1998 Best Owner Designed Product Award

In choosing the nominations for this award MZ3.Net decided that each nominated product needed to be a unique addition and/or upgrade for the BMW Z3. The product must be created by a Z3 owner and marketed by that owner to other Z3 owners. Most importantly, the product needed to receive positive feedback from the general Z3 audience.

Using these guidelines, MZ3.Net nominated six products and then asked its readers the following question…. “There have been several third party accessories made for the BMW Z3. What in your opinion is the best BMW Z3 owner designed product of the year?”.

The six nominations were….

Kathy’s Z Window Pillow, which helped keep the rear plastic window from getting crease/fold marks.

Greg’s Chrome Kidney grills, which added an additional flash of chrome to the vertical slats in the front kidney grill.

Keith’s Atomic Cupholder, initially cut from PVC pipe, the design was so good it was later sold to HMS motorsport.

Bill’s Bike Rack, because only a custom job would work with the Z3 bumper.

Carter’s Roadster Tonneau, which quickly covers the Z3 interior while leaving the top down.

Keith’s StoneGuards, which were thin magnetic strips designed to protect the rear fender flares from rock chips.

Voting went on for several months and ended on December 31, 1998. While all the nominations were outstanding products, in the end the voting revealed a clear winner.

StoneGuards 95(32%)
Roadster Tonneau 71(24%)
Chrome Kidney Grills 48(16%)
Atomic Cupholder 29(9%)
Z Window Pillow 27(9%)
Bike Rack 21(7%)

///MZ3.Net would like to thank all its readers for participating in the voting and congratulate all the nominations. The 1998 Best Owner Designed Product Award to Keith Shelburn for his Magnetic Stone Guards.

Inner Cover/Top Liner

Pros: Reduced road noise, Increased insulation, Folds away neatly without affecting the use of the boot cover
Cons: Slight loss of head room, Maintaining a “perfect” installation requires occasional adjustments
Cost: $329

I love owning a convertible, every chance I get to drop the top I take it. However there are times when the top must stay up because of rain, extreme heat, or extreme cold. There are pluses and minuses to everything, and it is during these “top up” times that the minuses of owning a convertible become evident. I always thought the Z3 top did a fairly good job, but my only previous experience with a convertible was a 1980 MGB. The Z3 top was clearly better than the old MG one, but then I saw a real convertible top. Some friends of mine had just taken delivery of a new 3 series convertible and invited me over to take a look at it. After seeing and experiencing the top on that convertible 3 series I noticed the key difference. That 328ic had an second inner layer to the convertible top. With two layers instead of one the 3 series top looked better, you couldn’t see the metal frame because it was hidden between the two layers. The extra layer also appeared to cut down on wind and road noise as well as provided more insulation.

The top on the 3 series was clearly better than the top on the Z3, so the hunt began for an aftermarket inner liner or an altogether improved convertible top. My efforts didn’t turn up anything, about the closest I got was at the 1998 Z3 homecoming. The producer of the Z3 top attended the event so I asked one of them what the chances were of getting a top for the Z3 similar to the top on the 3 series. They said they would look into it but seriously doubted that they would be creating such a top. Imagine my surprise when not more than a couple months later MG Racing posted a message on the Z3 message board about an aftermarket inner liner specifically made for the BMW Z3. The liner claimed easy installation, decreased road/wind noise and increased insulation all for $330.

After exchanging a few e-mails with MG Racing a gray colored liner was on its way to Dallas. Once it arrived I opened up the instructions and got my first real look at the product. The instructions were pretty straight forward, they described how the black plastic parts replaced the current ones on the Z3. They snapped on over the support ribs in the top and held the liner. The rest of the installation involved velcro straps that wrapped around the folding metal frame and held the top in place.

The material was thick and soft, it reminded me of a high dollar college sweat shirt. After that initial inspection I knew the product would cut down on road/wind noise as well as provide insulation, the only remaining questions were the installation and how it would handle the folding top. My primary concern was if the top could still fold down flat enough to use the boot cover.

Sold By:

MG Racing

http://www.mgracing.an/

800-788-1281

Installation

The first part of the installation was to remove two of the existing black plastic sleeves from the convertible frame and replace them with the sleeves that were sewn into the inner liner. There is a glue like goop under the plastic sleeves that helps holds them in place, so its best to start on one end and slowly work the support off. When installing the replacement support I would rotate the sleeve slightly so that the stitching is slightly rotated forward instead of facing straight down (I’ll come back to this later when I talk about tweaking the installation). This part of the installation should be done with the top unlatched and slightly opened to reduce tension. It’s important to get the support centered, I just eyeballed it the first time and later had to go back and make adjustments.

The next part of the installation involves working with the various velcro straps to finish securing the inner liner to the frame. I would suggest opening the top up a little further while you work on the side straps. The instructions do their best to try and explain in words where each strap should go, but a little trial and error was needed for me to get it installed. Resist the urge to get each strap as tight as possible.

From this angle to can see how the liner is attached to the frame, at this point I had spent a lot of effort to get each strap tight. Later I realized how loosening up the straps let the top hang straighter and fold down with less tension. The one gap that you see I was never able to get rid of, but when sitting in the seat you don’t notice it. This is also the side of the top that has the additional frame pieces for the power top. I think the liner is really designed for the manual top because it doesn’t fit as well around the additional power top mechanism on the drivers side. It fits much better on the passenger side which doesn’t have any additional items related to the power top.

Once you get the velcro straps on the side secured there are a couple in the back. These were somewhat difficult to secure because of the close quarters back there and you really can’t see what you are doing. I found it easier to sit backwards in the seat and reach back into the opposite side area (ie when sitting in the drivers seat work on the passenger side and vis versa). Remember that tighter is not necessarily better when working with these straps.

The last step of the installation secured an elastic strap to the frame. There is a plastic pop-rivet like thing that comes with the top liner. It pops into an existing hole in the convertible frame. The elastic helps keep the liner tight in the corner and a piece of velcro on the strap holds the liner down.

Once the installation was complete I sat in the Z3 and gave it a visual inspection. I could see areas that seemed too loose or too tight, but basically it was there and looked pretty good. I like what it did to the interior, the gray material lightened up the interior and made it feel bigger. But I could tell that my installation needed some adjustments.

