BMW Parcel Net Installation

I’ve never taken stock in the notion that the roadster is an impractical car. If there’s a need for something, there’s bound to be a solution. After many miles of driving, I’ve noticed the need for something to keep bits of paper, receipts, post-it notes, and driving directions from fluttering away. On one occasion, I had actually witnessed a receipt spiral around and up in the cockpit before disappearing in my rearview mirror.

Since the glove box and rear storage hatch were already stuffed with goodies, my interim solutions ranged from weighting paper down in the (when empty) passenger seat, wedging it under my right leg, or filing it in the gap between the seat and center console. None were terribly effective or appropriate. A collate of loose-leaf papers sitting between the seat and center console would often result in a footwell of windstrewn mess.

Most 1998 Z3 roadsters were delivered with a Parcel Net on the passenger side of the transmission tunnel. Initially, I thought this was another eccentric accessory, but in light of my reoccurring paperchase it was the solution. Kudos to Mark Volk’s initial installation notes for making this a painless project…

To install one in your roadster, you’ll need the following items:

One #51-47-2-261-407 Parcel Net & Frame

Four #51-47-2-263-062 Fixing Element Screw

Masking Tape

Sheet Metal Screw

The Fixing Element Screw is designed to twist into and beyond the transmission tunnel carpeting. This leaves the plastic clip that will hold the Parcel Net’s frame.

This shows how the clip will fit on the frame towards the end of the installation. Since the frame is shaped like a wide “U”, two screws along the bottom and one on each side will suffice.

Start by clipping a Fixing Screw at each side of the frame. Put a piece of masking tape on the carpet at the points where each Fixing Screw will land. Allow yourself plenty of thought and time on how this frame will be positioned. Too far down and repeated scuffing from a shoe might wear out the netting. Too far down and forward would make it difficult or dangerous if the driver had to stretch for something in it’s hold. Too high and it won’t be able to hold a magazine without that magazine’s corner jabbing into the glove box panel. When the Parcel Net is where you want it, press the fixing screws firmly into the the masking tape to make an indentation.

With the indentations serving as location markers, find a sheet metal screw and hand-twist it into the carpeting. The pointed metal tip will burrow through the thick fibrous pile and emerge to create a starter hole for the wider plastic Fixing Screw. Remove the masking tape before securing each Fixing Screw. If that sheet metal screw was thin enough, you’ll find the Fixing Screw firmly seated with no tendency to come loose. There’s no need to drill holes in the chassis metal underneath the carpeting!

Be sure the side screws are spaced wide enough so that the frame sides are parallel to each other. Once the sides are positioned, complete the bottom two Fixing Screws. How these last two are located will determine the height and levelness of your Parcel Net.

Snap the Parcel Net Frame into all four clips and that completes your installation.

The closeness of the Parcel Net makes short-term or important items immediately accessible. It’s been getting use nearly every time the car’s being driven. Quite a value for $25 worth of parts.

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Magnetic Stone Guards

Pros: Looks great (911-ish), Protects from paint chips, Easy to take on and off
Cons: none?
Cost: $39.95 pair (from Z3 Solution)

The rear wheel wells on the 2.3 Z3, 2.8 Z3 and M roadster stick out quite a bit. A few owners started picking up rock chips in this exposed area. Porsche ran into similar problems with its 911 and solved it by adding some sporty looking protective pads.

The say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, Keith got the idea to create some stone guards for the Z3 based on the 911 design. Using the same thin magnetic material that people use for those stick on door advertisements. Keith’s original design (pictured on the right) was cut to match the contours of the fender flair.

Later Keith redesigned the shape of the stone guards, the protected area is slightly larger but basically the new design is just cosmetically different from the original design. Using the stone guards is pretty simple, it took me a couple minutes to get them installed “just right” the first couple times but now after some practice I can slap them on pretty quickly (for me the secret was to start at the bottom first). As far as care and maintenance goes, I remove the stone guards every time I clean the car and hand wash them with soap and water. I always make sure to dry them off and I never put them back on until everything is dry (don’t want water trapped under them). When I wax the car I give the front and back of the stone guards a layer of wax at the same time.

Keith also has some new chrome versions of his magnetic stone guards, the chrome version really makes a statement. Not sure if the chrome ones will visually work on every car, but on some colors they should look pretty cool. Keith sells these and a few other “Z3 Solutions” via his web site. He also has a gallery of pictures of Z3s with his stone guards on if you want to see some more examples.

