Smoked Tailed Lights

Here are some pictures of my 1996 BMW Z3 with smoked tailights.

Painted Wheels

[adsense_id=”4″]Recently there were some discussions on the Z3 message board regarding painting wheels. In response to that discussion I went through my Z3 photo collection looking for photos people may want to see in regard to wheel color and/or painting. In this first photo the owner found some aftermarket wheels that already matched the color of his car (no painting required).

Okay it’s not really painting, but chroming wheels is another way to change the look of your stock wheels. In my opinion chrome adds to the retro look of the Z3, this picture jumped out at me as I was going through my collection because the white and chrome combination looked so good.

If I owned a white Z3 (and someday I may), I would consider painting the wheels white just like this M owner has. The white on white look is fantastic (in my opinion). It reminds me of the early 80’s Porsche 944’s that apparently had a white wheel option if you got the white exterior paint.

Not sure if it’s the quality of these photos or the specific lighting in these photos, but personally I would be after a more flat white look (but that’s just me chasing my memory of the old Porsche white wheels).

Now at the other end of the spectrum (sorry couldn’t resist that pun) we have black wheels. I’m sure this look is very hard to photograph, but these photos don’t appeal to me because you can’t make out any details of the wheels.

You can see more details of the wheel in this photo. Maybe its the matching black exterior paint but this photo makes the black wheels look better than the previous photo. Notice how the dark paint makes the disc brake stand out. Some red caliper paint would really stand out.

Chrome Trimmed Z3 Gill

I’ve always loved the M roadsters Gills but since I decided on the Z3 3.0, I felt it would be somehow wrong to buy some M gills and add them to the Z. So I have been looking for a way to add a little something to the originals.

This is my first attempt at adding a little flash of chrome. I am sending this to elicit some comments good, bad, “don’t mess with the original”!, It is completely removable.

Note: The Chrome trim can be found at most auto part stores.

White Z3 Top

Custom white top, details unknown.

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.

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.

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.