White Z3 Top

Custom white top, details unknown.

Gotcha Covered – BMW Boot Cover

I got a new job! – Yay!

Better pay, better title, better crew to work with. However, there was one big problem: In my old job the Z3, which is my daily driver, got parked in a garage. Nice and safe, walls on both sides, protected from the elements. I am now faced with the issue of parking in a public lot, with loads of other people with their doors aimed squarely at my car on a daily basis. In addition, since I like to keep my tonneau cover on during the summer months, I had to figure out something to keep the car interior protected from the elements (in the winter I run with the hard top, so it’s not as much of an issue). I, of course, suggested to management that they build me my own, private garage. The suggestion was not well received.

What to do?

Z3Solution to the rescue!

I remembered that Z3Solution was now offering a cover that also includes unique padded door protection. This would allow me to not only protect the cockpit, but also the sides of the car from those that would poke my baby. A cockpit cover is a great idea if you park outside a lot. Remember – BMW says that you must use your tonneau when you are running top-down or your top may get worn prematurely. Putting the tonneau on and taking it off is much more of a pain that putting on a cockpit cover. A Cockpit cover will also keep your interior cooler than leaving the roof up.

I ordered the cover the week before I was scheduled to start my new job in order to give me some time to get acquainted with it. I also own another cover from MM Marketing that I have used on occasion, but it was no where near as nice as the Z3Solution cover. The Z3Solution cover is cut much fuller than the MM Marketing version and also includes the door protection with built-in foam pads. I can actually put the cover on the car with the top up or down and it fits just fine.

The cover attaches at several points:

* There are Velcro ties in the front that attach to the wipers.

* There are small “barrels” in the back. These are basically fabric-covered tubes that can be shoved down between the tonneau cover or placed into the trunk opening to secure the back.

* Unique to the Z3Solution cover are the tie-downs that slip into the crack at the bottom of the door. These help secure the sides and the side-padding.

Overall Impressions

The quality of the cover is excellent. It is well made from something called “Weathershield” fabric from Nextec. Weathershield is light, compact and very weather resistant. While most covers have a weatherproof layer appied onto them, Weathershield actually has the waterproofing applied to each individual strand of fabric. This means that the protection is much better than most traditional car-covers (see comparison chart). It compares very favorably with NOAH, but with significantly less bulk. The stitching on the unit is very sturdy and all the parts look like they will last a long time. The entire cover and all parts that touch the car are covered in a soft flannel. The number of connection points to the car is excellent: two in the back, two in the front, two on either side. There have been several windy days and the top stayed securely anchored and I have noticed no “rubbing”. I have used the cover for several weeks and have found that the design works well with the top up or down. The ability of the top to repel water is simply amazing!

As I intend to use the cover to protect my top from weathering, being able put the cover on with the top up was critical to me. In the spring and fall it will act as a safeguard against the torrential rains we sometimes get in New England and in the summer it will protect the top from sunlight and keep the cockpit cool.

With the top up, it’s easy to attach the cover. Simply plunk it on top and make all the connections. It does require a trip around the car, but I can do it in about 20 seconds. Removal is even quicker. It’s not quite as easy to put the cover on with the top down (it tends to billow around a bit), but it’s also not particularly difficult. In general, it’s much more time consuming to put the cover on than to put the top up (assuming you don’t use the tonneau cover), but the extra protection justifies it’s use for me. If you do use the tonneau religiously, you’ll find it much easier to deal with a cockpit cover than taking the toneau off and raising the roof.

Before ordering the cover, I also considered a full car cover. I decided not to go that route because I did not want to put the cover on the car when it was dirty. I was primarily interested in protection for the parts susceptible to rain and sun: the interior and the fabric top.

The Z3Solution cover doestouch parts of the car and I’ll have to see what the long term effects will be, but early indications are good: the sides do not move significantly because of the bulk of the foam padding and the tie-downs, therefore the cover does not rub on the paint.

At $109 The Z3Solution cover is slightly more expensive that some of the competitors (MM Marketing offers its unit for about $80), but the full cut of the cover, the Weatherguard material and the ding protection make it well worth the increment. It’s significantly less expensive than a full body cover and takes up less space in the trunk (but it should be noted that the padding makes it bulkier than a normal cockpit cover).