Z3 Side Grills/Gils

Pros: Easy to Swap, Model Confusion
Cons: Price, Model Confusion
Cost: 51-13-2-492-949 M grille left $169.00 retail (unpainted)
51-13-2-492-950 M grille right $169.00 retail (unpainted)
51-13-8-399-719 Z3 Grille left $46.75 retail (unpainted)
51-13-8-399-720 Z3 Grille right $46.75 retail (unpainted)
painting the pair should cost $75-$100

The M roadster’s side grill design is pretty neat (pictured on top), but I prefer the less flashy shark gill style of the Z3 design (pictured on bottom). Its funny how this picture makes the M roadster one look smaller than the Z3 one, but the Z3 gills are actually ~1/16 inch shorter in length than the M ones? This slight difference will leave a larger gap between the gill and the body panel but not enough to really be noticeable.

Both designs are attached to the vehicle similarly. Five plastic snap connectors and one mounting point secured by a screw. To remove, I started by removing the single screw. Then using needle nose pliers, I squeezed the plastic connector wings together and pushed the plastic snaps back through the hole. Took about five minutes before I got them all loose. If you end up breaking one of these plastic snaps the replacement part is 51-13-8-399-231 and those clips list for $3 each. If you wanted to by the BMW nut it is part number 07-12-9-925-730 which lists for $0.08 each.

Once I was able to put the two designs side by side I noticed a small difference between the M roadster design and the Z3 design. The single mounting point required two different sized screws. After a quick trip to the hardware store I was back in business. The Z3 design required #10-23 1/2 inch machine screws, the M roadster design was a different size.

Putting the shark gill Z3 design vents on the M roadster was very easy. With some gentle pushing, the five plastic tabs snapped into place. I then secured the final point with the newly acquired #10-32 1/2 inch machine screw.

Very happy with the end result, now I truly have an MZ3. I’m keeping the M roadster design (so don’t email me asking for them). Do to mood swings I see myself switching between the two different designs a couple times a year. But for now, I think of it as being an M roadster in stealth mode.

When Z3 owners were asked: Which Z3 side vent design do you prefer [106 votes total]

Z3 Shark Gills Design 61(57%)

MZ3 Classic Design 45(42%)

In-Dash Garage Door Opener

I was going to hard wire power to my radar detector following the instructions in Robert Leidy’s Power for your Radar Detector article. I decided at the same time I would add a pushbutton to my dash to activate my garage door opener. I was tired of having a big remote taking up space in my Z3.

What you will need:

Garage door opener you don’t mind taking apart

Momentary pushbutton switch (I used Radio Shack #275-644 because it fit with the interior of the Z3 nicely)

Wire (I used 20-gauge stranded wire)

Drill or Dremel-type tool

Solder and soldering iron (optional but highly recommended)

Electrical tape

Phillips screwdriver

First, take your garage door opener apart and figure out how the button on the outside of it activates the switch inside. You should be able to activate the opener by bypassing the switch with a piece of wire. Verify you can do this by using a short piece of wire to touch the contacts at either side of the switch, and see if it activates your garage door.

Second, follow Richard Carlson’s Cutting the Cord article and Robert Leidy’s Power for your Radar Detector article to remove the plastic plate over the pedals and also the one under the steering wheel. You don’t want to solder a switch to your garage door opener or drill a hole in a dash panel until you know you can take all the appropriate pieces apart, and also that you can bypass the switch in your garage door opener.

On U.S.-spec Z3s, to the right of the steering wheel there is a little blank plate in the same position that there is the fog light switch to the left of the steering wheel. Use your fingernail, pocketknife, or thin-bladed screwdriver to pop this out–it should come out easily.

Using a drill or a Dremel tool, drill a hole in the center of it. Note that I did not have a vise–if you drill it and hold it by hand like I did, be very careful!

Then, use a cone-shaped sanding bit to slowly enlarge the hole until the switch will fit through it. Note that the switch has a back piece that screws on to it. You push the switch through the hole from the front, and then screw the back piece on to secure the switch in the hole.

For the next step, you may leave the switch in the little plastic panel or you may take it back out if you are afraid of melting the panel with the soldering iron.

Cut two 3-feet long pieces of wire and strip about a half-inch from each end. Loop one end of one of the pieces of wire through the little hole in one of the leads coming out of the switch. Solder the wire in place. Repeat with one end of the other piece of wire. Just to be safe, wrap electrical tape around both soldered connections.

If you removed the switch from the plastic plate for the above step, it is now time to feed the wires through the hole in the switch and to fasten the switch to the plate. Now, feed the wires through the hole in your dash out of which you popped the panel. You should be able to push the panel and switch into place flush with the dash for a clean “factory” appearance. You now have the two 3-feet long pieces of wire hanging down below the dash.

Be very careful at this point. It is good if you have a helper too. Sit in the driver’s seat of the car with some sort of tray or disposable plate in your lap. You will be soldering the wires to your garage door remote in your lap in a moment, and you don’t want to take any chance of burning yourself or your Z3. Before permanently attaching the wires to your remote, hold each wire on the contacts on either side of the internal switch in your garage door opener, and ask your helper to push the button in the dash. If everything is connected correctly, your garage door should be activated.

