I’d bet that right now some of you are thinking: ‘Mario, are you OK? Has lockdown got to you so badly that you’re writing about side mirrors?’ I’m here to argue that side mirrors are some of the most stylish, important and just straight up f**king coolest things you can change on your car to take it up another level. After all, the devil is in the detail and it’s detail that sets us apart.
Take my own BMW 740i. It may be a big, two-tonne cruiser, yet the OEM mirrors are so enormous they look like they’ve been hacked off of Dumbo using a meat cleaver. That’s why in the quest to make my perfect 7 Series, they had to go.
E38s weren’t exactly the tuner’s choice back in the ’90s, and the only available mirrors were AC Schnitzer or Hamann items. Both of them are rare as hen’s teeth now, but I’m an ACS man so that’s what I looked for. Luckily a set came up for sale after a year and a half of searching, and within a week of finding a genuine ACS front lip too.
As so happens with these things, another set came up soon after. Everyone needs spares, right? Then a few weeks after that a random single came up for a fiver – so I have a spare for my spare. In fact. I’ve just remembered I also put a deposit on a Hamann pair that I forgot to collect. Sh*t.
I’m not alone in my small mirror obsession though, with Ryan having also run a set of ACS mirrors on his Alpina B10 in the past. Blasphemous, but the wrongness has been offset by his E30 running microscopic DTM mirrors which are just so, so right and period correct cool.
It’s not just the Germans who enjoy tiny mirrors though. Mark’s big, bad, (probably broken) Project Thirty Four is equipped with arguably the most iconic of all small mirrors – the most honourable Ganador Super.
Naveed’s old Californian-imported R32 GT-R even sported a pair of Ganadors too.
For such a small part of the car though, there’s a catch. Be it Schnitzer, RE Amemiya, Ganador, Spoon Sports or the rest, they cost a bloody fortune if they’re genuine. Of course this opens up a debate: Do you sell a kidney to buy an original set, or do you go for a reproduction set that for all intents and purposes is indistinguishable?
Personally I wouldn’t be happy running replica items, but on the other hand I might not have pulled the trigger had my original sets cost me £1,200 a pair, for example. Not without some major counselling and the fear of parking on any narrow road ever again.
That being said, I’m not sure whether I’m in the minority or the majority in this case, so why don’t you let me know down in the comments. Would you rob a bank for some originals? Would having a rep set keep you awake at night? In fact, whilst you’re there, what lengths have some of you gone to to get your hands on a rare pair of mirrors?
Fortunately in my case, Mr Zuckerberg had been reading my internet searches and my first ACS pair popped up on my Facebook feed within five minutes of being posted for sale. My second pair involved a socially distanced swap on a council estate, being watched by many suspicious eyes from bedroom windows.
Once you’ve had a taste though, you can’t get enough. No matter how many cars I’ll own, I think side mirrors are a mod that I’ll have to consider before purchasing. No choice in small mirrors? No thank you. I’ve even been fighting the urge to downsize the mirror in my bedroom.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I have some eBaying to do. I’ve not even driven it yet, but I already have a feeling that my three quarters of a Mk1 Golf has mirrors that work a little too much for my liking. After all, looking good is more important than looking where you’ve been.