Smoked Tailed Lights

Here are some pictures of my 1996 BMW Z3 with smoked tailights.

Painted Wheels

[adsense_id=”4″]Recently there were some discussions on the Z3 message board regarding painting wheels. In response to that discussion I went through my Z3 photo collection looking for photos people may want to see in regard to wheel color and/or painting. In this first photo the owner found some aftermarket wheels that already matched the color of his car (no painting required).

Okay it’s not really painting, but chroming wheels is another way to change the look of your stock wheels. In my opinion chrome adds to the retro look of the Z3, this picture jumped out at me as I was going through my collection because the white and chrome combination looked so good.

If I owned a white Z3 (and someday I may), I would consider painting the wheels white just like this M owner has. The white on white look is fantastic (in my opinion). It reminds me of the early 80’s Porsche 944’s that apparently had a white wheel option if you got the white exterior paint.

Not sure if it’s the quality of these photos or the specific lighting in these photos, but personally I would be after a more flat white look (but that’s just me chasing my memory of the old Porsche white wheels).

Now at the other end of the spectrum (sorry couldn’t resist that pun) we have black wheels. I’m sure this look is very hard to photograph, but these photos don’t appeal to me because you can’t make out any details of the wheels.

You can see more details of the wheel in this photo. Maybe its the matching black exterior paint but this photo makes the black wheels look better than the previous photo. Notice how the dark paint makes the disc brake stand out. Some red caliper paint would really stand out.

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.

Moon Roof Shade

For those of you who drive a Z3 Coupe, this is for you. I’m not sure if all Z3 Coupes are the same, but mine is a 1999 with the flip-up glass moon roof without a sliding interior cover. BMW did a noteworthy job of heavily tinting the glass panel that is a large portion of the roof. However, when the sun is high in the sky on a clear day, you get baked on even the shortest drives.

To remedy this, I stopped by the local Wal-Mart store and picked up a set of those collapsible sunshades with the suction cups for $4.97. I bought the smaller ones designed to go in a side window of a car to shade sleeping babies and other sun-sensitive passengers. The shades I found come in a set of two called “Suncutters Side Shade” made by a company called Axius (1-888-99-AXIUS). They are black, screen-like material with metal hoop-frames; rectangular in shape (each measures about 12″x16″) and together they fit almost perfectly into the recess in the moon roof with some overlap in the middle. The suction cups even have small metal rings to pull the shades off when you don’t need them. They go on easily, come off easily and fold up into a small, round pouch about 6″ in diameter. Since the moon roof is tilt only, it is completely operable with the shades installed and the incoming air doesn’t disturb them.

Z3 Hardtop Hoist

After receiving a new hardtop for my 1999 M Roadster as a gift from my wife (good woman!) I needed a place to keep the top in good weather. I did some research and decided to buy the E-Z Top from The Hard Top Hoist Company in Houston, TX.

I placed an order online and received a confirmation phone call the next day. The hoists are built to order and custom sized for each vehicle. It took approximately 5 weeks to receive the kit. They were extremely helpful, and even shipped me the piece of wood used to secure the winch to the garage wall.

The hoist arrived with detailed installation instructions in color. Installation took approximately 1.5 hours. Placing the central hoist point just behind my garage door opener worked out fine, as this position was right above the car when backed into the garage. I secured a 2×6 to the joists above the garage, so the hoist could hold several hundred pounds if needed. Actually, the hard top weighs less than 100 pounds, so this would be a huge margin of safety.

The hoist is made of steel and powder coated with a black crinkle finish. It is beautifully made. The hardtop is supported at two points inside the top, placing no uneven stress on the top. The supports are covered in sheepskin (wool) pads that distribute the load and protect the inner liner. The front strut of the hoist has another wool pad to protect the paint on the front edge of the hardtop. The cable is vinyl coated and the winch is a worm-gear type that cannot slip. They even include a cordless drill adapter that allows me to use my drill to raise and lower the top. I suggest using this, as the top moves very slowly with the hand crank. There is a lot of mechanical advantage built in, so the effort to move it is very small.

Placing the hoist on the top involves a few simple steps.

