Z3 Hardtop Hoist

After receiving a new hardtop for my 1999 M Roadster as a gift from my wife (good woman!) I needed a place to keep the top in good weather. I did some research and decided to buy the E-Z Top from The Hard Top Hoist Company in Houston, TX.

I placed an order online and received a confirmation phone call the next day. The hoists are built to order and custom sized for each vehicle. It took approximately 5 weeks to receive the kit. They were extremely helpful, and even shipped me the piece of wood used to secure the winch to the garage wall.

The hoist arrived with detailed installation instructions in color. Installation took approximately 1.5 hours. Placing the central hoist point just behind my garage door opener worked out fine, as this position was right above the car when backed into the garage. I secured a 2×6 to the joists above the garage, so the hoist could hold several hundred pounds if needed. Actually, the hard top weighs less than 100 pounds, so this would be a huge margin of safety.

The hoist is made of steel and powder coated with a black crinkle finish. It is beautifully made. The hardtop is supported at two points inside the top, placing no uneven stress on the top. The supports are covered in sheepskin (wool) pads that distribute the load and protect the inner liner. The front strut of the hoist has another wool pad to protect the paint on the front edge of the hardtop. The cable is vinyl coated and the winch is a worm-gear type that cannot slip. They even include a cordless drill adapter that allows me to use my drill to raise and lower the top. I suggest using this, as the top moves very slowly with the hand crank. There is a lot of mechanical advantage built in, so the effort to move it is very small.

Placing the hoist on the top involves a few simple steps.

  1. Park the car as far back in the garage as you can.
  2. Loosen the retaining screws at the windsheild and turn the latches in the back.
  3. Lower the hoist to just above the hardtop.
  4. Pull one of the quick pins from the hoist arm and lift the arm outward 90 degrees.
  5. Slip the hoist pads under the top and reinsert the pin.
  6. Lift the top.
  7. Secure the storage cable to the front of the hoist arm. This levels the top.

The system has worked flawlessly and the hardtop shows no signs of hoist use at all. I heartily recommend this product. The price was $385 plus shipping. There is no need to order the much more expensive electric winch, as any electric drill will do the job.

“Clear” Turn Signal Blubs

In case you have ever wanted to make your turn signals completely clear rather than seeing the tinge of amber from the turn signal bulbs, there are two ways to do it. First and most expensive is to find the Philips Silvervision bulbs usually sold in Europe. These are amber bulbs with a translucent silver outer finish. When off they appear clear, when on they appear amber.

The second method is to make them yourself at home by painting your bulbs with a light coat of Rustoleum High Temperature silver spray paint, sold at Home Depot for less than $5. This process is well documented on the BMW M5 messageboard. I did this for my M5, and now have done it for my M Roadster. The picture to the right shows the left lamp after treatment and the right as original:

I think you’ll agree that the 10 minutes or so required for the job is well worth it. It’s also possible to treat the front turn signals this way if you like. Enjoy.

Philips Bluevision and Allweather Bulbs

I replaced the stock bulbs in my 1999 M Roadster with Philips Bluevision and Allweather bulbs. The entire process took about 15 minutes.

The part numbers are:

Philips 9006 55W Bluevision (low beam) $34.95 per pair

Philips 9005 65W Allweather (high beam) $34.95 per pair

I recommended the Allweather for the high beams for mixed weather driving.