Homemade PVC Cupholder

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, this is nothing more than a section of 3″ PVC pipe, precisely cut to fit inside the side storage area. A couple shots of semi-gloss black spray paint and that’s it, you’ve got a cupholder that blends nicely into the Z3 interior.

This design is simple, functional and cheap (which is the kind of combination I like). If you want to go the PVC route you can visit the local hardware store and then spend an hour or two cutting the PVC to get the fit just right. Total cost is probably going to be around $5, however if you aren’t the do-it-yourself type you have another alternative. This original cut PVC pipe design was used by HMS Motorsport as a prototype for a nicer plastic/rubber moulded cupholder. The HMS cupholder is nearly identicle in shape, except the flexible rubber material makes it easier to snap the cupholder into place. The HMS version is now selling for $24.95, so its roughly $20 more than a home made version but all you have to do is pick up the phone instead of spending an hour or two of your own time making one from PVC pipe.

The design works quite well in that they hold typical 12oz cans, and the larger skinny 20 oz plastic bottles, however it doesn’t work with fastfood cups. About the only other complaint I have is that condensation from the can could drip 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 just in case.

Z3 Side Grills/Gils

Pros: Easy to Swap, Model Confusion
Cons: Price, Model Confusion
Cost: 51-13-2-492-949 M grille left $169.00 retail (unpainted)
51-13-2-492-950 M grille right $169.00 retail (unpainted)
51-13-8-399-719 Z3 Grille left $46.75 retail (unpainted)
51-13-8-399-720 Z3 Grille right $46.75 retail (unpainted)
painting the pair should cost $75-$100

The M roadster’s side grill design is pretty neat (pictured on top), but I prefer the less flashy shark gill style of the Z3 design (pictured on bottom). Its funny how this picture makes the M roadster one look smaller than the Z3 one, but the Z3 gills are actually ~1/16 inch shorter in length than the M ones? This slight difference will leave a larger gap between the gill and the body panel but not enough to really be noticeable.

Both designs are attached to the vehicle similarly. Five plastic snap connectors and one mounting point secured by a screw. To remove, I started by removing the single screw. Then using needle nose pliers, I squeezed the plastic connector wings together and pushed the plastic snaps back through the hole. Took about five minutes before I got them all loose. If you end up breaking one of these plastic snaps the replacement part is 51-13-8-399-231 and those clips list for $3 each. If you wanted to by the BMW nut it is part number 07-12-9-925-730 which lists for $0.08 each.

Once I was able to put the two designs side by side I noticed a small difference between the M roadster design and the Z3 design. The single mounting point required two different sized screws. After a quick trip to the hardware store I was back in business. The Z3 design required #10-23 1/2 inch machine screws, the M roadster design was a different size.

Putting the shark gill Z3 design vents on the M roadster was very easy. With some gentle pushing, the five plastic tabs snapped into place. I then secured the final point with the newly acquired #10-32 1/2 inch machine screw.

Very happy with the end result, now I truly have an MZ3. I’m keeping the M roadster design (so don’t email me asking for them). Do to mood swings I see myself switching between the two different designs a couple times a year. But for now, I think of it as being an M roadster in stealth mode.

When Z3 owners were asked: Which Z3 side vent design do you prefer [106 votes total]

Z3 Shark Gills Design 61(57%)

MZ3 Classic Design 45(42%)

Ben Liaw’s / Short Shifter Conversion – Has your Z3 been BL/SS’d (Blessed: Get It?)

After sitting in an M Roadster at the dealership one day, I notice that the shifter was much shorter than my ’96 M3. After some research, I discovered that all E36 cars can upgrade to this new, shorter, throw with this upgraded shifter lever. You are only replacing the lever itself, nothing else.

These detailed instructions will cover the procedure for the home mechanic, doing it him/her self. There is another procedure which is easier and quicker, but requires a lift and unique tools which is very expensive. Otherwise, this method works (I had to do it this way the first time) and should take about an 45 minutes. 60 minutes if you’re a klutz.

The coolest thing about this is that while the AC Schnitzer short shift kit is between $700-$1000, this conversion, which does the same thing, costs about $50. Please note that this is NOT the same as the $99 Autothority shifter kit as the AutoThority kit simply lengthens the distance from the ball to the lower linkage with a machined piece. This has known to shorten the shift, but also known to increase the sloppiness.

This has become a very hot upgrade as there are no shifters in the country at the moment. Just order it and be patient.

The Details

Shifter throw is reduced 31%.

Less slop than stock shifter.

Increased shifter effort decreases chances of mis-shift.

An upgrade that virtually no one can tell (UUC approved).