  1. Park the car as far back in the garage as you can.
  2. Loosen the retaining screws at the windsheild and turn the latches in the back.
  3. Lower the hoist to just above the hardtop.
  4. Pull one of the quick pins from the hoist arm and lift the arm outward 90 degrees.
  5. Slip the hoist pads under the top and reinsert the pin.
  6. Lift the top.
  7. Secure the storage cable to the front of the hoist arm. This levels the top.

The system has worked flawlessly and the hardtop shows no signs of hoist use at all. I heartily recommend this product. The price was $385 plus shipping. There is no need to order the much more expensive electric winch, as any electric drill will do the job.

White Z3 Top

Custom white top, details unknown.

Veilside Z3 Kit

Back in November 2001 one cold morning I started the car and my foot sliped off the brake while the car was in first gear. The car flight forward into the garage wall. Got the hood bend real bad and front spoiler cracked open. So I decide to give the car new look. The body kit was $1400 from Vielside, after long search this only body kit I like. This body kit Vielside only make for the 1.9l (4cl) so the side rocket panels wouldn’t fit on the 2.8l v6. I have the body shop cut one part from the stock side rocket panel and mate with the new rocket panels so it will fit perfectly.

Glowing Z3 Gills

I’ve had some questions asked on my gills that glow and how it’s done. They light up at night when lights are turned on… Can’t see them in daylight. See below link, no that is not my car at the top…scroll down to bottom. 😉

Just buy the glow-wire that matches the color of your car(or close). Pop the gills off and run a couple of strips up and down the wire mash from the inside…that’s pretty much it…you can connect to any 12v source… I used the low beams since I wouldn’t be using them in the daytime anyway.

The Glow-Wire company put some pictures of my car out on their web site.

1.9 to M Conversion

Why I did it:

I am poor, but I love the M Roadster. You may know me as WannaM on the message boards. The M’s full, muscular rear end is much more masculine and finished looking than the other Z’s in my humble opinion, but alas, I can’t afford an M. I think the 1.9 liter’s rear end looks dilapidated and unfinished. However, as background, I rent a two-car garage and live in the other half. In other words, all of my money goes to my car, and I live like a bum. How many other people can claim such loyalty to a car? In addition, I do upgrades as I have money instead of just picking the ones I want and doing them. Robert Leidy’s beautiful roadster was the target template for my car as I have a 1996 Arctic Silver 1.9. What finally convinced me was that the rear track width on the 1.9 and M roadster are nearly identical, unlike the 2.5 and 2.8 which are noticeably wider, especially with M rims on. Thus, the conversion compatibility was the decision maker.

What it cost:

I tried to keep the costs down by selling the old parts and buying from salvage yards. The two biggest problems are 1) it takes a long time and patience to find the parts from salvage yards and 2) some of the parts are damaged and replacing/repairing ends up costing more than new parts. In the end, I had hoped that I could keep costs very low. I was wrong.

Process:

The upgrade is pretty simple (but intense). I contact the Mazjun’s who had upgraded their 1.9 to a widebody format like a 2.8 after a minor accident. The reality is that a LOT of parts are only slightly different but need to be completely replaced. I searched for most of the parts on the newsgroups, ebay, and the salvage yards. The following parts are needed for a (1996) full exterior conversion to an M:

* Both Bumper covers

* Both rocker panels

* Both quarter panels

* Gas filler flap

* Both Rear plastic wheel linings

* Roll bar/hoops

* Both side mirrors

* Both hood gills

* Trunk Lid

* Electric trunk lock mechanism

* Rear trunk license plate assembly

* License plate lights

* Chrome trunk button surround

* 4 Satin chrome M wheels

* 4 new tires

* Custom spliced exhaust (picture included, and it’s the best I could do without jacking the car up)

* Two new mufflers

Other work:

Removing the black plastic covering on the A pillars/windshield frame. For cost sakes, I did not replace the head/taillights with clear lenses, nor replace the side mirrors. You must extend the license plate lights wiring from the rear bumper to the trunk lid. For this, I simply used wiring I bought from Home Depot.

