PSA: Small Mirrors Will Ruin Your Life

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.

Mario Christou
Instagram: mcwpn



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Great article, "I’ve even been fighting the urge to downsize the mirror in my bedroom" being my favourite line.

More funny personal takes like this to come I hope :)


Also that's a beautiful E38.

I've been looking at E38s lately, what would you say is a reasonable price point for one, that at least offers the slim hope of avoiding major issues within the first few months?


I really enjoyed writing this piece, it was a lot of fun. I'm glad you enjoyed reading!

Ooh I'll be honest the E38 market is all over the place right now. People in E38 groups seem to be trying to keep the prices low but 'normal' sellers are pushing them up. I paid well over market at the time for mine but it was a 40k mile, one owner Individual Sport Japanese import.

Major issues will always come btw, low mileage didn't mean a thing for mine I have spent so much in maintenance it's a joke haha! As long as the preventative maintenance and wear and tear has been replaced you'll be good to go though.


that at least offers the slim hope of avoiding major issues within the first few months

There's no such thing on E38s


Dima you're right there that's for sure.


Hello Mario,

as you pointed out in your very interesting article - if you opt for aftermarket rearview mirrors, go for the real deal even if it's the more expensive option. Item with flat pane glass seriously reduces your field of vision and therefore is a huge safety issue. AC Schnitzer and the other ones you mentioned have konvex glass and are therefore more expensive than the cheap knock-offs.

I opted for a set of Runabout S800 mirrors on my Mazda Miata, because the original Dumbo ears are way too bulky. Like the classic look they provide and love one particular detail exclusive to them: the frameless konvex mirror glass. Such a sleak and clean design. Bonus points for mounting on the OE mounting points in a matter of minutes.



Hi Sebastian, you're totally right about the fake vs. real mirrors in terms of glass. If my ACS units had flat plane glass they'd be an absolute nightmare to use. People often replace damaged convex glass with normal glass because it's cheaper but don't think of the impact it has.

Those S800 mirrors are gorgeous, I love how sleek the 'frameless' design is!


Well, I never swapped my side mirrors since I think they are mostly ugly. And - as you said - usually to small.
Hm, there is one exception though: The modified mirrors that @omgmiata is using.

I will attach a picture.


Smaller mirror designs for the most part are definitely an acquired taste.

Those stalks are interesting looking items. They almost appear designed to generate downforce. Whether the effects would really be felt I'm not sure, but they definitely are a talking point.


But over a 1000 Dollars per set? Thanks but no thanks.


Same just thinking about making my own instead


Years ago, I have lusted over a pair of TTE door mirror replica. The shell were made from CF, and it replicated the design used by the ST185 GT4 rally car.

However, I found out that such mirrors offered limited view coverage, limited mirror adjustment, and needed modification of the mirror base, etc. It just not justifiable paying 450 Euros for lesser functionality than the original mirrors.

Functionality wins over form, for me.


A lot of Rally and Cup cars had really interesting mirror designs. I've actually got a massive soft spot for GT4s, the ST165 being my favourite followed closely by the 185.

I can actually see a resemblance between the TTE mirrors and 996/7 Porsche Cup items. Almost a stubbier version. I guess if they both look cool *and* are less likely to get smacked off by a tree at 90mph then they're both function and form on a rally car haha.

Jay Soh Tsu Chung

Living in Malaysia, it makes more sense to get replicas/reproduction items, as originals costs a fortune and are gold target for thieves.


Wow I've never heard of thieves targeting mirrors before! Wheels are usually the main target in the UK. A friend of mine had three different sets of locking nuts on at once at one point!

Jay Soh Tsu Chung

An acquaintance of mine had the cf covers on his E92 M3 stolen not too long ago. And that's just the cover. Imagine an actual cf Ganador or Craft Square.


Craft Square 4 lyf


Craft Sqaure are awesome, but the design never flows with the car they're on. I know that's part of the appeal, but I prefer a more integrated look myself.


Depends on other aesthetic/aero modification I think.

I'm addicted to circuit/time attack aesthetic. And SuperGT, where every car uses them!


Wow....nice article! can't remember i read something so different on Speedhunter in a long while.


Thanks for the kind words, Charles!


Solberg's S12B side mirror might not be small enough, but it's definitely unique. And the additional Rally Pig sticker is just the icing on the cake


I totally forgot that these even existed. I'm so glad you've shown me though, they're awesome. Thanks for sharing, Amir!


I ran those mirrors on my old Sti. It took me a year and a half to find a set for sale lol, totally worth the headache though!


Naveed you've got to get some cup mirrors for the 996 now. You've already had a small set. This is the way.


Cool! Care to share some pics?

My friend and I were thinking of finding one for his rally car, but decided that the money would be better spent somewhere else.

Our currency is not as strong so it is what it is


not sure why its not letting me upload the photo =(


Actually from a performance perspective small mirrors have an effect on drag. I like them because of this, but when you start talking thousands the gains from a performance perspective are better spend elsewhere.

A long time ago I wrote an article for a magazine and the theme was speed on a budget. I was interviewing a 9x champion of karitng (where we don't ever use rear view mirrors of any type) and he recommended to anyone with a low HP car the first thing they should do is reduce drag by pulling side mirrors, taping up openings in grilles, etc.

Small mirrors are a cool mod, a quantifiable way to reduce drag, and something that improves the looks of a vehicle. Given a budget I think they shouldn't be a priority, but if you're looking for the nth degree of performance maybe a good place to look.

Cool article! Not what I expected.


