I Can See Clearly Now, Too!

Let me state for the record that I DO enjoy the fact I have a folding rear window like the classic roadsters of days gone by. The day I start whining about wanting a defrosted glass rear window, seating for four, and more storage space — please sentence me into a LeBaron for 30 days. Even so, after reading Robert’s eye-opening article on Meguiar’s plastic window product, I figured I should recommission the one I bought months ago and shelved away.

I’ve never really done too much to clean mine since delivery back in September ’96. Upon recommendation from the dealer, I remember once trying Pledge spray on it. That didn’t work well. It just resulted in me having to exert lots of work getting rid of oily residue off the surface. I HAVE taken care of the window by using the supplied Rear Window Blanket #82-11-1-469-778, but two years will build a hazing no matter what precautions are taken. This hazing or fogging is caused by microscratches on the surface. The bad practice of using a glass cleaner might rid the surface of dirt and waterspots, but thanks to FredK’s excellent explanation, you’ll know better to stay away from it…besides, it doesn’t remove the microscratches.

Robert used the heavy-duty regimen of Meguiar’s #17 Cleaner followed by Meguiar’s #10 Polish. I used a slightly different product, Meguiar’s #18 Cleaner/Polish. I suspect most who’ve cared for their rear window as I have will only need to use this all-in-one product. The steps are quite simple — spray on, wipe with cloth, and use a drier side to buff clean.

I elected to use smooth cotton polishing cloths. They were the consistency of a thick cotton t-shirt (which would probably work just as well). One cloth was used to spread the sprayed liquid, another cloth was used to polish dry the area. I worked in small sections at a time and only used straight back and forth motions… not circular! Both inside and outside of the window was cleaned this way. The passenger’s half was done first to show how dramatic the difference was.

Use newspaper or a beach towel to line the rear console plastic as errant spray droplets will be bothersome to buff clean. Once you’re finished, the plastic window will look just as clear as the day it rolled off the assembly line! The bottle was hardly used and I suspect the window will only require no more than three cleanings a year.

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What is the Perfectly Equipped 2.3 Z3? Owner Survey Says….

In the United States, BMW recently stopped selling the 1.9 Z3 and with the 1999 model year started offering a new 2.3 Z3. Despite the name, the new 2.3 Z3 actually has a 2.5 liter straight six cylinder engine. To keep the base price of the new 2.3 Z3 down close to where the previous 1.9 Z3 was selling, BMW started making some features optional that used to be standard. They also saved a few dollars changing the standard tires.

The 2.3 Z3 has a base price of $30,520 (with destination), which at first seems pretty impressive considering the 1.9 Z3 had a base price of $29,995 (with destination). But then you start going through the options and realize how many there are and how expensive a 2.3 Z3 can get. Fully loaded, the MSRP on a 2.3 Z3 can climb as high as $37,430. To help future 2.3 Z3 owners evaluate the cost/benefit of all the various options, MZ3.Net polled current Z3 owners to see what they thought of the various 2.3 options and if they where worth the upgrade price. Following are the results of that survey.

Is the premium package for the 2.3 (power top, leather seats, wood trim) worth the $2000 upgrade price?  [37 votes total]
Worth Every Penny 2(5%)
Nice but too Expensive 24(64%)
Waste of Money 11(29%)

Is the power top worth the $750 upgrade price?  [49 votes total]
Worth Every Penny 6(12%)
Nice but too Expensive 9(18%)
Waste of Money 34(69%)

Is the on board computer worth the $300 upgrade price?  [44 votes total]
Worth Every Penny 12(27%)
Nice but too Expensive 17(38%)
Waste of Money 15(34%)

Is the wood console for the 2.3 worth the $400 upgrade price?  [34 votes total]
Worth Every Penny 3(8%)
Only with the Tan Interior 2(5%)
Nice but too Expensive 12(35%)
Waste of Money 17(50%)

Are the fog lights on the 2.3 worth the $260 upgrade price?  [38 votes total]
Worth Every Penny 10(26%)
Nice but too Expensive 23(60%)
Waste of Money 5(13%)

Is the in dash CD worth the $200 upgrade price?  [31 votes total]
Worth Every Penny 27(87%)
Nice but too Expensive 3(9%)
Waste of Money 1(3%)

Is the HK stereo upgrade worth the $675 upgrade price?  [35 votes total]
Worth Every Penny 3(8%)
Nice but too Expensive 12(34%)
Waste of Money 20(57%)

Are the heated seats worth the $500 upgrade price?  [48 votes total]
Worth Every Penny 29(60%)
Depends on Climate 16(33%)
Nice but Expensive 1(2%)
Waste of Money 2(4%)

Are the sport seats worth the $400 upgrade price?  [42 votes total]
Worth Every Penny 31(73%)
Nice but Expensive 8(19%)
Waste of Money 3(7%)

Are the leather seats for the 2.3 worth the $1150 upgrade price?  [38 votes total]
Worth Every Penny 8(21%)
Nice but too Expensive 24(63%)
Waste of Money 6(15%)

Is the cruise control for the 2.3 worth the $475 upgrade price?  [44 votes total]
Worth Every Penny 8(18%)
Nice but too Expensive 28(63%)
Waste of Money 8(18%)

Is the chrome trim package for the 2.3 worth the $150 upgrade price?  [35 votes total]
Worth Every Penny 14(40%)
Only with the Black Interior 7(20%)
Nice but too Expensive 2(5%)
Waste of Money 12(34%)

So from the survey results it appears the most desirable/cost conscience 2.3 Z3 would be a base model with heated sport seats, an in-dash CD, and maybe the chrome package. A Z3 equipped with these options would MSRP for only $31,770.

