K&N Air Filter

Pros: Easy replacement, improves intake sound
Cons: Questionable performance gains
Cost: $40

Air filter box is located on the front driver’s side. Unlatch all four clips holding the airbox cover.

Lift cover to reveal stock air filter Remove stock air filter careful not to drop sediment into airbox.

K&N Filter vs. Stock Filter Seat K&N filter onto airbox lip

Carefully re-seat cover onto airbox Relatch all four clips

HMS Rollbar

Pros: Rollover protection, aggressive look
Cons: Hard to install, occupies windscreen mounting location
Cost: $700

I had the pleasure of attending the 1997 Z3 Reunion. At this reunion I got to watch a video of Z3’s being crash tested. I was very impressed with Z3’s ability to protect the driver in an accident in all but one of the tests… the rollover.

I think my paranoia started there watching that video, but it was only a slight paranoia because I could tell myself “how would you ever roll a Z3”. Later I remembered a story I heard about six months before the reunion. A Z3 owner was rear ended by a pickup truck going about 40mph. The pickup smacked into the back of the Z3 and crunched it pretty good, but the truck didn’t stop when it hit the bumper. The truck’s bumper hit the Z3 at about mid-trunk and basically jumped up onto the trunk and eventually stopped about a foot and a half behind the drivers head. If the truck had been going any faster it might have driven right into the back of the driver’s head because there was nothing to stop it.

That was it, now my paranoia was real. I started noticing how many big pickups, and surburbans there were in Dallas and it was starting to really spook me every time one got behind me. Okay I’m exaggerating a little but my paranoia was real and it was taking away from the enjoyment of driving.

I have a 1997 Z3, starting with the 1998 models BMW added rollbars as a standard feature (well really they’re roll-hoops not rollbars but basically the same thing PROTECTION). As a ’97 owner I really only had one option and that was HMS Motorsport (Z3s built on or after 1/1/97 can get the rollhoops). The owner of HMS also owns a Z3, so he took the time and capital to design a rollbar specifically for the BMW Z3. The design is top notch with an emphasis on racing and safety.

Once I had the rollbar ordered and delivered I was left with the small task of installing it. Thankfully I had several friends who helped me do the installation (which really wasn’t nearly as difficult as I thought it would be).

So now my Z3 has rollbar installed and I am extremely pleased with it. I think it adds an aggressive look to Z3 and more importantly protects Robert from that evil suburban. I like the appearance but it does change the Z3’s looks quite a bit and some may not care for the more aggressive look.

Sold By:

HMS Motorsport

www.hms-motorsport.com

(888) HMS-3BMW

Racing Dynamics Swaybars

Pros: Better handling, adjustable, solid design, more durable
Cons: Installation kit incomplete
Cost: $339

If you like to take exit ramps at speed or participate in Driver’s Schools and Autocrosses, larger Sway Bars will significantly improve the ‘turn-in’ of your Z3 and reduce understeer. The Racing Dynamics Swaybars sets include a 27mm front bar and a 17mm rear bar along with all of the mounting and reinforcement hardware necessary for the proper installation.

It took a lot of thinking to talk myself into trying this upgrade. After all, the Z3 handles better than any car I have ever been it (let alone driven). It was on the last day of the first Z3 reunion that I got a chance to talk to Mark Hughes who owns and drives the BMW sponsored Z3 race car. There were four or five of us talking to him when the conversation turned to what improvements he would suggest for the stock Z3. To make a long story short he stressed how well the Z3 was designed to be a performance car, but how the design was compensated to meet mass market approval. He said that a good first step would be thicker sway bars. He cautioned against stiffer springs and shocks if the Z3 was your everyday car, but said thicker sway bars would improve handling without compromising ride comfort.

Okay so that’s how I got talked into it, now that I have them I’m going to track down Mr. Hughes at the next reunion and buy him a beer, or two, or three. Just like he promised I haven’t been able to tell any loss of ride comfort, but put the Z3 into a hard turn and you’ll immediately notice how little the car leans. It will take you most of a Saturday to install the things, but it’s time well spent. If someday I upgrade from my 1.9 to a 2.8 these things will moving with me.

Sold By:

HMS Motorsport

www.hms-motorsport.com

(888) HMS-3BMW

Install Front Swaybar




This is an OCR/Scan of the original instructions.

FRONT & REAR SWAY BAR KIT

BMW Z3 6 CYL 97> / Z3 4 CYL 6/96> E36

PART # 196.81.36.013

READ INSTRUCTIONS THOROUGHLY BEFORE BEGINNING INSTALLATION.

