///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.

DC’s Stereo Upgrade

Pros: Improved sound quality, increased power let you hear the stereo over the hi-way speed wind and road noise
Cons: Some trunk space is lost to the amp, permanent modification to the kick panels
Cost: $900 to $1000

So, thinking about upgrading that stereo huh? Well, you’re not alone. As factory systems go, the Roadster’s isn’t too bad. In fact, it would probably sound great if it wasn’t in a ragtop. Unfortunately, it is. Most people who buy this car will be satisfied with this stereo. Some will perform a minor upgrade such as a speaker swap, etc. The rest of us are looking for something a little bit more substantial. So, where do we begin? Well, if you’ve ever read “The Art of War” you know that the very first rule in conflict resolution is “Know your enemy”. So let’s take a look at the factory system in the M Roadster.

M Roadster Factory Sound System

AM/FM/Cassette/CD Changer Controller Head Unit (made by Alpine)

6 Disc CD Changer (made by Alpine also)

Factory amplifier

5.25″ speakers in the kick panels

2″ midranges in the doors

1’ tweeters in the doors

3″ midranges behind the seats

Two 5.25″ “subwoofers”

The major shortcomings of this system (in my humble opinion) are as follows:

With the top down and the car moving the stereo is pretty much useless.

The sound is muddy (lack of highs).

The maximum volume is inadequate.

The low frequency response is non-existent.

Having said that, let’s look at what the factory system has going for it:

The head unit and changer although labeled as HK are actually made by Alpine.

The head unit has SSV and a weather band.

The factory equipment looks “stock”, a great theft deterrent.

The front factory speaker locations are quite good (in terms of sound stage).

Okay, so what do we do about it?

Upgrade #1 – The front speakers

GOOD – Replace the factory 5.25″ midrange with an aftermarket 5.25″ midrange. This size speaker is a drop-in replacement for the factory speaker – no modifications necessary. The MB QUART QM 130-TX3 are an excellent choice.

Parts $130 – $150 for the pair

Labor $25 – $40

Benefit You will experience a cleaner, brighter sound with more usable volume.

BETTER – Replace the factory 5.25″ midrange and the factory 1″ tweeter with a good quality 5.25″ component speaker set including crossover. The 5.25″ speaker is a drop-in replacement as is the 1″ tweeter. You will not use the crossover included with the speakers unless you are adding an aftermarket amplifier (see Best). The factory 2″ midrange is left alone.

Parts $175 – $225

Labor $40 – $75

Benefit More highs, better sound stage.

BEST – Replace the factory 5.25″ midrange and the factory 1″ tweeter with a good quality 6.5″ component speaker set including crossover. I used Boston Acoustics 6.4 Pro’s. ($299, reg. $450)

The 6.5″ Mid/Woofer will require minor modification of the kick panel to get it to fit. You’ve got 2 choices here. You can remove the plastic ring on the backside of the kick panel and mount the entire speaker behind it.

Or you can cut a round hole in the kick panel and mount the speaker through it.

The factory tweeter should be left in the factory location and disconnected. The factory 2″ midrange should be removed and the aftermarket tweeter installed in its place using a simple bracket.

I suggest doing it this way rather than placing the tweeter in the factory tweeter location because you will experience better stereo imaging this way. It is kind of hard to explain why but I’ll try. You all probably know that the “sweet spot” is in the absolute middle of 2 speakers as opposed to being closer to one or the other. If the left speaker is 1 foot away from you and the right speaker is 3 feet away – that’s not so great because the right speaker is 3 times the distance away. But if the left speaker is 1.5 feet away and the right speaker is 3 feet away – that is much better because now the right speaker is only twice as far away. See what I mean? This is why I suggest using the factory location for the 2″ midrange – it eats up some of the disparity. Finally, you will be using an aftermarket amplifier with this upgrade (see next section) and you will be using the passive crossovers supplied with the component speaker system.

