K&N Cone Filter

Pros: Easy To Install, Improves Intake Sound
Cons: Possibly hurts performance especially in hot weather
Cost: $149

In January of 1997, I purchased the K&N Filter Charger from Bavarian Autosport for $149. Once installed, it made a noticeable change in sound. I think I can tell a performance difference but, it is hard to judge what this upgrade alone would produce. Previously I upgraded the exhaust and I think I’m dealing with a “the sum is greater than the parts” issue here. The installation instructions were pretty well written but didn’t contain any pictures. You might want to take a look at my on-line instructions before installing yourself.

7/1/97 Update:

Since the installation (02/28/97) it has gotten quite hot here in Texas. This exposed a flaw in the K&N cone filter design. Since the filter is not vented with outside “cooler” air I think this upgrade is actually loosing power. So the K&N cone filter has come off and is currently sitting on the shelf.

10/1/97 Update:

I tried building a heat shield to protect the filter from the engine heat (a tip that was recommend on the message board). However I wasn’t pleased enough with the results to allow it as a permanent solution (filter remains on the shelf). At this point I’m not very happy with this product, especially in hot weather.

11/29/97 Update:

Someone e-mailed me and offered to buy the filter charger from me. They own a 318ti and live in Alaska (I’m not making this up), given the Alaska climate the shortcomings of this upgrade are probably negated for him.

12/29/97 Update:

Received an e-mail from the purchaser, he loves the cone filter. So if you live in a cool climate the cone filter is a good investment (especial if you can buy one of a Texan that can’t use it).

Installation of K&N Cone Filter

This is an OCR/Scan of the original instructions.

1. DIRECTIONS: Be sure your engine is cool and ignition is OFF. We recommend you lay a fender cover or a blanket on your fender to protect it before beginning the project. Locate the factory air box on the driver’s side inner fender.
Get familiar with the layout, and figure out exactly what it is that you will be replacing. The area surrounded in red will be replaced.

2. In the front of the air box is a sensor. Depress the clip so the wire plug will pull out. Then remove the actual sensor from the box.
Remove the entire air sensor from the stock air filter box. Press the silver wire thing in and the plug comes right off. Make sure you pull out the sensor.

3. Depress the two clips that hold the top of the factory air box to the air flow meter.
Depress all you want, it’s going too take a screw driver to pop these brackets off. Let me also point out that the instructions assume I knew what the air flow meter was, I didn’t. It took several cycles of reading this sentence and staring at this contraption before I understood.

4. Next, unclip the top portion of the air box from the bottom half of the air box.
Pretty straight forward, I unclipped the top portion from the bottom portion. However I think they also intended for me to remove the top of the air box, it was a couple steps later when I actually did. The four arrows in the graphic point to the clips but the top and left clip can’t be seen in this picture. You will have to look around and under to find them.

5. Undo the two studs attaching the base portion of your factory air box to the inner driver’s fender. On some models the cruise control may also be attached to these studs. If the cruise control is connected to these studs you must reconnect the cruise control after you install the new filter system. You will need to remove both studs from the factory air box.
The nut heads easily came off, let me also say that if you drop one it will fall all the way through and roll back to your rear tire. The crap about the cruise control you can ignore, it’s not attached here on the Z3.

6. After you undo the nuts on the studs you need to wiggle the base of the air box as it has an air duct attached to the housing near the radiator. Once it has come free of this duct you can take out the base of the air box.
During this step is when I figured out the top should have been removed back in step 4. Because I still had the top on this step was more difficult for me. Once I removed the top I could see the part that was catching and I wiggled her right out of there.

7. Put the small black hose on the air flow meter.
Okay, this step got me a little angry. First of all, I think I know what the air flow meter is. But where the hell is this small black hose? When someone uses the word hose I think of a tube, like a drinking straw or fuel line. I’m also not sure if this small black hose is something that’s already in the car or is it a piece that came with the kit. Well after several minutes I noticed the same phrase “small rubber hose” on the “Kit includes” list, and deduced that they must be talking about this rubber ring.

8. Then install the new air filter and position the filter so the small hole in the neck of the filter faces the driver’s inner fender.
My silver bracket was shipped already installed on the filter. The instructions later tell you about installing this, so unscrew and remove it now, then just push on the filter over the rubber ring thing.

9. Position the metal bracket so the end with the cup on it will seat around the rubber bushing at the top of your frame rail. The other long end goes to the inner fender and is secured by the one stud that was attached to your original air box.
What metal bracket? Oh, this thing that came with the kit. The Cup end? two of the ends are “cupped” but one is cupped more than the other. Rubber bushing at the top of you frame rail? What the hell is a frame rail? Well after trying several different interpretations here’s what I came up with, a picture is worth a thousand words, above is what they were trying to explain.

