|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.