Not included in this survey were options like automatic transmission ($975), metallic paint ($475), and wheel upgrades ($500). Those options are more personal preference and really cannot be evaluated via a simple poll.

Footwell Lights

Pros: Better Visibility, Neat Fade In/Fade Out
Cons: Requires cutting interior, Warranty

The picture at the end of this article is of a typical BMW M roadster interior, except in this M roadster a set of footwell lights has been installed. The picture to the left shows a close up of the footwell lights installed flush in cut-out sections from the underside of the dash. The lights fade in and out just like the overhead light. There is one light in the passenger side footwell and another light in the drivers side footwell. They make a nice addition to the interior, the inside of the car lights up and makes it very easy to see anything down on the floor.

I don’t have the specific part numbers for the lights, but I know they are BMW parts. I believe they are lights from a 5 series but I can not confirm that. At one time a kit was being sold online but the person that was selling it stopped so a certain amount of information on how to do this was lost. The instructions below are from that now extinct kit, hopefully it is enough for you to figure it out yourself.

Foot Lights

These are instructions ONLY.

Installation is at your own risk.

This is in no way related to BMW

Remove lower dash panel. Remove clips (1) from panel by turning 90 degrees with screwdriver. Do this to driver and passenger side. These panels are where you will install the footlights

Next open glove box and remove screw caps with small screwdriver or pick. Remove screws where (1) pointing to.

Remove glove box by taking screws out located by (1). Lower right side of glove box first. This part is a little tricky but work glove box around center console. Watch out for the metal clips. They will scratch the center console.

Next you should see something like this. On connector (1) it is black. There should be a brown wire with a black stripe in pin FOUR. This is the wire that you will splice in to for power. Use the blue crimp connector and splice the yellow wire to the BROWN/BLACK WIRE.

Here is a photo after this splice was done.

(Editors Note: Remember these instructions were part of a kit, obviously the yellow wire and blue crimp device were part of that kit).

Next run the wire over the drivers side.

(Editors Note: This wire will be used to power the light on the drivers side).

Next remove the passenger speaker cover. Turn the screw head 90 degrees (Black arrow). Pull speaker cover towards you like the White arrows shown. You will see a body ground behind cover. This is where you install the ground wire.

(Editors Note: Here is a photo of the ground wire referred to in the previous step).

You will need to cut 2 ¾” by 1 ¼” holes in the lower dash panel for the footlights.

(Editors Note: Refer to the very first image in this article for a photo of the lights installed in these cutouts.)

Missing from the instructions is the step of actually hooking the wires to the lights, but you get the idea. The key here is the identification of the wire that should be used as the source. I would also like to add one final word of caution, notice in the very last picture in the instruction that the lights used in the kit had a thin metal heat shield like thing behind them. The shield is important because once you put all this back up under your dash you don’t want to harm any wires that may come in contact with the back side of the light. Now these lights typically are not going to on for any extended period of time but I would still recommend being a little extra picky about what lights you use.

HK Amp Swap

Pros: Easy Upgrade, Maintain Warranty
Cons: Just a moderate upgrade
Cost: About $40 (price depends on seller)

The Environmentally Correct Stereo Upgrade


Please don’t throw those HK amps in the dumpster!!

I’m not certain how it came up, I think it was Robert’s idea. He wondered if there was a way to use the vast number of Harmon Kardon amplifiers that have been removed during the stereo upgrades by members of the Message Board. The idea was to replace the stock amplifier with the HK amp. I volunteered to use my 3/96 production 1.9 Z3, one of the very early production cars. It does not have rear speakers or a sub woofer. The only stereo upgrade that has been performed on my Z is a set of MB Quart QM130TX3 5¼ in. front kick panel speakers. The improvement that these speakers made is chronicled by Carter Lee in his column here on MZ3 Net.

You will need a few hand tools to perform the swap:

10 mm socket

short extension


large flat tip screw driver or

trim panel plug removal tool

You remove the carpet trim from the front of trunk by removing the black trim plugs. Locate your amp: on early cars its located in the upper left front of trunk, on later cars it’s in the upper right front. Using the 10mm socket, extension, and ratchet remove the three nuts that hold the mounting bracket to the body. You then unplug the two connectors from the back of the amp. There are three 10mm nuts that hold the amp to the mounting bracket, remove these. Place the amp in a safe place. The installation of the HK amp is the reverse of the removal. This is an exact bolt for bolt swap, nothing to modify! Total time for this upgrade 30 min., a complete no-brainer! There is one remaining plug on the HK amp that remains unused, I am told this is for EQ changes related to the speed sensitive volume. But the amp works just fine without this connection (which is a good thing since older stereo setups don’t have this wire).