BMW Parts You Need

M Roadster Shift Lever (# 25-11-2-228-384) [required] – Part lists for $52.25

Nylon ball joint cup (# 25-11-1-220-600) or (# 25-11-1-469-397) these two parts are identical [recommend but not required] – Part lists for $14.87

Washers (2) (# 25-11-1-220-439) these parts can be damaged during the removal of the stock shift knob if you are not careful. [recommend but not required] – Part lists for $0.47

Circlip (# 25-11-1-220-379) this part can be damaged during the removal of the stock shift knob if you are not careful. [recommend but not required] – Part lists for $0.68

Carrier Bushing (# 25-11-1-221-822) [recommended if you have slop] – Part lists for $6.98

Tools You Need

Flat bladed screwdriver approximately 8 inches long

Grease (like white lithium)

Floor Jack

Jack Stands (2)

Step 1: Get the knob off

This procedure is best done while the car is cool and has not been running. Leave the car overnight and do this on a Saturday morning. After the front end of the car has been jacked up and supported with jack stands, you’re ready to start.

Pull off shifter knob (straight up, don’t hit yourself in the face). Do not try to twist the knob off, there are no threads on the shifter lever.

Step 2: Unhook the Shifter

Crawl under car and locate the end of the shifter lever. It is connected to a “linkage” arm with a circlip.

Remove circlip and yellow washer. On an older car, the circlip may be stubborn and you’ll ruin it taking it off. On newer cars, you can push it off with your fingers. Make sure you replace both yellow washers on either side of the bottom of the shifter lever.

Disconnect linkage arm from bottom of shifter lever.

Step 3: The Bitch of a Clip

The silver carrier which holds the ball joint of the shifter lever needs to come out. It has a “pointed” end which is facing towards the rear of the car…ignore that end. You want to focus your efforts on the FRONT of this carrier.

You’ll notice that the front of the carrier is buried above the tranny housing somehow. The carrier is secured to the car via a “pin” which is secured in a peculiar manner. Instead of a nut/bolt passing through the hole, there is a pin which is secured with a “latch” type of function. You’ll barely see it, but you can see the pin.

Once you locate the side which has the “latch”, use the side of the flat bladed screwdriver to pry up on the latch. You’ll need to get the latch to point upwards (it’s horizontal in the “lock” state). I found that if I kept prying upwards, pushing, more prying, the latch worked its way up slowly. When you’ve finally gotten the latch “up”, you can push the pin out, towards the latch direction.

Note for those with excessively sloppy shifting: If you notice, the pin comes out of a rubber bushing on the end of the carrier. If you have excessive play while the car is in gear, replace this bushing. Doing this BL/SS install will NOT fix sloppy shifting. You will have SHORT sloppy shifting. I don’t know the part number off hand, but Steve D. does. I’ll post the part number here and modify these instructions to include the bushing.

Step 4: Take Out the Carrier

You must remove the silver carrier/shifter lever assembly from the car now. I find that if you pushed the entire assembly forwards and backwards, you’ll be able to give enough room for the rear “pointy” part of the carrier to slip out, allowing the entire assembly to be then dropped down.

Step 5: Replace and Lube the New Lever

Once the assembly is out, you’ll have to remove the shifter lever from the aluminum carrier. It’s held in by a nylon cup. You have to get the cup out of the carrier, and I’ve found a screwdriver to work. Once you get the lever/cup out of the carrier, pull it straight off.

There is no incorrect way for the new shifter can be installed since it is perfectly straight, unlike the one you’re removing, which has a bend to it. Just be sure that the lower linkage hole is pointed in the correct direction. When you hook the linkage back up, it will be all lined up, ready for the shifter to be put on.

Replace new shifter lever into the cup, but make sure you lube it.

Press it back into the carrier, and make sure it has the “tabs” of the nylon cup sticking out of the slots on the side of the carrier.

Step 6: Reinstall

reinstall in reverse order

Final Notes:

You’ll notice and immediate difference in the shifting, not just in the throw, but also in the smoothness. I’m not sure why the factory doesn’t lube the nylon cup enough, but it sure does make a difference.

So, what do you do with this extra lever, you say? Well, it’s pretty much useless, unless you want to go back to long, sloppy shifts. They do fit in E30 cars, so be a pal and donate it to an E30 owner.

Enjoy your “blessed” shifter.

Power for your Radar Detector

I was looking to find a way to hard wire a power connection for my Valentine One radar detector. I had already read through Richard Carlson’s “cutting the cord” article so I felt familiar with the task at hand. This was a great resource, and I recommend you read it first because he has excellent instructions at how to get the plastic panels off, as well as some good warnings. However I wanted the power source to drop from top of the A-Frame rather than up through the dash. The MZ3 has enough room above the rear view for the V1 to slide into (click on the picture for a larger view).

