Clear Rear Turn Signals, Side Markers and Front Bumper Lamps

Pros: Neat looking upgrade without much cost or effort
Cons: Not sure if this is officially street legal
Cost: $135.73 (each)


BMW Part#: 63-21-2-493-616 (left), 63-21-2-493-615 (right)

This lamp replacement is more difficult than the side markers or front bumper lamps. If you do not feel handy, or if you do not own a Dremel-type tool or feel comfortable using it to cut through plastic in a small hole, you should ask your dealer to replace the tail lights for you. I’m not terribly handy, and I had never used a Dremel tool before (bought one just for this), and it took me about 2 hours to do this upgrade. If I had to do it again, I think it would take less than an hour.

The way the tail lights work on a Z3 is that there is a pod with all the bulbs in it. You must remove this pod by unscrewing the plastic knob in the center of it. Just open your trunk and you will find the pod for each tail light right inside your trunk.

Once you have unscrewed the knob, the pod will feel loose in your hands but will not immediately come out. You may need to bend back the carpet in the general area of the pod at this point. You must pull the pod straight towards the front of the car. Don’t use too much force as the pod has all the bulbs attached to it, and you don’t want to break one against the metal holes they are being pulled through.

After you have the pod loose, just lay it on the floor of the trunk. If you now lean over and look at where the pod was, you will see there are two nuts which must be undone. Use a 5/16″ wrench and they should come off easily.

You can now remove the old tail lamp lens from the rear of the car. It may feel like it won’t budge–this is because part of it that is towards the center of your trunk is trapped under the rubber seal there. Don’t worry about it– it will come loose with some force and you won’t hurt anything. I suggest banging on the bolts that you just took those nuts off of with a hammer–light to medium hits–and the cluster will start to come out. Once it has started to move, you should be able to grab the whole thing with both hands and pull straight back.

Congratulations–you are halfway done. Note the tiny bulb in this picture–and note the tiny hole in the next picture. This little bulb goes in this hole in the tail lights that came with your Z3. Apparently whatever Z3s that come with clear lenses do not use this bulb, because the little hole it goes in is sealed. What you do here is up to you–you could remove the bulb and not worry about it, or you can drill out the hole. Since I didn’t know what the bulb was for, I drilled out the hole (see next picture).

If you want to drill out the hole, use a Dremel-type tool with a drill bit and very carefully drill out the floor of the hole. Then, put on a cone-shaped sanding bit and widen the drill hole you made until it is the same diameter as the opening for the bulb. You will now have tiny plastic shavings everywhere, including inside the tail lens! Use a vacuum cleaner with a small attachment to suck out the plastic shavings. Try to seal the attachment as best as possible against the hole, and you will suck out most of the shavings. You may need to bang on the lens to loosen some of the shavings. Before vacuuming, you may wish to take the lens to the car to make sure you widened the hole enough for the bulb.

Now, you just have to put everything back together. Slide the lens into place on the back of your car. You will notice that the black plastic part of the lens towards the center of your trunk is on top of the rubber seal on your trunk. You will need to bend this seal back and work it on top of the black plastic part of the lens. When you have done this correctly, the lens will seat properly in the car.

Then, screw back on the nuts–don’t use extreme force–you don’t want to crack any plastic. Just use the wrench to screw them on until it feels like they really want to stop. You’ll have half to three quarters of an inch of the bolt sticking out past the nut.

Now, insert the tiny bulb into the hole you drilled out with the Dremel tool. Then, guide the pod with the bulbs back into place–note the holes the bulbs go into and push straight into place. You will need to adjust the carpet around the area at this point because it probably got moved out of place when you first removed the bulb pod.

Finally, screw the pod into place with the black knob, and you are done!

Replacing the side markers with clear lenses

BMW part numbers: 63-13-2-493-613 (left), 63-13-2-493-614 (right)

Push the side marker lamp towards the rear of the car. Pull out on the front of the lamp after you slide it towards the rear. It should come out without too much effort.