Problems:

Painting is expensive. I found a great shop in Lincoln Park (Chicago), European Auto, that matched the paint wonderfully without “blending.” The con is that it is relatively expensive and takes a while to mix a good match, but I would recommend this shop to anyone getting any type of paint job. I also noticed during the re-assembly, that the parts that were “used/salvaged” definitely exhibited “fit” problems. Using new parts is certainly the preferred choice if you can afford it. Was it worth it?? Since costs started to get out of hand, I’m not sure if it’s worth it. If you have access to cheap parts and a lot of time, the look is definitely cool, but car novices might not even notice the difference. I like the new look though. I only wish it were a real M. Perhaps BMW might realize I’m their biggest enthusiast and donate another car for me to modify.

European Auto Ltd

2547 N Lincoln Ave

Chicago, IL 60614-2313

Phone: (773) 348-5440

I had major problems with the trunk locking mechanism. I wasn’t sure how the reverse placement of the trunk button would affect the lock. It was minimal work to refit really, BUT, in the process, I could not figure out how to reuse the electric locking control, thus I need to use the key to lock/unlock the trunk.

Visible Discrepancies with the M:

The interior had been modified over the years to a more chrome finish like many others. The noticeable differences inside are the lack of leather wrapped dash, M sport seats, no Oil Temp/Analog Clock/Oil Pressure gauges, power roof, rear view mirror, etc. I do have a sprinkling of LeatherZ products which are awesome. The exterior lacks the M side mirrors (which irks me a little each time), fit-and-finish of the new panels is not as great as my original stock 1.9. Also, the lights have the original amber, not the later “clear” look (but I considered Robert Leidy’s as a template). I also have not yet put the plastic wheel well linings in as the pictures show.

Future:

As I said, this project really put me in the poor house — literally. Towards the end, I became a prostitute and even tried soliciting companies to donate the parts to me if I put a decal on my car. Semi-happily, no one took me up on my offer. The things that I would like most to add eventually would be:

* Any type of windscreen

* Any type of supercharger

* Any Spring lowering kit

* Additional leather treatment to the interior

In retrospect, it might’ve been easier to sell my car and put the upgrade money into getting a used 2.8 or something, but I had no idea how few Z3 parts would’ve been on the salvage market and how expensive dealership parts would’ve been. Live and learn – I suppose. Until then, I believe that I have only 1 of 2 Z3 1.9’s with a widebody conversion, the only 1.9 with M body technics, and – in the spirit of making the MZ3 an actual vehicle – a real MZ3.

If I had one wish right now, I would like to add a supercharger, as I have been attending many of the local import tuner shows. My car gets a lot of attention, but on the drag strips, it gets quite embarrassed.

Pros: Looks great… almost like an M.

Cons: Unjustifiable cost, car is out-of-commission during upgrade, is not completely a DIY project.

Z3 Paint Problems

While in for a service check, I asked the BMW Center of San Antonio, Texas to look at the trunk lid to make an assessment of why the paint was fading. They stated there was nothing they could do and were not sure why it was fading. They thought it was oxidation and tried to buff it out, which did not work. Since the car was past the four year warranty, they would not repair it. Within two months, the faded area spread to almost two-thirds of the trunk lid. Areas on the left rear fender and hood have also appeared. I took the car to a third party paint shop. Their analysis was that the paint was fading between the clear coat and the base paint. If the clear coat got thin enough, it would start peeling off. The only solution is to repaint the affected areas. The fading will only get worse no matter what precautions are taken. Since I have had the vehicle, it has always received the best wax treatment and care. A decision will have to be made whether to invest money into a full vehicle paint job or put it towards a new Z3.

Editors Comments: It’s my impression that BMW Service departments will just about always avoid any kind of paint warranty repairs. I don’t think they are necessarly the guilty party as it’s BMW North America that is ultimately holding the check book. Service departments know they are going to have a hard time getting BMWNA to pay for paint repair warranties and they are just automatically on the defensive. Bottom line, its going to be an up-hill battle and you are probably wasting your time discussing it with the dealerships service advisors. Ask when the BMWNA service rep is going to be in the area and schedule an appointment to meet him. Provide him with the facts, and avoid using the word “internet”.