It was time for the real test, how would it handle lowering the power top. I was especially concerned about the tops ability to fold down enough so the boot cover could still be used. With the uncomfortable sound of velcro tearing/loosening the top went down, the installation really needed adjusting. However despite my obviously sloppy installation the inner liner folded away neatly and somehow folded just as tightly as it did before. The boot cover could be installed without any problems. When I raised the top back up most of the velcro straps that I had spent so much time tightening were now loose, it was time to tweak the installation.

Tweaking the Installation


The droop over my head needed tightening because it would occasionally touch my head. When I looked at the area over the passenger’s head there wasn’t a droop. I concluded that the plastic sleeve in this area must not properly centered. Once I centered it the droop was less on the drivers side but more so on the passenger side (the key is that after getting the snap on support centered the two sides were now equal). Once I had the two sides equal I found that rotating the plastic sleeve tightened up this area and got rid of both droops. You can’t actually rotate the sleeve because of the glue like goop stuff under the sleeve, so by rotate I actually mean remove the sleeve and reinstall with it slightly rotated forward.It was obvious my installation needed some adjustments, There were two things that were bothering me. The first was a droop in the liner right over my head, the second was the velcro sound when the top was lowered.

I then turned my attention to the velcro straps on the side, what I discovered is that tighter was not necessarily better. By loosing the straps the liner was able to hang straighter and it actually made the top material fit better against the frame. The now looser straps also allowed the liner more flexibility when it was being lowered and folded away. This cured the velcro tearing sound when the top was being lowered. The secret is to let the material hang naturally and then secure the velcro strap so the material continues to hang there. Don’t think of the straps as tie downs but rather rather as supports during the folding process.

Conclusion

I’m pleased with the end result, however if I had it to do over again I probably would have chosen a black liner. I like how the gray liner makes the cabin feel bigger and less confined. However the lighter color also shows every detail. This is why I’ve been so picky about the installation and felt the need for additional tweaking. That is because I can see every fold, crease, tuck and strap on the light gray liner. I’ve seen the exact same liner in black installed in a Z3 and you really can not see any of these details when it is black on black. I also wonder what my gray liner is going to look like after a season of top down driving, I suspect its going to need a good cleaning since it will probably be a brownish gray from all the dust.

This hasn’t really affected me, but it might affect some Z3 owners over 6 foot. Since the liner hangs on and below the frame, you lose a little head room. I adjusted my seat up just to see how annoying it would be if your head made contact with the liner. After only a few minutes my hair looked like Kramer’s hair on Seinfield (stood straight up).

The liner really does cut down on road and wind noise, even more than I expected it would. I think the softer fabric has also increase the acoustics inside the Z3, I have no way of proving this, but to me it appears that the stereo sounds better. I can’t really comment on its insulation capabilities at this time, I live in Dallas and even though its Thanksgiving weekend its still 70 degrees here. I’ll update this article again once the cold weather hits, however it would appear that this liner will make quite a difference. I guess the bottom line is that the liner is probably a wise investment for the winter months, especially for those who live in colder climates.

///M Roadster Foglight Installation

Pros: Increased visibility, looks
Cons: none?
Cost: Less than $200 installed

As we all know, ///M Roadsters do NOT come with factory foglights as either standard or optional equipment. In order to obtain them, we must look to aftermarket suppliers. The decision as to whether or not I needed them was made for me by virtue of the fact that I live on Cape Cod, which just may be the Fog Capital of the Eastern Seaboard. After seeing Walter’s at the Escape to the Cape Drive this year, I know I would be purchasing a similar model. Walter had chosen PIAA 1400’s in Amber. I opted for the same lights but picked the clear lens version, as they are a bit brighter. I purchased them for $149.95 from 4 Wheel Parts Wholesalers (800-421-1050) as they had the best price.

When they arrived, the only question in my mind was where to mount them. Walter mounted his in the engine intake and they look quite good there. I, however, being the Contrarian that I am, decided to mount them in the outer (brake cooling) intakes. Please note that these lights are very small and should not seriously impede the airflow to the disc brakes.

Wiring these lights was easy, I mean REALLY easy. It should take about 1.5 hours for most anyone.

Step #1 – The switch wires and switch:

The first step is to unravel the wiring harness provided with the foglights. I decided to mount the relay (included) and the fuse holder (also included) in the factory fuse box. This would keep the electronics centrally located and dry. Cut the 2 wires that run to the switch plug about 24 inches from the switch plug itself.

Snake the cut wires through the large grommet already in the firewall on the driver’s side.

Unscrew the fuse holder (remove 2 front screws and loosen 2 read screws) so that you may lift it up.

This will allow some additional access to feed the wires up and through the factory hole in the bottom of the fuse holder.

Once that is done, attach a female spade connector to the input side of the switch wire and (using a fuse tap) connect to the switched side of fuse #44 (note: this photo shows the wire tapped into fuse #33 which is not switched). Attaching the wire to this location will allow the foglights to be turned on whenever the ignition is on. Some locations may require that they be wired in such a way that they may only be turned on when the low beams are on. If this is this case in your area, then you may want to tie this wire into your low beam power wire.

The switch itself was mounted to the knockout panel to the left of the steering wheel where the factory switch is located. I simply trimmed the back of the switch to allow the wire to run straight off the back and I drilled a small hole in the knockout panel. The switch was attached with 2 sided tape. Finally, ground the switch to one of the 4 brass bolts under the driver’s side of the dash (I think they are 7 mm).

Step #2 – The rest of the wiring:

Remember that the entire wiring harness is complete when you buy the kit so the only connections that have to be made are power, ground and any wires you cut during the installation itself.

Re-attached the switch wires that you cut. Run all the ground leads down through the fuse holder and out the front (via the rubber grommet there). Route them towards the factory ground point on the front left fenderwall. They may all be grounded here.

