1.9 Sound System Upgrade

I’ve wanted to upgrade my Z3 sound system for a while. I found that the stock system simply wasn’t good enough to support a convertible. I started looking around and came to MZ3.net and looked at Robert’s 1.9 (Non-HK) Stereo Upgrade. This article helped me A LOT during my search for a better sound system. Now was the time to see where I should get it done. The first place I went to was Audio Excellence. It looked very professional and some of my friends suggested it. I also went to Audio Extreme and Sound Advice but out of the three Audio Excellence was at the top.

I wanted to upgrade the front speakers first. I looked at JL Audio and was impressed by their clarity. I also wanted to get larger speakers and I ended up with 6 ½” JL Audio XR650-CS (with tweeters and crossovers).

I realized that I needed a much better amplifier because the stock amp (non HK) was pushing around 20-25 watts per channel. I decided to go with the Orion Cobalt CS200.4 (Which later changed to the CS500.5) I was also looking at the Alpine V12 models but their prices were too high.

Audio Excellence told me that I might be able to put 5 ½” in the rear to replace the 4″ speakers. This luckily didn’t work out and I got a free pair of 4″ speakers.

Installation

The installation took around 7 hours. I took it in at 9 am at brought it home at about 4 pm. I was very happy with this installation because everything seemed to go my way. First they tried fitting the 5 ½” in the rear. These didn’t fit so they decided to leave the stock 3 ½” in there. The install for the tweeters and XR650-CS went fine but the amp didn’t. They put the CS200.4 in and it blew my rear speakers due to a short. They gave me a CS500.5 instead and replaced my rear speakers with JL Audio XR400-CX.

So the price of the JL Audio XR525-CX was cut from the bill and I upgraded to 4″ rear speakers and a 5-channel amp for free! Total cost was about $750.

Turning up the new system loud would guarantee to make your ears bleed. All that was coming out of it was highs. There was more bass than stock but it wasn’t enough. I decided to get a subwoofer.

The first place I wanted to put one was in the trunk. I planned on putting a 10″ sub opposite the side of the trunk with the CD Changer. Audio Excellence told me that in front of the trunk was a metal wall separating the cabin from it. Porting to the cabin would have to go through the boot of the convertible and with the top down bass would be nonexistent. I also wasn’t too happy with the idea of cutting a whole in my BMW.

My other idea was to put an 8″ or a 10″ in the spot where the HK Sub is. My idea was similar to where the Dodge Viper has its subwoofer. Audio Excellence looked at the area (where my storage compartments are) and told me that it would mess with the structural integrity of the car because the roll bars came down into there. I decided this idea was a no-go also.

They came up with an idea that I was trying to avoid. They wanted to put the sub below the dash on the passenger side. They did this to a member of N’Sync’s Superformance Shelby Cobra. Even though I was disappointed because doing this would take up legroom I decided to go along with this idea.

They ended up making a custom box and putting a JL Audio 8W3 subwoofer in my car. This ended up costing $350 and took about 13 hours (11 hours one day, 2 hours the next). It turned out well and sounds amazing!

Is it worth it?

Yes, I think that it was worth it. I love being able to hear music without distortion at 60mph with the top down. It turned out to be much cheaper than I thought and sound better than I imagined. Even though the subwoofer installation took forever I think that having that extra bass really makes the sound fuller.

Pros – Awesome Sound, Not very expensive

Cons – Lost passenger legroom, No more stock look

Cost – About $1,100

Veilside Z3 Kit

Back in November 2001 one cold morning I started the car and my foot sliped off the brake while the car was in first gear. The car flight forward into the garage wall. Got the hood bend real bad and front spoiler cracked open. So I decide to give the car new look. The body kit was $1400 from Vielside, after long search this only body kit I like. This body kit Vielside only make for the 1.9l (4cl) so the side rocket panels wouldn’t fit on the 2.8l v6. I have the body shop cut one part from the stock side rocket panel and mate with the new rocket panels so it will fit perfectly.