First, a quick lesson about BMW wiring. Turns out that everything is color coded, which makes finding a power source a little easier. Red wires are unswitched power sources (on all the time). Purple (with white stripe) wires are switched power sources (on when the car is on). Brown wires are ground. Depending on which type of power source you want you can choose which wiring harness to use.

The information below is specific for the M roadster’s, it has come to my attention that the wiring on the 1.9 and 2.8 roadsters is different. The color coding is the same but wiring harness locations are different. If you own a 1.9 or 2.8 you’ll want to focus on the area behind your stereo, tapping into its switched (purple and white wire) power source.

A couple M owners spoke with me after using the information below. The first spent about 45 minutes to an hour and commented that everything was straight forward. Thought he could do the job again in less time. The second M owner that spoke to me said the wiring was straight forward but the black plastic trim pieces (under the dash) gave him a lot of trouble. I think he summed it up best by saying “I did it!, but you couldn’t pay me $100 to do it again”.

If you want an unswitched power source there is an unused power connector down by the drivers feet (click on the picture for a larger view). This connector has a positive and a negative unswitched power source. It is in a convenient location just below the speaker. To gain access to this area you will need to remove the lower kick panel and the panels covering the underside of the dash.

Problem was, I was in a picky mood and wanted a switched power source. Under the dash you can locate this connector (BMW calls it X223 – the connector is next to the 40amp fuse strapped to the MAIN wiring harness), it had 5 wires in the connector (click on the picture for a larger view). I know it’s hard to distinguish colors in this picture because of the flash but the left most wire is ground (brown) and the one next to it is switched power (purple with white stripe). In this picture the middle wire is pulled out of the connector (speed sensitive volume connection – another project).

The Valentine One radar detector came with a wiring kit. The black box in this picture is part of that wiring kit. Since this box wasn’t a BMW part the color scheme doesn’t quite match but the red wire out of the box was connected to the purple power source. The black wire was connected to a good grounding point (see the bolt and brown wires next to the speaker)

Once the connection was made all that was left was getting the wire to the radar detector. There was just enough of a gap on the side of the dash to slide a wire back to the corner (like using dental floss). Now the wire had made it to the top of the dash the A-Frame cover just pulls off and you can run the wire under the plastic cover. Along the top you don’t even need to pull off the plastic cover. There is enough of a gap to push the wire in where the plastic piece meets the window.

You should actually work backwards so you have just enough wire sticking out where the radar detector mounts, and bundle up any slack down below where it is easier to hide it.

If you are anywhere near Dallas and would like a trained BMW expert to do work like this for you, I can highly recommend Larry Nissen. Larry did the work on my car and took the time to explain everything for me.

Cutting the Cord

If you’ve got a Z3, chances are you’ve also got a RADAR detector. I’ve got an old BEL detector (no V1 flames please, I know Valentine makes the best detector, but the BEL does just fine for me). I’ve had two problems with the detector placement:

Trying to find a secure place where the detector doesn’t rattle

Trying to find a source of power for the detector

I solved the first problem by simply velcroing the detector to the dash. The problem then becomes the power source. I’ve had the car about four months now and I was getting tired of using the cord to the cigarette lighter. In addition to being unsightly and somewhat rattle-prone, the cigarette lighter is hooked up to unswitched power. This means you need to remember to shut the detector off and turn it on every time you leave and re-enter the car.

Not fun.

I originally thought I could tap into power easily, but it turns out to be quite an ordeal. I tried to get power from the main bank of fuses in the engine compartment, but could not figure out an easy way to run a wire through the firewall. Eventually, I decided to use the power from the head-unit of the stereo and a ground from the cigarette lighter. The job takes about three hours. You need to be somewhat handy, need a working knowledge of automotive electrical connections and must be small enough to crawl into the driver’s footwell. Here’s how you can do it too:

Before you begin.

Get a box or container which you can put the screws in. Figure out some way of labeling the screws, they are all different shapes and sizes. Also make sure you have the 5 digit radio code you will need to reactivate the radio. Expect the job to take 2 to 3 hours. READ ALL DIRECTIONS FIRST!

You’ll need:

a phillips head screwdriver

a wirecutter

two tap-in connectors (Radio Shack 64-3052A)

several miniwire clips (Radio Shack 278-1668)

several connectors (optional – Radio Shack 64-3049A)

a 2mm allen or the BMW tool (a 5/64″ hex key)

at least 2 replacement BMW screw head covers

a seven foot wire to run from your detector to the power source

a white, dry-cleaners type coat hanger

electrical tape

a multimeter (optional,

lots of patience

First prepare the car by taking it apart.

