Custom (Z8 Like) Speaker Grill

Picture taken at the 2000 Z3 Homecoming

Owner: Fred Kern

BMW Z8

BMW Z3

Black Wood Dash Kit

Pros: Looks good, matches Larry’s steel gray/black Z3
Cons: Evaluation kit, product canceled and is not available
Cost: Unknown, Product Unavailable

To my knowledge this is the only black wood dash kit made for the BMW Z3. It is an evaluation kit made my a company in Korea. However just after developing this evaluation kit the model year 2000 Z3s showed up and it was apparent that this kit was already out of date so the manufacturer decided to cancel the project.

Even though the project was canceled I thought owners would like to see what a black wood dash kit would look like in a Z3. The carbon fiber shift knob was added later and is a nice (matching) addition to the looks. Hopefully another dash kit maker will consider adding black wood to their collection for those looking for something a little different.

Update:

Even though this particular black wood dash kit is not available, MG Racing has a black wood dash kit. If you are looking for a very unique dash kit that looks really good with black interior this may be what you have been looking for.

Chrome Windshield Washer Sprayers

Pros: More Chrome (always a good thing)
Cons: Loose “Heated” Option
Cost: $59 from www.zchrome.com

BMW makes two different windshield washer sprayers for the Z3, a regular version and heated version. If your BMW Z3 has heated seats then it also has heated side mirrors and heated windshield washer sprayers. www.ZChrome.com sells a chrome version of the regular BMW windshield washer sprayers. My Z3 came with the heated version but the two versions are interchangeable so I decided to add an additional touch of chrome to my Z3. I don’t live in an area where it gets cold enough to freeze windshield washer fluid so loosing the heated option didn’t concern me.

Two make the swap you will need two of ZChrome’s chrome windshield washer sprayers, about an hour of time, a phillips head screw driver and a roll of electric tape. If your Z3 does not have the heated washer sprayers then you will not need the electrical tape.

Open the hood of your Z3 and notice the two areas on the hood pad that have preformed square bulges. Behind these bulges are the back sides of the windshield washer sprayers. To get to this area you will need to at least partially remove the hood pad. To do this you will need to use the phillips head screw driver. Along the edge of the hood pad you will find phillips head screws in plastic clips. Remove whatever screws you need to so you can work comfortably behind the pad.

The phillips screws go into these plastic clips. You do not need to completely remove the phillips screws from the clips. Just loosen the screw enough so the entire clip can be removed from the hood.

The hood has holes in in that these plastic clips snap into. The screw spreads out the legs out and hold the clip and the pad to the hood.

Next Step

The heated washer sprayers have two connections, one for washer fluid another for power to heat the windshield washer sprayer.

Non-heated washer sprayers just have the washer sprayer connection.

Remove the washer fluid hose first. Then unclip the gray portion of the power connection from the black part of the connection.

To remove the wiring clip from the hood rotate the mount counter clockwise a quarter turn and it can be pulled straight out.

The washer sprayer snaps into place. The connection is tight and will require some effort to remove. Pinch the top side while pulling up on the unit. At the same time tilt the lower so it pushes through to the other side. The unit will be removed from the top side of the hood once we work it loose from the bottom. Be careful not to use to much pressure so you don’t dent the hood.

Once the unit is loose you can pull the entire washer sprayer out from the top (outside) of the hood.

The www.ZChrome.com replacement part slides in from the top.

Push the side opposite the washer sprayers down and towards the front of the car.

It will take some pressure to snap the front (washer sprayer) side down into place. Be Careful, this area of the hood can be dented if you push down to hard. If you are having trouble use more forward and less down pressure.

Hook the washer fluid hose up to the new chrome non-heated washer sprayer.

Make sure the connection is tight. BMW’s washer sprayer system uses more pressure than you would expect.

Those who started out with heated washer sprayers will need to make a decision as to what to do with the remaining power connection.