10. Before securing this stud you need to position this bracket on the new air filter with the clamp. The clamp is designed to hold the bracket to the filter assembly and the filter to the air flow meter. remember you must not cover the small hole in the filter and the hole must be pointed toward the inside driver’s fender.
Good thing I’ve got this thing figured out in my head because the instructions are getting worse. I think the K&N people recognized this, because the ONE picture that is included in the instructions is useful in this step.

11. Carefully push in the sensor you took out of your original air box. It should sit snug in the small hole in the side of the new filter.
When your doing this push the sensor in until you can’t see the green rubber ring on the sensor. Also position it so the fatter end doesn’t rub against the filter rim.

12. Carefully tie strap the wire to the one metal bracket so it is away from the fan belt on the car.

13. Tighten the clamp holding the filter in place against the bracket assembly.

The instructions warn you to make sure the filter is not touching the radiator. However when I attach the bracket with this rubber screw thing it pushes the filter into the radiator. The instructions are unclear but originally the rubber side was on the left but this pushed the filter to far, I got around this by moving the rubber side of the attachment bolt to the right. This kept the filter out of the radiator but it was not tight so I pulled one of the gold spacer clips off the original box and it worked great.

Clifford IQ-800 Car Alarm

Pros: Motion Sensitive, Duel Zone Warning, Keyless Entry, Expandable, Brand Name
Cons: Expensive, Non BMW (Voids Warranty?)
Cost: $500 Installed

Part of the down side of having a really cool car is that it draws a lot of attention and some of this attention is from car thieves, car stereo thieves, and vandals. With top-down weather approaching I decided the roadster needed a car alarm, a really good car alarm. I started my shopping/analysis the same way I start most of my research by establishing a list of rules that my future car alarm must adhere too. Hereafter referred to as “Robert’s rules for car alarms”.

1. Budget – $500 This is double my insurance deductible so the alarm must deter a thief twice in it’s life time to pay for itself.

2. Keyless Entry – Because I’m lazy

3. Motion Sensitive – Glass breakage is all but worthless in a convertible.

4. Duel Zone – For the gawkers that get a little to close the car it must warn them without the alarm fully going off.

5. Must Open Garage Door – So I don’t keep a garage door opener in the car.

6. Flashing Red Light – For extra top down protection.

7. Auto Code Switching – So no one can steal the code.

8. No annoying “Chirping” every time I hit a button – Like for this to be an option I can turn off and on.

I also established a second set of rules because I decided that my wife’s car should also have a car alarm.

1. Budget – Additional $500 (double the deductible)

2. One remote can work both cars – In case the wife wants to drive the roadster.

3. Remote headlight activation – She parks in a parking garage.

4. Easy to use – I’m a computer nerd, the wife is not.

Turns out this is a very picky list. I only found one company that could pass all 12 rules. Clifford makes a line of car alarms called the intelliguard series. The Clifford Intelliguard 800-IQ was a perfect match for the roadster, and the Clifford Intelliguard 700-IQ will work nicely in the wife’s 318i. However, I had to deal real hard to stay within budget.

The total price for this pair of virtual watch-dogs was just over thousand bucks. The 800-IQ Cost $500, the 700-IQ Cost $400 and the garage door opener was another $100 (prices include installation but not sales tax). It has taken some adjusting, but both alarms are working great. The first day or two the 318i had a few false alarms but with a few clicks of the remote I adjusted the sensitivity down. The roadster gave me a little more trouble, and ended up having to go back to the installer for help. They relocated the sensor and that made all the difference. Now if you get with six inches of the cockpit (top up) or nine inches (top down) the car will chirp at you. Cross over into the cockpit and the alarm will go off.

I’m very happy with both alarms, but here are my very picky complaints.

1. Alarm could be louder.

2. Motion is only detected around the cockpit and truck area. The motion sensor gets blocked by the dash and fire wall.

3. The motion sensor is not flawless, it needs to be adjusted a couple times a year.

Despite these picky complaints I am very satisfied with my purchase. The piece of mind (especially for my wife’s safety) makes this upgrade an excellent value.

Follow Up: Motion Sensor Location – I have received several e-mails asking about the location of the motion sensor. The key thing about the motion sensor is that it doesn’t do very well around metal. After trying several locations, I found a spot under the armrest (about where your forearm rests) where there is very little metal. You will have to take out the armrest/cupholder and fish the wires back to this location, but it is pretty easy to do.