Now the results. Bass is much better, feels about 30% better. Measurement done by the bass-o-meter (my left foot on dead pedal). Highs are about the same. Tried increasing the treble but not much different from original amp. The most noticeable change is the lack of distortion in the upper volume ranges. The original setup would flake out at volume levels required at 70mph. The HK amp allows distortion free sound at speeds up to 85mph.

Is it worth it? In a word, YES! For those of us who are not the audiophiles this is a very cost efficient upgrade. In my case the hardest thing to do was empty the trunk. At the 1999 Homecoming there will be a new contest to go with the autocross, the POS Amp Toss, you can use it there. Now all you true audiophiles who have upgraded to an aftermarket system now have a market for your old amps, and we will have enough of the old amps for the POS Amp Toss at 99 Homecoming.

In an attempt to match HK buyers up to HK sellers, I recommend you post on the BMW roadster message board, Robert and I agreed upon a $40 price for the HK amp so I recommend you start the buying/selling negotiations there.

///M Roadster Foglight Installation

Pros: Increased visibility, looks
Cons: none?
Cost: Less than $200 installed

As we all know, ///M Roadsters do NOT come with factory foglights as either standard or optional equipment. In order to obtain them, we must look to aftermarket suppliers. The decision as to whether or not I needed them was made for me by virtue of the fact that I live on Cape Cod, which just may be the Fog Capital of the Eastern Seaboard. After seeing Walter’s at the Escape to the Cape Drive this year, I know I would be purchasing a similar model. Walter had chosen PIAA 1400’s in Amber. I opted for the same lights but picked the clear lens version, as they are a bit brighter. I purchased them for $149.95 from 4 Wheel Parts Wholesalers (800-421-1050) as they had the best price.

When they arrived, the only question in my mind was where to mount them. Walter mounted his in the engine intake and they look quite good there. I, however, being the Contrarian that I am, decided to mount them in the outer (brake cooling) intakes. Please note that these lights are very small and should not seriously impede the airflow to the disc brakes.

Wiring these lights was easy, I mean REALLY easy. It should take about 1.5 hours for most anyone.

Step #1 – The switch wires and switch:

The first step is to unravel the wiring harness provided with the foglights. I decided to mount the relay (included) and the fuse holder (also included) in the factory fuse box. This would keep the electronics centrally located and dry. Cut the 2 wires that run to the switch plug about 24 inches from the switch plug itself.

Snake the cut wires through the large grommet already in the firewall on the driver’s side.

Unscrew the fuse holder (remove 2 front screws and loosen 2 read screws) so that you may lift it up.

This will allow some additional access to feed the wires up and through the factory hole in the bottom of the fuse holder.

Once that is done, attach a female spade connector to the input side of the switch wire and (using a fuse tap) connect to the switched side of fuse #44 (note: this photo shows the wire tapped into fuse #33 which is not switched). Attaching the wire to this location will allow the foglights to be turned on whenever the ignition is on. Some locations may require that they be wired in such a way that they may only be turned on when the low beams are on. If this is this case in your area, then you may want to tie this wire into your low beam power wire.

The switch itself was mounted to the knockout panel to the left of the steering wheel where the factory switch is located. I simply trimmed the back of the switch to allow the wire to run straight off the back and I drilled a small hole in the knockout panel. The switch was attached with 2 sided tape. Finally, ground the switch to one of the 4 brass bolts under the driver’s side of the dash (I think they are 7 mm).

Step #2 – The rest of the wiring:

Remember that the entire wiring harness is complete when you buy the kit so the only connections that have to be made are power, ground and any wires you cut during the installation itself.

Re-attached the switch wires that you cut. Run all the ground leads down through the fuse holder and out the front (via the rubber grommet there). Route them towards the factory ground point on the front left fenderwall. They may all be grounded here.

Run the wires for the lights out the same rubber grommet and down towards the front grill. The wires may be hidden in the factory wire-loom. This picture shows the foglight wires hidden inside the factory wire-loom and the ground wires grounded at the factory ground point. At this point, the last wire to connect will be the power wire. It can be connected to the hot side of the fuse box (passenger’s side) below the fuses. You will see a nut than can be unscrewed and the power lead attached. I couldn’t get a good shot of this but you will see what I mean. This is an adequate source of power as the foglight kit has it’s own in-line fuse. Once connected, you may screw the 4 screws back in place that hold the fuse box down.

At this point, all you need to do is wire-tie the relay, in-line fuse and extra wiring neatly together and put the top back on the fuse box.

Step #3 – Mounting the foglights:

Run the foglight wires so that they are just to the driver’s side of their respective brake air intakes. Then, carefully cut a small slice in the plastic (about 8” inside the intake) and pull the wire through. The foglights are attached using 2 sided tape and screws (optional). The 2 sided tape is really strong and should be enough to hold them in place. Plug the foglights into the wiring harness and turn them on. If you installed them correctly, they should work. Turn them off again so they don’t get too hot to handle. Unscrew the mounting plates but don’t remove them. Stick the 2 sided tape to the mounting plate and hold the light in the brake intake duct. With the lights (low beams too) on and shining at a wall, aim the foglights where you want them.