You will have to decide the best way to affix the wires to the contacts in your remote. For me, the best way was to solder them to the bottom of the remote circuit board on either side of where the garage door remote switch was. Be careful not to melt the circuit board with the soldering iron. Also be careful not to bridge any contacts with melted solder, thereby causing the garage door opener to be active 100% of the time!

After permanently affixing the wires to the garage door opener, again verify that the pushbutton in the dash will operate your garage door. Then, use electrical tape to secure the garage door opener somewhere under your dash, keeping in mind that you will need to reinstall all plastic panels which you removed.

Finally, reassemble your dash, admire the clean “factory” look of the button you installed, and drink a celebratory beverage to congratulate yourself.

BMW Wood Steering Wheel Upgrade

Pros: Looks good
Cons: Expensive, not really wood
Cost: $71 / $500

BMW Z3 Wood Steering Wheel Upgrade

Part Number 82-21-9-405-289

After shockingly noticing that the leather at the very top of the steering wheel was wearing through and my car was not even a year old yet, I went to the local dealer to ask about a replacement under warranty. I asked my service advisor if I could upgrade to the wood steering wheel since they were going to have to replace it anyway (and I would pay the difference in price). Also, since I had recently heard that the NHTSA was allowing manufacturers (and after-market places) to 1) disable airbags, and 2) depower airbags, and that the Euro airbags are already de-powered (the difference between US and Euro spec airbags are the fact that in Europe, they assume that a person WILL be using their seat belt, and consequently require less force to slow them down in the event of a crash as opposed to the US assuming that people will NOT be using the seat belt and will require airbags coming at you in excess of 200mph!) I asked the dealer to see if I could get an Euro spec wood steering wheel. The difference between the US and Euro wood steering wheel is the Euro wheel has 3 spokes (at 3:00, 6:00 and 9:00) and wood on the entire circumference of the wheel, the US has 4 spokes (at 2:30, 3:30, 8:30 and 9:30) with the sides (2:30 to 3:30 and 8:30 to 9:30) being leather. I also called the 800 customer service line to see what I could do. Admitting defeat I settled for the US spec wood steering wheel. I had to wait a week or 2 for them to put in the new wheel (would have been about the same for the leather steering wheel). First of all, the wood steering wheel is darker than the beige interior on my car, but it does look pretty good in combo with the beige color (IMHO I’m not sure if it would look good in the black interior of not). I think the interior would look even better if I had a wood dash kit (including the shift know and the handle on the hand brake). Secondly I think the leather on the sides of the wheel is of a much better quality. Lastly, the wood steering wheel is NOT wood (we can argue this point till the cows come home, but you will not change my opinion), it is PLASTIC (feels like plastic, sounds like plastic….hmmm, must be plastic), but it looks kind of like wood. If you tap on the “wood” it doesn’t sound like wood, and if you try to press you fingernail into the “wood” it doesn’t leave an impression. All in all I like the “wood”, but I wouldn’t spend $500 (plus installation) for it, the $71.01 I paid was just about as much as I would spend on it.

I think now I might have been able to get the Euro spec wheel. If you go to the Edmund’s Web Site and look at the specs on the 1998 2.8L Z3 you will noticed that depowered airbags (at least the driver’s airbag) are standard, so I would think that you might be able to get the smaller airbag. But, having seen a 1998 Z3, I didn’t notice if the airbag was smaller (I don’t think it was), but there is hope because the specs on the M Roadster list a 3 spoke steering wheel (so hopefully it has the smaller Euro airbag).

HMS Windscreen

Pros: Stops the backdraft better than any other windscreen
Cons: Not much to look at
Cost: $149

The HMS Windscreen attaches to the HMS rollbar via four velcro straps. It is fairly easy take take on and off the rollbar but is semi-stiff so it takes up some room in trunk when not in use. At one time I owned the BMW windscreen and in comparison to BMW’s design the HMS windscreen does block more air, but it comes with some additional tradeoffs. The additional surface area makes rear visibility difficult at night. Especially when trying to look at rear 45 degree angles (like before a lane change). The HMS design wraps around the side of the rollbar so it appears you are looking through more material at the ends than in the middle. This makes it more difficult to see through than the BMW design.

In comparing the BMW design to the HMS design I must first point out that the HMS design is much less expensive (less than two thirds the cost of the BMW windscreen). Basically the HMS windscreen is a very simplistic, no frills, get the job done windscreen. Personally I think it subtracts from the Z3s looks but you can’t deny that it does it’s job better than any of the BMW designs. Bottom line, it’s a keeper but I’ll probably only use it on long trips and not around town. It’s a good value and does its job very well, I just wish it was more attractive.