The cover comes with a nice carrying case, but so far I’ve never used it. I just fold the thing up and dump it in the trunk.

Cockpit covers may not be for everyone. I have a number of friends who are comfortable with parking their cars outside for long periods of time with no protection. For me, however, the protection afforded by the cockpit cover, including the protection from the inconsiderate co-worker’s doors, easily justifies the cost of this new accessory…..and I get to keep my new job!

Comparison chart from www.covercraft.com

Z-Roof Cover With Built-In Door Ding Protection

Pros: Easy to Install, Good Protection, Lessons the Chance of Door Dings
Cons: Harder to fold and store because of the extra door padding
Cost: $79.99 from Z3 Solution

I’ve always had a love/hate relationship with the BMW boot cover. I would like to use it because it helps keep the inside of the top clean (and I like the looks of it). But it is such a pain to put on and take off I rarely use it except on long trips. On those rare occasions when I do use the boot cover I find myself wanting to leave the top down rather than hassle with uninstalling the boot cover and putting the top up when I park. I’m not comfortable leaving the top down all day while the car is parked, not so much for security reasons just don’t want to leave the interior exposed (birds, bright sun, rain, etc).

Z3 Solution (the same company that makes the magnetic stone guards) has a new car cover. Its kind of a mini car cover, specially designed for the Z3. It can be used with the top up or down, and works on Z3s with or without rollhoops, rollbars, windscreens etc. I first saw this new cover at the 1999 Z3 homecoming and recognized that it could be just the solution I was looking for. With this new cover I could put my top down, install the boot cover and use this cover rather than have to remove the boot cover and put the top back up when the car was parked. But the big advantage of using the Z3 Solution cover was the built in door ding protection. The lower portion of the cover that covers the doors has foam padding inserts that (at least in theory) would lesson your chance of getting a door ding. It doesn’t cover the entire door, but it does cover the portion of the door most likely to receive a door ding.

It takes me a couple minutes to install the cover in the morning, and about half that time to remove it. It attaches to the vehicle in 10 separate locations so it is very secure. One benefit of living in Oklahoma is that I can report the cover stays in place even after 8 hours of thirty plus mile per hour winds. However installing, uninstalling and/or folding a car cover in that kind of wind is not necessarily fun. Which leads me to my only negative point of this car cover. Because of the anti-door-ding foam padding, folding and rolling up the car cover is more difficult than I expected. However I have become more adept at it so it hasn’t been that big of an problem. Z3 Solution has a simular car cover without the anti-door-ding foam padding which should be easier to fold but then you give up the door ding protection (which at least to me is a very good feature).

Unintentionally, I tested this covers ability in the rain. A short-lived surprise afternoon shower left some standing water on the cover. But after careful removal of the cover (so not to dump the standing water in the cockpit) I was relieved to see that the interior had remained protected. I’m not sure you would want to rely on the covers ability to defend your car from rain all the time, but its nice to know that it can handle it.

Z3 Solutions CoverI don’t use this cover every day, but if the weatherman is forecasting several consecutive top-down days in a row I’ll use this cover and the BMW boot cover. Considering my parking situation at work I should probably use the Z3 Solution cover every day (to help protect myself from door dings). But so far I’ve really only used the cover on “top-down” days. The cover is designed to be used even when the Z3 top is up, which has some interesting possibilities. In the summer the use of this cover should repel some of the heat and keep the Z3 interior cooler. Look for a long term update to this article in the late summer of 2000 in regard to this.

When you consider all the potential benefits this cover has to offer, I think it is well worth the $79.99 price, but only if you really intend to use it. Z3 Solution also offers an optional bag that holds the rolled up cover. I find the bag to be useful since it limits the amount of space the cover takes up in your trunk.

HMS Motorsport Soft Boot Cover

Pros: Small enough to fit behind seat, looks great, perfect fit and finish
Cons: Does not completely cover top storage area
Cost: $279 from HMS Motorsport

All roadster owners are familiar with the BMW factory soft top boot cover issues. On the good side, it looks great and is easily installed and removed. However, when the top is up and you have to carry the cover with you, it takes up a large amount of space no matter what you do.