Take the top down.

Look in the driver’s footwell and find two small rubber heads securing the front of the console.

Remove the rubber heads by hooking them with a stout paperclip-end from the bottom (the part that faces down). You should be able to hook them then pull out to remove them. They will resist. Be persistent. This will expose the screw head.

Remove the upper screw first, label it “upper”. Then remove the lower, label it “lower”. (Yes, they are different sizes)

Remove the radio:

Be sure you have the 5 digit reset code to reactivate the radio before you disconnect it.

Flip open the two small doors on either side of the radio to expose a small allen nut (It’s actually not an Allen nut, BMW sells a $16 tool to unscrew it, but a 2mm Allen wrench worked for me).

Screw the nut counterclockwise until it stops.

Repeat with the other allen nut

gently pull the radio towards you.

At the back of the radio, remove the antenna plug

Use a screwdriver to gently push up the “locking collar” for the other connections. It goes up about 1/2 inch, but does not come off. If you do this successfully, the entire back plug unit will come off. Otherwise, gently rock the entire connector back and forth, pulling backwards to remove it.

The radio is now disconnected.

Remove the shift knob by pulling straight up – be careful! You can hit yourself in the nose when it comes loose!

Remove the shifter boot – same process as the hand brake (except the “clips” are on the sides).

Remove the foam collar which surrounds the shift knob (Take a minute to note how it goes back in)

Push from below to pop the lighter out

Crawl under the driver’s dash – you will what looks like two large, black screw heads.

Rotate them 90 degrees and they should fall out.

Now remove the large plastic piece which goes around the pedals. You’ll need to pull it “backwards” (towards the back of the car), then push forwards again to get it loose. I ended up fighting with it for quite a while, but it eventually comes out.

Next, run the wires from the detector to the power source.

Cut the dry-cleaner’s hanger into a bent piece about a foot long. You’ll be using it to snake the wires through the defroster vents

Sitting in the Driver’s seat, start at the right most of the driver’s vents and manipulate the hanger till it comes out of the left most vent.

Tape your detector power plug (connected to the cord) to the hanger and snake it back through the holes.

Use one of the mini-clips to secure it to the dash. This prevents the cord from falling into the vents when not in use.

Run the rest of the wire to the A-pillar.

You can just push the wire into the crack which leads to the door.

Just below the console, pull the trim from the door-sill to allow you to run the wire into the console.

Put the trim back into place

Run the wire along the bottom of the dash, securing it with the mini-wire ties.

Feed the wire up around the side of the center console.

Feed the positive lead to the opening for the head-unit.

Feed the negative (ground) lead to the opening for the lighter.

Now Connect the Wires

If you have plugged in your detector to see how it will fit with the wire you ran, please disconnect it now.

Disclaimer – I used a multi-meter to identify the source of switches positive power for the radio. It was the purple/white wire which leads to the plug. If you have a multi-meter, I would advise double checking on your car. BMW may change the wiring harness from year-to-year.

Use the Tap-in connector to connect the positive line to the purple/white lead of the radio harness. You should immediately hear a little voice telling you that you have just voided your electrical warranty.

Disconnect the lighter from the two wires.

Use the tap-in to connect to the brown (unshielded) lead which runs to the lighter.

If you have a multi-meter, turn the car to Accessory and check for proper power at the detector plug. If you don’t have a meter, you should plug in your detector (risking frying it if you have made the wrong connection).

Now put everything back together

Assuming everything went well with the detector test, you are now ready to close up the patient.

The cigarette lighter is tricky to get back in. Before reconnecting it and reinserting it, you must first move the orange collar from the top to the bottom of the unit.

You do this by pushing out (from the inside of the unit) on both the little “wings” at the same time. This requires a little manual dexterity or a lovely assistant.

Once you do this, you can move the orange ring down to the bottom of the unit:

Reconnect the wires to the lighter unit.

Insert the unit into the dash, aligning the small cutout on the left with the tab of the orange collar.

Press in on the collar, it will seat itself, then press the lighter in which will also seat itself.

Before putting the shifter back together, turn on the lights and make sure the small bulb which illuminates the lighter is still in place. If not, re-seat it (it goes to the right of the lighter when looking at it from above, it just fits into a small hole next to the lighter.)

Reinstall the foam collar, shift boot and knob.

Reconnect the head-unit and put it back into the dash, securing with the allen wrench.

Re-screw the console screws and put the new screw heads on.

Reinstall the foot-pedal guards.

That’s it! You can now connect your detector, it will turn on when the ignition is turned on. Now go find your cigarette lighter (or lighter plug) and put it back in! You’ve cut the cord!