2 POSITION ADJUSTABLE 27mm FRONT SWAY BAR

1. Jack the vehicle up and place on jack stands. DO NOT WORK UNDER THE VEHICLE WITHOUT USING JACK STANDS. I used a pair of jack stands on the left and right front jack points, so during installation of the front sway bars the Z3 was kind of doing a wheelie.

2. It is suggested, but not required, to remove both front wheels to ease installation. I did not find it necessary to remove the front wheels.

3. Disconnect the stock sway bar end links from the stock sway bar ends by slipping the open end of a 16mm combination wrench between the tire rod boot and sway bar. Then loosen the tie rod nut using a 17mm combination wrench. The picture on the right shows how I accomplished this task. Be somewhat gentle so you don’t damage or tear the rubber boot on the wheel side of the sway bar.

4. Remove the bushing clamps holding the sway bar to the chassis using a 10mm deep socket, and remove the stock sway bar and rubber bushings. After unbolting these clamps the sway bar will be free of the Z3.

Once the front sway bar was removed I compared it too the replacement front sway bar. As you can see the racing dynamics (green) bar is larger and ticker than the stock (black) bar. In this picture you can also compare the stock rubber bushings (black) to the urethane replacement bushings (blue).

5. Lubricate the insides of the urethane bushings with a lithium or moly based grease before installing on the bar in the stock location. NOTE: Failing to grease the bushings will cause them to squeak and wear prematurely. The grease didn’t come with the kit, so make sure you have some before you take your Z3 apart. I found some lithium grease at the local hardware store. Would have been nice if they could have included a small tube of in in the kit.

6. Secure the new bar to the chassis using the factory bushing clamps. but do not tighten the nuts. Because the urethane bushings do not compress as easily as the factory bushings, it may be helpful to spray the outside of the bushing with lubricant, then secure the clamp with a vise grip while aligning the holes. Make sure the bushing seats correctly in the clamp. I used a little of this lithium grease on the outside of the urethane bushings to make them slide in easier. The warning about not tightening the nuts is because they want the rod to move freely until you lower the car. Then once the bar is in it’s natural position under the weight of the Z3 you will tighten it.

7. Attach the sway bar ends to the stock sway bar end links. For more under steer, choose the sway bar: hole furthest from the end of the bar. For less under steer, choose the hole nearest to the end of the bar. Don’t get too tied up with the two different settings right now. You will enjoy feeling the effect of the two different settings on your own so I recommend you start on the loose/outside/hole nearest the end of the bar setting. I started on the loose setting, then went to the tight setting. I prefer the tight setting on the front sway bar.

8. Reinstall the front wheels and lower the vehicle so the full weight of the car is on the suspension. While checking for adequate clearances and proper bar centering, torque the bushing clamp to floorpan hardware to 20 ft/lbs. Okay here’s where is gets difficult. The instructions tell you to lower your Z3 then crawl under it and torque these nuts. Well folks most of us don’t fit under our Z3 without a little help. I ended up parking the Z3 at the end of the driveway where there is a slight drop off to the street. That way I could lay in the street and get under the Z3 to tighten the nuts.

9. Retorque all hardware after 500 miles. At 500 and again at 1000 miles I rechecked the torque and found that additional tightening was not needed. (but to be safe I’ll would still recommend checking.

Install Rear Swaybar


This is an OCR/Scan of the original instructions. Original instructions are in black my additional comments and suggestions are in red.

FRONT & REAR SWAY BAR KIT

BMW Z3 6 CYL 97> / Z3 4 CYL 6/96> E36

PART # 196.81.36.013

READ INSTRUCTIONS THOROUGHLY BEFORE BEGINNING INSTALLATION.

2 POSITION ADJUSTABLE 17mm REAR SWAY BAR

1. Jack the vehicle up and place on jack stands. DO NOT WORK UNDER THE VEHICLE WITHOUT USING JACK STANDS. I used a pair of jack stands on the left and right rear jack points, so during installation of the rear sway bars the Z3 was kind of standing on its head.

2. It is suggested, but not required, to remove both rear wheels and the spare tire to ease installation. Okay this time you definitely have to remove the tires and the spare tire.

3. Disconnect the stock sway bar end links from the lower control arms using two 13mm combination wrenches. It is not necessary to remove the links from the sway bar.The picture on the right shows how I accomplished this task. The vise grips were very handy since I really couldn’t get both hands into this area very easily.

4. Remove the bushing clamps holding the sway bar to the chassis using a 10mm deep socket. After unbolting these clamps the sway bar will be free of the Z3. However this sucker is going to be a pain in the ass to remove. It will be like trying to trying to solve a rubix cube. With the bends in the sway bar you’ll keep getting hung/stuck on the cage that holds the spare tire and other things. I ended up lowering the exhaust a little by removing one of the exhaust rubber hangers and that helped.