Only concern yourself with the left-to-right angle at this time. When they are pointing where you want them, stick them to the roof of the intake. At this point, you have just mounted the mounting plates. Remove the foglights only and ensure that the mounting plates are firmly attached. If you wish, you may at this time use the screws included with the kit. Re-attach the foglight to the mounting plate and adjust the up-and-down angle before tightening completely. Repeat for the other side and it should look like this.

Step #4 – Enjoy!

They greatly increase your visibility off to the sides of the road as well as in the fog without blinding oncoming traffic. I’m quite pleased with the results – for safety as well as aesthetic reasons.

The Tire Shell Game

“What tires come on the BMW Z3?” – At one time that was an easy question to answer. For all of 1996, the only tires you would find on a new BMW Z3 were Michelin Pilot HX MXM 225/50/16. In 1997, BMW released the 2.8 Z3 with an optional 17 inch tire package. The optional package featured an even better set of Michelin Pilot SX MXX3 tires. In 1998, with the introduction of the BMW M roadster, every review and advertisement showed the M roadster with the same upgraded Michelin Pilot SX MXX3 tires.

But when the M roadster was delivered to owners, the Michelin Pilot tires had been quietly switched to Dunlop SP8080E tires without any explanation or price change. The replacement Dunlop tires (including two of mine) had on occasion become “out of round”, which resulted in an annoying vibration right around 70MPH (+/- 5MPH). The Dunlop SP8080E tires quickly picked up the nick name Dun-lop-sided tires. However, BMW does not warranty the tires, Dunlop does. So those with bad tires were asked to find a Dunlop dealer and deal with them directly.

It appears the same shell game is being played with the new 2.3 Z3. I went to one dealership and the very first 2.3 Z3 I found had the typical Michelin Pilot HX MXM tires. But then every other 2.3 Z3 I found had Continental ContiSportContact tires. I am by no means a tire expert, so I decided to visit a popular internet mail-order tire shop and see what they had to say about all these various tires.

In comparing the Michelin Pilot HX MXM tires to the Continental ContiSportContact tires, I see that in the Tire Rack rates the Michelin tires a 8.7 and the Continental tires a 8.4 (pretty close). Looking at the price difference, the Michelin tires are regularly $178, on sale for $165. The Continental tires are regularly $145, on sale for $125. Some quick pounding on the calculator tells me that at the regular price that is a $132 total change and at the sale price it is a $160 change. It would appear that part of the equation used to keep the new 2.3 Z3 under the $30,000 MSRP was to use cheaper tires.

Using the same methods I turned my attention to the M roadster tire swap. The Tire Rack rates the Pilot SX tires at 9.0 but the Dunlop SP8080E tires are not reviewed. Using the Tire Rack’s search engine, I found the price on the SP8080E tires and discovered that the price difference for the four tires is only $2, so dollar-wise they seem to be equal counterparts. (Well, except for the fact that some of the Dunlop SP8080E tires are becoming out of round).

1.9 Z3 with standard 16″ Michelin HX tires


Wheels: 7Jx16 (46mm offset)

Tires: 225/50/16 Michelin Pilot HX MXM – $178 ($165 on sale)


Wheels: 7Jx16 (46mm offset)

Tires: 225/50/16 Michelin Pilot HX MXM – $178 ($165 on sale)

1.9 Z3 with rare1 16″ Michelin SX tires


Wheels: 7Jx16 (46mm offset)

Tires: 225/50/16 Michelin Pilot SX MXX3 – $201


Wheels: 7Jx16 (46mm offset)

Tires: 225/50/16 Michelin Pilot SX MXX3 – $201

2.3 Z3 with standard 16″ Continental tires


Wheels: 7Jx16 (46mm offset)

Tires: 225/50/16 Continental ContiSportContact – $145 ($125 on sale)


Wheels: 7Jx16 (46mm offset)

Tires: 225/50/16 Continental ContiSportContact – $145 ($125 on sale)

2.3 Z3 with rare2 16″ Michelin HX tires


Wheels: 7Jx16 (46mm offset)

Tires: 225/50/16 Michelin Pilot HX MXM – $178 ($165 on sale)


Wheels: 7Jx16 (46mm offset)

Tires: 225/50/16 Michelin Pilot HX MXM – $178 ($165 on sale)

2.8 Z3 with standard 16″ Michelin HX tires


Wheels: 7Jx16 (46mm offset)

Tires: 225/50/16 Michelin Pilot HX MXM – $178 ($165 on sale)


Wheels: 7Jx16 (46mm offset)

Tires: 225/50/16 Michelin Pilot HX MXM – $178 ($165 on sale)

2.8 Z3 with rare3 16″ Michelin SX tires


Wheels: 7Jx16 (46mm offset)

Tires: 225/50/16 Michelin Pilot SX MXX3 – $201


Wheels: 7Jx16 (46mm offset)