Once the side marker lamp is off of the car, it is easy to disconnect the wire to it. You will need to pull up slightly with your fingernail on a little clip on the connector for it to come apart easily. Be careful at this point not to drop the wire through the hole in the side of your car.

Attach the wire to the new clear side marker lamp and install the lamp in the hole in the side of your car. Start by placing the rear of the lamp in the hole first, pushing towards the rear of the car. Then, push the front of the lamp into the hole and push the whole lamp towards the front of the car to secure it. Check the rubber seal around the lamp at this point to make sure it isn’t folded or crimped under the lamp.

Replacing the front bumper marker lenses

BMW part numbers: 63-14-8-400-409 (left), 63-14-8-400-410 (right)

Push the front bumper lamp towards the front of the car. Pull out on the back of the lamp after you slide it towards the rear. You may need to exert a bit of force–I broke the plastic of one of my yellow lamps as I tried to get it out. Don’t worry–the clear ones go back in much easier.

Once the front bumper lamp is off of the car, it is easy to disconnect the wire to it. You will need to pull up slightly with your fingernail on a little clip on the connector for it to come apart easily (just like the side marker). Be careful at this point not to drop the wire through the hole in the side of your car–on my car, on the left side the wire barely made it to the hole.

Attach the wire to the new clear front bumper lamp and install the lamp in the hole in your bumper. Start by placing the front of the lamp in the hole first, pushing towards the front of the car. Then, push the rear of the lamp into the hole and push the whole lamp towards the rear of the car to secure it.

AC Schnitzer 17″ Wheels

Pros: Look awesome, increased handling
Cons: Cost
Cost: $1400

After 20,000 miles the original rear tires on the Z3 were nearly bald. The front tires were still in fairly good shape. I started shopping for tires (which isn’t much fun) but then I got lucky. Around the same time someone posted a set of AC Schnitzer 17″ wheels and almost new 235/40/ZR17 tires for sale. I had always loved the looks of the Schnitzer type II wheels and just couldn’t pass up the price this guy was offering.

A couple weeks later, four wheels and tires showed up on my doorstep. I put them on the Z3 that evening, the following day during my lunch hour I drove over to a tire shop and had them rebalanced (just to be safe).

Now my Z3 has always handled great, but the extra meat on these 17″ tires gives the Z3 even more stick on the turns. I can’t really tell a difference in ride quality, but my CD player has skipped a few times going over railroad tracks. I drove over these same track nearly every day and I don’t ever remember the CD skipping with the 16″ wheels. I’m only bring this up because I can’t “feel” a difference in ride comfort, but obviously my CD player does.

Another benefit is that the Z3 seems a little more sure footed on high speed turns. There are some pretty good off-ramps here in Dallas. Occasionally the Z3 felt a little figity on high speed turns with the 16″ tires. It must be the wider footprint of the 17″ tires that made the difference.

All four of these wheels are 17″ by 8.5″, stock the 1.9 came with 16″ by 7.5″. The bigger and wider tires fit just fine in the Z3 wheel wells. I have not had any tire rub, and there is still enough extra clearance that I’m not worried about it at all. The wider front tires have made the steering wheel fell a little heavier, just enough to notice.

HMS Windscreen

Pros: Stops the backdraft better than any other windscreen
Cons: Not much to look at
Cost: $149

The HMS Windscreen attaches to the HMS rollbar via four velcro straps. It is fairly easy take take on and off the rollbar but is semi-stiff so it takes up some room in trunk when not in use. At one time I owned the BMW windscreen and in comparison to BMW’s design the HMS windscreen does block more air, but it comes with some additional tradeoffs. The additional surface area makes rear visibility difficult at night. Especially when trying to look at rear 45 degree angles (like before a lane change). The HMS design wraps around the side of the rollbar so it appears you are looking through more material at the ends than in the middle. This makes it more difficult to see through than the BMW design.