Run the wires for the lights out the same rubber grommet and down towards the front grill. The wires may be hidden in the factory wire-loom. This picture shows the foglight wires hidden inside the factory wire-loom and the ground wires grounded at the factory ground point. At this point, the last wire to connect will be the power wire. It can be connected to the hot side of the fuse box (passenger’s side) below the fuses. You will see a nut than can be unscrewed and the power lead attached. I couldn’t get a good shot of this but you will see what I mean. This is an adequate source of power as the foglight kit has it’s own in-line fuse. Once connected, you may screw the 4 screws back in place that hold the fuse box down.

At this point, all you need to do is wire-tie the relay, in-line fuse and extra wiring neatly together and put the top back on the fuse box.

Step #3 – Mounting the foglights:

Run the foglight wires so that they are just to the driver’s side of their respective brake air intakes. Then, carefully cut a small slice in the plastic (about 8” inside the intake) and pull the wire through. The foglights are attached using 2 sided tape and screws (optional). The 2 sided tape is really strong and should be enough to hold them in place. Plug the foglights into the wiring harness and turn them on. If you installed them correctly, they should work. Turn them off again so they don’t get too hot to handle. Unscrew the mounting plates but don’t remove them. Stick the 2 sided tape to the mounting plate and hold the light in the brake intake duct. With the lights (low beams too) on and shining at a wall, aim the foglights where you want them.

Only concern yourself with the left-to-right angle at this time. When they are pointing where you want them, stick them to the roof of the intake. At this point, you have just mounted the mounting plates. Remove the foglights only and ensure that the mounting plates are firmly attached. If you wish, you may at this time use the screws included with the kit. Re-attach the foglight to the mounting plate and adjust the up-and-down angle before tightening completely. Repeat for the other side and it should look like this.

Step #4 – Enjoy!

They greatly increase your visibility off to the sides of the road as well as in the fog without blinding oncoming traffic. I’m quite pleased with the results – for safety as well as aesthetic reasons.

BMW Parcel Net Installation

I’ve never taken stock in the notion that the roadster is an impractical car. If there’s a need for something, there’s bound to be a solution. After many miles of driving, I’ve noticed the need for something to keep bits of paper, receipts, post-it notes, and driving directions from fluttering away. On one occasion, I had actually witnessed a receipt spiral around and up in the cockpit before disappearing in my rearview mirror.

Since the glove box and rear storage hatch were already stuffed with goodies, my interim solutions ranged from weighting paper down in the (when empty) passenger seat, wedging it under my right leg, or filing it in the gap between the seat and center console. None were terribly effective or appropriate. A collate of loose-leaf papers sitting between the seat and center console would often result in a footwell of windstrewn mess.

Most 1998 Z3 roadsters were delivered with a Parcel Net on the passenger side of the transmission tunnel. Initially, I thought this was another eccentric accessory, but in light of my reoccurring paperchase it was the solution. Kudos to Mark Volk’s initial installation notes for making this a painless project…

To install one in your roadster, you’ll need the following items:

One #51-47-2-261-407 Parcel Net & Frame

Four #51-47-2-263-062 Fixing Element Screw

Masking Tape

Sheet Metal Screw

The Fixing Element Screw is designed to twist into and beyond the transmission tunnel carpeting. This leaves the plastic clip that will hold the Parcel Net’s frame.

This shows how the clip will fit on the frame towards the end of the installation. Since the frame is shaped like a wide “U”, two screws along the bottom and one on each side will suffice.

Start by clipping a Fixing Screw at each side of the frame. Put a piece of masking tape on the carpet at the points where each Fixing Screw will land. Allow yourself plenty of thought and time on how this frame will be positioned. Too far down and repeated scuffing from a shoe might wear out the netting. Too far down and forward would make it difficult or dangerous if the driver had to stretch for something in it’s hold. Too high and it won’t be able to hold a magazine without that magazine’s corner jabbing into the glove box panel. When the Parcel Net is where you want it, press the fixing screws firmly into the the masking tape to make an indentation.

With the indentations serving as location markers, find a sheet metal screw and hand-twist it into the carpeting. The pointed metal tip will burrow through the thick fibrous pile and emerge to create a starter hole for the wider plastic Fixing Screw. Remove the masking tape before securing each Fixing Screw. If that sheet metal screw was thin enough, you’ll find the Fixing Screw firmly seated with no tendency to come loose. There’s no need to drill holes in the chassis metal underneath the carpeting!

Be sure the side screws are spaced wide enough so that the frame sides are parallel to each other. Once the sides are positioned, complete the bottom two Fixing Screws. How these last two are located will determine the height and levelness of your Parcel Net.

Snap the Parcel Net Frame into all four clips and that completes your installation.

The closeness of the Parcel Net makes short-term or important items immediately accessible. It’s been getting use nearly every time the car’s being driven. Quite a value for $25 worth of parts.

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BMW Z3 CD Changer Installation

BMW Z3 CD Changer Installation

October 12, 1998

By: Carter Lee

After performing an easy speaker upgrade in the factory kickpanel locations, it was time to investigate the addition of a CD Changer. Numerous options exist, but not all are well-suited:

Fallacy: Add an aftermarket CD Changer using an adapter.

Previous generation BMW stereo systems of the 80’s and 90’s used relabeled PIONEER and ALPINE stereo head units. This allowed purchasing name-brand CD Changer units found in the competitive market and plugging it in or at worst, requiring a rewiring adapter. The current stereo in E36 BMWs including the Z3 is manufactured by Alpine but with proprietary signal/pinouts to BMW’s specifications. This means purchasing an Alpine-branded CD Changer for the factory head unit will not work.

Fallacy: Add an aftermarket CD Changer using FM broadcast signal.

The quality of the stereo’s FM has already been cited as poor, so what is the point of listening to CDs if their signals must travel through this weak path? Yet, some insist this as a viable option. It isn’t. Adding an aftermarket CD Changer that feeds it’s signal to the Z3 stereo’s FM receptor is akin to drinking champagne through a sewer pipe. Get the picture? In addition, such a unit would require a Changer Control Remote rattling around in the cockpit.

This leaves two solutions, gut the system and reinstall ALL aftermarket components (matching stereo head unit and changer), or install the OEM BMW CD Changer. Since MY goal of expanding the stereo system hasn’t changed since the previous stereo article, the latter option shall stand. One minor bonus to selecting this route is this CD Changer is relatively worthless to the thief who’d want to relocate it into his/her riced-out Honda Civic.

