Although it seems that the engine compartment was designed and completed prior to the insertion of the battery and then the battery was tossed in as an afterthought, there are some very suitable replacements for the Varta/Berga OEM batteries.
The standard equipment battery (55 a.h.) can be purchased from your dealer (#61 21 1357 206) at a very stiff price of $84. Better yet, a 55 a.h. tropical battery (#61 21 1350 818) can be used to replace the OEM. Still better is a Porsche battery 66 a.h. shaped the same as the OEM BMW battery. It is priced at $73, however. The Audi battery seems to be the most reasonably priced replacement at $43 with a rating of 54 a.h. (good enough). A
Alternatives which are more or less suitable include the following (among others): Sears Die-Hard (for VW) size 42 (#4386) this is not of sufficiently high ampere rating (50 a.h.)$45. Sears Die-Hard size 22(62 a.h.)$45. Size 24 (#4301) will not fit because the terminals are not recessed and it may "short" against your hood.
J.C. Penny Lifetime Battery (size 22) sealed and guaranteed for the life of the car in which it is originally installed. No ampere rating is given but it must be around 65 a.h. given the other battery specifications$45.
J.C. Penny Lifetime Battery (size 24 side terminals). This can be installed and is probably the highest rated battery you can use in terms of amperes (again not part of Penny's specifications, but it must be around 85-95 a.h.). It has no fill-spouts nor battery terminals on top so there is plenty of clearance. Modifications required include backwards mounting, two new cables, and a hold-down apparatus, so this may discourage its installation $45.
An even more suitable solution may be coming in the not too distant future. Varta has established an office in Westchester County, New York, and they will be bringing in their batteries. There is some question as to whether they are better than (indeed, as good as) batteries manufactured in the U.S. On the other hand, their batteries fit. Perhaps now that they are importing batteries on a larger scale, the prices will come down.
Author: Richard K. Aland