Tires: 225/50/16 Michelin Pilot SX MXX3 – $201

2.8 Z3 with optional 17″ Michelin SX tires


Wheels: 7.5Jx17 (41mm offset)

Tires: 225/45/17 Michelin Pilot SX MXX3 – $234


Wheels: 8.5Jx17 (41mm offset)

Tires: 245/40/17 Michelin Pilot SX MXX3 – $261

M roadster with standard 17″ Dunlop tires


Wheels: 7.5Jx17 (41mm offset)

Tires: 225/45/17 Dunlop SP Sport 8080E – $242


Wheels: 9Jx17 (8mm offset)

Tires: 245/40/17 Dunlop SP Sport 8080E – $252

M roadster with rare4 17″ Michelin SX tires


Wheels: 7.5Jx17 (41mm offset)

Tires: 225/45/17 Michelin Pilot SX MXX3 – $234


Wheels: 9Jx17 (8mm offset)

Tires: 245/40/17 Michelin Pilot SX MXX3 – $261

(Note: prices are from www.tirerack.com as of 10/22/98)

1 Some 1996 1.9 owners reported receiving the better Michelin Pilot SX tires instead of the Michelin Pilot HX tires.

2 Michelin Pilot HX tires were on very early production versions of the 2.3 Z3. It now appears that every 2.3 is being delivered with the Continental tires.

3 Some 1997 2.8 owners reported receiving the better Michelin Pilot SX tires instead of the Michelin Pilot HX tires even though they were the standard 16″ tire size.

4 In the author’s opinion, this is false advertising, but in every magazine review/article/advertisement that I have seen, BMW used an M roadster with Michelin Pilot SX MXX3 tires. MZ3.Net is not aware of any M roadster owner in the US that has received the Michelin tires.

Dissecting the M Air Intake Box

Turns out the air intake box on the M roadster is slightly different than the air intake box on the 2.8 liter Z3. The difference stems from the fact that the M roadster has an additional air intake “snorkel” that is connected down to the hole on the front bumper where the 2.8 liter Z3 fog lights are installed.

I was curious to see how BMW redesigned the air intake box to account for this additional air intake. Dissecting the M air intake box might also be informative to 2.8 owners who are looking to increase the airflow to their roadsters. It appears you could even retro-fit the M air box into a 2.8 and install your own snorkel, but I’ll let a 2.8 owner try that one.

First step was to remove the air filter so I could see inside the box. Two plastic clips hold the filter housing in place. After the clips are unclipped, the entire filter housing slides out (FYI: this is also how you replace the filter). I believe I’m still on my factory filter and have over 11,000 miles on my M roadster. The filter still looks fairly clean, but I knocked some dust off since I had it out anyway.

Once the filter is removed you can look into the wide slot on the top of the air box. The following pictures are of inside that open slot, but because it is dark in there it is difficult to make out what you will be seeing. Just remember you are looking down into the now open slot where the air filter used to be.

First notice the debris that had accumulated in the air box. It was mostly sand and dirt, but I did find one pebble about 5/6th the size of a dime (guess this is why we have air filters). But the important thing to notice in this picture is the tube inside the air box. This tube is what carries air INTO the air box.

Getting the camera positioned just right, you can actually find the right angle and see down into the air box, through that air tube, down the snorkel, to the bumper and catch some daylight. I’m sure this is probably the path that nearly dime sized pebble took, but the point is it is also the path that a LOT of air took.

The other air intake position is just to the left of the driver’s side headlight. Although this area is not directly exposed behind the kidney grill on the hood, it is pretty close and should catch a lot of incoming air. This air intake is identical to the air intake on the 2.8 liter Z3, although in the 2.8 it is the sole air intake. In the M this intake works in addition to the other one. They are both connected to the air box via the same tube I showed you inside the air box (so there is a “Y” connection somewhere just outside the air box).

Looking back in the air box (remember the air filter is removed in this picture) you can see a second tube that would normally be on the other side of the air filter. This tube moves air from the air box into the engine. Just out of frame but to the right of this picture is a air flow meter that monitors the airflow and passes the information onto the roadster’s CPU.

BMW Parcel Net Installation

I’ve never taken stock in the notion that the roadster is an impractical car. If there’s a need for something, there’s bound to be a solution. After many miles of driving, I’ve noticed the need for something to keep bits of paper, receipts, post-it notes, and driving directions from fluttering away. On one occasion, I had actually witnessed a receipt spiral around and up in the cockpit before disappearing in my rearview mirror.

Since the glove box and rear storage hatch were already stuffed with goodies, my interim solutions ranged from weighting paper down in the (when empty) passenger seat, wedging it under my right leg, or filing it in the gap between the seat and center console. None were terribly effective or appropriate. A collate of loose-leaf papers sitting between the seat and center console would often result in a footwell of windstrewn mess.