Enter the HMS Motorsport soft boot cover. Here’s a great addition to the traveling roadster owner’s arsenal that not only looks great, but folds up into an included bag and can slip behind a seat.

When I bought our 1998 Z3 1.9 back in February of 98, I saw no problems with the boot cover. Truthfully, it was the last thing on my mind. It could have been a potato sack for all I cared, as I gazed affectionately across the dealership showroom at our newly delivered baby. As my wife and I prepared for our cross-country travels in the Z3, we desperately needed a solution. I was willing to forget about the aesthetics part of it and leaving the folded top just exposed. But the need to keep out road dirt and dust was an important factor in my decision. Scouring all of the aftermarket websites and finding nothing, I started thinking about designing and developing a soft top myself in the great tradition of John Maddux’s LeatherZ armrest and Z3Solutions’ Magnetic Stone Guards. I posted a message on the Bimmer.Org message board, and one gentleman replied with a much easier (though maybe less fun) solution. He directed me towards HMS Motorsport. I, of course, had already searched their online catalog but the item had not been added. Still hasn’t as far as I know. So I did the unthinkable….I actually picked up the phone (*gasp*) and called them directly, credit card in hand. Ten minutes later, after the sales guy explained what it was and how it worked, I bought one.

The top arrived two days later and it took me all of 3 seconds to rip the box open. What I found inside was a well-constructed, high quality canvas cover that is a near-perfect match to the OEM top canvas. It was folded neatly into a vinyl storage bag that measures 13 inches by 16 inches, and is only about 2 inches thick. I tripped over myself as I raced for the garage to install this much-anticipated accessory.

The installation of this cover is a snap. Actually it’s 4 snaps.

slide the cover over the folded top snap on the two side Tenex connectors

snap on the two center Tenex connectors The completed install.

Problem solved! We could have the best of all worlds: aesthetics, protection, and convenience. Not bad.

The roll-hoop windscreen fits along with the cover. I am unsure about the other windscreen models. In summary, the HMS Motorsport is a no-brainer accessory for those Z3 owners that travel a lot and never seem to have room for the OEM semi-rigid cover.

Why is That Boot Cover so Hard to Install?

The Days Events

  • Gathering at Rory’s
  • Fixing Paint Chips
  • X-Pel
  • Swapping Mirrors
  • Boot Cover Swap
  • Chrome Front Grill
  • 1st design: thinner leather was more flexible and easier to install
    2nd design: thicker and stiffer material than the 1st design possibly more durable but a pain to install
    3rd design: same thicker and stiffer material with redesigned tenax snaps

    Installing the boot cover on a 1996 or early model 1997 Z3 was a relatively easy job. However something happened during 1997 and BMW redesigned the boot cover with thicker and stiffer material. The new stiffer material makes it much harder to install. We confirmed this by swapping Eileen’s 1996 boot cover with my 1998 boot cover. I was able to install her boot cover in less than half the time it usually takes.

    We then started comparing the boot covers from the different Z3s that attended the event and noticed three different designs. Besides the flexible and stiff versions, we found a variation on the stiff version that had improved the tenax fastners. The front ones slide to make it slightly easier to install when compared to the other stiff material boot cover, but still harder than the original flexible material boot cover. If you have a Z3 with the stiffer boot cover, you may be interested in reading this article.

    Chrome Front Grill

    Improving the Boot Cover Snaps

    When I first got my Z3, I used the boot cover regularly, but then over time I slowly started using it less and less. I had always considered it a purely cosmetic piece of equipment and eventually grew tired of the hassle of installing it.

    When I traded in my Z3 to get an M roadster, I took the new boot cover out of the trunk and put it on the shelf where it pretty much stayed. The few times I used it left me frustrated at how hard it was to install. I’m not sure why the new one was harder to install than the old one. I kept trying to convince myself, “maybe if I use it more, the boot cover will get broken in and be easier to install.”

    Despite my repeated attempts, the boot cover would eventually find its way back onto the shelf for another extended stay. I had become spoiled with the power top, and found the boot to only lesson its usefulness. I had also become lazy and just plain fed up with the hassle of installing the boot cover.