The BMW CD Changer is a $750 dealer-installed option. All Z3s are prewired for this changer. Although installation is a breeze and the Changer can be found for much cheaper via other sources, it has been mentioned that installation by the dealer will subject this part to the same remaining warranty as other parts of your car. Having said that, let’s focus on installing this CD Changer. NOTE: The following outlines some of the steps involved and in NO WAY should serve to replace the installation manual. MZ3.NET and the author assumes no responsibility for mishaps that may occur from failure or incompetence.

On 1996 and 1997 Z3 roadsters, the BMW part numbers required are #82-11-1-469-404 for the six-disc CD Changer and #82-11-1-469-440 for the Z3 Installation Kit.

The CD Changer includes a sampler disc of contemporary Chesky Records artists and a 6-disc magazine cartridge. The Z3 Installation Kit contains the mounting bracket, installation pamphlet, and a carpeted cover. This cover matches the Z3 trunk interior and has a storage pocket for an additional magazine cartridge.

For this 1996 Z3, the TWO prewired harnesses are found behind the right quarter carpeting. One harness was found easily by reaching behind and unfastening a piece of black securing tape. The other cable was found after removing the black cubby bin at the bottom of the trunk.

The CD Changer is shipped with locking screws intact to secure the internal dampening mechanism. Remove these three screws from the bottom of the CD Changer and cover the holes with enclosed sealing stickers.

Both sides of the Changer have pins set to the Horizontal setting by default. Secure this setting by covering the area with the enclosed Pin Labels. After the Pin Label is in place, look for the patch of Velcro and center it in the same area… it will be easier to do this now rather than after the Changer is mounted.

Screw the mounting bracket to the CD Changer. On the mounting bracket, the tab with two holes should be on the right of the CD Changer.

Attach the cables to the CD Changer… after both harnesses are plugged in, be careful not to pull on the Changer too much.

Three mounting bolts protrude from the top of the trunk cove. Use a 10mm socket wrench to fasten the CD Changer assembly to these bolts. There isn’t much room to swing the socket wrench… maybe 10 or 20 degree arcs… just keep working at it. Remember, you’re working with a lever so don’t over-torque the hardware or you risk striping the bolt threads.

The carpeted cover pushes into place. Velcro tabs attach to the Velcro patches you so thoughtfully stuck on earlier. The bottom slot is sized so an extra cartridge will fit snugly if it’s molded recessed arrow points outward. This is designed to prevent any rattling.

The cover stays closed with Velcro on the lip.

This CD Changer hardly intrudes into the trunk’s usable space. With the installation finished, it’s time to enjoy your tunes.

The included 6-disc cartridge has trays that slide partially out. The BMW CD Changer sees the bottommost tray as disc 1. When the cartridge is inserted, the Changer has access to power to check each tray for a disc. The shipping carton indicates that additional 6-disc cartridges are BMW part #82-11-1-469-406.

A seemingly viable alternative is to look for Alpine 6-disc cartridges. Stores that carry Alpine’s 6-disc CD Changer should be able to offer the cartridges. Most have found this two-pack at Circuit City.

Factory cartridge and Alpine cartridge work interchangeably despite the difference in appearance. The Factory cartridge is opaque black and has trays that stop after sliding out partways. The Alpine cartridge has a transparent upper casing and has trays that slide completely loose. While this may make for easier tray loading, reassembling all the trays back into the cartridge will require added caution. All six trays must be reinserted into the cartridge regardless of whether or not it contains a disc.

Once tooling top-down through your favorite stretch of road the CD Changer is activated by pressing the TAPE CD button on the stereo head unit. This button alone toggles between Cassette or CD Changer. Once in CD Changer mode, the six station preset buttons along the bottom is used to select disc. Pressing the left or right arrow button will skip tracks within the selected disc. Pressing the M button prior to an arrow button will allow scanning within a song. Hitting the SCAN button will cause the CD Changer to play an intro from each track on all the discs. Bill S recently e-mailed me to indicate that holding down the SCAN button will cause the Changer to Shuffle Play… This definitely wasn’t mentioned in the Radio Manual. I’ve verified that it will shuffle all tracks in non-sequential disc order.

After a month of driving with the CD Changer, it’s worth noting that the music has only skipped once when rounding a turn while hitting a rough track crossing. The CD Changer hasn’t skipped since. Suspension hasn’t been modified and wheels are factory-standard 16″ Michelin Pilots. Whether switching to AM/FM, Cassette or shutting off the car, the CD Changer will be suspended on the last-played disc and track position until it’s activated again.

That concludes installation of the BMW Z3 CD Changer. It should be tops on the consideration list for those intending to keep the factory head unit. It’s prewired to integrate fully and easily. It resides in unused trunk space. It installs easily. And unlike an in-dash CD head unit, there’s no indication to thieves of it’s existence or any removable faceplates to carry. An in-dash CD would likely find the cockpit cluttered with some type of CD wallet/album that would require stashing away or risk losing to passers-by…unless your collection exclusively consist of Chipmunks Sing the Holidays.

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Dinan Cold Air Intake for the 2.8 Z3

Pros: Performance, Sound
Cons: Difficult Installation
Cost: $399

After receiving the Dinan snorkel, I looked over the instructions. They looked very sparse and included no pictures and only one diagram.

As recommended, I read through the instruction before starting, and still could not glean what it was supposed to doing – even though I knew what the outcome was supposed to be.

The other part that was missing was a list of tools needed to complete the job. This is important with this install as the proper tools make it so much easier to complete the job in the small areas the snorkel fits in.

So, based on the provided instructions and a little help from the Baba, I was able to complete the job in a relatively short time – even though I had to take apart a good portion of my work to retrieve a wayward socket head.

Based on my experiences, I decided to write up some better instructions to eliminate some confusion I experienced, to input some tips that will eliminate the need for a second set of hands, and provide the much needed information left out of the Dinan documentation.