G Power Supercharger

* g-power supercharger with 405 hp

* complete stainless steel exhaust system

* Porsche brake with 322mm brake discs

* KW-height and hardness adjustable suspension (very low)

* No Door Locks

* No rear Screen Wiper

* No antenna

* No BMW signs

* Rear spoiler in car colour

* Strut brace

* wheel spacers 5mm front, 20mm rear

* 265/40 on rear axis

* Plastic coated wheels (black)

* White indicator bulbs front and rear

* clutch stop

* 32cm diameter steering wheel with full size airbag

Coming Soon… More details and photos

Glowing Z3 Gills

I’ve had some questions asked on my gills that glow and how it’s done. They light up at night when lights are turned on… Can’t see them in daylight. See below link, no that is not my car at the top…scroll down to bottom. 😉

Just buy the glow-wire that matches the color of your car(or close). Pop the gills off and run a couple of strips up and down the wire mash from the inside…that’s pretty much it…you can connect to any 12v source… I used the low beams since I wouldn’t be using them in the daytime anyway.

The Glow-Wire company put some pictures of my car out on their web site.

1.9 to M Conversion

Why I did it:

I am poor, but I love the M Roadster. You may know me as WannaM on the message boards. The M’s full, muscular rear end is much more masculine and finished looking than the other Z’s in my humble opinion, but alas, I can’t afford an M. I think the 1.9 liter’s rear end looks dilapidated and unfinished. However, as background, I rent a two-car garage and live in the other half. In other words, all of my money goes to my car, and I live like a bum. How many other people can claim such loyalty to a car? In addition, I do upgrades as I have money instead of just picking the ones I want and doing them. Robert Leidy’s beautiful roadster was the target template for my car as I have a 1996 Arctic Silver 1.9. What finally convinced me was that the rear track width on the 1.9 and M roadster are nearly identical, unlike the 2.5 and 2.8 which are noticeably wider, especially with M rims on. Thus, the conversion compatibility was the decision maker.

What it cost:

I tried to keep the costs down by selling the old parts and buying from salvage yards. The two biggest problems are 1) it takes a long time and patience to find the parts from salvage yards and 2) some of the parts are damaged and replacing/repairing ends up costing more than new parts. In the end, I had hoped that I could keep costs very low. I was wrong.

Process:

The upgrade is pretty simple (but intense). I contact the Mazjun’s who had upgraded their 1.9 to a widebody format like a 2.8 after a minor accident. The reality is that a LOT of parts are only slightly different but need to be completely replaced. I searched for most of the parts on the newsgroups, ebay, and the salvage yards. The following parts are needed for a (1996) full exterior conversion to an M:

* Both Bumper covers

* Both rocker panels

* Both quarter panels

* Gas filler flap

* Both Rear plastic wheel linings

* Roll bar/hoops

* Both side mirrors

* Both hood gills

* Trunk Lid

* Electric trunk lock mechanism

* Rear trunk license plate assembly

* License plate lights

* Chrome trunk button surround

* 4 Satin chrome M wheels

* 4 new tires

* Custom spliced exhaust (picture included, and it’s the best I could do without jacking the car up)

* Two new mufflers

Other work:

Removing the black plastic covering on the A pillars/windshield frame. For cost sakes, I did not replace the head/taillights with clear lenses, nor replace the side mirrors. You must extend the license plate lights wiring from the rear bumper to the trunk lid. For this, I simply used wiring I bought from Home Depot.

Problems:

Painting is expensive. I found a great shop in Lincoln Park (Chicago), European Auto, that matched the paint wonderfully without “blending.” The con is that it is relatively expensive and takes a while to mix a good match, but I would recommend this shop to anyone getting any type of paint job. I also noticed during the re-assembly, that the parts that were “used/salvaged” definitely exhibited “fit” problems. Using new parts is certainly the preferred choice if you can afford it. Was it worth it?? Since costs started to get out of hand, I’m not sure if it’s worth it. If you have access to cheap parts and a lot of time, the look is definitely cool, but car novices might not even notice the difference. I like the new look though. I only wish it were a real M. Perhaps BMW might realize I’m their biggest enthusiast and donate another car for me to modify.