Adding Motion Sensor to BMW Alarm

Here is what I did – it is fairly straight forward but please make modifications at your own risk.

The sensor I used came from Sound Conceptions – “www.autotoys.com”. The sensor is listed as “sensor: single zone perimeter sensor (radar)” and is $24.95 as of today (3/30/98). You can find it in the storefront – security section. It has three wires to hook it up – battery, ground and trigger. The wires are just long enough to reach where I mounted the sensor. If you want to experiment with different mounting locations, you may want to extend the wires.

For safety, unplug the BMW alarm harness at both ends before making any connections. I soldered and taped all connections.


connect this to the fused battery wire in the alarm wiring harness this is a yellow wire with an inline fuse. Connect to the alarm side of the fuse, thus the fuse protects the new wiring.


connect this to the ground wire in the harness – brown wire.


this will get connected to the hood switch sensor wire (white with red stripe) in the wiring harness. To avoid potential interference between the new and old sensor – I isolated them with two diodes. The diodes are 1N4001 which you can get at Radio Shack. Cut the existing sensor wire and splice in a diode with the cathode (banded end) toward the sensor – this sensor is active low. On the alarm side of this diode, add another with the banded side toward the new sensor – connect the new sensor trigger wire to the cathode of this diode. See the crude diagram below:

I mounted the sensor in the console just forward of the gear shift. Remove the gear shift boot and the foam insert. If you put just the hook portion of some stick on velcro tape on the back of the sensor, you can stick it to the carpeting under the console. You will want to play with the sensitivity adjustment on the sensor. I have mine currently set about 3/4 of the way to fully sensitive.

Performance is good but a little inconsistent. If someone sits in your car, the alarm will definitely go off. An arm reaching in will set off the alarm if the arm is moved around. Repositioning the sensor might help – the directions say the higher it is in the car the better.

Discuss this article and other Safety/Security upgrades in the

///MZ3.Net discussion forum.

APE Short Shift Kit

Pros: Very short shift throws
Cons: Hard to install, made my shifter sloppy
Cost: $99

However the installation procedure was long and painful, mainly because the installation instructions were not only bad THEY WERE WRONG. If I knew what it was going to take I probably would have passed on this kit. I guess the point I’m trying to make here is if you want a short shift kit, have a garage mechanic install it. He’ll have a lift so he won’t have to lay on his back, and he probably has tools designed to work in cramped spaces. Print out the installation webpage and hand it to him, he can probably do it within an hour (where it took me over 3).Yet another example of “You get what you pay for”. Once I got the APE short shift kit installed I was somewhat pleased with the results. Given the relatively low price I initially thought I got $99 worth of satisfaction out of AutoThority’s product.

The shift is definitely shorter and more comfortable, however there seems to be a little more wiggle/looseness in the stick when the car is in gear (especially 3rd). This is hard to describe but when the transmission is in 3rd gear I can move the stick left and right about three-quarters the distance of the shift knob. At first this slightly annoyed me but now I’m really bugged by it. The shift just doesn’t feel right, I would prefer the shift be tighter, enough so that I actually crawled back under the car and removed the entire assembly to see what stock felt like again. Once I felt the longer but tighter stock shift I decided to leave the short shift kit off. After talking to a few others that have the APE short shift kit it appears that a few owners (but not the majority) developed the same sloppy feel that mine did.

I guess the bottom line is I wish I never would have wasted my time and money on this kit.


For $99 I got a sheet of paper, a metallic purple aluminum piece, a bolt, a washer, and a c-clip. So I definitely did not receive $99 worth of parts, I’ll have to wait until it’s installed to see if I got $99 worth of convenience.

Step 1 of the instructions said, to lift the car so that you can work under it. This is harder than it sounds but I managed to get the car up on some jack stands that left just enough clearance room to slide under the car.

Step 2 of the instructions said, LOCATE THE SHIFT LEVER UNDERNEATH THE CAR – it is located directly below the shift knob, underneath the car along the centerline. It is just above the driveshaft. This picture is deceptive because I was able to stick a camera into this area, in reality you will never get this good a look at the connection. The shift lever is directly above the catalytic converter (which would have been a useful addition to the instructions). Between the catalytic converter and the shift lever is a heat shield and the drive shaft. Because of this you have very little room to maneuver. Basically I had enough room to get one hand into this area, and then I couldn’t see what I was doing. But get use to this, 90% of this installation will have to be done by touch alone. You can get a little extra room if you unscrew the six circle looking screws that are holding the heat shield in place. You can’t remove the heat shield but this will lower it an extra inch or so and make installation much easier.