    The boot cover made a comeback when I started using the roadster tonneau cover. The tonneau cover required the boot cover be installed to function, but it also enabled me to keep the boot cover on for extended periods of time. The two products proved to be a great combination when the weather allowed for extended top-down periods. But the tonneau isn’t a year-round product, and eventually the boot cover found its way back onto the shelf for another extended stay.

    Then I installed a light gray interior liner to the convertible top. It didn’t take me long to realize that light gray doesn’t look very good dirty. Without the boot cover, the liner was picking up a lot of dirt and dust when the top was down. So now I’ve got two accessories somewhat dependent on the BMW boot cover. So I find myself once again saying, “maybe if I use it more, the boot cover will get broken in and be easier to install.” I still hold some hope in that theory, however this time I’m going to make things a little easier on myself.

    I remembered an additional paragraph tacked onto the end of the original BMW windscreen instructions that said to install some washers to make the boot easier to use with that windscreen. BMW doesn’t even make that windscreen anymore, but I managed to find my old copy of those instructions and figured I would share an old idea (slightly modified) to those that were not Z3 owners back in 1996 when the first windscreen was introduced. The official name for this “knob thingy” is a Tenax fastener. There are two of them screwed into the back of the storage area that the boot cover snaps onto. The theory behind the fix is that if these fasteners were sticking out a little farther, the boot cover would be easier to install since you were not having to stretch it as much.

    Once you locate these two Tenax fasteners, you can unscrew them with a standard 11/32 open ended wrench. The screws are longer than you would think they should be, but this extra length is about to work to our advantage.

    The original BMW instructions had you using standard everyday washers. However, on the suggestion of an MZ3.Net reader I went to the hardware store and found some black rubber faucet washers. Looking at the different sizes I determined that the “00 Flat Washers” appeared to be just what I was looking for. I used one of them on each side rather than a stack of regular washers.

    With the rubber washers installed behind the Tenax screws, the fastener portion of the snap now sticks out an extra 1/8 inch. That small difference makes the boot cover a little easier to install. However, even with this addition, I still consider the boot cover a pain to put on. But this upgrade cost me under a dollar, so I’ll take any help I can get and I’ll keep telling myself, “maybe if I use it more, the boot cover will get broken in and be easier to install.”

    Discuss this article and other Convenience upgrades in the

    ///MZ3.Net discussion forum.

    Inner Cover/Top Liner

    Pros: Reduced road noise, Increased insulation, Folds away neatly without affecting the use of the boot cover
    Cons: Slight loss of head room, Maintaining a “perfect” installation requires occasional adjustments
    Cost: $329

    I love owning a convertible, every chance I get to drop the top I take it. However there are times when the top must stay up because of rain, extreme heat, or extreme cold. There are pluses and minuses to everything, and it is during these “top up” times that the minuses of owning a convertible become evident. I always thought the Z3 top did a fairly good job, but my only previous experience with a convertible was a 1980 MGB. The Z3 top was clearly better than the old MG one, but then I saw a real convertible top. Some friends of mine had just taken delivery of a new 3 series convertible and invited me over to take a look at it. After seeing and experiencing the top on that convertible 3 series I noticed the key difference. That 328ic had an second inner layer to the convertible top. With two layers instead of one the 3 series top looked better, you couldn’t see the metal frame because it was hidden between the two layers. The extra layer also appeared to cut down on wind and road noise as well as provided more insulation.

    The top on the 3 series was clearly better than the top on the Z3, so the hunt began for an aftermarket inner liner or an altogether improved convertible top. My efforts didn’t turn up anything, about the closest I got was at the 1998 Z3 homecoming. The producer of the Z3 top attended the event so I asked one of them what the chances were of getting a top for the Z3 similar to the top on the 3 series. They said they would look into it but seriously doubted that they would be creating such a top. Imagine my surprise when not more than a couple months later MG Racing posted a message on the Z3 message board about an aftermarket inner liner specifically made for the BMW Z3. The liner claimed easy installation, decreased road/wind noise and increased insulation all for $330.