List of required tools:

Small socket wrench – recommend a small ¼ inch drive

Socket driver (screw driver type) – recommend a small one (¼ inch drive) with extension(s) to provide 6 inches or more of length

6, 8, 10, and 13mm socket heads

16mm open end wrench

Medium blade screwdriver

Small fine tooth saw

Conventions:

The instructions are oriented relative to you sitting behind the wheel of the car. Although you cannot install the snorkel sitting behind the seat of the car, this orientation is necessary.

Directions:

As with the Dinan instruction, I suggest you at least read a number of steps ahead of any step so as to “visualize” the next instruction before you start.

Remove the two 10mm bolts holding the factory air box from the front of the left fender.

Release the clamps from the sides of the Air Mass Meter.

Remove the factory air box by pulling the airflow meter from the air box and pulling straight up and slightly on the air box. The air box intake is stuck in a space next to the headlight, so remove slowly so as not to tear the foam cushion around the intake.

Disconnect 2 power connectors from behind the headlight assembly. Unscrew the turn signal light connector and remove light from headlight assembly.

Locate the four 8mm screws holding the headlight assembly. Below or behind each is a headlight alignment bushing. In order to maintain proper headlight alignment, you must keep these bushings in place while removing the screws. The bushings are a 16mm hex with a slit in each side. If you have open end wrench that you can fit on the bushing, it is best. Otherwise, locate the slit on the bushing and use the screwdriver blade to lock the bushing in place while removing each of the screws holding the headlight assembly in place.

Disconnect the horn power connector and remove the horn and horn mounting bracket. You will need to relocate the horn and its bracket. However, it is much easier to get to the horn mounting bracket bolt if you first remove the horn from the bracket. Re-assemble horn on bracket once removed.

Remove the lower left (remember orientation) bumper shock nut and use this as the new horn mounting bracket attaching point. Tighten the nut only finger tight as you may have to adjust the horn position later.

Assemble the K&N filter, the air filter bracket, the filter support bracket, the support bracket screw clamps and screws, and the filter clamp as shown in the picture. Tighten the filter clamp only enough to hold the filter in place. Place the screw clamps on the support bracket so that the small holes of the clamps are towards the middle of the support bracket. Attach the support bracket to the filter bracket with the supplied screws, but do not tighten.

NOTE: Completely ignore the 2 holes in the air filter bracket. They are never used. I spent quite a time trying to figure where these attached.

Insert the filter assembly into the area just behind the fog light so that the bent part of the filter bracket mates with the lip on the frame rail and the curve of the air filter bracket fits to the contour of the curve of the wheel well.

Align the upper hole of the air filter support bracket with the bottom of the hole on the lip in front of the wheel well and attach in place with the second support bracket screw. Tighten both support bracket screws.

Align the lip of the bend part of the air filter bracket with the lip of the frame rail and attach with the 2 supplied clips.

Adjust the horn so that the power connector can be re-attached and re-attach the horn power connector. Tighten the nut holding the horn bracket in place.

Locate the mounting bracket on the left fenderwell below the airflow meter. If a hose is attached, remove the hose from the attaching clip and remove the clip from the mounting bracket.

Fit the airflow meter support bracket to the left side of the airflow meter. Align the holes at the bottom of the airflow meter support bracket with the bracket on the fenderwell and attach with supplied 6mm bolts.

Secure the airflow meter support bracket to the airflow meter with the long wire tie. Secure the hose formally attached to the mounting bracket to the airflow support bracket with the shorter wire tie.

Slip the #36 hose clamp on the reduced end of the silicone hose and slip the reduced end of the silicone hose to the airflow meter. Tighten the clamp.

While supporting the filter from the bottom, loosen the clamp around the air filter enough to fit the bottom end of the carbon fiber tube into the filter open enough so that the clamp will securely hold it. Fit the carbon fiber tube into the filter opening and retighten the clamp.

Slip the #48 hose clamp over the end of the silicone hose. Slip the end of the carbon filter tube well into the silicone hose and tighten the clamp to hold the tube in place.

Cut the headlight adjuster flang(es) as necessary to allow the headlight assembly to fit in the mounting area with clearance between the headlight adjuster and the carbon fiber tube.

Refit the headlight assembly into position and secure with mounting screws. Ensure the alignment bushings do not move when re-mounting the headlight.

Insert turn signal light into headlight assembly and secure. Re-attach headlight power connections.

Check all connections for tight fit

Review

So, how is the new air snorkel? The extra air the 2.8 gets makes a big difference (particularly when coupled with the Dinan chip). The engine response better and the stock exhaust has a much better tone…particularly when above 3.5K rpm and under load (read, romping on the gas).

An upgraded intake is a definite plus to any Z3. However, at $399, the Dinan intake is a bit pricey for what you get. Particularly since the filter does not open to the outside air. There is probably a better way to make modifications to the existing intake to provide the extra air the engine craves. I have been considering a couple designs myself and plan on keeping the Dinan intake if just to have a comparison should I fabricate a different design myself.

Wot Guv’nah? ‘Nothah Bleedin’ Project?!?

I know there’s a BMW first-aid kit (51-47-8-163-269) but a few things about it didn’t suit me right. Without any dedicated place in my trunk for it, it’d likely make itself known rolling around back there every time I’d find some corners to attack. It also looked a bit bulkier than I liked. Oh, I’m sure it’s probably outfitted with damn near everything short of a defibrillator..and a nice lawyer-approved Roundel embossed on the leather case…but I’m just looking for something that’ll hold the occasionalBand-Aidd and alcohol wipes for minor scrapes and cuts. Anything more serious and I’ll warm up the PPO medical card.

I filed away a mysterious part number that’s supposed to be a bracket (51-47-8-398-906) for the first-aid kit, but never went to check if this was for the Z3 and if so, where it would take up trunk space. Since manufacturer information was typically sparse and suggested dealer prices are high, I wasn’t about to reward the behavior with a purchase. I struck out to add a practical boo-boo kit to the Z3 — my way…

For this kit I’d suggest obtaining the following items:

Compact first-aid kit. The one I found at Target measures 4″ × 6″ and might’ve cost around $6. It contains a light smattering of adhesive bandages, sponge dressing pads, knuckle bandage, alcohol pads,antisepticc pads, sting relief, iodine packet, adhesive tape roll, gauze, latex gloves and aspirin tablets — all in a sturdy plastic case with better hinges than most kits in this category. I’ve enhanced this kit with some junk-mail samples of PepcidAC, Tylenol and allergy tablets. I’d like to round this out with a quality pair of fold-up metal scissors and some zip-loc bags (medical waste).