I choose to use electrical tape to wrap the connection and secure it to the washer fluid hose.

There is actually one remaining step, you will most likely need to adjust the tiny hose nozzles inside the windshield washer sprayers. The first time I used them four stream of washer fluid shot over the car without even touching the windshield. I used nail with a fine tip inserted into the hole of the washer sprayer nozzle to adjust the aiming. The washer sprayers will pivot under pressure so through trial and error you can re-aim the nozzle sprayers if yours need adjustment.

Leather Covered Z3 Console Valet with Universal Transmitter

Pros: Convenient, Looks Great
Cons: Wired to switched power, so it doesn’t work when the car is off.
Cost: The retail BMW price of part number 82-11-1-470-399 is $179.00. This does not include a “base” which retails for $25.00. The LeatherZ version starts at $300

Ever since Alan posted an article detailing his James Bond-ish garage door opener I’ve been wanting to add the same functionality to my Z3. Like a lot of projects I never got around to doing it, but this time procrastination rewarded me. BMW released a new accessory, BMW Part number 82-11-1-470-399 is a console valet universal transmitter. It replaces the rear lid on the (optional) Z3 center console and provides three programmable buttons. Jon Maddux of LeatherZ worked his magic on the plastic BMW part and covered it in matching gray leather so the new rear section would match my custom LeatherZ armrest. Once that was done, it was time to install this new armrest. The BMW instructions were pretty good. My only real complaint with the BMW instructions was that the text instructions were difficult to match up with their drawings. The rest of this article will contain those original BMW instructions (in black) with my additional comments in red and my own original pictures. You can click on any of the pictures in this article to see a closeup view.

The Z3 Console Valet must be removed to allow for drilling of wiring access holes and the routing of the wiring harness. When you order BMW part 82 11 1 470 399 the following parts are included with the kit. 1 Z3 Console Valet rear lid with Universal Transmitter Assembly. 1 Z3 Console Valet forward lid. 1 Universal Transmitter wiring harness. 1 White two position socket (female) terminal housing. 1 White two position pin (male) terminal housing. 2 Cord clip with self adhesive mount.

1. Removal of the Console Valet Remove trim cap located in small rectangular well at the rear of the console valet.

2. Detach hand brake “boot” to gain access to console valet fastener located under console.

3. Remove socket head cap screw and locknut.

4. Carefully lift rear of console valet upward and pull rearward to dismount forward position tabs of the console valet.

These instruction assume the console valet is installed via BMW’s latest instructions. I’ve seen two other methods dealers have used to install the console valet. Sometimes the rear bolt is just a screw. Sometimes screws and bolts are not used at all and the valet is held in place via velcro. It’s rare but some have a second screw in the bottom of the storage area

1. Preparing the Console Valet Remove rear console valet lid by “slipping” the two O-rings off of the stanchions located to the rear left and right of the lid. Pull the rear lid clear of the hinge rod.

2. Locate the position where the top hole is to be drilled. Drill a 17/64″ (7mm) diameter hole.

3. Turn over the console valet and drill a 17/64 (7mm) diameter hole through the inner support rib. For ease of installation, a larger diameter hole may be drilled through the inner support rib since it will not be visible.

4. Remove debris from the previous drilling procedures.

5. Remove the forward console valet lid by “slipping” the two O-rings off of the stanchions located on the lateral left and right of the lid. Pull the forward lid clear of the hinge rod.

6. Install the kit supplied replacement forward console valet lid in reverse order of the previous step.

You can see the location of the hole I drilled in the picture below. I did not replace the forward lid since my current forward lid was already leather covered by www.leatherz.com

1. Installing the Console Valet Universal Transmitter Lid Remove the three self tapping screws that secure the inner cover to the Universal Transmitter lid.

2. Feed the pin (male) and socket (female) terminated wires (one wire terminal at a time) from the top to bottom through the upper hole until the heat shrink portion of the wire harness is centered in the top hole.