Additional Sensors: I found out that additional sensors could be added to the Clifford rather easily. So besides the motion sensor that initially came with the IQ-800 I added a shock sensor to detect impact (like someone bumping the car) and a tilt sensor in case someone tries to tow the car or jack it up to steal a wheel.

Robert’s Wood Dash Saga

Pros: Wood looks good with tan interior
Cons: Still looks “stuck on” in places
Cost: $240

The Good, the Bad and the Ugly.

Short Version:

One day I was gawking at a green and tan Z3 with a wood dash, it looked so incredibly good I decided I had to look into a wood dash kit for my Z3. I went back and forth trying to decide what dash kit would look good in my silver/black/gray Z3. While contemplating this my wife decided a dark walnut wood dash would look good in her 318i. I ordered her a kit from New England Wood Dash and it was horrible (for further details see “The Bad”). I ended up returning that kit, and purchased a kit from Auto Designs (for further details see “The Good”). The Auto Designs kit fit like a glove and looked great. The looks were so good I finally talked myself into purchasing a carbon fiber kit for my Z3. Well, that kit also fit perfect, unfortunately I didn’t care for the look of the “real” carbon fiber (for further details see “The Ugly”).

Update: Apparently AutoDesigns has gone out of business since the creation of this article. ///MZ3.Net recommends HMS wood dash kits as well as those from MG Racing.

Long Version:

# The Good:After my horrible experience with New England Wood Dash I was pretty soured on any wood dash kit. Thankfully, Jonathan Gentry of Auto Designs contacted me (he saw a post I had made on the message board about my ill fitting wood dash), we exchanged e-mail a couple of times, and I sent him the pictures I had taken of the New England Wood Dash. He assured me his kits were of a higher quality and I eventually ordered a wood dash from him for my wife’s 318i.

The kit promptly arrived two days later. Still a little leery I tested (dry fit) each piece and was elated to see how precise the entire kit fit. After a final go-ahead from the boss (my wife), I started applying each piece. The kit was very easy to install (and kinda fun). About 30 minutes later it was all done. My only complaint about this kit was that I wished it had more pieces. Unfortunately the 318i kit doesn’t cover as many areas as a Z3 kit does. That small complaint aside, I was very pleased with the end result.

I highly recommend Auto Designs to those of you considering wood dashes. The product is precise and the wood is beautiful. I even received a unsolicited e-mail from Auto Designs asking if everything went well after the sale (pro-active customer service, kinda rare). (return to top)

# The Bad:When the New England Wood Dash kit arrived for my wife’s 318i, one of the first things I noticed was that they sent the wrong instructions (the instructions were for a 2 door convertible). So I started looking at each piece and trying to figure out where it would go. I tried the pieces, starting with the center armrest. On the armrest the pieces fit okay, but not perfect. The biggest flaw made a cup holder slightly smaller in diameter. I go ahead and install these pieces on the center console and was fairly pleased with the results. It was late that night so I stopped for the evening.

The next evening I tried the piece around the gear shift. This piece just did not fit at all. The geometry was off and I started to think that maybe New England sent me the wrong kit. This theory was further backed up when I discovered that the four door panel pieces couldn’t be installed because where the wood was to lay down, there was cloth fabric on the door (they would never stick for longer than a week). The final blow was the wood piece for a rounded coin holder, the piece was square. At that point I gave up and tried to resolve these issues with New England Wood Dash.

At first I called them and ended up talking to an “Eddie”. Eddie confirmed that I had received the correct kit, so I started addressing the individual flaws. I got the impression that Eddie either didn’t understand me, didn’t believe me, or that he thought I was an idiot. After not getting anywhere I told him I would write him an e-mail describing the problems I was having and attach a bunch of digital pictures and e-mail them to him at New England Wood Dash.

Two days passed, no response. So I called Eddie again, he said the e-mail showed up but no pictures (he didn’t say why he had not responded). I sent the e-mail again, this time actually sending several separate e-mails each with it’s own picture. Two days passed and once again no response.

Needless to say at this point I’m a little upset with New England Wood Dash and call them once again. “Eddie is not here can I take a message?” I leave a message but Eddie never calls back. The next day I try again, this time catching him while he’s in the office. I hardly get a word in as Eddie boldly tells me (paraphrased) “You don’t like any of the pieces, something must be different with your 318i, it would cost me too much money to make a kit just for your car, return the kit for a full refund”. I ask him about the pieces that are already installed, he said it was my fault for not testing (dry fitting) the entire kit first. He said to return the pieces I had not installed for a full refund. This left me with a wood arm rest and nothing else (Eddie didn’t care).

