Long read, plenty of pics. I'll post smaller pics next time, I realize they're pretty big (900 pixels wide).

Whoa boy, not gonna lie: this has been the most painful rearview camera install I've ever done on any car (this is my 5th now). And I'm not done yet! If there's one word I can boil it down to in terms of BMW interior fit and finish, it's tight. These tight interior tolerances esp. on the A-pillar trim have made this job excruciatingly more difficult than other vehicles I've owned.

So my goal with my ZHP right now is to restore it back to its OEM glory. As I have only owned my '03 for about a month now, I'm discovering things that I need to either repair, replace, recondition, etc. But again, restoring it to OEM. However, there are some things that I absolutely want to upgrade around safety and one of those items is a rear view camera when backing up. We have pets and our backyard's turnout can be challenging at times to get out of, so a rear view camera is a must for me.

I looked at several in-dash stereo + camera systems and while I really love the AVIN4, it seemed a bit much to spend to just have rearview camera capability. So I searched far and wide and this camera fit the bill and then some.

The Wolfbox camera system has a lot going for it. Aside from the front and rear view capabilities, it also has a GPS module you can plug into it. It is 4K capable and the clarity is pretty amazing. You can, for example, use the camera as a rearview mirror. But the cam also allows you to shut it off and use it like a traditional mirror. And yes, it auto dims. Oh and if you get the hardwired kit, it has parking mode (camera captures and records movement around your car when parked). But unlike Tesla, it doesn't have side view cameras. The hardwire kit is next on my list to install.

There's a bunch of great vids on installing a rear view camera system. This is the one that I referenced the most: ShopLifeTV's BMW BACKUP CAMERA INSTALL DIY

After removing the trim piece (trim tool is invaluable), tool kit, 2 hidden screws, and emergency trunk release:

Mirror install - The mirror itself has two rubber straps to hold it onto the mirror. I'm going to request from the mfg some additional straps because, well, I live in TX. Who knows how long the rubber will last. They give you a total of 3 of them. Affixing the mirror is simple. There's two sets of hooks on the back for the straps to attach to.

Rear camera install- This is one of the many reasons why this install was a pain. In retrospect, the better move might've been to buy a license plate frame w/ a camera mount, but none of the ones I saw looked low profile. I did see one or two companies that made integrated cameras into the door latch, but I didn't want to buy another camera (concerns w/ compatibility) and maybe have to buy signal cable adapters too. So the trunk trim piece has 4 screws that hold it to the bottom of the trunk lid. Remove those screws and carefully pull out the trunk lid piece.

Take a look at this non-ZHP pic from the above-referenced video. As you can see, Mr. ShopLife's E46's trunk latch rectangular hole is the size of the Grand Canyon as compared to our ZHPs (at least mine).

There is no way the camera cable can fit through that small hole. So after much intense deliberation (not kidding here), I decided that I had to drill a new hole for the cable. I was sweating bullets of course, this is a new-to-me vehicle. I sacrificed the screw hole to the left of the trunk handle because that seemed to be the most used location from all the vids I watched. I had to drill out the white screw grommet until it could be pushed inward. Don't worry, all you have to do is open and close the trunk lid and it'll naturally be accessible through that hole (pick out w/ long pliers).

Now here's the part that made me sweat: drilling the cable hole. I used a punch to notch the hole. Drilling from the outside in, I progressively used drill bits up to 9/32". Anything greater than 9/32" would round out the square grommet hole. And luckily, the signal wire fit 9/32". I touched up the hole w/ a little touch up paint to prevent rust, and then after drying, I ran the signal cable through it. Some tips: put painter's tape on the two plastic nubs on the trim piece and also around the hole you're drilling through. Also, when drilling, tilt and hold the trim piece at a 45 degree angle. I didn't at one point and my drill slightly burned the top of the trim piece. Touch up paint took care of it, but hard lesson learned. Sorry, no pics. Both hands were busy and it was late. But here's a pic of where the hole ended up. I also ran the cable through a protective sleeve so it's protected from abrasion (which really, there shouldn't be because of the generous cable slack).

Running the 2nd cable from the camera to the trunk- As mentioned, the tolerances of the interior trim are unbelievably tight, so plastic semi-rigid pry tools are a must. The camera system includes ONE pry tool, but if you live near Harbor Freight, buy their kit. I ended up using a combination of tools to run the wire. One of the cons though is that this camera system requires a lot of attaching of cables to it to make it work. There's one cable that powers it and the signal wire to it. But I guess that's par for the course for similar camera systems. Thus, there is no way to run two cables (power and signal) along the same side of the vehicle because the trim is so tight on the A-pillar. Anyways, I plugged the signal cable to the camera and ran it horizontally to the top of the A-pillar and then squeezed the cable from the top to the bottom of the A-pillar and then down behind the rubber trim (see pics). I continued to run it down and underneath the trim. When I reached the back, I removed the seat (pop them right out) and then under the back plastic trim and into the trunk. The description makes it sound easy, but it took a lot of time to do so (or at least I was being extra careful being a first-timer).

Nice toes, huh

Impossible to run signal cable through trunk "elephant" grommet- Oh Lordy, if I had a quarter (inflation) for every swear word I used over two days, I'd be a millionaire. I tried just about every freakin' method known to man to try to get the signal cable up and through just the bottom part of the grommet. The problem is, tolerance! The cable bundle is sleeved and fits nearly perfectly in the elephant grommet. It also takes a 90 degree turn and good luck getting it to make that curve and through the rubber grommet. Frankly, I just gave up. It doesn't look as clean as it would running through it, and this is probably the biggest con of the install. Literally, my anal retentive side is bursting at the seams. However, I gave it a valiant fight and so I made the best of it. The kit included some adhesive backed cable securing thingies and I used one to make sure that the signal wire would stay and fall away from the rear of the trunk opening, so as to NOT be caught and pinched. See the vid. This is the best I can do for now. Pic of said elephant grommet:

Video link of cable not getting caught

I have studied other vids of cam cable installs and from what I concluded is that the elephant grommet for other E46 models have larger ID boots than our ZHPs. In the above-referenced vid, he takes a very large diameter tool (looks like semi-rigid plastic of some sort) and runs it through with a little effort. Easy peasy for him. Not even possible for the ZHP. Or else, I just suck and failed. I tried a coat hanger too but still too big esp w/ the butt end of the signal cable taped to it.

Soldering reverse wire- This was easy. The pics below show where to tap the reverse power wire. Remove the light assembly and the blue/yellow wire was the reverse wire for me. The pic below was just to test. I did solder it correctly; poking a hole between the wire, soldering, shrink tubing, and then wrapping it in the proper cloth tape.

Cigarette lighter power cable install - The system comes with a cigarette lighter power cable. This needs to be routed to the top of the camera and on the other A-pillar. But since I bought the hardwire kit, I'm not routing this cig lighter power cable to it. However, it did give me the opportunity to test it out and here's the video. Oh, I'm not that technically challenged; filming and learning button functions for the first time was happening in this video lol:

Vid link

I'm not done yet. I have worked on this on and off for the past 3-4 days. As with any new vehicle and install, I'm taking my sweet time but yes, it's been a challenge as they say in corporate speak. I'm gonna have to live with the signal cable wiring in the trunk for now and explore other options like finding and drilling a small unobtrusive second waterproof grommet. Also for today, I'm going to install the hardwire kit, which will require me to remove the glove box, find a suitable accessory fuse slot (pretty sure it's 26), and run the wires. Lastly, I'll have to align the parking guide lines in a local parking lot. More to come.