In comparing the BMW design to the HMS design I must first point out that the HMS design is much less expensive (less than two thirds the cost of the BMW windscreen). Basically the HMS windscreen is a very simplistic, no frills, get the job done windscreen. Personally I think it subtracts from the Z3s looks but you can’t deny that it does it’s job better than any of the BMW designs. Bottom line, it’s a keeper but I’ll probably only use it on long trips and not around town. It’s a good value and does its job very well, I just wish it was more attractive.

Sold By:

HMS Motorsport

www.hms-motorsport.com

(888) HMS-3BMW

Front License Plate Holder for European Style Plates

Pros: Looks good
Cons: Some states require front license plates
Cost: $15

BMW Part Number:

51-11-8-397-512

I didn’t really care for the look of my Texas license plate on the front of my Z3. I tried to find a better look when I purchased a chrome front license plate holder. Then at the Z3 reunion I saw a Z3 with a European front license plate. I thought it looked really cool and was pleased to find that it was a BMW part. I thought that a front license plate was required but after driving around and looking I noticed how many here in Texas don’t have front license plates. I keep the license plate in the trunk just in case I need to prove that I still have it (and didn’t sell it).

Many have also asked me about the “roadster” plate on the front of the Z3. This is a custom made plate created by Harvey Darden. Harvey has both roadster and M roadster plates available for sale, contact him for details via email or by mailing him at 78 Dixon Street, Newnan, GA 30263.

BMW Windscreen (2nd Design)

Pros: Can fold down when the top is up
Cons: Hard to install
Cost: $259.95

This windscreen design is available for the same price as the old windscreen–$259.95. It is significantly harder to install than the old design, but has the advantage of being able to fold down even when the top is up. Unless you feel very handy, I recommend letting your local dealer install it (that’s what I did).

The windscreen in the recommended driving position–tilted slightly forward.

A close-up of where the windscreen mounts into the plastic.

The windscreen has three folded-back positions. Here is the first–tilted back slightly.

This is folded almost all the way down–the recommend position if you use the soft boot.

Folded all the way down–the windscreen can also fold to this position when the top is up.

Here’s how to get to the storage compartment–see those two things in the middle of the windscreen? You squeeze them together and the bottom of the windscreen releases from the side supports.

Then, you can pull the top of the windscreen toward you, which swings the bottom of it up and away from the storage lid.

When the windscreen is tilted so it is parallel to the storage lid, you can easily open the lid and access the contents of the compartment.

BMW Mudflaps

Pros: Easy to install, keeps the car a little cleaner, possibly stops a few paint chips from happening
Cons: Some like the looks some don’t, rear flaps don’t fit perfectly on the 2.8
Cost: $45.56

BMW Part Numbers

Front – 82-16-9-405-191 ($20.00 pair)

Rear – 82-16-9-405-192 ($25.56 pair)

BMW includes Installation instructions with the mudflaps, however those instructions are only for the 1.9 Z3. 2.8 Z3 owner Bill Jones authored the modified instructions below for installation on the 2.8 Z3.

Rear Mud Flap Installation Tips

Since I don’t know your mechanical skills, make sure that you are comfortable with the following procedure before you do any modifications to your vehicle or the mudflaps. I am not responsible for the outcome – you are.

1. The rear mudflaps are designed for the 1.9 model, and cannot be used on the 2.8 without modification to the mounting hole position.

2. There are 2 pre-drilled holes in the lower edge of the mudflap, which are used to mount the mudflap to the 2 bolts securing the lower edge of the rear bumper. However, on the 2.8, you use only the outer bolt due to the additional width of the rear wheel wells.

3. So – follow the instructions supplied with the following changes.

1. On the mud flap, drill a 5/16″ hole between the existing holes, located 1/4 to 5/16″ inboard from the center point between the existing holes. Offset this new hole 3/16″ toward the rear of the flap (as it would be mounted on the car). This hole will be used with the new (supplied with the kit) mounting bolt in the outer bolt position to secure the mudflap.