I packaged the remaining 17 pieces up and send them back. Nearly two weeks pass before I see the credit on my VISA card. And when the credit finally shows up it was $180 (I purchased the kit for $198) Eddie shorts me $18 despite his claim of a full refund.

In my opinion you should avoid doing business with New England Wood Dash. I have only dealt with them this one time but my opinion is that their product is flawed, their support is evasive, and their ethics are questionable. (return to top)

# The Ugly:After dealing with Auto Designs for my wife’s 318i, my impressions of wood dash kits was once again very high. I talked myself into ordering a carbon fiber kit for my Z3. (When I purchased my car alarm the little plastic clicker thing was carbon fiber and I liked the looks of the black and gray pattern). When I was placing the order with Auto Designs, I was asked “do you want real or synthetic carbon fiber”. Not knowing that there were two different kinds of carbon fiber, I decided on the more expensive “real” carbon fiber (only the best for my Z3). The kit promptly arrived two days later. I tested (dry fit) every piece and once again the kit fit precisely. However the look of the carbon fiber was not what I was expecting. Apparently there is a big difference between real and simulated carbon fiber. The real stuff is reflective, kinda like a hologram. This is pretty neat but very distractive. It also surprised me because it wasn’t black and gray (like my little plastic car alarm remote). It was black and hologram like. The color depended on what kind of light you were under. In direct sunlight the dash looked black and bluish white (kinda cool). However, in the shade it picked up a yellow/green tint. In my garage, it had a nasty burnt yellow tint. After showing some of the pieces to a couple other Z3 owners, we all agreed (Yuck!). So this kit got returned, in the end I decided to stick with the stock black plastic dash. (return to top)

Remus Exhaust for the 1.9 Z3

Pros: Better Performance, Great Sound, Do-It-Yourself Installation
Cons: Cost, Not 100% Stainless Steel
Cost: $529 (from Bavarian Autosport)


I’ve had it with the tinny, rattly, metallic sound of the stock exhaust. I placed an order with Bavarian autosport for the Remus Exhaust System. After a little haggling I got them to sell me the Remus exhaust for $529, including shipping.

Feb. 7, 1997

A very beat up box was delivered today (no damage to the exhaust), but I’ll have to wait until the weekend to install it.

Feb. 8, 1997

Installed the Remus today. It makes a difference, but I was hoping for more. Also concerned about the install because the chrome tip is rubbing.

Feb. 10, 1997

Took the roadster to a muffler shop and they “adjusted” the install. Now it fits better and for some reason sounds a little better.

Feb. 15, 1997

When I initially installed the Remus I said, “I was hoping for a little more.” Well, now it’s a week later and I GOT IT! The system sounds better every day. The friend of mine that took delivery of the Remus system had not heard the results until yesterday (so the last he heard was the stock exhaust). He said it was a tremendous difference and he loved it. The exhaust now meets with my $529 expectations.

April 1997

The Remus exhaust system just keeps sounding better. It took about a month to fully break in and now I love it. At this point, the Remus has pleased me enough to consider it my best upgrade so far.

June 1997

Drove a roadster with a stock exhaust for the first time since upgrading mine to the Remus 6 months ago. There was a slight difference in acceleration and a tremendous difference in the sound. After driving a stock roadster again, I have even more appreciation for my Remus.

September 1997

Returned from the Z3 reunion. After 2000 miles I am convinced that the Remus was the single best upgrade I have done on the Z3. I heard many 1.9 and 2.8 Z3s during this trip and I prefer the exhaust sound from my Remus over them all.

October 1999

A 1.9 owner that recently installed the Remus exhaust adds this advice… “I would suggest purchasing new nuts and bolts from a dealer (at less than $2.) prior to the installation (The springs can be reused.) After several years, the already-soft copper nuts are almost impossible to remove. I managed to horse off the lower nut with vise grips, but ruined the nut and bent the bolt. And cutting off the upper bolt was the only viable option for it.

Installation of Remus exhaust

I had finally had it with the tinny metallic sound of the stock exhaust. On Jan. 31 I placed an order with Bavarian autosport for the Remus Exhaust System. Every time I called the price changed, but with a little negotiating the final price with delivery was $529. On Feb. 7, a very beat up box was delivered. Upon opening the box I discovered a small 5×7 index card size instruction sheet. On this small piece of paper were the install instructions in three different languages. My first thoughts were, “I hope this is an easy to install as this makes it seem.” One humorous note to add here: I had the exhaust shipped to a friend’s house because he would be home. The Remus exhaust can NOT be put inside the roadster. My friend had to put it into his car and drive it over to my house.