Someone told me to look for a liquid bandage. Sounded neat. I found something called New-Skin — antiseptic liquid bandages. These were sold as a box of ten small individual 1.0ml packets. I replaced five of the first-aid kit’s old-tecBand-Aidsds with the New-Skin packets. The New-Skin liquid is supposed to congeal to form a protective barrier against further infection. This appeals to me because traditional Band-Aids would take up 3 inches to protect a 1 inch spot and wouldn’t always stay put.

A package containing 30 inches of each side of Velcro®. (Generically known as Hook & Loop fastener) Look for the sew-on plain-back version. Don’t get the peel-off adhesive-backed version.

And lastly a needle, some thread to match the Velcro and a pair of scissors.

Since most of you will find different-sized kits in your area, I’m only going to emphasize the procedure and omit measurements. I trust you all are competent enough to adapt and extrapolate your sizing without bugging me.

Up on the top right corner of the trunk (behind the driver’s rear wheelwell hump) is a spot begging to be used. I dare say the trunk molding is such that it was meant for something. I’m not sure what the three cut-out ovals are for, but it was a primo opportunity for a fastening point.

I fished a piece of Velcro® through the two middle slats successfully. This tells me I found a suitable mounting point. My first-aid kit was light enough where it’d never cause any weight-related damage to the spot. Now to fashion a Velcro harness. This would secure the kit onto the slats in a manner that allowed quick and easy access. The Shortcut Crowd is probably wondering: ‘Why go through the pain and just simply try to Velcro® the kit to the semi-fuzzy carpeting?’ If you somehow find that to work, congratulations. I, however, don’t consider that secure enough. A few bounces & corners and the carpeting will likely release.

The Velcro® harness I’ve made looks like a sideways “T” when laid flat. It requires stitching together two areas — three if you want to get fancy.

The pieces overlap and get stitched in the manner shown. The “Hook” strip feels harder to the touch. The “Loop” strip is softer and fuzzy. Both strips have a useful and useless side. Pay attention to the orientation of each strip. It would help to look ahead in this article to see how each piece serves it’s purpose. This should allow you to cut the appropriate-length piece. Once you finish the first two critical stitches, that’s it! The project now only needs to be mounted. Start by wrapping the cross-arms of the “T” over and under the boo-boo kit. These tips should overlap and Velcro together.

The long body stem of the “T” simply goes around the box, fishes itself behind those carpeting slats, and comes back around the other side of the box. Tighten up any slack here before Velcro’ing the Hook surface over the fuzzy cross-intersection. The third fancy stitch can be done to the very end of this “T” stem. Fold a half inch of the very end back under itself to cover a bit of the Hook surface. Stitch this closed. This creates a grip tab to start pulling from.

So there you have it; a useful, compact, sturdy boo-boo kit personallized to your needs and occupying a spot in the trunk you’d otherwise never use. If it weren’t for the $5 box of liquid bandage packets, total project cost would be $7.50.

Don’t plan on taking up razor blade juggling? No problem, you can probably find other things to keep in this re-claimed trunk space…emergency CD wallet? snack box? ammo? ant farm? Hey, it’s your space.

Notice: The author assumes no liability nor offers any guarantees your project will go as smoothly or result in the same improvement or usability. Attend a qualified first-aid and CPR class to ensure you administer proper aid to yourself or others. All known issues have been laid down in the clearest manner possible. Despite this, the amount of redundant e-mail sent to the author is expected to be substantial. Not all questions will be answered…some might even get laughed at.

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Give Yourself a Raise

Everyone complains about the seats, no one does anything about them. Until now.

Although I love my Z, I’ve always been disappointed with the seats and the lack of support. I have the “Regular” seats, but I’ve found the same to be true of the “Sports” seats as well. I was reading a post from Jim Harriger who was similarly disappointed with the seats in his ///M. He said he had looked at the seats and found that the fronts are held on with two nuts. He planned on taking off the nuts, replacing them with rod-couplers and bolts. Sounded like a good way to get some support into the seat, but, as I found out, there are a bunch of gotchas!

Previewing the Project

I checked under my seats to make sure they were attached in the same way as Jim’s. He has an ///M, while I have a 2.8. Sure enough – two nuts in the front, two bolts in the back. So far, so good. I took off the bolts and put some 1 inch supports under the front seat just to see how it would feel – I liked it! It made the seat feel like it was cradling you. Putting the seats back to the standard setup made it feel flat and unsupportive.

Obtaining the Materials

I paid a visit to the local Home Store. I found 5/8th inch rod couplers which looked like the right size. I tried to screw them on – no go! I checked with the local hardware store who confirmed my worst fears – the nuts were not 5/8ths, they were metric 8mm. The problem is that rod couplers are pretty easy to find, but metric rod couplers are a specialty. I emailed Jim who confirmed – he had found a local source for the 8mm/1.25 rod couplers. About $2.50 each.

I looked in my Yellow Pages under Fasteners, but the first few places I called didn’t carry metric. The third place suggested I look under “Metric” instead. Bingo! They had them, and for only $1.50! (Sorry Jim – looks like I got a better deal).

I got 3 couplers and two bolts. The couplers look like very long nuts, 24 mm in length (about an inch long). I got the third coupler because I had a feeling I might end up cutting them down to size (I was right) and wanted to have an extra one in case I messed up The nuts are about 1/2 inch long (about 12 mm long). I also got a couple of washers to provide backing and support at various places.

Update: On the net, call Maryland Metric 800-638-1830 (http://mdmetric.com/prgde3b.htm). They have a $10 min order the couplers and bolts and the washers for both sides and you’ll probably just about hit $10.

The Procedure

The procedure is quite simple. If you want to use Jim’s method, all you really need is a socket set. I also used a Dremmel tool and a saw for some wood-work. Jim indicated that he simply moved the seat forward, unscrewed the rear bolts, moved the seat back and removed the front nuts.