Most 1998 Z3 roadsters were delivered with a Parcel Net on the passenger side of the transmission tunnel. Initially, I thought this was another eccentric accessory, but in light of my reoccurring paperchase it was the solution. Kudos to Mark Volk’s initial installation notes for making this a painless project…

To install one in your roadster, you’ll need the following items:

One #51-47-2-261-407 Parcel Net & Frame

Four #51-47-2-263-062 Fixing Element Screw

Masking Tape

Sheet Metal Screw

The Fixing Element Screw is designed to twist into and beyond the transmission tunnel carpeting. This leaves the plastic clip that will hold the Parcel Net’s frame.

This shows how the clip will fit on the frame towards the end of the installation. Since the frame is shaped like a wide “U”, two screws along the bottom and one on each side will suffice.

Start by clipping a Fixing Screw at each side of the frame. Put a piece of masking tape on the carpet at the points where each Fixing Screw will land. Allow yourself plenty of thought and time on how this frame will be positioned. Too far down and repeated scuffing from a shoe might wear out the netting. Too far down and forward would make it difficult or dangerous if the driver had to stretch for something in it’s hold. Too high and it won’t be able to hold a magazine without that magazine’s corner jabbing into the glove box panel. When the Parcel Net is where you want it, press the fixing screws firmly into the the masking tape to make an indentation.

With the indentations serving as location markers, find a sheet metal screw and hand-twist it into the carpeting. The pointed metal tip will burrow through the thick fibrous pile and emerge to create a starter hole for the wider plastic Fixing Screw. Remove the masking tape before securing each Fixing Screw. If that sheet metal screw was thin enough, you’ll find the Fixing Screw firmly seated with no tendency to come loose. There’s no need to drill holes in the chassis metal underneath the carpeting!

Be sure the side screws are spaced wide enough so that the frame sides are parallel to each other. Once the sides are positioned, complete the bottom two Fixing Screws. How these last two are located will determine the height and levelness of your Parcel Net.

Snap the Parcel Net Frame into all four clips and that completes your installation.

The closeness of the Parcel Net makes short-term or important items immediately accessible. It’s been getting use nearly every time the car’s being driven. Quite a value for $25 worth of parts.

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BMW Roadster Tonneau

Pros: Installs Easily, Covers Cockpit, Lightweight
Cons: Requires Boot Cover
Cost: $78.90 (with shipping)

I’ve always been in a love/hate relationship with the roadster’s boot cover. I liked the way the Z3 looked with the boot cover installed over the folded down top, and I recognize the protective benefits of using the boot cover. However it is such a pain to install that I seldom used it except on long drives (when I knew the top was going to stay down). The problem was that I was never comfortable enough to leave the car parked with the top down. The exposed leather interior would be subject to bird bombs, harmful UV rays, dirt/dust, and prying eyes.

Back in highschool I drove an MGB that had this great accessory called a tonneau cover. This thick vinyl cover snapped around the cabin of the MGB on specially designed snaps that were part of the interior. That tonneau cover effectively covered the interior of the car and it was much easier to take on and off than the convertible top was to put up and down. The other really neat feature is that it had a zipper down the middle so you could unzip just the drivers side and drive the car with the tonneau cover still in place. I’ve been wanting a cover similar to that MGB one for my BMW roadster every since I first got the car. However no one made one, and from a development standpoint since the car wasn’t designed for one chances are it would never exist.

M&M Marketing produced a car cover that was very similar to what I was looking for, and I almost got one. Except the M&M design is really closer to a car cover and I never really cared for the looks of it. From a utility standpoint I’m told that the M&M design works well. It stands up okay to the elements and is moderately easy to take on and off. But it just isn’t that attractive to look at (to me it always looked like a small tent had been pitched over the car). I’m told that the M&M cover is actually a Miata cover that happens to fit, but sometimes it looks just a tad too small to me.

Apparently Carter Lee had the same thoughts and undertook a project to design a simple tonneau cover specifically made for the BMW roadster. Carter’s design fits flush with the dash and it is custom made for the Z3’s interior. There are “pockets” designed to go over the seats and dash pod. Carter even designed two different versions to account for Z3s with and without roll hoops. Carter’s design was not the same as the original MGB tonneau I had always wanted, but it was so close that I just had to have one.

My first indication that Carter had gone all out in making these was the very professional packaging that arrived shortly afterwards. However, after admiring his packaging handy work I immediately ripped the bag open, tossed the instructions and went out to the garage to try it out. Initially I fumbled around trying to figure out the best way to install it (guess I should have read the instructions first). But finally decided that I like to slip the custom pockets over the seats, then get the front of the cover tucked in, secure the sides via the velcro straps, and lastly tuck the back of the cover into the crease at the rear of the boot cover. First couple times took me a few minutes but now I’ve got it down pretty good.

Basically there are four places in the design that attach the tonneau to the roadster. The leading edge of the cover has a foam like trim sewn into it, this is designed to be tucked into the area where the windshield meets the dash. The foam slips into the crack with a push but then expands and secures rather well. Around each side mirror the tonneau cover has two velcro straps that secure the tonneau to the mirror. This works well but does require that you leave the windows down. In the back the tonneau cover tucks into the convertible top storage area along the trailing edge of the boot cover. This leaves a nice smooth taught look, I’m told by Doug and Eileen Morgan that it even keeps water out of your interior should you get caught in a quick shower (however it shouldn’t be considered an acceptable cover if you are expecting a rain storm).