3. Insert the 3-position connector into the Universal Transmitter module connector.

4. Affix a self adhesive cord clip to the underside of the Universal Transmitter rear lid.

5. Position the harness neatly from the Universal Transmitter module connection and running adjacent to the Universal Transmitter module through the cord clip feeding all excess wire harness down through the upper hole.

6. Reinstall the three self tapping screws that secure the inner cover of the Universal Transmitter to the lid.

7. Feed the pin (male) and socket (female) terminated wires (one wire terminal at a time) through the lower hole until most of the excess wire harness is positioned forward of the lower hole.

8. Affix a self adhesive cord clip to the underside of the console valet.

9. Attach the Universal Transmitter lid to the hinge rod and reattach the O-rings over the stanchions. Note: Care should be used not to cur or score the O-rings during this step

10. Gently pull any excess insulated wire down through the upper hole leaving sufficient length of heat shrink covered harness sufficient length above the hole for the Universal Transmitter lid to open and close easily without binding the wire harness.

1. Wiring Locate the factory installed cellular telephone (provisions) connector X400 in the area adjacent to the hand brake. This connector is a black AMP 8-position connector with five socket (female) terminated wires occupying the housing of this connector. Note: Disconnect the X400 connector if currently connected to the cellular telephone connector.

2. Using the BMW special tool #61 1110 2.5mm electrical contact extraction tool (found in BMW Electrical Repair Kit III) extract socket (female) terminated violet/black wire from position #5 of the connector X400

3. Insert the white wire socket (female) terminal of the Universal Transmitter into position #5 of the connector X400

4. Insert the socket (female) terminal of the violet/black wire into position #1 of the 2-position white AMP socket housing connector.

5. Using the BMW 2.5mm electrical contact extraction tool extract socket (female) terminated brown wire from position #2 of the connector X400

6. Insert the black wire socket (female) terminal of the Universal Transmitter into position #2 of connector X400

7. Inert the socket (female) terminal of the brown wire into position #2 of the 2-position white AMP pin (male terminal housing connector.

8. Insert the Universal Transmitter white wire pin (male) terminal into position #1 of the 2-position white AMP pin (male) terminal housing connector.

9. Insert the Universal Transmitter black wire pin (male) terminal into position #2 of the 2-position white AMP pin (male) terminal housing connector.

10. Connect the white AMP 2-position socket (female) and pin (male) terminal housing connectors together to complete the electrical connection of the Universal Transmitter.

11. Reconnect the X400 connector to the cellular telephone connector if previously disconnected

1. Reinstalling the Console Valet Re-install the console valet by positioning the two forward positioning tabs of the console valet into the two slots located in the forward edge of the center console. Ensure that excess wire is neatly positioned underneath the console valet and are not pinched.

2. Reattach the socket head cap screw and locknut and tighten securely.

3. Reinstall trim cap.

Z-Roof Cover With Built-In Door Ding Protection

Pros: Easy to Install, Good Protection, Lessons the Chance of Door Dings
Cons: Harder to fold and store because of the extra door padding
Cost: $79.99 from Z3 Solution

I’ve always had a love/hate relationship with the BMW boot cover. I would like to use it because it helps keep the inside of the top clean (and I like the looks of it). But it is such a pain to put on and take off I rarely use it except on long trips. On those rare occasions when I do use the boot cover I find myself wanting to leave the top down rather than hassle with uninstalling the boot cover and putting the top up when I park. I’m not comfortable leaving the top down all day while the car is parked, not so much for security reasons just don’t want to leave the interior exposed (birds, bright sun, rain, etc).