European Auto Ltd

2547 N Lincoln Ave

Chicago, IL 60614-2313

Phone: (773) 348-5440

I had major problems with the trunk locking mechanism. I wasn’t sure how the reverse placement of the trunk button would affect the lock. It was minimal work to refit really, BUT, in the process, I could not figure out how to reuse the electric locking control, thus I need to use the key to lock/unlock the trunk.

Visible Discrepancies with the M:

The interior had been modified over the years to a more chrome finish like many others. The noticeable differences inside are the lack of leather wrapped dash, M sport seats, no Oil Temp/Analog Clock/Oil Pressure gauges, power roof, rear view mirror, etc. I do have a sprinkling of LeatherZ products which are awesome. The exterior lacks the M side mirrors (which irks me a little each time), fit-and-finish of the new panels is not as great as my original stock 1.9. Also, the lights have the original amber, not the later “clear” look (but I considered Robert Leidy’s as a template). I also have not yet put the plastic wheel well linings in as the pictures show.

Future:

As I said, this project really put me in the poor house — literally. Towards the end, I became a prostitute and even tried soliciting companies to donate the parts to me if I put a decal on my car. Semi-happily, no one took me up on my offer. The things that I would like most to add eventually would be:

* Any type of windscreen

* Any type of supercharger

* Any Spring lowering kit

* Additional leather treatment to the interior

In retrospect, it might’ve been easier to sell my car and put the upgrade money into getting a used 2.8 or something, but I had no idea how few Z3 parts would’ve been on the salvage market and how expensive dealership parts would’ve been. Live and learn – I suppose. Until then, I believe that I have only 1 of 2 Z3 1.9’s with a widebody conversion, the only 1.9 with M body technics, and – in the spirit of making the MZ3 an actual vehicle – a real MZ3.

If I had one wish right now, I would like to add a supercharger, as I have been attending many of the local import tuner shows. My car gets a lot of attention, but on the drag strips, it gets quite embarrassed.

Pros: Looks great… almost like an M.

Cons: Unjustifiable cost, car is out-of-commission during upgrade, is not completely a DIY project.

Glove Box Light

Here is some information on a glove box light I made. I bought a keychain flashlight that used a bright blue led for the light. I got it from LL Beans for $20, but I see them for sell everywhere. It is a sapphire crystal led, and two 3-volt lithium batteries. The cells have a 10 year shelf life. All I wanted was the led and the 2 batteries.

I took the light apart and just used the led and the area that holds the batteries, cutting the rest of the body off.

I then acquired a metal cased mercury tilt switch. Durakool (http://www.aecsensors.com) has various tilt switches. I bought part #4929 from Newark Electronics (http://www.newark.com). It was around $5.00, but there was a minimum order, or a $5 penalty. It operates at a plus or minus 7 degree angle. It is very tiny, being around 1/4 inch all round in size. I placed all the parts in a small fuse box (the one that the cylinder type buss automotive fuses come in). It seemed like a perfect candidate since the plastic part of the box slides off easily from the metal top and it is small and shallow.

I drilled a hole in the plastic part of the box for the led to come out, and the rest (batteries in their holder and tilt switch) was placed inside and held in place with electrical tape. I had previously soldered circuit board wire from the tilt switch to the light. Some final touches like an LED holder from radio shack and some chrome tape on the box gives it a more finished look.

This small fuse box was attached to the left side of the glove box and held in place with velcro. The angle of the box had to be adjusted to get the light to turn on and off at the appropriate time when opening and closing the glove box door.

Pleased with the finished results, it puts a nice blue light inside the glovebox that allows me to see the things inside.

Porterfield Brake Pads

Pros: Possibly Better Performance, Almost No Brake Dust Mess
Cons: Initial Brake Squeal, but Easily Fixed
Cost: $94 Front, $75 Rear from MyRoadster.net

After 60,000 miles on the stock brake pads I assumed I was getting close to needing to change them. I’ve been pleased with the performance of the stock BMW brake pads, but the brake dust was always a mess. The photo to the right is for real, this is how my wheels usually look. I wanted to find some replacement pads that offered equal performance but without all the brake dust mess.