2. Make sure that the mudflaps are at room temperature or above, preferably a bit warmer. You can use a warm oven (preheat to warm and turn it off!) to warm the mudflaps. The warm plastic will conform to the bumper body shape easier.

3. OPTIONAL – Perhaps I’m “anal retentive”, but I secured the flap with the above mentioned bolt, completed the installation and then marked the position of the unused outboard hole in the mudflap on the bumper. I removed the mudflap and drilled an additional hole in the bumper, so that I could then use the other bolt supplied in the kit to reinstall the mudflap with two bolts.

4. OPTIONAL – I used black RTV (silicone sealer) around the edge of the mudflap that is next to the wheel well liner. Form a filet with your fingertip (dip finger in denatured alcohol first) for a smooth joint.

Chrome Front License Plate

Pros: Easy and Cheap
Cons: Flat design where the stock one is bend with the bumper
Cost: $15

This is a simple $15 upgrade if you are looking to add more chrome to your Z3. The existing black plastic license plate frame and this chrome frame are direct replacements. The BMW part number is on the lower license plate.

Locking Lugnuts

Pros: Cheap insurance policy
Cons: Plastic fake cap heads
Cost: $40

From the Bavarian Autosport Ad. “Our own wheel locks give you peace of mind without sacrificing your car’s looks, thanks to a 17mm cap that matches original lugs. Precision machined from high-tension strength steel. Bavarian Autosport exclusive. Sold in sets of 4.”

They appear to do their job very well. When I initially installed them I kind of expected one of the fake plastic cap heads to crack and fall off by now. Well, I’ve had them for over a year now and those plastic caps are doing just fine. I consider them a well spent $40 insurance policy.

Update: It took over three years, but one of the plastic caps finally disappeared. I contacted Bavarian Autosport and they sent me four new caps without asking any questions.

BMW Windscreen (1st Design)

Pros: Makes top down driving more enjoyable by eliminating the back draft caused by a cars aerodynamics
Cons: You have to cut some plastic to install it
Cost: $250

After installing the BMW windscreen, I quickly threw the tools back onto my work bench and took the roadster out for a spin. Unlike the Remus, the benefits of this install were immediately noticed. At speeds of under 25mph the difference was noticeable, but small, as I slowly got faster I noticed that the wind inside the cockpit hardly increased. I headed towards the Dallas autobahn (also known as the Dallas Tollway), to give this wind screen the ultimate test. I paid my fifty cents and then quickly accelerated to…. well lets just say I gave the wind screen a good test and it passed with flying colors.

Before I go on with this glowing review, let me point out a negative comment I have about the wind screen. It took me a couple days to get use to it, but the visibility through your rear view mirror is substantially reduced. As I said, I think I’ve gotten use to it, but I’m still a little concerned that the decrease in visibility might cause a problem in traffic.

Okay that said, let me now point out some more good points.

1. My roadster is parked in a parking lot at work and the windscreen (in the up position) with the top also up acts as a excellent sun shade. I make a point to park the roadster with the back window facing west so in the afternoon the sun’s heat is blocked by the wind screen. This has made the roadster much cooler to enter after work.

2. The decrease in wind has made the stereo more audible and cleaner at high-way speeds.

3. The decrease in wind has also made the environmental controls (AC and Heat) much more efficient. In the mornings a little heat keeps the cockpit nice and warm. While after work the A/C keeps the Texas heat at bay.

Since purchasing this windscreen BMW has released two other windscreen designs. Do date I really haven’t had a chance to compare the other two, but visually it would appear that the 1st design (this design) will block more wind. The 2nd design appeared to be harder to install but did not occupy the mount towers that the 1st design did. The 3rd design I have only seen on pictures. It is designed to work with the BMW roll-hoops which became stand with the ’98 models.

I ended up purchasing the HMS rollbar and selling this windscreen to another Z3 owner, the HMS windscreen has it’s good and bad points in comparison to this design. However this design is seems to have a real good balance of form and function.