5. Remove the sway bar towards the passenger side of the vehicle noting its original position. If necessary the rear control arm can be supported with a jack while the lower shock bolt is removed to allow the shock to pivot clear as the bar is removed. Like I said in the previous step, this sway bar thing is really tough to get free of the Z3. The suggestion about “lower shock bolt is removed to allow the shock to pivot clear” kind of scared me because it sounded like they wanted me to mess with the shock and I didn’t want to do that. Don’t get too frustrated, like I said it’s like solving a rubix cube. Take your time and you will figure out how to get it out of there.

6. Install the new sway bar with the arms facing toward the front of the car. The middle of the bar should be bent downward and positioned above the differential housing. Getting the new bar is easier than getting the old bar out (thank god). By now you should be VERY familiar with how everything is positioned so this won’t be very difficult.

7. Lubricate the insides of the urethane bushings with a lithium or moly based grease before installing on the bar in the stock location. NOTE: failing to grease the bushings will cause them to squeak and wear prematurely. Same grease as on the front sway bar. Put a little dab on the outside too.

8. Secure the new bar to the chassis using the two factory bushing clamps, but do not tighten the nuts. Because the urethane bushings do not compress as easily as the factory bushings, it may be helpful to spray the outside of the bushing with lubricant, then secure the clamp with a vise grip while aligning the holes. Make sure the bushing seats correctly in the clamp.

Here’s where the shit hit the fan in my installation. If you look at the picture on the left you will notice two different brackets. The bracket on the left is the stock rear bracket off my October ’96 produced Z3. Trouble was the new urethane bushings were designed for a bracket like the one on the right (apparently BMW changed bracket designs sometime between October 1st 1996 and January 1st 1997). Problem was I didn’t have a bracket like the one on the right (BMW Part number 31-35-1-124-995), and this is not something that the local BMW dealer stocks. I called HMS and they in turn called Racing Dynamics, who located the correct brackets and shipped them too me. The Z3 remained in this stage for three days until the new brackets came. So be sure and take a look at your rear brackets before you start. If they look like the one on the left hold off installing the rear sway bar until you can locate a pair of brackets like the one on the right.

Once the new brackets arrived I still couldn’t get them to go over the protruding bolt until I bent them a little. The picture on the right shows how (using a hammer) I slightly bent them so the hole would be perpendicular with the protruding bolt. Even then I could just barely get the bolt to come through the hole, I ended up having to use vise grips to get the bracket down over the bolt (slightly messing up the threading on the bolt but not enough to hurt anything). Look back at the first picture on this step to see what I’m talking about.

9. The metal break lines mounted to the inside of the rear control arms must be moved downward to avoid interference with the end links. Rotate the clips that anchor the line to the arm so that the line runs under the screw that holds the clip to the arm. Or remove the the white plastic clip and metal stud from the control arm altogether. Brake line is secured at both ends of control arm by other clips. I tried to figure out a way of moving that white clip but was unsuccessful. I ended up removing the white plastic clip and metal stud. It made me nervous to do it but after seeing the finished result I’m okay with it.

10. Attach the sway bar ends to the control arms with the end link hardware provided (see diagram). For more oversteer, choose the sway bar hole furthest from the end of the bar. For less oversteer, choose the hole nearest to the end of the bar. Mine is on the loose setting. One of these days I’ll try the tight setting but after finally getting the rear sway bar installed I’m really not looking forward to getting back under there, removing the spare tire, and messing with it again. The adjustment would have to be made while the car is under its own weight (ie not on jack stands).

11. Reinstall the rear wheels and lower the vehicle so the full weight of the car is on the suspension. While checking for adequate clearances and proper bar centering, torque the busing clamp to chassis hardware to 16 ft/lbs and the rod end hardware to 20ft/lbs. 8mm end link bushing hardware should be torqued until the bushing just begins to bulge. OVERTIGHTENING WILL DAMAGE THE BUSHINGS. Once again this is a lot harder than it sounds. The instructions tell you to lower your Z3 then crawl under it and torque these nuts. Well folks most of us don’t fit under our Z3 without a little help. I ended up parking the Z3 at the end of the driveway where there is a slight drop off to the street. That way I could lay in the street and get under the Z3 to tighten the nuts.

12. Retorque all hardware after 500 miles. I must have originally torqued a little too much because after 500 miles I actually loosed the hardware a little.

Note: the drop link does not have to be perpendicular to the sway bar, nor does the sway bar need to be parallel to the ground for proper operation.