I had Gandors on an Evo. Looked great, couldn't see a thing. Why would I swap out my power folding OEM mirrors for those small, almost useless mirrors now on my GTR? No thanks. Power fold wins.


Cory that's exactly what I did, ditched the OEM powerfolds for a set of fixed ACS. Maybe not the smartest move on a 2m wide car, but that's why I have spares haha.


up until a certain production year, you´re right for searching (which golf mk4 driver hasn´t at least done the europe/uk swap on the co-drivers side..)

But for modern cars thanks to regularities (at least for european cars) it´s a waste of time


When I begin giving my DC5 the exterior overhaul it so desperately needs, Spoon mirrors are in the plans, with their blue-tinted & convex glass inside carbon shells. They look amazing, and I'm hoping they cut down on the bit of wind noise that I feel the stock mirrors might be causing. Sourcing a set of OEM optional heated mirrors is tempting considering I live in an area with icy winters, but as you say in that last line...

Beautiful Bimmer, by the way!


I'm the same but with 14" Japanese Wheels haha Almost at 100 now.


That's just art.


Thank you for this article. I'm much the same, having run ACS mirrors on my e39. I ended up selling the 540i, but not with the mirrors on it. There must be others like us out there, because my backup set sold for a small fortune on Fb Marketplace within five minutes of posting, and you know I have a "backup to my backup" set and an extra single that I'm still hoarding, and considering modding to run on the Lexus. So far I've only been able to find one genuine Ganador. Beautiful, beautiful e38 you have there!


Wished there were even smaller mirrors


Oh, but there are! Concept cars these days are starting to just mount little cameras in their place, feeding screens on the inside of the car. Probably won't be long before that actually becomes a thing on the road, under some trumped up pedestrian safety ruling against mirrors that are suddenly deemed dangerous protrusions that might might tag someone.


My BMW 135i side mirrors were swapped by the 1st owner to a 1M style. They are foldable, anti-glare, but don't adjust view on reverse; must be a good set for replicas not OE. If it wasn't done it would be 1 of the 1st aesthetic mods on my to do list, the regular 1 series mirrors are ugly as sh!t, and sure I'll aim for decent quality replicas not originals since it's almost a "wearable" item.


Such aftermarket mirrors looks like extremely bad-quality china made ali-express scrap In my humble opinion.
It can really ruin your life, because you can't see almost anything in such tiny mirror, and risk of causing a terrible road acsident Increases many times. And it sertainly ruins syle of your car, as for me.


I've always wanted to do this, and I've had a few BMW 5 series. Pretty bummed that I didnt not go through with it as I can honestly say, e39 mirrors are bland and boring... Except for the M mirrors of course. I never used the M mirrors because I'm a huge believer in not making a non-M car to look like an M car


If the original is up for a crazy scalper price, I think getting a high quality replica is fine.
Afterall, the reason why the original is up for crazy price is mostly because of discontinuation of the said product.


Not vintage tuner stuff, but the muscle car/pro-touring world has some neat small mirrors.

There are also a lot of cool pieces from the motorcycle community that could be fitted.


I'm usually a "function over form" type person but when I saw the Winds Auto Type 2 mirrors for the AE86, I had to buy them.
I look forward to being able to see nothing out of them compared to my OEM Electric Mirrors....


I think smaller mirrors are good for aerodynamics and looks but the visibility would be worse


Small mirror could be a PIA to drive with but well worthy if chosen the ones that accentuates the profile of the car. Btw nice E38 mate! :) One question though, why the rake?


Thanks dude! BMWs should have rake, always. An LWB can pull off level sills, but they're designed to have rake. Fitment > outright lows all day every day of the week.


I love genuine parts. Most of the time the reps are close but never as good looking as the original. I got a set of mattig cup mirrors for my mk3 gti and its been a spiral from there haha im now looking at bomex mirrors for my rps13.


I totally agree. I have similar feelings with you. I have an Audi 80, which I have been modded quite much, and now I am doing an engine swap. I like the way that my Audi looks, but there is a one quite ugly thing, side mirrors. From some angle they look okayish, but most of the time they look displeasing. Of course, there is a one very good-looking option - Porsche side mirrors. However the Porsche mirrors, which are also factory installed into the Audi RS2, are very rare and expensive. 700€ for mirrors. Thanks, but no thanks. Aftermarket mirrors doesn't exist. I have done lots of research, there are some options from other car models, but these options needs a huge amount of effort, modding and engineering. Now I have been thinking that the side mirrors of Mitsubishi Carisma could fit quite easily, I need only to find those to try it out. If those won't fit, everything will become even more desperate. Then there are two options: to find and buy extremely expensive Porsche mirrors or just accept my Audi's original elephant ears.


I couldnt see a damn thing out my Super Ganadors. I hunted for 3 years to find a pair of green carbon mines typeII areo mirrors for my R34 GTR. I was loving life until Mines decided to re-release them lol


My first Job I had 12 years back at a porsche shop, my Boss was a racing driver in switzerland, he said "the dumbest thing you can do is put small mirrors on, where you can't see shit" he's actually right, and we have 3 E39's and a E53, always liked the big mirrors, still do. BUT I'm always looking for that one set of ACS mirrors for one of our 5's cause they just look so damn cool man.


I put genuine Talbot mirrors on my 911 project and despite them being 80% form and 20% function, they complete the look too well to swap them for anything else. This winter, I'm on the hunt for convex lenses for them.


I can't say I've ever bought aftermarket mirrors, but I can't deal with replica anything.
I'd rather go without than not have the genuine article.