The Porterfield brand caught my attention, it appeared it may be what I was looking for. MyRoadster.Net carried the Porterfield brand so I asked some questions via their info@myroadster.net address. I learned that Porterfield makes three different kinds of brake pads depending on your needs.

* R-4 for track use only

* R-4S for street and light competition

* R-E for endurance racing events

The “Porterfield R4-S Carbon/Kevlar Street Brake Pads” matched my needs, and the feature list impressed me.

* Low Dust

* Light Pedal Effort

* Rotor Friendly

* High Friction, Hot or Cold

* Low Wear Rate

* Fastest Stopping Road Pad Available!

* Friction Coefficient:

* OEM: Between .2 and .3

* Porterfield: .4

* Temperature Tolerance:

* OEM: 500-700 degrees F

* Porterfield: 1,100 degrees F

After installing the pads (see ///MZ3.Net’s brake pad installation article for details) I resisted the urge to make any judgements until I knew the pads were really broken in. I was also cautioned to avoid excess hard breaking during this initial period. When new, brake pads have a slightly rounded surface that ensures once broken in you get a maximum contact patch. But until they get fully broken in you are concentrating the friction to a smaller patch. This means that when brand new the friction/heat is in a smaller area so you should avoid overheating the rotors. At least that’s how a BMW tech explained it to me, it wasn’t something specific to the Porterfield brand, just a general caution for all new brake pads.

8,000 Mile Update: How does the saying go, if I knew then what I know now….

I put up with the stock brakes and their mess for 60,000 miles. From my experience, the Porterfield R4-S brakes offer at least equal performance (maybe even a little better) but with almost no brake dust mess. That was exactly what I was looking for so I am very happy with the Porterfield R4-S pads brakes. My only complaint with them was some initial brake squeal, but that was easily fixed (see Stopping Brake Squeaks article for details). For the cost ($94 front, $75 rear) and backed with MyRoadster.Net’s money back guarantee, the Porterfield R4-S pads seem to be what most Z3 owners should be looking for when either they need to replace their stock pads, or are just fed up with cleaning up after the BMW pads.

Veilside Z3

Owner: Khalifa Cobra

The body kit is from Veilside, the hardtop and rear wing are from Hamann Motorsport Hardtop II, the exhaust Muffler is from a german tuning company called G-Power.

Chrome Roll Hoops

Pros: Look Really Good, Easy to Install, Half the price of the AC Schnitzer.
Cons: Doesn’t work with the BMW windscreen.
Cost: $595 from MyRoadster.net

I’ve always enjoyed the chrome (actually polished stainless steel) roll hoops on my Z3, but the AC Schnitzer price (ouch). For those Z3 owners that are looking to replace the stock (black) BMW hoops, but cringed at the AC Schnitzer price, MyRoadster.net offers similiar polished roll hoops for much less money.

The shape of these roll hoops are slightly different than the stock BMW hoops and the AC Schnitzer hoops. MyRoadster.net’s design is more round on top and much thicker. They remind me of the Audi TT roll hoops, very sporty. 60mm or 2.4 inch diameter (compared to approx 50mm on the Schnitzer design). With a wall thickness of 2mm or .08 inches. The installation of these roll hoops is nearly identicle to the AC Schnitzer hoops (installation instructions). Three torx 40 bolts hold the hoops in place, the installation is surprisingly easy the only non-standard tool needed is a torx 40 driver (I found one at my local hardware store).

The difference between the installations is the (gasket like) rubber rings at the bottom of the roll hoops. The rubber rings are partly for cosmetic reasons, but they also make sure you don’t end up with metal on plastic rattles. Installing the rubber rings was a little confusing. There is a slit in the rubber ring, its designed to slip on over the end of the roll hoop. That installation isn’t as easy as it sounds but the design is better than the Schnitzer solution (at least the ones I received).

MyRoadster.net also provides roll hoops to Z3Solution.com, you can purchase from either vendor and end up with the same high quality product at nearly half the price of the AC Schnitzer brand.

“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.