HMS Strut Brace for the 1.9

Pros: Easy Installation, Increased Stiffness, Less Squeaks
Cons: Cost, Not very effective for casual driving
Cost: $265.95


The sales pitch peaked my interest. “Reduce that jittery feeling when traveling around a bumpy corner. The HMS Front Upper Strut Brace ties together the two front upper strut towers, significantly reducing flex in the forward part of the chassis. This results in a much more stable feel during cornering and over road imperfections.”

Honestly, this was an impulse buy. I had prepared myself to be let down but I have to say I can actually tell a slight difference with it installed. The Z3 seems to exhibit more control and stiffness when you are just entering into a turn. Maybe more important than any increase in handling, I believe the strut brace might have decreased and/or eliminated some of the squeaks and rattles in the dash.

After installing I really pushed the Z3 around turns with a little extra speed just because it was so much fun. I had convinced myself that the difference was enough that it might be visually seen by a camera. This led me to spend a Saturday driving around the same turn with a friend snapping pictures of me with the strut brace on and off. After developing the two rolls of film you couldn’t tell a bit of difference in the pictures.

Oh well, I guess you will have to trust me you can feel it in the drivers seat. Comparing this upgrade to the sway bar kit, the strut brace has much less of an impact. the two together are a very noticeable improvement, but the strut brace takes a back seat to the sway bar kit.

Reduce that jittery feeling when traveling around a bumpy corner. The HMS Front Upper Strut Brace ties together the two front upper strut towers, significantly reducing flex in the forward part of the chassis. This results in a much more stable feel during cornering and over road imperfections.

Sold By:

HMS Motorsport

www.hms-motorsport.com

(888) HMS-3BMW

Installation



Pre-Installation Notes

* Start to Finish this shouldn’t take you more than 15 minutes.

* After unpacking and admiring your HMS strut brace you will realize that no installation instructions were included. But don’t worry, I went ahead and made about the only mistake you could make. Follow these instructions and you’ll be strut-braced in no time.

* After admiring your strut brace remove the circle shaped brackets on either end of the brace. I first attempted to install the brace all in one piece, but there is a nut under the brace and you will not be able to install it with the cross brace in place.

Strut Brace Bracket

1. Remove the six nuts (three on each side) from the protruding bolts on top of your front struts.

2. Put the bracket over the three exposed bolts

3. Put the nuts back on top, very loosely tighten two bolts and moderately tighten the third BUT DO NOT FULLY TIGHTEN. This is where I made my mistake, if you over tighten without the cross brace in place, the bracket will bend.

Strut Cross Brace Bracket

1. Install the cross brace and re-tighten it’s bolts (these you an fully tighten)

2. Finish by fully tightening the six bolt (three on each side) on the bracket. The bolt that is hidden under the cross brace will require an open ended wrench, this is why I let you tighten it a little more than the other before.

Chrome Rings in the Instrument Pod

Pros: Looks really good
Cons: Cost
Cost: $200

This is definitely not a do-it-yourself project. Your local BMW parts department can take your VIN number and order you a replacement dash pod for around $200 (yes, you will need to get an entirely new dash pod). The BMW dealership can then swap the dash pods for you for roughly two hours of labor. This is something you might be able to do yourself, but I highly recommend you let a dealership do the swap for several reasons.

1. Well documented that the dash pod was switched (in case there is any odometer questions later on).

2. Lots of electronics in this dash pod. The dealership will probably set off a few sensors (mine did) and resetting the sensors is something you can’t do at home. So you would probably end up back at the dealer anyway.

I got lucky; my original dash pod had a scratched fog light indicator lens in it. I was going to get a new dash pod under warranty. The service advisor was kind enough to order the chrome ringed dash pod upon my request (no extra charge). So consider this if you ever have warranty work done on your dash.

BMW Windscreen (2nd Design)

Pros: Can fold down when the top is up
Cons: Hard to install
Cost: $259.95

This windscreen design is available for the same price as the old windscreen–$259.95. It is significantly harder to install than the old design, but has the advantage of being able to fold down even when the top is up. Unless you feel very handy, I recommend letting your local dealer install it (that’s what I did).

The windscreen in the recommended driving position–tilted slightly forward.

A close-up of where the windscreen mounts into the plastic.

The windscreen has three folded-back positions. Here is the first–tilted back slightly.

This is folded almost all the way down–the recommend position if you use the soft boot.

Folded all the way down–the windscreen can also fold to this position when the top is up.

Here’s how to get to the storage compartment–see those two things in the middle of the windscreen? You squeeze them together and the bottom of the windscreen releases from the side supports.

Then, you can pull the top of the windscreen toward you, which swings the bottom of it up and away from the storage lid.

When the windscreen is tilted so it is parallel to the storage lid, you can easily open the lid and access the contents of the compartment.