Custom Checkerboard Stripe

It’s vinyl. We had a short thread about it a month ago in the coupe forum. The guy who did it (Lockwood Racing, a bit north of Atlanta) first designed it on the computer, using a Z3 template. Then the computer cut two foot long sections, straight and curved. He picked out the blanks, then attached another sheet of adhesive on top of the vinyl. Peeled of the main adhesive on the vinyl, showing the vinyl’s adhesive surface. Sprayed that with a special solution so it wouldn’t stick immediatley to the car. Applied sheet to car, and he could still move it around. When it was in position, he squeegied the liquid out.

The shop could have done essentially any design, but I liked the checkerboard that they had in their ad. Starts under the driver side headlight, on the air dam, swoops over the hood, down the side, and drapes all the way over the trunk to the drivers rear wheel well.

I am not terribly worried about fading, as my car spends 98% of its life in the garage. It is my daily driver, but I don’t commute. I will probably remove the graphics in a year or so. I used an intermediate quality of vinyl, so it is thicker and has a lower quality adhesive – easier to remove.

The pic I sent was taken at the Churchill Downs autocross in Louisville.

Chrome Windshield Washer Sprayers

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

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. 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 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.

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.

UUC Oil Filter Lid

Pros: Looks really good
Cons: Just a cosmetic upgrade, although some theorize the additional ///M logo will make the car faster.
Cost: List price: $99 (from UUC motorwerks)

Click for Larger ViewThe ///M engine is a beautiful sight to behold. It is a classic german design, everything has a purpose and the visual aspects are clean and understated. As you can see in the picture on the right (click on any of these pictures for a larger view), I have added a Dinan Strut Brace to my ///M roadster. The Dinan brace not only improves the cars handling, it also adds to the engine compartments visual aspect with it highly polished bar and carbon fiber inserts.

I recently added an additional ///M logo to the front of the engine compartment and it added a nice visual touch as well. The wife questioned “who will ever see that” and the best I could do was to draw an analogy of getting a tattoo on your butt. Maybe only a select few will ever see it, but the important thing is that you know it is there and you like it.

Click for Larger ViewIn the front/middle of the engine compartment is the stock oil filter container. It has a textured metal case with a matching dull metallic lid. The metal has a slight brownish tint to it and it is not much to look at, but none the less the container does its job. A single bolt holds the lid firmly down onto the container making it easy to remove the lid and change the filter. German efficiency at it’s finest.

Click for Larger ViewI know this is was going totally overboard, but somewhere in the back of my mind I had once pondered “what if I somehow made this look better”. While it was nearly a forgotten pondering, some time later I stumble upon a picture of the UUC oil filter cap. It turns out there were other equally strange individuals out there that wanted a better looking oil filter cap as well and the UUC delivered the cure. It looked like it was time for another butt tattoo. (I hope you are understanding this analogy and not thinking I’m really getting tattoos on my ass).

Click for Larger ViewReplacement was pretty straight forward. A 13mm socket was used to remove the single bolt and the lid came right off. The UUC lid is heavier and taller than the stock design but uses the same single bolt to hold the lid in place. There is a rubber ring around the lid that gets replaced at every oil change. You will need to move that ring from the old lid to the new lid or time your lid replacement to coincide with a oil change and put the new ring (which comes with the oil filter) on the new lid.

Click for Larger ViewOnce the rubber ring is in place, tighten the lid back down. Engraved on the new lid is the torque value “15 to 18 ft lbs”, but you can feel the lid seat against the container without using a torque wrench. The UUC lid comes with an indentation in which you can insert either an ///M logo or the UUC’s logo. Both are provided with the UUC oil filter lid in addition to a larger silver UUC sticker.

Click for Larger ViewClick for Larger View

The UUC is working on a similar oil filter cap that that will have oil temp and pressure outputs with plugs and hoses, the works. That one is still in development at the time of this article.

Update: Just found out that the UUC is also working a polished oil filter cap bolts. So the bolt head that is visible on top of the polished oil filter cap will match the polished lid. In the pictures above the stock bolt is being used and it does stand out as being ugly on top of the polished lid.

Clear/White Front Light Replacement

An Illuminating Project – Front Light Install

It’s a kind tradition in the BMW world to replace your orange blinkers with white lenses. I’m not sure where this tradition came from. Perhaps it’s just a way of selling more aftermarket parts, but it certainly makes the car look cooler!

I succumbed to white light fever a while ago when I replaced everything except the front lighting pods following the instructions on this article. The new clear rear lights looked really great. The effect of the white lights was not so much as an addition of anything, but more of a subtraction of an annoying other aspect of the car. On a black car like the Manx, it really helped to smooth out the lines. But there was still something wrong — the white lights looked great, but there were still those annoying orange ones in the front pod. They became even more annoying when I switched to yellow fog lights. Too many colors. However, at the time, the cost of replacing the front pods would have been close to $600. For that, I could live with a little annoyance.