Z3 Solution (the same company that makes the magnetic stone guards) has a new car cover. Its kind of a mini car cover, specially designed for the Z3. It can be used with the top up or down, and works on Z3s with or without rollhoops, rollbars, windscreens etc. I first saw this new cover at the 1999 Z3 homecoming and recognized that it could be just the solution I was looking for. With this new cover I could put my top down, install the boot cover and use this cover rather than have to remove the boot cover and put the top back up when the car was parked. But the big advantage of using the Z3 Solution cover was the built in door ding protection. The lower portion of the cover that covers the doors has foam padding inserts that (at least in theory) would lesson your chance of getting a door ding. It doesn’t cover the entire door, but it does cover the portion of the door most likely to receive a door ding.

It takes me a couple minutes to install the cover in the morning, and about half that time to remove it. It attaches to the vehicle in 10 separate locations so it is very secure. One benefit of living in Oklahoma is that I can report the cover stays in place even after 8 hours of thirty plus mile per hour winds. However installing, uninstalling and/or folding a car cover in that kind of wind is not necessarily fun. Which leads me to my only negative point of this car cover. Because of the anti-door-ding foam padding, folding and rolling up the car cover is more difficult than I expected. However I have become more adept at it so it hasn’t been that big of an problem. Z3 Solution has a simular car cover without the anti-door-ding foam padding which should be easier to fold but then you give up the door ding protection (which at least to me is a very good feature).

Unintentionally, I tested this covers ability in the rain. A short-lived surprise afternoon shower left some standing water on the cover. But after careful removal of the cover (so not to dump the standing water in the cockpit) I was relieved to see that the interior had remained protected. I’m not sure you would want to rely on the covers ability to defend your car from rain all the time, but its nice to know that it can handle it.

Z3 Solutions CoverI don’t use this cover every day, but if the weatherman is forecasting several consecutive top-down days in a row I’ll use this cover and the BMW boot cover. Considering my parking situation at work I should probably use the Z3 Solution cover every day (to help protect myself from door dings). But so far I’ve really only used the cover on “top-down” days. The cover is designed to be used even when the Z3 top is up, which has some interesting possibilities. In the summer the use of this cover should repel some of the heat and keep the Z3 interior cooler. Look for a long term update to this article in the late summer of 2000 in regard to this.

When you consider all the potential benefits this cover has to offer, I think it is well worth the $79.99 price, but only if you really intend to use it. Z3 Solution also offers an optional bag that holds the rolled up cover. I find the bag to be useful since it limits the amount of space the cover takes up in your trunk.

Stopping BMW Glovebox Rattles

Start under the glovebox, remove the three rotary plastic clips in the back under the glovebox. If you haven’t encountered these clips before you need to rotate them 90 degrees and then you should be able to pull them loose. The picture to the right points out the three rotary clips that need to be removed. Once they have been removed you can remove this entire section of plastic.

If you have footwell lights you will need to either disconnect the wiring or leave this section laying on the floor (assuming the wiring has enough slack).

Note: You can click on any of the pictures in this article to see a larger view.

Open the glove compartment and remove the two screws on the front edge. Then remove the other four screws that are pointed out in the picture to the right. There are trim caps over the six screws that need to be removed. Every time I mess with these trim caps I usually end up tearing them up. Because of this I usually have a supply of extra caps on hand. BMW part number (51-16-1-949-793 black) lists for $0.38 each I usually tack an order of 10 of them on to some other order whenever I’m running low. If your interior is tan use BMW part number (51-16-8-398-920). You can try and pry the caps off with a thin edge or pick. I’ve heard that there is a way to pop them off with the curved side of a paper clip but I’ve never tried it. When you are removing the glovebox be careful and gentle, the design of the glovebox is fragile and some of these mounting points are very fragile.

Once the screws are out you can remove the glove box by pulling it down and towards the passenger door. The drivers side will catch on the center console trim panel, you will have to work this free so go slow. There isn’t much room to work it free, so it will be a little frustrating at first but it will work free (try working it down first, and then out).

