Owner: Khalifa Cobra
The body kit is from Veilside, the hardtop and rear wing are from Hamann Motorsport Hardtop II, the exhaust Muffler is from a german tuning company called G-Power.
|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.
In case you have ever wanted to make your turn signals completely clear rather than seeing the tinge of amber from the turn signal bulbs, there are two ways to do it. First and most expensive is to find the Philips Silvervision bulbs usually sold in Europe. These are amber bulbs with a translucent silver outer finish. When off they appear clear, when on they appear amber.
The second method is to make them yourself at home by painting your bulbs with a light coat of Rustoleum High Temperature silver spray paint, sold at Home Depot for less than $5. This process is well documented on the BMW M5 messageboard. I did this for my M5, and now have done it for my M Roadster. The picture to the right shows the left lamp after treatment and the right as original:
I think you’ll agree that the 10 minutes or so required for the job is well worth it. It’s also possible to treat the front turn signals this way if you like. Enjoy.
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.
|Pros:||Lights up your highbeams when your parking lights are turned on. “Rounds out” the light display on the front of the car when the low beams are turned on. Inexpensive parts.|
|Cons:||Pretty worthless for anything other than display purposes. Not an easy install.|
Ever look inside your high-beam? If you do, here’s what you’ll see: See that black spot? It’s actually a hole in the reflector. You may ask yourself “Why is there a black hole in my light?”. The answer is “Manufacturing Efficiency”.
Basically, that black spot is where a small light, called a European City Light, would go if you happened to live in Europe and owned a 1.8 Z3. “What’s a 1.8?”, I hear you asking, “don’t you mean 1.9?”. Nope. I mean 1.8. The most inexpensive Z ever produced. The base model we never got here. The 1.8 was an 8 valve version of the euro 1.9 engine. The cars were produced as inexpensively as possible. In order to cut down on cost. As part of this cost reduction, there are no front bumper lights (hey! saved close to $40).
In Europe, the front marker lights work differently from the US. When we turn on our “parking” lights, the amber corner lights and the amber bumper lights come on. In Europe it’s illegal to have amber lights in the front, so they replace the amber bumper lights with white ones and they make it so the corner lights don’t come on. The corner lights are used only as turn signals. On the 1.8, instead of putting bumper lights on the car, they elected to mount the lights inside the high-beam enclosure producing a forward-facing white light. Here in the US, the City Lights were never used. However, because the 1.8 needed them, every Z has the vestigial hole in the reflector (note: so do other bimmers).
The hole is plugged at the back by a kind of “blank” on the back of the light. If you could peer inside, however, you would see that they do include the molding required to seat the socket. I decided I liked the idea of City Lights because I thought they would look good, showing off the entire light housing on low-beam and when the parking lights were turned on. The job looked easy, although I knew I would have to remove and remount the lights.
First thing I did was to find the part numbers:
The parts I was interested in were those labeled “8” and “9” in the diagram shown above. #8 is the socket (63-12-8-389-744 “Lamp Socket”), #9 is the bulb. #3, by the way is another European feature which allows you to aim your headlights from inside the car. This power is considered far too dangerous by the DOT for Americans to have access to, but that’s another story.
I called my local dealer (Herb Chambers) and ordered the parts ($17.03). It took about two days to get them. I was very happy until I actually saw the parts:
The socket connects via two very small pins. The problem is that I know of almost no connectors to mate to this to provide the power. I checked the diagram and, sure enough, there is a special connector, but it’s part of the European wire harness. I’d have to buy the whole harness in order to get the two connectors. Rather than shell out these kinds of bucks, I went in search of other possibilities. I checked the Boat Store and the Car Store before remembering good, old You-Do-It Electronics. Sure enough, YDI actually had a part which, with some significant modifications, would work.
They are called Molex .093 Connectors. They are basically a nylon housing around a set of connectors. I also bought some 1/2″ screw-size (5/8″ Chassis hole size) Vinyl Grommets (more on this later). In addition, I had a couple of wire-taps, some wire and a couple of grounding connectors. The next step was to fabricate the connections.
I did this by wrapping a grommet around the “Male” Molex connector. I then inserted it, “backwards”, wrapped in Saran Wrap into the lamp socket and used epoxy to fill in the spaces around the grommet (the Saran Wrap keeps the whole thing from getting stuck to the lamp socket). Once these were set, I attached the wire to the metal “female” inserts which would grip the two prongs on the inside of the socket. I inserted them into the holes (once again, backwards, it takes a little muscle) and once again used epoxy to seal them up.
The result, although still looking home-made, is actually pretty good. The Grommet makes a good seal on the wires and good seal on the lamp socket. The female molex connectors require a little bit of muscle to force them onto the pins, but once there they stay stuck on, further reinforcing the seal. The next step was to remove the lights from the car. See this article for more information on how to do this.