Step 3 of the instructions said, SLIDE THE SNAP RING OFF AND REMOVE THE YELLOW WASHER. This was very difficult to accomplish, I ended up loosing the C-Clip and cutting two of my fingers trying to pull it off, and carefully removing the yellow washer (which is plastic). The instructions don’t tell you to do this but your going to half to any way. Go ahead and carefully pull the shift rod towards the passenger side. BE CAREFUL there is a plastic yellow washer on that side too and you don’t want to loose it.

Apparently what has happened here is the creator (Authority Performance Engineering) thought the shift link (the gold rod) was designed to enter the shift rod on the drivers side (maybe that’s the way it is in a 3 series). However as you can see from the picture above, the rod is on the passenger side. Because of this you will need to reverse what the instructions say to do to keep the rod on the passenger side.

I found that it was much easier to install the adapter if I removed the entire rod and do some of the work outside of that cramped space. (This was not included in the instructions). Follow the gold shift link rod forward until you find where it connects to the transmission. You wont be able to see it but in this picture I held a mirror up so you can see that it attaches just like the rear with a C-Clip and two plastic yellow washers. Remove the clip (which is on the driver side and one of the plastic yellow washers. Then slide the gold shift link rod towards the passenger side and free it from the link BE CAREFUL there is also another plastic yellow washer on the passenger side to.

At this point the entire gold shift link rod is loose and you can remove it. Once it is removed we can easily install the short shift kit. Honestly I don’t think I could have installed these parts in that tight enclosure. On one end of the gold shift link rod put on one of the plastic yellow washers, then the purple aluminum piece, then the other plastic yellow washer, then the C-Clip that came with the kit. The direction you install the purple piece makes a difference, make sure the more open (machined out) end is facing away from the 90 degree joint in the gold shift link rod. (Just look at the picture). At this point we’re half done, take a break, give your hands a rest and have a beer.

Okay crawl back under the Z3 and reattach the gold shift rod at the front (transmission). Remember to insert the rod from the passenger side (opposite what the instructions tell you to do) with a yellow washer on each side and then use the C-Clip on the driver side. Once this is done reposition yourself to stick you hand back to the rear link and reinstall the rod on that end. This is going to be very frustrating, but the purple piece will go on the passenger side and a bolt and washer will be installed from the driver side. The problem I ran into hear is trying to tighten the bolt. I barely had enough room for my hand, the combination of my hand, a socket wrench was nearly impossible. I could feel my way to put the socket on the bolt, but then I had to move my hand back to the socket wrench handle and half the time the socket ended up dropping off the bolt. When I got it too stick I could only turn the bolt one click on the ratchet. Basically it took 30 minutes (no kidding) to tighten this bolt. I almost gave up to and buy a slim power socket but my determination prevailed.

K&N Cone Filter

Pros: Easy To Install, Improves Intake Sound
Cons: Possibly hurts performance especially in hot weather
Cost: $149

In January of 1997, I purchased the K&N Filter Charger from Bavarian Autosport for $149. Once installed, it made a noticeable change in sound. I think I can tell a performance difference but, it is hard to judge what this upgrade alone would produce. Previously I upgraded the exhaust and I think I’m dealing with a “the sum is greater than the parts” issue here. The installation instructions were pretty well written but didn’t contain any pictures. You might want to take a look at my on-line instructions before installing yourself.

7/1/97 Update:

Since the installation (02/28/97) it has gotten quite hot here in Texas. This exposed a flaw in the K&N cone filter design. Since the filter is not vented with outside “cooler” air I think this upgrade is actually loosing power. So the K&N cone filter has come off and is currently sitting on the shelf.

10/1/97 Update:

I tried building a heat shield to protect the filter from the engine heat (a tip that was recommend on the message board). However I wasn’t pleased enough with the results to allow it as a permanent solution (filter remains on the shelf). At this point I’m not very happy with this product, especially in hot weather.

11/29/97 Update:

Someone e-mailed me and offered to buy the filter charger from me. They own a 318ti and live in Alaska (I’m not making this up), given the Alaska climate the shortcomings of this upgrade are probably negated for him.

12/29/97 Update:

Received an e-mail from the purchaser, he loves the cone filter. So if you live in a cool climate the cone filter is a good investment (especial if you can buy one of a Texan that can’t use it).

Installation of K&N Cone Filter

This is an OCR/Scan of the original instructions.

1. DIRECTIONS: Be sure your engine is cool and ignition is OFF. We recommend you lay a fender cover or a blanket on your fender to protect it before beginning the project. Locate the factory air box on the driver’s side inner fender.
Get familiar with the layout, and figure out exactly what it is that you will be replacing. The area surrounded in red will be replaced.

