Chrome Trimmed Z3 Gill

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

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

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

Chrome Roll Hoops

Pros: Look Really Good, Easy to Install, Half the price of the AC Schnitzer.
Cons: Doesn’t work with the BMW windscreen.
Cost: $595 from MyRoadster.net

I’ve always enjoyed the chrome (actually polished stainless steel) roll hoops on my Z3, but the AC Schnitzer price (ouch). For those Z3 owners that are looking to replace the stock (black) BMW hoops, but cringed at the AC Schnitzer price, MyRoadster.net offers similiar polished roll hoops for much less money.

The shape of these roll hoops are slightly different than the stock BMW hoops and the AC Schnitzer hoops. MyRoadster.net’s design is more round on top and much thicker. They remind me of the Audi TT roll hoops, very sporty. 60mm or 2.4 inch diameter (compared to approx 50mm on the Schnitzer design). With a wall thickness of 2mm or .08 inches. The installation of these roll hoops is nearly identicle to the AC Schnitzer hoops (installation instructions). Three torx 40 bolts hold the hoops in place, the installation is surprisingly easy the only non-standard tool needed is a torx 40 driver (I found one at my local hardware store).

The difference between the installations is the (gasket like) rubber rings at the bottom of the roll hoops. The rubber rings are partly for cosmetic reasons, but they also make sure you don’t end up with metal on plastic rattles. Installing the rubber rings was a little confusing. There is a slit in the rubber ring, its designed to slip on over the end of the roll hoop. That installation isn’t as easy as it sounds but the design is better than the Schnitzer solution (at least the ones I received).

MyRoadster.net also provides roll hoops to Z3Solution.com, you can purchase from either vendor and end up with the same high quality product at nearly half the price of the AC Schnitzer brand.

Chrome Gas Cap

This upgrade may be a bit too flashy for a lot Z3 owners, but for those owners with a chrome fettish (such as myself) MG Racing sells chrome Z3 gas caps. These are original BMW gas caps that have been chromed by MG Racing. Simple direct replacment for your stock gas cap, and installing it couldn’t be easier.

To install the MG Racing chrome gas cap, you will need about 10 minutes of time and a screw driver with a Torx-30 tip.

The gas cap is held/clamped in place with two torx-30 screws. The two holes in the support allow you access to the torx-30 screws. You don’t have to remove the screws, as the screw head are really just clamping/holding the gas cap on.

It took quite a bit of force to initially break the paint seal, I took this as a suggestion to use just as much force when I re-installed the chromed version.

There are two add-on parts that you will need to move from your stock gas cap to the new gas cap. There is a rubber bumper that slides out of place pretty easily. The black plastic thing is designed to hold your gas cap while you are refilling you car. It’s a little harder to pop out of place, but still quite easy to move from one gas cap to the other.

Sold By:

MG Racing

http://www.mgracing.an/

800-788-1281

BMW Chrome Door Handles

Pros: Looks good, matches other chrome trim
Cons: Expensive BMW part, difficult installation.
Cost: Roughly $400 retail*

# Chrome Exterior door handles: Left: 51 21 8 401 625 (BMW Part) $184.00 retail*

# Right: 51 21 8 401 626 (BMW Part) $184.00 retail*

# Chrome Exterior door handle surrounds: Left: 51 21 8 399 239 (BMW Part) $17.90 retail*

# Right: 51 21 8 399 240 (BMW Part) $17.90 retail*

* BMW Retail price at the time this article was written. Using discounts, online vendors or a BMW parts department that doesn’t charge full retail can save 10 to 20 percent.

Chrome Windshield Washer Sprayers

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

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. www.ZChrome.com 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 www.ZChrome.com 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.

Chrome Lock Pulls

Pros: Looks Good, Inexpensive, Easy To Install
Cons: Lock Pulls Stick Out Slightly Further
Cost: $9.36 (list)

Click for Larger ViewHere is another simple and inexpensive upgrade for chrome lovers. The stock Z3 lock pulls are black, but BMW makes it easy for you to change to chrome lock pulls. The picture below is BMW part 51-21-8-399-241 which lists for $4.68. Technically there are left and right versions of this part (51-21-8-399-241 & 51-21-8-399-242). When there is a left and right item the odd part number is the “left” item assuming you are seated in the drivers seat. But for our use you can order 2 lefts, 2 rights or one of each because we’re going to only use the chrome cap on top of each operating rod.

Click for Larger View

Click for Larger ViewRather than take the door apart to replace the entire operating rod, if you pull up on the lock pull and keep twisting it around it will eventually come loose and you can pull the plastic lock pull cover off the operating rod. Do this on the new parts you just purchased and on the stock (black) lock pulls. Then place the chrome lock pull on the stock operating rod and twist it back down. These parts really are not designed to be screwed on and off but they are plastic and can be replaced in this manner.

Update: I have received several email questions regarding this removal. Yes it is difficult, the plastic is held in place with a bump on the operating rod. Twisting and pulling is what worked for me, just be careful not to damage the finish on the plastic part.

Click for Larger ViewIt may be easier to do this with the doors open. When the doors are open the central locking system will not allow the lock pull to be depressed. With the lock pulls held in place by the central locking system, and using the twist and push method I replaced both sides rather quickly. It is much easier to do it this way rather than take the door apart and replace the entire operating rod.

Chrome Hand Brake Button

Pros: Looks Good, Inexpensive, Easy to Install
Cons: Only For Chrome Lovers
Cost: $3.10 (list)

Here’s a real easy upgrade, that doesn’t cost much, and looks good. Change the black hand brake button to chrome. BMW makes a chrome hand brake button part number 34-41-1-163-199 that lists for $3.10. I’ve added several chrome accessories to my black and gray interior and this small inexpensive upgrade adds to the look.

The button just screws onto the hand brake. To remove the old button simple unscrew it. It takes a lot of turns but you should be able to notice it slowly coming free of the hand brake. Once the old one is unscrewed simple screw the new chrome button on in its place.

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.