Once the glovebox is removed take a look at it and how it is built, not very impressive is it? My theory is that the thin sheet of moulded plastic the comprises the entire backside of the glove box is the cause of the buzzing-rattles that a lot of us are hearing. You can see that the thin plastic layer is hot stamped on the sides of the glovebox in an attempt to secure it to the rest of the glovebox. On my glovebox two of these hot stamps had broken loose, and all the screws that hold the metal latch in place were loose. The goal of this upgrade is to secure this thin plastic piece tightly against the rest of the glovebox to eliminate some of the buzzing rattles.

Once the glovebox is removed you can move this project indoors. I spent an evening sitting on the living room floor working on the glovebox while watching TV.

While you are inspecting the glovebox notice that BMW hot stamped the sides of the glovebox but they did nothing to secure the plastic around the lock and handle. You can easily move this section of thin plastic around since it is not secured to anything. It’s easy to picture this part vibrating against the metal frame while your driving. Besides the normal road vibrations there are a lot of wires and harnesses directly behind the glovebox. So anything that is not secured tight can be susceptible to vibration rattles. As a simple approach you could place a few drops of superglue on the underside of the front edge of this plastic and glue it in place (get the gel-type superglue). Besides this loose side around the lock, look around and secure any other loose areas that could vibrate and cause noise. And check the screws that are securing the metal latch to the glovebox.

If glue alone isn’t doing the job, you may want to consider drilling small holes and using nuts and bolts to hold the plastic down firmly. This is what I decided to do. You will need four #4-40 x 3/4″ machine screws, four #4-40 nuts, eight #6 zinc washers and eight #6 rubber washers (cost was under $2). You can use #4-40 1/2″ machine screws but it will be a more difficult to get the bolt started (it’s just barely long enough). In addition to this hardware you will need a screwdriver, 1/4″ wrench and a drill with a 3/32 drill bit.

Let me forewarn you that the heads of the screws will be visible when the glovebox is open, but not when the glovebox is closed. You may want to consider painting the zinc washers and screw heads black (or tan) to match your glovebox. I secured the front of the glove box with two bolts and each side with a bolt. The sides were probably overkill but this is where I had one of the hot-stamps break loose so I wanted to make sure I got this done right the first time.

In each of the locations that I decided needed to be secured I drilled a 3/32 hole, then used the #4-40 screw with a zinc washer and rubber washer on each side. I decided to use the rubber washers because this glovebox plastic is thin and brittle (didn’t want the zinc washers cutting it). Besides this hardware is so cheap why not take the extra precaution. So the bolt head is on the glovebox side the nut is on the back side. Each side has a rubber washer against the glovebox and a zinc washer on top of it (so the bolt head and/or nut doesn’t cut the rubber washer).

Reinstalling the glovebox takes about as much effort as getting it out. You start by working the glovebox back into place remembering that there are tabs that go behind the side of the center console. Pay attention to the wiring behind the glovebox as well. If you see any loose wiring harness or anything else that may be rattling against the back side of the glovebox find a way to secure them. Once you have everything worked back into place reinstall the six screws (see the second picture in this article). Be sure that all the screws get threaded back into the speed clips and the entire glovebox is held firmly in place. Lastly reinstall the lower panel.

AC Schnitzer Roll Hoops

Pros: Look Really Good, Easy to Install
Cons: Very Expensive
Cost: $1086 (list)

Comparing the Schnitzer polished stainless steel roll hoops to the stock BMW roll hoops the there are several differences. The most obvious difference is the chrome finish instead of the flat black rubberized finish. The Schnitzer hoops have a black pad on the top front of the hoops. And while the overall shape is nearly identical the profile of the Schnitzer hoops is round where the stock hoops have a arrow or triangle shaped profile.

On closer inspection there is one other difference that does affect the installation. The BMW hoops are held in place with three torx bolts. Where each of these bolts comes on contact with the stock roll hoops there is a shallow bored out indentation. The Schnitzer roll hoops do not have these. (Note: You can click on any of the pictures in this article to see a larger image).