But then things changed when BMW released the Y2k Z3’s. White lights were now standard on all Y2K Z3’s. In addition, they have decided to make the white lights available for all US models. This brought the price down to $500. Let’s see, 20% BMWCCA discount and we’re at $400. Hmmmmmmm. May be a possibility…. The final straw was when Zeroster posted that a Circle BMW was running a sale on the white lights at $344. $344! For that price I could not resist. A quick phone call and the lights were on their way to me.

The lights came about a week later. The interesting thing was that they included not only the main headlamp units, but also the various side markers (which I had already, but they’re not very expensive, so it didn’t matter — now I have spares). The lights came complete with bulbs as well, all-in-all a very good deal. Of course, you also get those cool multi-lingual instructions which are really, really helpful (honestly, it amazes me that BMW has not figured out that it’s main market being the US, the main language (the one which accompanies the pictures) should be English.

It’s quite easy to remove the lights. All you need to do is remove four screws. the problem is the re-installation of the lights. That’s where it gets tricky.

First of all, start with the driver’s side of the car. The passenger side is harder to remove because of the washer fluid reservoir. You should remove the the top two screws first. However, there’s a special precaution to take: The screws do not go into metal. BMW have developed an incredibly Rube-Goldberg-esque system for attaching the lights to the body which also serve as aiming devices: the enclosures the screws fit into actually screw and unscrew themselves into the body of the car. If you unscrew the screw-sheath, you can move the light. Before attempting to unscrew, place a wrench on the screw-sheath to stabilize it. The wrench will hold it in place, preventing you from seriously changing the alignment of the lights as you remove them. This works well on the two front screws, for those in back, you need to get a bit more creative. I used the flat blade of a small screwdriver to stabilize them, but even then I could feel them moving.

Once the lights are removed, you can simply reach behind them and unplug all the bulbs. You then position the new white lights and reverse the process. If you have not changed the positions of the screw-sheaths, everything will be pretty much aligned and you’ll be ready to go. Before you do, however, try this simple test: Take a small piece of cardboard and run it under the lights. If you encounter any resistance (like the light is resting on the body of the car) you will need to take them out again and realign the screw-sheaths in the back. Once you are done, close the hood and make sure the edge of the lights line up with all the body parts. Sometimes, you just need to play around with it until you get it right. The first time I did it, I removed and reinstalled the lights in about five minutes. When I noticed they were not aimed properly, I did the procedure again and it took me about 30 minutes per side, but the alignment is perfect.

Another tip – when you get to the passenger side you’ll need to complete the install with one last screw down the back. The problem is that the screw need to be positioned before you can tighten it and there’s no way to get back there because of the reservoir of washer fluid. I solved the problem by taping the screw to the driver using the handy-man’s secret weapon: duct tape. This allowed me to position the screw and complete the install.

The final results is exquisite! The White lights look great — for only $344 I’ve completely removed that annoying orange from the front of the car. The replacement lights are BMW OEM, but there were some differences. The new lights did not have the cool liquid/bubble level and it seems to be missing a vestigal gear. The purpose of this gear seems to be to mount to a motor in the car. Many european cars actually allow you to change the aiming of the headlights from inside the car. They allow you to raise and lower the lights depending on your load. This is particularly critical in soft-sprung French cars, but somewhat wasted in the firmer German builds.

Chrome Grill Kit

Pros: Looks great, Very solid, 1-2 hours to install (depending on how anal you are)
Cons: Pricey for a vanity upgrade, Adventuresome ordering and shipping process
Cost: $95.00 from MG Racing & Tuning

Most of the upgrades to my Z have been either to make it go faster, louder, or handle better, but not really to change its physical appearance. OK, so the wheels are very noticeable, but they were justified as a handling upgrade. Anyway, for no apparent reason I decided to spice up the grill area. I called all three Houston area BMW dealers to get a price and delivery date on the MY2k chrome grill, and received answers of: “Huh?”; “they don’t make those”; “the grills haven’t changed”; and so on. I decided to order the chrome grill insert kit from MG Racing & Tuning instead.

MG Racing & Tuning is an unusual business. Based in St. Maarten, N.A., they are a small company that sources cool parts for cool cars from all over the world, and sells them over the Internet. It can be a slow, tedious process, due to the weird Caribbean telephony, parts delays, and service and attitude problems with their US shipper. Giampiero, owner of MG Racing & Tuning is an honest guy, and will shoot straight with you. The problem is making contact. The best method is via eMail, and then Giampiero will call you back. I had initial problems with the ordering process, due to my extremely impatient nature, but Giampiero made it right. I would order from MG Racing & Tuning again.

I placed my order and 24 days later it arrived. The kit is packaged nicely, and the English instructions were a pleasant surprise. These would be important later. The instructions would have you install the slats with the grill on the car, but I decided to remove the grill assemblies to clean them thoroughly. Besides, it was hot as hell that day, and I wanted to work inside. Please note that if you want to work with the grills out, you will need to remove the chrome trim ring to help align the slats. One side note, I was very disappointed to see that the “chrome” trim ring on the Z3 is a cheap piece of chromed plastic. For BMW, happiness is cutting corners.