    After exchanging a few e-mails with MG Racing a gray colored liner was on its way to Dallas. Once it arrived I opened up the instructions and got my first real look at the product. The instructions were pretty straight forward, they described how the black plastic parts replaced the current ones on the Z3. They snapped on over the support ribs in the top and held the liner. The rest of the installation involved velcro straps that wrapped around the folding metal frame and held the top in place.

    The material was thick and soft, it reminded me of a high dollar college sweat shirt. After that initial inspection I knew the product would cut down on road/wind noise as well as provide insulation, the only remaining questions were the installation and how it would handle the folding top. My primary concern was if the top could still fold down flat enough to use the boot cover.

    Sold By:

    MG Racing

    http://www.mgracing.an/

    800-788-1281

    Installation

    The first part of the installation was to remove two of the existing black plastic sleeves from the convertible frame and replace them with the sleeves that were sewn into the inner liner. There is a glue like goop under the plastic sleeves that helps holds them in place, so its best to start on one end and slowly work the support off. When installing the replacement support I would rotate the sleeve slightly so that the stitching is slightly rotated forward instead of facing straight down (I’ll come back to this later when I talk about tweaking the installation). This part of the installation should be done with the top unlatched and slightly opened to reduce tension. It’s important to get the support centered, I just eyeballed it the first time and later had to go back and make adjustments.

    The next part of the installation involves working with the various velcro straps to finish securing the inner liner to the frame. I would suggest opening the top up a little further while you work on the side straps. The instructions do their best to try and explain in words where each strap should go, but a little trial and error was needed for me to get it installed. Resist the urge to get each strap as tight as possible.

    From this angle to can see how the liner is attached to the frame, at this point I had spent a lot of effort to get each strap tight. Later I realized how loosening up the straps let the top hang straighter and fold down with less tension. The one gap that you see I was never able to get rid of, but when sitting in the seat you don’t notice it. This is also the side of the top that has the additional frame pieces for the power top. I think the liner is really designed for the manual top because it doesn’t fit as well around the additional power top mechanism on the drivers side. It fits much better on the passenger side which doesn’t have any additional items related to the power top.

    Once you get the velcro straps on the side secured there are a couple in the back. These were somewhat difficult to secure because of the close quarters back there and you really can’t see what you are doing. I found it easier to sit backwards in the seat and reach back into the opposite side area (ie when sitting in the drivers seat work on the passenger side and vis versa). Remember that tighter is not necessarily better when working with these straps.

    The last step of the installation secured an elastic strap to the frame. There is a plastic pop-rivet like thing that comes with the top liner. It pops into an existing hole in the convertible frame. The elastic helps keep the liner tight in the corner and a piece of velcro on the strap holds the liner down.

    Once the installation was complete I sat in the Z3 and gave it a visual inspection. I could see areas that seemed too loose or too tight, but basically it was there and looked pretty good. I like what it did to the interior, the gray material lightened up the interior and made it feel bigger. But I could tell that my installation needed some adjustments.

    It was time for the real test, how would it handle lowering the power top. I was especially concerned about the tops ability to fold down enough so the boot cover could still be used. With the uncomfortable sound of velcro tearing/loosening the top went down, the installation really needed adjusting. However despite my obviously sloppy installation the inner liner folded away neatly and somehow folded just as tightly as it did before. The boot cover could be installed without any problems. When I raised the top back up most of the velcro straps that I had spent so much time tightening were now loose, it was time to tweak the installation.

    Tweaking the Installation


    The droop over my head needed tightening because it would occasionally touch my head. When I looked at the area over the passenger’s head there wasn’t a droop. I concluded that the plastic sleeve in this area must not properly centered. Once I centered it the droop was less on the drivers side but more so on the passenger side (the key is that after getting the snap on support centered the two sides were now equal). Once I had the two sides equal I found that rotating the plastic sleeve tightened up this area and got rid of both droops. You can’t actually rotate the sleeve because of the glue like goop stuff under the sleeve, so by rotate I actually mean remove the sleeve and reinstall with it slightly rotated forward.It was obvious my installation needed some adjustments, There were two things that were bothering me. The first was a droop in the liner right over my head, the second was the velcro sound when the top was lowered.