When I started this project I was expecting a complicated installation procedure. I had installed an HMS roll bar on my previous 1.9 Z3 and while the installation went smoothly with the HMS roll bar, it took most of the day. I wasn’t expecting this installation to take all day, but I figured it would take at least a couple hours. To my surprise the installation was over before I knew it.

The only special tool you will need for this installation is a torx 40 driver. I had to start with a visit to the local hardware store. I had a set of torx heads for my cordless screw driver, but the largest one was a torx 30 (too small). In addition to the torx 40, I also used a phillips head and a flat blade screw driver.

Each roll hoop is held in place with three torx bolts (that act like set screws). The first step of the installation is to gain access to two of the set screws by removing the access panel at the base of the roll hoop. Use caution to make sure you don’t damage the plastic edges when you pop off the access panel.

Once the panel is removed you can see the two torx 40 bolts (I’m calling them set screws). Remove both of these but hold on to them because we will be reinstalling them later. These two torx bolts are shorter than the third bolt we will be removing in the next step so don’t mix them up.

Note: the pictures in this article show the removal of the drivers side roll hoop. You can duplicate the steps for the passenger side at the same or do the passenger side after the drivers side is complete.

The other set screw we need to remove is holding the inside of the roll hoop in place. To gain access to this bolt you will need to remove the HK subwoofer (or storage compartment). Rather than duplicate those instructions read the H&K Sub Dissected article.

Once the subwoofer is removed you will see the one remaining torx 40 bolt. Remove this bolt but hold on to it because we will be reinstalling it later.

Once the three torx 40 bolts are removed you can pull straight up on the roll hoop and it will slide out. There are rubber gaskets between the stock roll hoop and the plastic of the rear console. When I pulled the roll hoop out one of the plastic sections came loose because the gasket was stuck to it. Don’t be concerned if this happens to you, the plastic can be snapped back on.

Installing the Schnitzer roll hoop is the direct reverse of the steps we’ve done so far. The Schnitzer hoops come with their own rubber gaskets so make sure you have them on both the inner and the outer bars before sliding the new Schnitzer hoop down into place.

Earlier I told you that the Schnitzer hoops didn’t have the small indentations for the torx bolts. Because of this the torx bolts will not go back in as far as the stock bolts did. This initially concerned me so once I tightened the bolts to 22 nm (as the included instructions stated). I then removed the Schnitzer roll hoop and inspected it.

I was happy to see that each of the torx bolts had left slight indentations in the bar. So I was confident that the new Schnitzer roll hoops were just as secure as the old BMW ones.

Once I had one of the Schnitzer roll hoops installed I compared the two. The Schnitzer roll hoop appeared to lean slightly more forward than the BMW hoop (the picture at the right shows this). The two hoops appeared to be the same height, however it’s possible that the Schnitzer one was slightly taller.

I’m not sure what to think of the black pad on the front of the roll hoop. Visually it doesn’t do anything for me and I was considering removing it. But then there was a story on the message board about an individual that was driving a Z3 and during an accident hit his head on the BMW roll hoop. After reading that story I decided to leave the pad.

Right after installing the Schnitzer roll hoops I wondered if it was “too much”. But that thought faded as I continued staring at them. The ultimate test came when I asked my wife to come to the garage and give her opinion. She took a look at them and her first comment was “WOW”, and with that one word I knew I had done the right thing. I know the chrome look isn’t something that everybody is going to like, but I REALLY like it.

If there is a downside to these roll hoops, it is that I don’t want to cover them up with a wind screen. The BMW roll hoop wind screen still works with the Schnitzer hoops, but the pad on the front of the hoop stretches the material pretty tight. I’m okay with that but more importantly the BMW wind screen hides the chrome.

At the 1999 Z3 Homecoming I showed the Schnitzer roll hoops to JD (the maker of the clear windscreen). He measured the Schnitzer hoops and made a slightly modified version of his windscreen that works with the Schnitzer hoops. Turns out all he had to do was cut out a couple notches for the black pads since the Schnitzer hoops have the same curve, height and mounting points as the BMW hoops.