Parts $250 and up

Labor $100 and up

Benefit Excellent clarity and imaging, low end much improved over stock system by use of dual 6.5″ mid/woofers instead of 5.25″ midranges. HUGE IMPROVEMENT!!

Upgrade #2 – Aftermarket amplifier.

Note regarding any of the following options. Installing an aftermarket amplifier is pretty easy in this car. The battery is located in the trunk and so is the factory amplifier. I stuck the crossovers that came with my Boston 6.4’s in the factory amp location.

I temporarily mounted the ADS P840 amp to the carpet with Velcro pending my decision regarding subwoofers in the trunk.

GOOD – Use a decent 2-channel amplifier to feed your new front speakers. I recommend a minimum of 40 to 50 watts a channel – remember…this is a ragtop. This amp should be able to accept “high level” inputs from your factory head unit.

Parts $199 and up

Labor $50.

Benefit Vastly improved volume and dynamic range.

BETTER – Use a multi channel (at least 5 or 6) to amplify your entire systems and bypass your factory amp entirely. 2 channels to your new front speakers, 2 channels to your factory rear speakers and 1 or 2 channels to the factory subs.

Parts $249 and up

Labor $50 – $75

Benefit Increased rear fill and improved low end. BE CAREFUL not to overpower your subs!! While most speakers fail due to too small of an amplifier being driven into distortion (and the distorted signal destroying the speaker’s voice coil), speakers reproducing low frequencies can be “overdriven” with too much power, clean or otherwise.

BEST – High current/high power multichannel amplifier (or multiple amplifiers). I used the ADS p840 amplifier ($565, reg. $699 or so). This is an 8-channel amplifier with built-in electronic, adjustable crossovers rated at 8 x 40 watts.

I bridged 4 channels to create 2 channels at 120 watts/channel for my Boston Acoustic 6.4’s in the front. Using the electronic crossovers in the amp (as well as the passive crossovers supplied with the speakers) I restrict the frequency response of these speakers to 65HZ to 20KHZ. By removing the lowest frequencies from these speakers, I prevent damage to these speakers due to overdriving. This basically means I can crank the volume up to ear piercing levels without worrying about damaging the speakers. 2 channels (at 40 watts per channel) go to the factory rear speakers and the remaining 2 channels (at 40 watts per channel) go to the factory subs. The factory amplifier is being used as a paperweight on my workbench.

Parts $399 and up

Labor $75 and up

Benefit With this combo (amp and front speakers) the sound stage and imaging is excellent and the volume is awesome. The only downside is that the fronts are so good that it makes the lack of real bass (20 HZ to 60HZ) all the more noticeable. Sighhhhhhhhhh…….

Upgrade #3 – How low can you go……

GOOD – Live with the improved low end from your new 6.5″ front speakers.

Parts $0

Labor $0

Benefit N/A

BETTER – A custom fiberglass enclosure in the passenger footwell with an 8″ subwoofer. This will improve the low end substantially (if properly designed) but will obviously effect legroom for your passenger. JL AUDIO makes some very nice subwoofers, as does KICKER.

Parts $150 – $200

Labor $250 – $300

Benefit Improved low frequency response. Your car won’t BOOM but you should have usable bass down to about 30 HZ.

BEST – Custom enclosure in the trunk firing into the cabin. This is the only way you will get truly mind-numbing bass response in the vehicle short of MAJOR reconstruction (i.e., modify kick panel to take 8″ woofer, etc.). Be prepared to have your baby out of commission for a few days (minimum), tolerate moderate cutting to port the sound into the cabin (probably not a good idea for those who lease), the loss of half of your trunk and a hefty bill at the end (at least $800, more like $1200). If you can live with these costs, you will enjoy the BASS that the rest of us can only wish for.

Parts $500 – $700

Labor $300 – $500

Benefit Truly awesome Bass!!

To be covered next time

Upgrade #4 – Rear Speakers

Upgrade #5 – Aftermarket Head Units

Upgrade #6 – Misc. (Stereo FAQ?)