    I then turned my attention to the velcro straps on the side, what I discovered is that tighter was not necessarily better. By loosing the straps the liner was able to hang straighter and it actually made the top material fit better against the frame. The now looser straps also allowed the liner more flexibility when it was being lowered and folded away. This cured the velcro tearing sound when the top was being lowered. The secret is to let the material hang naturally and then secure the velcro strap so the material continues to hang there. Don’t think of the straps as tie downs but rather rather as supports during the folding process.

    Conclusion

    I’m pleased with the end result, however if I had it to do over again I probably would have chosen a black liner. I like how the gray liner makes the cabin feel bigger and less confined. However the lighter color also shows every detail. This is why I’ve been so picky about the installation and felt the need for additional tweaking. That is because I can see every fold, crease, tuck and strap on the light gray liner. I’ve seen the exact same liner in black installed in a Z3 and you really can not see any of these details when it is black on black. I also wonder what my gray liner is going to look like after a season of top down driving, I suspect its going to need a good cleaning since it will probably be a brownish gray from all the dust.

    This hasn’t really affected me, but it might affect some Z3 owners over 6 foot. Since the liner hangs on and below the frame, you lose a little head room. I adjusted my seat up just to see how annoying it would be if your head made contact with the liner. After only a few minutes my hair looked like Kramer’s hair on Seinfield (stood straight up).

    The liner really does cut down on road and wind noise, even more than I expected it would. I think the softer fabric has also increase the acoustics inside the Z3, I have no way of proving this, but to me it appears that the stereo sounds better. I can’t really comment on its insulation capabilities at this time, I live in Dallas and even though its Thanksgiving weekend its still 70 degrees here. I’ll update this article again once the cold weather hits, however it would appear that this liner will make quite a difference. I guess the bottom line is that the liner is probably a wise investment for the winter months, especially for those who live in colder climates.

    BMW Roadster Tonneau

    Pros: Installs Easily, Covers Cockpit, Lightweight
    Cons: Requires Boot Cover
    Cost: $78.90 (with shipping)

    I’ve always been in a love/hate relationship with the roadster’s boot cover. I liked the way the Z3 looked with the boot cover installed over the folded down top, and I recognize the protective benefits of using the boot cover. However it is such a pain to install that I seldom used it except on long drives (when I knew the top was going to stay down). The problem was that I was never comfortable enough to leave the car parked with the top down. The exposed leather interior would be subject to bird bombs, harmful UV rays, dirt/dust, and prying eyes.

    Back in highschool I drove an MGB that had this great accessory called a tonneau cover. This thick vinyl cover snapped around the cabin of the MGB on specially designed snaps that were part of the interior. That tonneau cover effectively covered the interior of the car and it was much easier to take on and off than the convertible top was to put up and down. The other really neat feature is that it had a zipper down the middle so you could unzip just the drivers side and drive the car with the tonneau cover still in place. I’ve been wanting a cover similar to that MGB one for my BMW roadster every since I first got the car. However no one made one, and from a development standpoint since the car wasn’t designed for one chances are it would never exist.

    M&M Marketing produced a car cover that was very similar to what I was looking for, and I almost got one. Except the M&M design is really closer to a car cover and I never really cared for the looks of it. From a utility standpoint I’m told that the M&M design works well. It stands up okay to the elements and is moderately easy to take on and off. But it just isn’t that attractive to look at (to me it always looked like a small tent had been pitched over the car). I’m told that the M&M cover is actually a Miata cover that happens to fit, but sometimes it looks just a tad too small to me.

    Apparently Carter Lee had the same thoughts and undertook a project to design a simple tonneau cover specifically made for the BMW roadster. Carter’s design fits flush with the dash and it is custom made for the Z3’s interior. There are “pockets” designed to go over the seats and dash pod. Carter even designed two different versions to account for Z3s with and without roll hoops. Carter’s design was not the same as the original MGB tonneau I had always wanted, but it was so close that I just had to have one.

    My first indication that Carter had gone all out in making these was the very professional packaging that arrived shortly afterwards. However, after admiring his packaging handy work I immediately ripped the bag open, tossed the instructions and went out to the garage to try it out. Initially I fumbled around trying to figure out the best way to install it (guess I should have read the instructions first). But finally decided that I like to slip the custom pockets over the seats, then get the front of the cover tucked in, secure the sides via the velcro straps, and lastly tuck the back of the cover into the crease at the rear of the boot cover. First couple times took me a few minutes but now I’ve got it down pretty good.