Dinan Strut Brace

Pros: Better Handling Characteristics, Keeps The Z3 Tighter In The Long Run
Cons: Need To Be Careful During Installation
Cost: $399

During the 1998 Z3 Homecoming I was walking around looking at all the vendor exhibits with Larry Nissen (BMW Tech). After we had seen most of the aftermarket products available I asked Larry “so what should I buy”. He replied “I would start with a good Strut Brace, it may help the handling a little now but where you will get your money back is three years down the road when your car is still as tight as it is now”. That sounded like good advice so we went back to the Dinan tent and as luck would have it I got the very last Dinan Strut Brace they had. I handed them my credit card and they installed it on sight (a process that took about 10 minutes).

My main concern with any strut brace was the low clearance available under the Z3 hood. I’ve heard of a few individuals denting their hood after installing a strut brace. The Dinan design has the lowest profile of the ones I have seen, but even with this low profile I still see some indications that it slightly rubs. There are some adjustments to the Z3 hood stops to slightly raise or lower the hood if you need additional clearance. I have not made any adjustments to the hood stops on my vehicle, I see that it is rubbing but this is after a year of use so I’m not concerned. But with ANY strut brace I would suggest being really cautious the first couple times you lower the hood to make sure you have enough clearance. One real good way to do this is to put silly putty or something similar on top of the brace and then lower the hood slowly until the hood latches or until you feel the brace contacting the hood. Then you can raise the hood, and see how much the silly putty got squished. Raise the hood stops if you need more clearance.

The strut brace attaches via three nuts and bolts that are part of the stock strut tower. Notice that the Dinan brace I received in 1998 has a notch that fits around the grounding plug. It appears Dinan has since redesigned the strut brace, I have seen pictures of a 1999 Dinan Strut Brace that has a different looking strut tower mount. The new design has a flat side instead of a complete circle. The newer design also appears to have a better black power coating on the strut tower mounts, where mine seems to just be painted.

One of the things I really like about the Dinan design is how the underside of the strut tower mount has machined groves that match the ridges in the strut tower. Before owning the M roadster I had a 1.9 Z3 and had installed a strut brace on it. That Strut Brace didn’t have the groves on it, instead it was a softer aluminum and the torque of the bolts would bend the strut tower mount around the strut tower ridges.

The brace itself is aluminum with the Dinan logo etched/engraved in the center. On either side of the Dinan logo are carbon fiber inserts which I assume are only there for cosmetic reasons. Overall the strut brace is very attractive.

The brace attaches to the strut mounts via some allen bolts that act like hinges. Once the Strut Brace is installed if you need to get access to the engine you can remove one of the allen bolts and raise the Strut Brace. (This had to be done when BMW needed to replace a crank sensor)

This is optional: BMW makes Strut Tower Caps that can be installed to keep dust and dirt from getting to the top of the strut tower. The part number is 31-33-1-133-729 they list for $3.75 each and you will need two of them. Installation was difficult, I had to soap the edges of the caps and push really hard to get them to snap down. A Z3 owner sent in a great tip that aided in his installation of these caps. He heated the caps with a hairdryer (which I’m assuming made the rubber temporarly softer) and used a rubber hammer to tap the caps down into place.

Since purchasing and installing these Strut Tower Caps I have been told that BMW makes another cap part number 31-33-1-129-512 that lists for $1.52 (remember to order 2). I’ve heard conflicting reports but it appears these strut tower caps might be even more difficult to install. Visually there is a difference in that this other cap is smooth on top.

Performance: I remember right after installing the brace taking a spirited test drive and I could notice a difference when I was pushing it really hard in a turn. The car felt more solid and stable but only during really hard cornering. During everyday driving I can not notice any difference. But I did not buy the brace for its performance characteristics. While I appreciate what the brace has done to the handling performance, what I really purchased the brace for is in an attempt to keep the car tight and solid in the future.