He then put the rod couplers onto the screws which protrude from the floor, fastened the front with the washers and bolts and re-fastened the backs.

Note – it’s easier to put everything in place loose, then tighten the back, then the front.

I tried this procedure first. It worked fine. When I took the car out on the road you could immediately tell the difference — I could feel my buns being grabbed by the seat! I never felt this in a Z! It was great – for a few minutes. After that, the sensation got a bit too intense. I was afraid of this – Jim is 5’10”. I’m 6’1″. He probably sits with the seat higher up than I do, so the sensation is not as great. The 1″ raise in height was just a little too much for my tastes.

The Alternate Procedure

The Alternate Procedure is a bit more involved. It’s designed to give the seat a bit more support and to remove about 1/4 inch of extra height:

First I used the Dremel Tool to lop about 1/4 inch off the rod coupler. Be careful – you don’t want to remove too much or you won’t have enough coupler left to attach the bolts.

I then cut several stabilizer units from a piece of wood. I painted these flat black and used them to surround the shorter rod couplers. I also hollowed out a little bit of the top to make a “cup” to mate to the underside of the rails of the seat-foot where there is an indentation (it’s hard to explain, just reach under there are feel around, you’ll see what I mean)

I re-installed the shortened rod-couplers and surrounded them with the wooden stabilizer units.

Tightened up the rear nuts

Tightened up the front nuts

And I was ready to go. The next test drive was a dream! The 3/4 inches made an incredible difference to the feel of the seats. I’m now quite happy with them.

Thanks and credits to Jim Harriger for developing this procedure and for the information that was necessary to complete it!

Direct V1 Power in the 2.8

I wanted a switched direct power source for my V1. I tried to follow the directions for the M Roadster and discovered the 2.8 is wired a little differently. The MZ3 directions called for pulling the lower portion of the dash on the drivers side which I did. This was no easy task and I recommend that you avoid it if at all possible.

After my first failed attempt, I decided to go after the Cell Phone power since I have no plans for installing a phone in the car. I also wanted to try and take the power cord through the passenger side since it seemed like it would be easier.

I followed some of Vince Parsons Directions for locating the cell phone wiring harness by raising the shifter boot cover. It is only held by 2 clips on each side and can be open by pressing on the sides. Wait, what’s this? There is this big piece of foam that wasn’t in Vince’s pictures. No problem, just lift it up to gain access to the inside of the console.

Well I searched and there was no wiring harness to be found. Just the wires for the window switches and hazard lights switch. Went back to Vince’s directions and he mentions that it might be under the carpet beneath the parking brake handle. I found it! Wait, how do get it out of there? I’ll be damned if I know. It’s wedged in there and didn’t want to come out. I didn’t want to remove the entire console so I gave up on trying to get it out.

While peeking in through the OBD door on the passenger side of the console, I had seen an unused wiring harness. I decided that this was going to be my new target power source. Fishing this thing out was not easy because it was wrapped around other bundles of wire but with a little work I had it exposed. I didn’t have much room to work with so I went after the other unused harnesses I saw in there. I found three additional harnesses. I tested for a switched power source and found that the green with white stripe was what I was looking for.

I grabbed the wire tap that came with the V1 and attached it to the wire. I then removed the black plastic panel below and behind the glovebox. It is attached with plastic clips that are removed with the half turn of a flat head screw driver. There is a single one of these plastic clips holding the kick panel covering the speaker at the passengers feet. This provided plenty of room to run the V1 Direct Wire Power Adapter wires. I velcroed the Direct Wire Power Adapter to the top edge of the carpet and used the grounding point next to the speaker.

Next I ran the V1 power wire from the V1 Unit to the Direct Wire Power Adapter. Alan Riley instructed me in the technique of removing the trim along the top and right pillar of the windshield. First remove the pillar piece which just pops off. Then remove the visors. This requires a Star Tool which I just happen to have. Next you must remove the clear plastic cover from the dome light which pops out. Then pop out the light assemble and behind there you will find one more screw to be removed.

Then you can pull down the side that you are working on. In fig. 9 you can see how I wrapped the wire around the dome light wires to keep it from falling out. I then ran the wire down the windshield pillar, beside the dash and door frame where I pushed it behind the insulation and along the bottom of the dash to the Direct Wire Power Adapter.

At this point, hookup the V1 and verify that it works as expected. Now is the time to find out that it doesn’t work. Mine did. Once you have proven that it works, it’s time to reassemble your car. First secure all the loose and excess wires and check one more time to see if it’s still working. Reverse the steps to put all the trim pieces back in their rightful places. When your done you’ll have a direct wired V1 radar detector.

Let’s see John Law try to mess with you now.

My Kingdom for a Cup Holder!

“Here I am, driving one of the most fun automobiles in the world, yet I can’t find a good place to put this Dr. Pepper while I shift into 5th gear.” This has been a common statement ever since the introduction of the Z3. The BMW roadster is an amazing automobile; a near perfect balance of modern day technology and classic “retro” styling. But it doesn’t have a cup holder, and damn-it, I’m a spoiled American that likes to occasionally have something to drink while I’m driving.

Apparently I’m not alone in this quest for a cup holder. Enough people complained loudly enough that over time several “solutions” have become available to the BMW roadster owner. I’ve seen and/or owned most of the available cup holders, so I’ll try to clear up some of the confusion and offer my own opinion on each of the cup holder options I’ve found.

BMW’s stock armrest.

Every BMW roadster that is built for the US market leaves the factory with the same center console/armrest/cassette holder device. It’s a neatly engineered, modular device that has a open storage area with a raised armrest behind it. The raised armrest area can be pulled out with just a slightly forceful tug. The theory being that other modular devices could be snapped into the same area in its place.

The stock device is a pop-up cassette holder. Problem is, BMW got tied up in its “retro” design mind set and forgot that cassettes are a thing of the past. As the Z3 was making its introduction to the various car magazines, a few reviews pointed out that the Z3 didn’t have a cup holder (guess they had to pick on something).