2. In the front of the air box is a sensor. Depress the clip so the wire plug will pull out. Then remove the actual sensor from the box.
Remove the entire air sensor from the stock air filter box. Press the silver wire thing in and the plug comes right off. Make sure you pull out the sensor.

3. Depress the two clips that hold the top of the factory air box to the air flow meter.
Depress all you want, it’s going too take a screw driver to pop these brackets off. Let me also point out that the instructions assume I knew what the air flow meter was, I didn’t. It took several cycles of reading this sentence and staring at this contraption before I understood.

4. Next, unclip the top portion of the air box from the bottom half of the air box.
Pretty straight forward, I unclipped the top portion from the bottom portion. However I think they also intended for me to remove the top of the air box, it was a couple steps later when I actually did. The four arrows in the graphic point to the clips but the top and left clip can’t be seen in this picture. You will have to look around and under to find them.

5. Undo the two studs attaching the base portion of your factory air box to the inner driver’s fender. On some models the cruise control may also be attached to these studs. If the cruise control is connected to these studs you must reconnect the cruise control after you install the new filter system. You will need to remove both studs from the factory air box.
The nut heads easily came off, let me also say that if you drop one it will fall all the way through and roll back to your rear tire. The crap about the cruise control you can ignore, it’s not attached here on the Z3.

6. After you undo the nuts on the studs you need to wiggle the base of the air box as it has an air duct attached to the housing near the radiator. Once it has come free of this duct you can take out the base of the air box.
During this step is when I figured out the top should have been removed back in step 4. Because I still had the top on this step was more difficult for me. Once I removed the top I could see the part that was catching and I wiggled her right out of there.

7. Put the small black hose on the air flow meter.
Okay, this step got me a little angry. First of all, I think I know what the air flow meter is. But where the hell is this small black hose? When someone uses the word hose I think of a tube, like a drinking straw or fuel line. I’m also not sure if this small black hose is something that’s already in the car or is it a piece that came with the kit. Well after several minutes I noticed the same phrase “small rubber hose” on the “Kit includes” list, and deduced that they must be talking about this rubber ring.

8. Then install the new air filter and position the filter so the small hole in the neck of the filter faces the driver’s inner fender.
My silver bracket was shipped already installed on the filter. The instructions later tell you about installing this, so unscrew and remove it now, then just push on the filter over the rubber ring thing.

9. Position the metal bracket so the end with the cup on it will seat around the rubber bushing at the top of your frame rail. The other long end goes to the inner fender and is secured by the one stud that was attached to your original air box.
What metal bracket? Oh, this thing that came with the kit. The Cup end? two of the ends are “cupped” but one is cupped more than the other. Rubber bushing at the top of you frame rail? What the hell is a frame rail? Well after trying several different interpretations here’s what I came up with, a picture is worth a thousand words, above is what they were trying to explain.

10. Before securing this stud you need to position this bracket on the new air filter with the clamp. The clamp is designed to hold the bracket to the filter assembly and the filter to the air flow meter. remember you must not cover the small hole in the filter and the hole must be pointed toward the inside driver’s fender.
Good thing I’ve got this thing figured out in my head because the instructions are getting worse. I think the K&N people recognized this, because the ONE picture that is included in the instructions is useful in this step.

11. Carefully push in the sensor you took out of your original air box. It should sit snug in the small hole in the side of the new filter.
When your doing this push the sensor in until you can’t see the green rubber ring on the sensor. Also position it so the fatter end doesn’t rub against the filter rim.

12. Carefully tie strap the wire to the one metal bracket so it is away from the fan belt on the car.

13. Tighten the clamp holding the filter in place against the bracket assembly.

The instructions warn you to make sure the filter is not touching the radiator. However when I attach the bracket with this rubber screw thing it pushes the filter into the radiator. The instructions are unclear but originally the rubber side was on the left but this pushed the filter to far, I got around this by moving the rubber side of the attachment bolt to the right. This kept the filter out of the radiator but it was not tight so I pulled one of the gold spacer clips off the original box and it worked great.

Remus Exhaust for the 1.9 Z3

Pros: Better Performance, Great Sound, Do-It-Yourself Installation
Cons: Cost, Not 100% Stainless Steel
Cost: $529 (from Bavarian Autosport)

I’ve had it with the tinny, rattly, metallic sound of the stock exhaust. I placed an order with Bavarian autosport for the Remus Exhaust System. After a little haggling I got them to sell me the Remus exhaust for $529, including shipping.

Feb. 7, 1997

A very beat up box was delivered today (no damage to the exhaust), but I’ll have to wait until the weekend to install it.