The next day I jacked up the car and attempted to crawl under it to see what had to be done. First problem, the jack that came with the car can lift the car just high enough to get the wheel off the ground, but not high enough to replace the exhaust. The other conclusion I came to was that this was a two person job. So I put everything back down and called a friend who had a better jack and some stands. He was happy to help, and invited me over to his house to do the work (he has more and better tools for doing this stuff so this was definitely a good decision). Of course after hanging up I remembered that the exhaust is too big for me to haul around so I had to call him back and ask that he drive over to my house to pick up the exhaust.

Okay, I’ve finally got the roadster, the tools, the exhaust and a friend all in one place. So the first order of business is how to get under the car. This proved to be a rather difficult task, but we finally got the left side of the car tilted up enough where one could crawl under the car from the rear and the other from the left side. We started by looking at the stock exhaust and the Remus exhaust to make sure everything looked like it would fit. Although this picture was taken later this is a good time to show you the two exhausts side by side.

The exhaust is attached to the roadster in four places. The first place is where the exhaust fits/plugs into the catalytic converter. This fit is very precise and tight, BMW designed this clamp thing that attaches the two parts together with a couple of bolts that have springs on them. This design is great but this is where we spent most of our time because to we could just barely get to one of the bolts and only had a small amount of room so it took a long time to loosen this bolt. The other thing that slowed us down is the catalytic converter was very hot (so a good suggestion would have been to start after the car had cooled down for a couple of hours). The Remus fit just as precisely as the stock system however we could not get the stock bolts to fit so we had to reverse them. (The bolt and spring was toward the back and a nut toward the front, we had to put the bolt and spring toward the front and the nut toward the back although this should not make any difference it would have been nice if the instructions would have pointed it out).

After bolting the Remus to the roadster the other three connections are made using rubber rings that allow the exhaust to move slightly side to side. However the second connection concerned me. This picture to the right is actually of the stock exhaust, you can see that even the stock exhaust was not connected here. The rubber ring does not make contact with the stock exhaust and has slipped forward. This appears to be a because the exhaust is hung slightly too high in the rear. After installing the Remus exhaust I found that the same situation occurred and this second connection was not making contact. This really bugged me but I decided to go ahead and finish the install since the problem occurred with both the stock and the Remus systems. (later I figured out what the problem was, but I’ll come back to this).

The final two connections are in the rear of the car using thick rubber rings with holes for the support pegs. I had to pull and pull to get the stock exhaust off of these rings, however about a month after the install another roadster owner said that a shot of WD-40 made this easy (why didn’t I think of that?). So to review the Remus system fit just like the stock system, bolted on in the front and attached in the back with three rubber rings that allows the unit to swing freely (slightly). The Remus exhaust fit precisely in place of the stock exhaust, so precisely that the Remus exhaust did not make contact with the middle support ring. I was going to live with this until I discovered that the chrome tip was making contact with the top of the hole cut out in the rear for the exhaust. This made me decide to take the roadster to a muffler shop and show them the Remus install and the part that didn’t fit. The muffler guy took one look and said, “well you didn’t finish the install job”. He fired up his blow torch, heated the two rear support arms on the Remus exhaust (that those rubber rings are connected too) and the whole setup slowly sank another 1/4 – 1/2 inch. He then turned off his blow torch and said “now your done, no charge”. He said he had installed over a hundred exhaust systems on various cars and trucks and he has yet to have one fit without slightly bending those rear supports. He claimed that most after market systems need a little custom modifications for that perfect fit.

Performance

At the peak torque values, the Remus exhaust gained 3 ft/lbs of torque. Looking at the entire torque curve and measuring the differences every 50 RPM the Remus exhaust averages a gain of 2.91 ft/lbs of torque between 2000 and 6500 RPM.

Click on the graph to the right for a full dynograph of the before and after differences.

Locking Lugnuts

Pros: Cheap insurance policy
Cons: Plastic fake cap heads
Cost: $40

From the Bavarian Autosport Ad. “Our own wheel locks give you peace of mind without sacrificing your car’s looks, thanks to a 17mm cap that matches original lugs. Precision machined from high-tension strength steel. Bavarian Autosport exclusive. Sold in sets of 4.”

They appear to do their job very well. When I initially installed them I kind of expected one of the fake plastic cap heads to crack and fall off by now. Well, I’ve had them for over a year now and those plastic caps are doing just fine. I consider them a well spent $40 insurance policy.

Update: It took over three years, but one of the plastic caps finally disappeared. I contacted Bavarian Autosport and they sent me four new caps without asking any questions.