BMW’s Initial Response

BMW was fairly quick to react to the cup holder oversight and offered a solution that replaced the modular center console area with a non-modular armrest that had a covered storage space and two cup holders. The BMW part number for the replacement is 82-11-1-469-516. Any BMW roadster owner in the US could request this cup holder armrest and BMW would exchange the cassette holder for the new armrest for free.

I took advantage of this offer in November 1996 and gladly handed over my unused cassette holder. The new design was very convenient in that it had a covered storage area and two hidden cup holders. It was also a more comfortable armrest. Problem was, the cup holders are behind your elbow when you are holding the gear shift. Not very convenient, but none the less serviceable.

I was pretty happy with the swap for a couple months but then the new design started falling apart. The coating on the plastic started to flake off and a couple small rubber pieces tore off. While it never happened to mine, apparently it was also common to have the hinge snap on the covered storage area. Owners started complaining about the “cheap armrest” and requests for replacements under warranty started to flood BMW.

It’s okay BMW fixed it!

In BMW’s defense, this new cup holder/armrest really isn’t manufactured by BMW. Apparently BMW passed on the complaints to whomever the maker was and that supplier made an improved version. The improved version looked nearly identical to the original design except it appeared to be made out of a slightly different plastic material, the hinge was sturdier, and they redesigned the rubber bumpers that the lid rested on. If you are curious which version you have, look at the rubber stoppers that cushion the lid of the storage area. If there are raised plastic rings surrounding the rubber stoppers, then you have the “improved” version.

The “New and Improved” version had the same part number as the original version and it was kind of “hush-hush” about the improvement. BMW offered the new design to any owner who lodged a complaint, although it took quite some time for them to replace all original designs that had self-destructed.

I was one of those that received the improved version and I can attest to the improvement. While the cup holder location is not in the most convenient location, the covered storage area is very nice.

Who cares about storage, I want a cup holder!

Even today, every BMW roadster still leaves the factory with the original center console with an open storage area and a modular “snap-in” cassette holder. A few owners may have never seen this because some dealers have become pro-active and replaced this entire center console with the now improved covered storage area and cup holders.

A long time ago when the BMW roadster was first introduced, BMW offered an optional swivel-up cup holder that snapped into the same modular area that the cassette holder used. At the time no one paid it much attention since it was an optional accessory, but it was a neat design that let the owner swap out the cassette holder and/or cup holder.

For some reason this modular cup holder quietly disappeared around November 1996 and was never marketed in an accessories catalog. Then just as quietly, around February 1998, it awoke from hibernation and was spotted in a Z3 in South Carolina.

It wasn’t very long afterward that the BMW part number was discovered (51-16-8-398-250)and is now available through any BMW parts department. This swivel-up design makes use of the original modular area (that the cassette holder occupied), but the bracket holding it is slightly different. So it’s not just a snap-in, snap-out swap for the cassette holder, but with a screw driver you could make the swap in under five minutes. As a cup holder, it is a more convenient and smarter design than the previous cup-holder, which required the driver to somehow put a drink in a hole behind his/her elbow. However, this modular design doesn’t have a covered storage space that the free replacement offered.

This left BMW roadster owners to choose between a convenient storage space or a convenient cup holder. Both models had their respective pros and cons, but I had grown accustomed to the covered storage area and the more comfortable armrest of the free replacement (oh, and the fact that it is free is a nice feature, too). Too bad BMW couldn’t design something that did both.

Owner beats BMW at its own game.

Leave it to an BMW roadster owner to come up with a solution to the cupholder problem. What you are looking at is good old ingenuity. These are nothing more than sections of 3″ PVC pipe, precisely cut to fit inside the side storage areas. After being cut, they were spray painted with semi-gloss black spray paint so that they blend into the interior.

This design is simple, functional and cheap (which is the kind of combination I like). This original cut PVC pipe design was later sold to HMS. HMS had a custom plastic mold made and is now selling cup holders very similar to this one for $34.95.

They work quite well in that they hold typical 12 oz. cans, but they do not work with fast-food cups. About the only other complaint I have is that condensation from the can drips down into the side storage compartment (and sometimes I have other stuff in there). I’ve learned to keep something like a napkin under the cupholder.

Rich borrows a solution from the Miata.

I like my cassette holder.

However, I would also like to have a couple of drink holders in the car. I looked at the BMW offering and found both the older style and the newer styles to be inconvenient, as well as removing utility of the cassette holder.

The BMW designs place the drinks by your elbow, just where they’re likely to get tipped over when shifting from first to second. I had a similar problem in my Miata – Mazda provided a drink holder which could go in the center console, but the drinks tended to tip (although they were further on down than the BMW placement, you could still tip them while shifting). However, the Miata also had a perfect place for an after market “flip-down” drink-holder: a trim screw could be used to secure the drink holder to the center console by the passenger’s legs. In fact, almost everyone who owns a Miata has one of these installed. It’s out of the way, easy to reach and takes away an insignificant amount of room on the passenger side. When folded, they are unobtrusive, looking like a four inch square by .5 inch black box.

When I got my Z3, I was so used to having a decent drink holder, I never considered the “elbow holder” alternatives. Instead, I went out and bought a new “flip-down” and installed it on the console on the passenger side. Unfortunately, this means drilling into the console. I secured the top with two small screws into the console in the middle with one screw into the carpeting and at the bottom with some “male” velcro. Because I have the wood console and extended leather, I chose the “wood-look” drink-holders to which I added a piece of leather matching the leather trim on the console.

My wife pointed out that I wasn’t the only one who needed a place to put my drinks, so I added a second one. The result is a very attractive and serviceable alternative to the BMW designs.

In spirited driving, the drinks are much more secure than in either of the BMW designs. The pincers which flip up are adjustable, accommodating the common soda can, tall late’ cup and the occasional Big Gulp.

Drink holders like these can be found at your local Pep-Boys or Auto-Palace for less than $5 each. They come in flat black or “wood-look”. You can also find more expensive versions, completely covered in leather from Beverly Hills Motoring Accessories (To order call: (800) FOR-BHMA or +1 310 657-4800 (outside U.S. & Canada)) for about $30 each. You can specify what type of leather you want them wrapped in.