With Carter’s tonneau my MZ3 finally had a cover that matched its sleek styling. The tonneau fit nicely over the instrument pod, seats and roll hoops (non roll hoop version available). It seemed pretty secure but I wanted to put this thing to the test. I got out my $30 Sears electric leaf blower and and decided to give it a wind tunnel test, at the same time I was curious to see what the motion sensor on my Clifford car alarm would think of a fluttering tonneau cover. What I found out is that if the cover is properly installed I could not blow it loose. The first time I didn’t get the front tucked in good and was able to get the front of the cover loose but the velcro straps and rear tuck kept the cover in place. Not sure what this says about the motion sensor, but it never went off even the one time the front of the cover came loose.

Needless to say I was pretty impressed with what Carter created, and I knew it was a keeper but I decided to do some additional tests. At the time I got the cover we were in the middle of an extreme heat wave in Texas. Everyday after work it was a race to see how quickly I could drop the convertible top to let off all the heat that had built up in the cabin. For a week I kept a fancy digital thermometer in the car, and every time I parked I would place the additional temperature sensor out side the car in the shade. During that week I found out that on average Carter’s cover kept the interior of the car about 7 degrees cooler than with the top up. I’m sure the color of the tonneau had to do with that (silver vs black) but I suspect the open air made the biggest difference. Carter now makes a version of the cover in black and there is a part of me that wishes I would have ordered the black version, but I’m sure it gets a little hotter.

Removal of the cover is super easy. I just unvelcro the cover from one of the side mirrors and pull, off it comes. A couple of quick folds or more likely just wad it up and shove it into any storage space like the top storage behind the seat (if you have it). I usually shove it in the trunk over the tiny crevice above the power top motor. If you have the trunk organizer it would fit in there as well.

I asked Doug Morgan what he thought of his tonneau cover (he has a black design without the roll hoop pocket), Doug replied

It does keep leaves and dust out very effectively and at least moderate amounts of rain; yes I have tested this out. If you are careful you can even get the water out without getting it on your interior. For those that live in the hotter areas of the country it does a great job of keeping the interior cool. It became an invaluable item on the BAD IV tour to keep the seats from burning your legs when returning from one of the little jaunts (the steering wheel and door edge didn’t burn either). Carter’s tonneau is a must have on the Homecoming Convoy also. The tonneau is make of lightweight water repellant fabric, which makes for great protection without being bulky so it avoids taking up valuable trunk space.

Personally, my only complaint is that it requires the boot cover, without the boot cover it really doesn’t tuck into or get secured in the back. It is still usable but I suspect a strong breeze could blow the back end loose. But considering it is only $78.90 it really is a fantastic cover. I think the fact that it is designed by a BMW Z3 owner tells you that the product is well thought out and functional. I’m very impressed with it and use it quite often, since that initial leaf blower test it has never come loose, and it has still never caused a problem with my car alarm. I guess the motion sensor goes right through the material because the motion sensor still works.

Carter sells the tonneau cover via a web page, and has lots of information about the roadster tonneau at that web site. Carter offers versions designed for Z3s with the BMW roll hoops and for Z3s without the roll hoops. Both versions of the roadster tonneau are available in black and gray. They are made of a strong, lightweight, compact, and water-repellant nylon taffeta. Whichever version and color you choose the total cost including shipping is only $78.90

Discuss this article and other Convenience upgrades in the

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BMW Z3 CD Changer Installation

BMW Z3 CD Changer Installation

October 12, 1998

By: Carter Lee

After performing an easy speaker upgrade in the factory kickpanel locations, it was time to investigate the addition of a CD Changer. Numerous options exist, but not all are well-suited:

Fallacy: Add an aftermarket CD Changer using an adapter.

Previous generation BMW stereo systems of the 80’s and 90’s used relabeled PIONEER and ALPINE stereo head units. This allowed purchasing name-brand CD Changer units found in the competitive market and plugging it in or at worst, requiring a rewiring adapter. The current stereo in E36 BMWs including the Z3 is manufactured by Alpine but with proprietary signal/pinouts to BMW’s specifications. This means purchasing an Alpine-branded CD Changer for the factory head unit will not work.

Fallacy: Add an aftermarket CD Changer using FM broadcast signal.

The quality of the stereo’s FM has already been cited as poor, so what is the point of listening to CDs if their signals must travel through this weak path? Yet, some insist this as a viable option. It isn’t. Adding an aftermarket CD Changer that feeds it’s signal to the Z3 stereo’s FM receptor is akin to drinking champagne through a sewer pipe. Get the picture? In addition, such a unit would require a Changer Control Remote rattling around in the cockpit.

This leaves two solutions, gut the system and reinstall ALL aftermarket components (matching stereo head unit and changer), or install the OEM BMW CD Changer. Since MY goal of expanding the stereo system hasn’t changed since the previous stereo article, the latter option shall stand. One minor bonus to selecting this route is this CD Changer is relatively worthless to the thief who’d want to relocate it into his/her riced-out Honda Civic.