Sold By:

HMS Motorsport

(888) HMS-3BMW

Front License Plate Holder for European Style Plates

Pros: Looks good
Cons: Some states require front license plates
Cost: $15

BMW Part Number:


I didn’t really care for the look of my Texas license plate on the front of my Z3. I tried to find a better look when I purchased a chrome front license plate holder. Then at the Z3 reunion I saw a Z3 with a European front license plate. I thought it looked really cool and was pleased to find that it was a BMW part. I thought that a front license plate was required but after driving around and looking I noticed how many here in Texas don’t have front license plates. I keep the license plate in the trunk just in case I need to prove that I still have it (and didn’t sell it).

Many have also asked me about the “roadster” plate on the front of the Z3. This is a custom made plate created by Harvey Darden. Harvey has both roadster and M roadster plates available for sale, contact him for details via email or by mailing him at 78 Dixon Street, Newnan, GA 30263.

BMW Trunk Mat

Pros: Neat Looking
Cons: Doesn’t really do anything
Cost: $39

BMW Trunk Mat #82-11-1-470-160

Your local BMW Parts department offers this trunk mat for around $50. It fits very nicely into the trunk and covers most of the usable area. There is not much benefit to having this, it just looks nice. I wish it would have been the same shade of gray as the trunk liner and the trunk organizer. The flash in my camera gave a couple of the pictures on the left a reddish tint. However the mat is actually black, the picture above is the most accurate.

There are two designs for this trunk mat depending on the location of the battery. Early ’96 model Z3s should use a different part number (Your BMW Parts department will make sure you get the right one).

BMW Trunk Organizer

Pros: Nice velcro pockets, easy to install
Cons: Double sided tape (how long will it last?)
Cost: $92

Part Number 82-11-1-470-187

Arrived in four business days via UPS ground.

Underside of the roadster lid. The pneumatic lifts raise it to a vertical position…it’s begging for utility.

The backside of the Trunk Storage System is lined with industrial-grade double-sided adhesive. The plastic backing is molded perfectly to match the sheet metal.

I originally wanted to attach this with Velcro, but the third-brake light isn’t masked and will still be accessible. The only remaining concern was the Toll Free Roadside Assistance sticker would be lost.

Thoughtfully, they’ve included a Roadside Assistance sticker along with the Installation Instructions.

Those who have the Luggage Rack can rest easy. Four removable plastic caps give access to your mounting hardware.

Isopropyl alcohol prep pads are included.

Use them to wipe down the surface. Removing any grease and dirt maximizes adhesion.

To ensure proper adhesion, install the Storage System in ambient temperatures between 60°F and 110°F. During this installation, the temps were under 50°F. A heat gun was carefully used to warm the surface. A hairdryer would’ve done just as well.

Remove the transfer backing to expose the adhesive.

Before exposing the adhesive, dry-fit the Storage System over and over until you are absolutely sure the positioning is familiar. Use fingertips to gauge positioning in the recesses. An extra set of hands may help. Instructions suggest attaching one side and working across.

Once the Storage System is completely attached, apply additional pressure to contact points. To reduce strain to the hinge area, apply counterpressure from the backside of the trunk lid. Use a cotton towel to prevent any scratches. Congratulations! The Trunk Storage System is installed.

Yup, that’s the leather-bound owner’s manual relocated from the glove box.

The Velcro flap fits over perfectly. Now to figure out what to put in my newly re-acquired glove box.

Your dealer did supply you with a rear window cover (#82-11-1-469-778), right? Now there’s a home for it.

Nice ‘n clean.

Profile of the trunk lid shows the Storage System isn’t protrusive.

Storage System matches trunk’s interior as if it were straight from the factory. It’s an innovative use of space and looks great!

Note: The trunk organizer detailed in this article only works with 1996-1999 model year BMW Z3s. Starting in model year 2000 BMW redesigned the trunk lid making the trunk organizer incompatible.

BMW Windscreen (2nd Design)

Pros: Can fold down when the top is up
Cons: Hard to install
Cost: $259.95

This windscreen design is available for the same price as the old windscreen–$259.95. It is significantly harder to install than the old design, but has the advantage of being able to fold down even when the top is up. Unless you feel very handy, I recommend letting your local dealer install it (that’s what I did).

The windscreen in the recommended driving position–tilted slightly forward.

A close-up of where the windscreen mounts into the plastic.

The windscreen has three folded-back positions. Here is the first–tilted back slightly.

This is folded almost all the way down–the recommend position if you use the soft boot.

Folded all the way down–the windscreen can also fold to this position when the top is up.

Here’s how to get to the storage compartment–see those two things in the middle of the windscreen? You squeeze them together and the bottom of the windscreen releases from the side supports.

Then, you can pull the top of the windscreen toward you, which swings the bottom of it up and away from the storage lid.

When the windscreen is tilted so it is parallel to the storage lid, you can easily open the lid and access the contents of the compartment.