|Pros:||Makes top down driving more enjoyable by eliminating the back draft caused by a cars aerodynamics|
|Cons:||You have to cut some plastic to install it|
After installing the BMW windscreen, I quickly threw the tools back onto my work bench and took the roadster out for a spin. Unlike the Remus, the benefits of this install were immediately noticed. At speeds of under 25mph the difference was noticeable, but small, as I slowly got faster I noticed that the wind inside the cockpit hardly increased. I headed towards the Dallas autobahn (also known as the Dallas Tollway), to give this wind screen the ultimate test. I paid my fifty cents and then quickly accelerated to…. well lets just say I gave the wind screen a good test and it passed with flying colors.
Before I go on with this glowing review, let me point out a negative comment I have about the wind screen. It took me a couple days to get use to it, but the visibility through your rear view mirror is substantially reduced. As I said, I think I’ve gotten use to it, but I’m still a little concerned that the decrease in visibility might cause a problem in traffic.
Okay that said, let me now point out some more good points.
1. My roadster is parked in a parking lot at work and the windscreen (in the up position) with the top also up acts as a excellent sun shade. I make a point to park the roadster with the back window facing west so in the afternoon the sun’s heat is blocked by the wind screen. This has made the roadster much cooler to enter after work.
2. The decrease in wind has made the stereo more audible and cleaner at high-way speeds.
3. The decrease in wind has also made the environmental controls (AC and Heat) much more efficient. In the mornings a little heat keeps the cockpit nice and warm. While after work the A/C keeps the Texas heat at bay.
Since purchasing this windscreen BMW has released two other windscreen designs. Do date I really haven’t had a chance to compare the other two, but visually it would appear that the 1st design (this design) will block more wind. The 2nd design appeared to be harder to install but did not occupy the mount towers that the 1st design did. The 3rd design I have only seen on pictures. It is designed to work with the BMW roll-hoops which became stand with the ’98 models.
I ended up purchasing the HMS rollbar and selling this windscreen to another Z3 owner, the HMS windscreen has it’s good and bad points in comparison to this design. However this design is seems to have a real good balance of form and function.
After a quick jump over to a friends house (top down of course) I returned home. As I pulled into my driveway, I attempted to fix my wind-blown hair. It was then that I noticed a thin, flat, box propped against my door. The long wait had finally ended, for within this cardboard box was a genuine, BMW Z3 wind screen. Shipped from the mother land herself (Germany).
Upon opening the box I noticed a cloth/nylon bag that housed the wind screen, “Oh cool it even comes with a case” I proclaimed to my uninterested wife. Opening the zipper produced the rarest sight a Z3 owner had ever seen. I then turned my attention to the instruction manual. Doh!, It’s written in German (at least I think it’s German). I put the wind screen down and went to print out an e-mail that was sent to me by Robert Kamen (a.k.a. the “other” Robert). Looking at the pieces within the box, and Robert’s instructions I concluded that this install looked relatively easy, however it involved some cutting so I got a little nervous. A quick inventory of my tools however convinced me that I was well equipped to perform this surgery because I had three tools that seemed perfect for this job.
(Note: Intermixed within the following text are the install instructions that Robert Kamen (a.k.a. the “other” Robert) sent me. I would like to thank Mr. Kamen and acknowledge his input into this web page.)
Step 1: (Repeat for both sides) Pop off the cap on top of the seat belt towers. The instruction say to drill a hole in the caps, then put a hook type device (folded coat hanger) in the hole and pull the caps off. No need. Just use a flat-bladed screwdriver with a rag under the blade to prevent marring the surface of the mount and pry the top off. They are only glued on. The glue will eventually give up and the cap will pop off, leaving it looking like the picture to the right.
Step 2: (Repeat for both sides) Make a circular cut through the plastic housing and the foam underneath. This was accomplished with the help of “Perfect tool number one”, a drill and a special drill bit that cut a 1.5″ circle. This enabled me to quickly cut through the plastic housing and through the foam inside. This left a hole in the roadster about a half inch deep. (Note: The “other” Robert used an industrial razor or knife to do this job. Either will work, the drill will just work quicker).
Step 3: (Repeat for both sides) Once the foam is removed, you will see a plastic cap on top of a steel tube inside the seat belt tower. It sounds confusing, but it is plain as day once the foam is taken out. That plastic cap has got to be removed. It is also larger than the opening made by the cap that you removed in step two. Well the drill got me this far, I reinserted it and it made quick work of the plastic cap, but most of the now shredded cap fell down into the metal tube. (Note: The “other” Robert just took a hammer and screwdriver and whacked it a few times to break up the plastic cap. Then the pieces come right out.) What ever method you use, the goal is to break up that plastic cap so it can be removed.
Step 4: (Repeat for both sides) This is where “Perfect tool number two” made it’s entrance, I plugged my a shop-vac and was pleased to see that the extension wand fit down inside the metal tube sucking out all the parts of the shredded cap, foam and whatever else fell down there.
Step 5: (Repeat for both sides) At this point “Perfect tool number three”, a dremel tool cleaned up the cut the saw/drill had made and left a very smooth and perfect hole in my roadster. The rough areas in that picture are actually the foam below the plastic.
Step 6: (Repeat for both sides) Once the hole was created I inserted the bracket and tightened it until it very slightly rubbed, but was still able to rotate.
Step 7: With the wind screen locks, unlocked. Insert the wind screen into the bracket. This is why I said to leave the brackets still loose enough to rotate in step 6. Once the wind screen is installed lock the wind screen locks and position the wind screen so the brackets are somewhat equal in angle. Then tighten the brackets.
Step 8: Two washers came with the kit, these washers enable both the wind screen and the boot cover to snap onto the snap-things behind the storage compartment. Remove the snap-things add the washers then re-install. Now you can attach the lower flap of the wind screen and the boot cover (over a folded down convertible top) at the same time.
If you want to fold the windscreen down, slightly loosen the two side screws (under the rubber disks). I would suggest using some low grade lock-tight to make sure the screws don’t vibrate out. The windscreen should fold with a slight push or pull.