    Basically there are four places in the design that attach the tonneau to the roadster. The leading edge of the cover has a foam like trim sewn into it, this is designed to be tucked into the area where the windshield meets the dash. The foam slips into the crack with a push but then expands and secures rather well. Around each side mirror the tonneau cover has two velcro straps that secure the tonneau to the mirror. This works well but does require that you leave the windows down. In the back the tonneau cover tucks into the convertible top storage area along the trailing edge of the boot cover. This leaves a nice smooth taught look, I’m told by Doug and Eileen Morgan that it even keeps water out of your interior should you get caught in a quick shower (however it shouldn’t be considered an acceptable cover if you are expecting a rain storm).

    With Carter’s tonneau my MZ3 finally had a cover that matched its sleek styling. The tonneau fit nicely over the instrument pod, seats and roll hoops (non roll hoop version available). It seemed pretty secure but I wanted to put this thing to the test. I got out my $30 Sears electric leaf blower and and decided to give it a wind tunnel test, at the same time I was curious to see what the motion sensor on my Clifford car alarm would think of a fluttering tonneau cover. What I found out is that if the cover is properly installed I could not blow it loose. The first time I didn’t get the front tucked in good and was able to get the front of the cover loose but the velcro straps and rear tuck kept the cover in place. Not sure what this says about the motion sensor, but it never went off even the one time the front of the cover came loose.

    Needless to say I was pretty impressed with what Carter created, and I knew it was a keeper but I decided to do some additional tests. At the time I got the cover we were in the middle of an extreme heat wave in Texas. Everyday after work it was a race to see how quickly I could drop the convertible top to let off all the heat that had built up in the cabin. For a week I kept a fancy digital thermometer in the car, and every time I parked I would place the additional temperature sensor out side the car in the shade. During that week I found out that on average Carter’s cover kept the interior of the car about 7 degrees cooler than with the top up. I’m sure the color of the tonneau had to do with that (silver vs black) but I suspect the open air made the biggest difference. Carter now makes a version of the cover in black and there is a part of me that wishes I would have ordered the black version, but I’m sure it gets a little hotter.

    Removal of the cover is super easy. I just unvelcro the cover from one of the side mirrors and pull, off it comes. A couple of quick folds or more likely just wad it up and shove it into any storage space like the top storage behind the seat (if you have it). I usually shove it in the trunk over the tiny crevice above the power top motor. If you have the trunk organizer it would fit in there as well.

    I asked Doug Morgan what he thought of his tonneau cover (he has a black design without the roll hoop pocket), Doug replied

    It does keep leaves and dust out very effectively and at least moderate amounts of rain; yes I have tested this out. If you are careful you can even get the water out without getting it on your interior. For those that live in the hotter areas of the country it does a great job of keeping the interior cool. It became an invaluable item on the BAD IV tour to keep the seats from burning your legs when returning from one of the little jaunts (the steering wheel and door edge didn’t burn either). Carter’s tonneau is a must have on the Homecoming Convoy also. The tonneau is make of lightweight water repellant fabric, which makes for great protection without being bulky so it avoids taking up valuable trunk space.

    Personally, my only complaint is that it requires the boot cover, without the boot cover it really doesn’t tuck into or get secured in the back. It is still usable but I suspect a strong breeze could blow the back end loose. But considering it is only $78.90 it really is a fantastic cover. I think the fact that it is designed by a BMW Z3 owner tells you that the product is well thought out and functional. I’m very impressed with it and use it quite often, since that initial leaf blower test it has never come loose, and it has still never caused a problem with my car alarm. I guess the motion sensor goes right through the material because the motion sensor still works.

    Carter sells the tonneau cover via a web page, and has lots of information about the roadster tonneau at that web site. Carter offers versions designed for Z3s with the BMW roll hoops and for Z3s without the roll hoops. Both versions of the roadster tonneau are available in black and gray. They are made of a strong, lightweight, compact, and water-repellant nylon taffeta. Whichever version and color you choose the total cost including shipping is only $78.90

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