Once the lights were off the car, it was time to drill the holes. I used a Dermal tool to make the holes. Looking at the light socket, you can see two “wings” which are clearly meant to secure it when it is inserted intot eh light. I had a few hint’s from mod-god Ron Stygar who has also installed these. He sent me a picture of the inside of the “plug” (left – don’t ask me how he took this – I suspect one of those “Mission Impossible” microcameras or a team of miniaturized technicians helped). Judging from the picture, the big “wing” goes on top, the little “wing” goes on the bottom. I used the Dermal tool very slowly, while holding a vacuum hose near the work to suck out any small pieces.
Although the work was a little rough, the socket fit in fine and stayed in when I twisted it to the right. After drilling out both lights, I completed the job with the wiring:
I got power by tapping into the connectors for the side marker and connected to a convenient ground. On my car the positive lead was the light gray wire, but I suggest you check with a multi-meter on your car. Note that I have connected it “downstream” of a BMW connector. This way, if I ever need to remove the city lights, I can simply replace the pigtail which goes down to the marker bulb (I actually happen to have a couple of spares anyway). This ensures there’s no issue with dealer support on an electrical issue.
I put the lights back into the car, cursing BMW designers the whole way (would it have killed them to leave an inch or so slack in the wires going to the bulbs?).
On a scale of 1 to 10 I would give this project a 7 or an 8 in terms of difficulty, mostly because of the need to remove and remount the lights and the necessity to fabricate the connector part. Overall I’m happy with it. It took me about four hours to do and the total cost was about $25.
Update: I got an email from Greg Paul who wrote me to say that he had also been looking for the connector for about a year with no success. He had bought replacement lights from Circle BMW and they gave him Euro Lights with the City Lights already installed. Unfortunately, no connectors. He had asked the dealer and even went so far as calling the factory to see if anyone knew which connector they were… No luck… He then had an unfortunate incident — he smashed a fog light.
When they went to replace the fogger, he noticed that the connector looked familiar, in fact it was the same as the City Light! He looked up the parts and was able to find the socket and pigtails to connect the fogger to the car. He ordered extra parts and was able to also connect the city-lights.
That’s the good news (and special thanks to Greg for writing me to let me know about the part). Bad news is the price of the connectors: About $25 each (list). Using the BMW connectors just about doubles the cost of the project:
You’ll need 2 each of 61138352390’s (Sockets $20.48 each) and 4 each of 61130007569’s (pigtails $2.85 each). The pigtails need to be inserted into the socket to form the entire connector, but it’s real easy. (see cl1.jpg)
After inserting the pigtails, you need to lock them in. You do this by inserting a small screwdriver and pushing the black locking collar as indicated. (cl2.jpg)
Once this is done, you have your connectors and you can hook them up as described earlier in this article.
The Car is a 1998 Mroadster. I found the car 1 year ago at a local (orlando) Mercedes/Porsche dealer. As the story I was told goes, It was owned by the guy who trucked the ring around for the WWF. He never drove the car due to the fact that he was on the road all of the time. One night his wife told him she wanted a boxster instead of the M. They got in a big fight and surprise, she won. The car was on the lot 1 day when I saw it, I immediately put down a deposit and drove it home the next day with 950 miles on the clock.
The very next week I ordered the H&R lowering springs from RacingZone Auto House and had them installed (thanks Brian). From there it went a little nuts. All of the orange in the lights HAD to go. I ordered the front headlights, side markers, and bumper light from Circle BMW (found through MZ3.net). I ordered my controversial Taillights from Racing Zone Autohouse in Orlando Fl. They are from Inpro but have since been discontinued and are very hard to find. People either love them or hate them.
Next I started on the interior, the pedals are from AJUSA.com and are a good set of pedals that look right at home in the retro interior. The carbon fiber kit is from Joshua Tree and I think it gives the cars interior a racy look. I also have a ///M Hood emblem and Chrome door handles from a website that I can’t quite remember.
For the exterior I went to my friends over at RacingZone Autohouse again. The rims are 19″ Hartage Classic’s, 19×8 (front) with 235/35/19 Yokahama AVS Sport Tires and 19×9.5 (rear) with 265/30/19 With Yokahama AVS Sport Tires.
The Body Kit is Zeemax and was ordered through Eric at Supreme Power Parts (www.supremepowerparts.com). It was done after all of that Zeemax stuff with SMS and Eric is now able to order Kits Directly from Zeemax. The cost was right around $1,920 shipped to my door. The fit was great, some minor mods had to be done by the body shop to make it PERFECT. All of the paint and body work was done by Moores Precision Collision in Orlando Fl. (www.precisioncollisioninc.com). The wing is from Veilside and was ordered from RacingZone Auto house also. The shipping company cracked 2 of them before I finally got one that wasn’t damaged.
All and all the car has taken a year to get to its current state. Now I am going to focus on performance, not that the car really needs it, I am looking into the forced induction options available and am leaning towards the Mech-Tech turbo system, that big mouth up front is just screaming for a huge intercooler.
I would like to thank everyone who has helped me out in this last year:
Thanks to Everyone at Jade Motorsports
Brian at RacingZone Auto House
513 N.Semoran Blvrd.
Orlando Florida 32807
Eric at Supreme Power Parts
1025-B Ortega Way, Placentia, CA 92870.
Edward Hickman at Moores Precision Collision
420 N. Kirkman Road
Orlando, Fl 32835
|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.