Installation

After a quick jump over to a friends house (top down of course) I returned home. As I pulled into my driveway, I attempted to fix my wind-blown hair. It was then that I noticed a thin, flat, box propped against my door. The long wait had finally ended, for within this cardboard box was a genuine, BMW Z3 wind screen. Shipped from the mother land herself (Germany).

Upon opening the box I noticed a cloth/nylon bag that housed the wind screen, “Oh cool it even comes with a case” I proclaimed to my uninterested wife. Opening the zipper produced the rarest sight a Z3 owner had ever seen. I then turned my attention to the instruction manual. Doh!, It’s written in German (at least I think it’s German). I put the wind screen down and went to print out an e-mail that was sent to me by Robert Kamen (a.k.a. the “other” Robert). Looking at the pieces within the box, and Robert’s instructions I concluded that this install looked relatively easy, however it involved some cutting so I got a little nervous. A quick inventory of my tools however convinced me that I was well equipped to perform this surgery because I had three tools that seemed perfect for this job.

(Note: Intermixed within the following text are the install instructions that Robert Kamen (a.k.a. the “other” Robert) sent me. I would like to thank Mr. Kamen and acknowledge his input into this web page.)

Step 1: (Repeat for both sides) Pop off the cap on top of the seat belt towers. The instruction say to drill a hole in the caps, then put a hook type device (folded coat hanger) in the hole and pull the caps off. No need. Just use a flat-bladed screwdriver with a rag under the blade to prevent marring the surface of the mount and pry the top off. They are only glued on. The glue will eventually give up and the cap will pop off, leaving it looking like the picture to the right.

Step 2: (Repeat for both sides) Make a circular cut through the plastic housing and the foam underneath. This was accomplished with the help of “Perfect tool number one”, a drill and a special drill bit that cut a 1.5″ circle. This enabled me to quickly cut through the plastic housing and through the foam inside. This left a hole in the roadster about a half inch deep. (Note: The “other” Robert used an industrial razor or knife to do this job. Either will work, the drill will just work quicker).

Step 3: (Repeat for both sides) Once the foam is removed, you will see a plastic cap on top of a steel tube inside the seat belt tower. It sounds confusing, but it is plain as day once the foam is taken out. That plastic cap has got to be removed. It is also larger than the opening made by the cap that you removed in step two. Well the drill got me this far, I reinserted it and it made quick work of the plastic cap, but most of the now shredded cap fell down into the metal tube. (Note: The “other” Robert just took a hammer and screwdriver and whacked it a few times to break up the plastic cap. Then the pieces come right out.) What ever method you use, the goal is to break up that plastic cap so it can be removed.
Step 4: (Repeat for both sides) This is where “Perfect tool number two” made it’s entrance, I plugged my a shop-vac and was pleased to see that the extension wand fit down inside the metal tube sucking out all the parts of the shredded cap, foam and whatever else fell down there.

Step 5: (Repeat for both sides) At this point “Perfect tool number three”, a dremel tool cleaned up the cut the saw/drill had made and left a very smooth and perfect hole in my roadster. The rough areas in that picture are actually the foam below the plastic.

Step 6: (Repeat for both sides) Once the hole was created I inserted the bracket and tightened it until it very slightly rubbed, but was still able to rotate.

Step 7: With the wind screen locks, unlocked. Insert the wind screen into the bracket. This is why I said to leave the brackets still loose enough to rotate in step 6. Once the wind screen is installed lock the wind screen locks and position the wind screen so the brackets are somewhat equal in angle. Then tighten the brackets.
Step 8: Two washers came with the kit, these washers enable both the wind screen and the boot cover to snap onto the snap-things behind the storage compartment. Remove the snap-things add the washers then re-install. Now you can attach the lower flap of the wind screen and the boot cover (over a folded down convertible top) at the same time.

If you want to fold the windscreen down, slightly loosen the two side screws (under the rubber disks). I would suggest using some low grade lock-tight to make sure the screws don’t vibrate out. The windscreen should fold with a slight push or pull.