BMW Chrome Kidney Grills

Pros: Looks good, Easy to install
Cons: Brute force install may leave you with a sore hand
Cost: $51.50

BMW made several changes to the Z3 with the 2000 model year. One of those changes replaced the black slats in the kidney grills with chrome trimmed slats. (Correction: The model year 2000 2.3 Z3 did not receive the chrome slats). In the picture below the left kidney grill is the black one (stock on pre 2000 Z3s) and the right one is the chrome trimmed kidney grill.

The new chrome trimmed kidney grills are available from any BMW parts department. BMW part numbers 51-13-8-412-949 and 51-13-8-412-950. The parts list for $25.75 a piece and can be installed in minutes. The new kidney grills are identicle to the old ones except the leading edge of the plastic slats are chrome.

This may seen crude, but to remove the stock kidney grills raise the hood and strike the back side of the kidney grill with your hand. The kidney grill is held in place with some plastic tabs. The grill will simply pop out after a few hard strikes, and this should not damage the original kidney grill. It’s a good idea to have your other hand on the other side of the kidney grill to catch it, otherwise it might go flying across your garage (trust me on this).

Once the old kidney grill has been removed, the new one is simply pushed into place from the front. You may want to clean up the area behind the grill while you have the chance. I had some wax paste build-up and some other crud back there.

I think the finished result is something that most Z3 owners will notice quickly, however I doubt that it is enought of a change that the average person would notice the difference. I’ve seen a Z3 that had the MG Racing chrome kidney grills and those seed brighter and more visually eye catching to me. I belive the MG Racing version is real metal and the entire slat is chrome instead of just the leading edge. But either way you go the little extra chrome is something that I like.

Headlight Switch Options

Pros: Easy to Customize and Install, Doesn’t cost very much
Cons:
Cost: Varies from $6.40 to $16.60

For most, the stock headlight switch has a black cap (61-31-8-400-003) on top of a black sleeve (61-31-8-389-547). Some Z3 were ordered with a chrome package installed at the factory and might have a different all chrome switch but this is how the majority of Z3s rolled off the assembly line between 1995 an 1999. The cap simply snaps onto the sleeve, the sleeve is screwed on and held in place with an 8mm nut. Both can be replaced in a couple minutes.

If you just wanted to replace the cap you could order BMW part number (61-31-8-400-004) which is an all chrome cap. This is a very eye catching combination but some think that the all chrome cap is a little too eye catching. The chrome cap lists for $6.83 and it simply snaps on in place of the black cap. Be careful snapping the new cap in place, there are three pins that line up into some slots so make sure those line up before trying to snap on the cap.

If you wanted something a little less flashy, BMW also offers a chrome trimmed black cap. BMW part number (61-31-2-694-602) lists for $10.20 and it also just snaps on in place of the black cap. This cap is trimmed in chrome with the face remaining flat black. This is the same cap that is now standard on the model year 2000 M roadsters.

If you are wanting even more chrome, the sleeve behind the snap on cap also comes in a chrome version. BMW part number (61-31-8-389-880) lists for $6.40 and once the cap is removed a single 8mm nut can be seen that holds the sleeve in place. The sleeve also has metal threads so once the nut is removed the sleeve has to be unscrewed and replaced.

Z3s that were ordered from the factory with the chrome package received a chrome cap (61-31-8-400-004) on a chrome sleeve (61-31-8-389-880). The total list cost of the two parts is $13.23

What I choose to install in my M roadster is the combination of a black chrome trimmed cap (61-31-2-694-602) on the chrome sleeve (61-31-8-389-880). The total list cost of the two parts is $16.60 and it blends well with my ever growing chrome collection.

Not pictured, but also available is an Aluminum cap (61-31-8-401-196) and an Aluminum sleeve (61-31-8-401-270). These were offered as part of an Aluminum package on the now discontinued 2.8 coupe.