To remove the grills, I simply gave them 2-3 whacks with the palm of my hand, and they popped right out. No problem. The chrome trim rings had some sticky foam/tape inside of them (they’re hollow, too), but they pulled off as well. The car now had a toothless look to it, and a huge amount of wax build-up that I cleaned away. With grills in hand I went inside to work.

I gave the grills a nice bath in the kitchen sink with some Maguiars. I didn’t wash the trim rings that way, since I didn’t want to get the foam/tape wet. Next came the tape. The kit supplies exactly enough double sided tape to put two pieces on each grill fin to receive a slat. Simple enough. Where I made my mistake was applying the first slat without having the trim ring in place as a guide. As a result on a trial fitting, the slat was too high, so I had to remove it, snap the trim ring in place, and then put on the rest of the slats. They went on pretty easily, especially when I followed the instructions advice to use a little soapy water to ease the fitting. A few of the slats were spread too wide, but a little squeezing made them fit perfectly. I would imagine that installing the slats is easier with the grill off the car, since you can press them into place from overhead. Whichever way you do it, you may want to wear some gloves, as it can be pretty rough on the thumbs after eighteen slats.

Each slat has a number and letter to signify its position. It works best if you orient the box (where the slats are in proper order) and the grill the same way to make sure the slat and fin locations are matching. Once I finished, I popped the trim rings off the grills, and was ready to reinstall them on the car. The grills now weighed about two pounds each – very substantial.

Reinstalling the grill assemblies on the car was the worst part (another argument for installing them on the car to begin with) due to the fact that the hood hydraulics wanted to lift the hood past the optimal working position. Also, the rings had to be stretched a little bit to clear the grill slats. But, after fifteen minutes of work, the grills were on the car, and looked fantastic.

A week later I am still amazed by the appearance of the grills as they are simply dazzling in the bright sunshine, and complement the Boston Green paint very nicely. While this is purely a vanity upgrade, it is one I’d recommend if you are in the market for such a look. About the only thing I’d do differently is to install the slats with the grill on the car.

Chrome Front Grill

BMW Grill: still waiting for part number, suspect it will be roughly $40 for the pair of kidney grills
Chrome tape: found at most auto parts stores, easy to install and costs under $10

The Days Events

  • Gathering at Rory’s
  • Fixing Paint Chips
  • X-Pel
  • Swapping Mirrors
  • Boot Cover Swap
  • Chrome Front Grill
  • All 1996, 1997, 1998 and 1999 model year Z3s came with the same front kidney grills. The kidney shaped grills were surrounded in chrome with thin black slats running vertically in the middle. It was a great looking front grill but of course everything can be improved upon.

    Starting with the model year 2000 Z3 and M roadsters the front kidney grill is slightly different. The thin vertical slats in the middle of the grill are now trimmed in chrome. It’s a small change but it’s caught the eye of several Z3 owners. The good news is that the new kidney grill can be retro-fitted into older Z3s, however the new part number is not public knowledge at this point so we have to wait to order from BMW.

    Eileen found some thin chrome trim tape at her local autoparts store. After spending a few minutes cutting the tape to precise length, she simple stuck them on and the result looks great. For only a few dollars she made her front kidney grill just like the new grills. Who knows how long the chrome tape will last, but so far it is holding up quite well.

    Hamann Chrome Rollhoops

    Sold By:

    MG Racing


    Chrome Door Handle Surrounds

    Part numbers:
    less than $15/side
    Tools required:
    “hook” tool

    It’s always fun to find cheap easy upgrades to make your Z3 just a little different from the others out there. For under $30 and less than 20 minutes of work, you can add chrome door handle surrounds to your Z3.

    Part numbers:




    less than $15/side

    Tools required:

    “hook” tool

    You must “unlock” the stock door handle surround to remove it. First, open the car door and remove the black plug at the top of the end of the door. Use a thin-bladed screwdriver or an ice pick. You’ll probably chew up the plastic plug a little bit–that’s ok, just be careful not to scratch the paint on the door end.

    When you look through the access hole, you will see a lever. Push the lever forward with a “hook” tool (picture a screwdriver with the tip bent so you could hook something with it). You will need to push firmly. This will slide the lever forward and unlock the outside door handle surround.

    Once the lever has been pushed forward, the handle surround will be loose at the top. Use your fingernail to pull the top of the surround away from the door. You should then be able to lift it off easily.

    The surround has a gasket on the back of it. Although I could not discern any visible difference between the gasket that came with the surround and the one that was on the stock black surround, the new surround didn’t quite fit with the gasket it came with. The gasket lifts right off the surround, so you may wish to use the originals from the doors with the new surrounds.

    To install the chrome surround, slide the bottom tabs into the marked holes and then push the top towards the door. Don’t force it–it should go fairly easily. Then, use the “hook” tool to pull the lever back towards you–this will take some force, and it should lock down the new chrome surround.

    That’s it–you’re done! Enjoy the new look!

    [wordbay]BMW Z3 Exterior[/wordbay]