The BMW CD Changer is a $750 dealer-installed option. All Z3s are prewired for this changer. Although installation is a breeze and the Changer can be found for much cheaper via other sources, it has been mentioned that installation by the dealer will subject this part to the same remaining warranty as other parts of your car. Having said that, let’s focus on installing this CD Changer. NOTE: The following outlines some of the steps involved and in NO WAY should serve to replace the installation manual. MZ3.NET and the author assumes no responsibility for mishaps that may occur from failure or incompetence.

On 1996 and 1997 Z3 roadsters, the BMW part numbers required are #82-11-1-469-404 for the six-disc CD Changer and #82-11-1-469-440 for the Z3 Installation Kit.

The CD Changer includes a sampler disc of contemporary Chesky Records artists and a 6-disc magazine cartridge. The Z3 Installation Kit contains the mounting bracket, installation pamphlet, and a carpeted cover. This cover matches the Z3 trunk interior and has a storage pocket for an additional magazine cartridge.

For this 1996 Z3, the TWO prewired harnesses are found behind the right quarter carpeting. One harness was found easily by reaching behind and unfastening a piece of black securing tape. The other cable was found after removing the black cubby bin at the bottom of the trunk.

The CD Changer is shipped with locking screws intact to secure the internal dampening mechanism. Remove these three screws from the bottom of the CD Changer and cover the holes with enclosed sealing stickers.

Both sides of the Changer have pins set to the Horizontal setting by default. Secure this setting by covering the area with the enclosed Pin Labels. After the Pin Label is in place, look for the patch of Velcro and center it in the same area… it will be easier to do this now rather than after the Changer is mounted.

Screw the mounting bracket to the CD Changer. On the mounting bracket, the tab with two holes should be on the right of the CD Changer.

Attach the cables to the CD Changer… after both harnesses are plugged in, be careful not to pull on the Changer too much.

Three mounting bolts protrude from the top of the trunk cove. Use a 10mm socket wrench to fasten the CD Changer assembly to these bolts. There isn’t much room to swing the socket wrench… maybe 10 or 20 degree arcs… just keep working at it. Remember, you’re working with a lever so don’t over-torque the hardware or you risk striping the bolt threads.

The carpeted cover pushes into place. Velcro tabs attach to the Velcro patches you so thoughtfully stuck on earlier. The bottom slot is sized so an extra cartridge will fit snugly if it’s molded recessed arrow points outward. This is designed to prevent any rattling.

The cover stays closed with Velcro on the lip.

This CD Changer hardly intrudes into the trunk’s usable space. With the installation finished, it’s time to enjoy your tunes.

The included 6-disc cartridge has trays that slide partially out. The BMW CD Changer sees the bottommost tray as disc 1. When the cartridge is inserted, the Changer has access to power to check each tray for a disc. The shipping carton indicates that additional 6-disc cartridges are BMW part #82-11-1-469-406.

A seemingly viable alternative is to look for Alpine 6-disc cartridges. Stores that carry Alpine’s 6-disc CD Changer should be able to offer the cartridges. Most have found this two-pack at Circuit City.

Factory cartridge and Alpine cartridge work interchangeably despite the difference in appearance. The Factory cartridge is opaque black and has trays that stop after sliding out partways. The Alpine cartridge has a transparent upper casing and has trays that slide completely loose. While this may make for easier tray loading, reassembling all the trays back into the cartridge will require added caution. All six trays must be reinserted into the cartridge regardless of whether or not it contains a disc.

Once tooling top-down through your favorite stretch of road the CD Changer is activated by pressing the TAPE CD button on the stereo head unit. This button alone toggles between Cassette or CD Changer. Once in CD Changer mode, the six station preset buttons along the bottom is used to select disc. Pressing the left or right arrow button will skip tracks within the selected disc. Pressing the M button prior to an arrow button will allow scanning within a song. Hitting the SCAN button will cause the CD Changer to play an intro from each track on all the discs. Bill S recently e-mailed me to indicate that holding down the SCAN button will cause the Changer to Shuffle Play… This definitely wasn’t mentioned in the Radio Manual. I’ve verified that it will shuffle all tracks in non-sequential disc order.

After a month of driving with the CD Changer, it’s worth noting that the music has only skipped once when rounding a turn while hitting a rough track crossing. The CD Changer hasn’t skipped since. Suspension hasn’t been modified and wheels are factory-standard 16″ Michelin Pilots. Whether switching to AM/FM, Cassette or shutting off the car, the CD Changer will be suspended on the last-played disc and track position until it’s activated again.

That concludes installation of the BMW Z3 CD Changer. It should be tops on the consideration list for those intending to keep the factory head unit. It’s prewired to integrate fully and easily. It resides in unused trunk space. It installs easily. And unlike an in-dash CD head unit, there’s no indication to thieves of it’s existence or any removable faceplates to carry. An in-dash CD would likely find the cockpit cluttered with some type of CD wallet/album that would require stashing away or risk losing to passers-by…unless your collection exclusively consist of Chipmunks Sing the Holidays.

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