Feb. 8, 1997

Installed the Remus today. It makes a difference, but I was hoping for more. Also concerned about the install because the chrome tip is rubbing.

Feb. 10, 1997

Took the roadster to a muffler shop and they “adjusted” the install. Now it fits better and for some reason sounds a little better.

Feb. 15, 1997

When I initially installed the Remus I said, “I was hoping for a little more.” Well, now it’s a week later and I GOT IT! The system sounds better every day. The friend of mine that took delivery of the Remus system had not heard the results until yesterday (so the last he heard was the stock exhaust). He said it was a tremendous difference and he loved it. The exhaust now meets with my $529 expectations.

April 1997

The Remus exhaust system just keeps sounding better. It took about a month to fully break in and now I love it. At this point, the Remus has pleased me enough to consider it my best upgrade so far.

June 1997

Drove a roadster with a stock exhaust for the first time since upgrading mine to the Remus 6 months ago. There was a slight difference in acceleration and a tremendous difference in the sound. After driving a stock roadster again, I have even more appreciation for my Remus.

September 1997

Returned from the Z3 reunion. After 2000 miles I am convinced that the Remus was the single best upgrade I have done on the Z3. I heard many 1.9 and 2.8 Z3s during this trip and I prefer the exhaust sound from my Remus over them all.

October 1999

A 1.9 owner that recently installed the Remus exhaust adds this advice… “I would suggest purchasing new nuts and bolts from a dealer (at less than $2.) prior to the installation (The springs can be reused.) After several years, the already-soft copper nuts are almost impossible to remove. I managed to horse off the lower nut with vise grips, but ruined the nut and bent the bolt. And cutting off the upper bolt was the only viable option for it.

Installation of Remus exhaust

I had finally had it with the tinny metallic sound of the stock exhaust. On Jan. 31 I placed an order with Bavarian autosport for the Remus Exhaust System. Every time I called the price changed, but with a little negotiating the final price with delivery was $529. On Feb. 7, a very beat up box was delivered. Upon opening the box I discovered a small 5×7 index card size instruction sheet. On this small piece of paper were the install instructions in three different languages. My first thoughts were, “I hope this is an easy to install as this makes it seem.” One humorous note to add here: I had the exhaust shipped to a friend’s house because he would be home. The Remus exhaust can NOT be put inside the roadster. My friend had to put it into his car and drive it over to my house.

The next day I jacked up the car and attempted to crawl under it to see what had to be done. First problem, the jack that came with the car can lift the car just high enough to get the wheel off the ground, but not high enough to replace the exhaust. The other conclusion I came to was that this was a two person job. So I put everything back down and called a friend who had a better jack and some stands. He was happy to help, and invited me over to his house to do the work (he has more and better tools for doing this stuff so this was definitely a good decision). Of course after hanging up I remembered that the exhaust is too big for me to haul around so I had to call him back and ask that he drive over to my house to pick up the exhaust.

Okay, I’ve finally got the roadster, the tools, the exhaust and a friend all in one place. So the first order of business is how to get under the car. This proved to be a rather difficult task, but we finally got the left side of the car tilted up enough where one could crawl under the car from the rear and the other from the left side. We started by looking at the stock exhaust and the Remus exhaust to make sure everything looked like it would fit. Although this picture was taken later this is a good time to show you the two exhausts side by side.

The exhaust is attached to the roadster in four places. The first place is where the exhaust fits/plugs into the catalytic converter. This fit is very precise and tight, BMW designed this clamp thing that attaches the two parts together with a couple of bolts that have springs on them. This design is great but this is where we spent most of our time because to we could just barely get to one of the bolts and only had a small amount of room so it took a long time to loosen this bolt. The other thing that slowed us down is the catalytic converter was very hot (so a good suggestion would have been to start after the car had cooled down for a couple of hours). The Remus fit just as precisely as the stock system however we could not get the stock bolts to fit so we had to reverse them. (The bolt and spring was toward the back and a nut toward the front, we had to put the bolt and spring toward the front and the nut toward the back although this should not make any difference it would have been nice if the instructions would have pointed it out).

After bolting the Remus to the roadster the other three connections are made using rubber rings that allow the exhaust to move slightly side to side. However the second connection concerned me. This picture to the right is actually of the stock exhaust, you can see that even the stock exhaust was not connected here. The rubber ring does not make contact with the stock exhaust and has slipped forward. This appears to be a because the exhaust is hung slightly too high in the rear. After installing the Remus exhaust I found that the same situation occurred and this second connection was not making contact. This really bugged me but I decided to go ahead and finish the install since the problem occurred with both the stock and the Remus systems. (later I figured out what the problem was, but I’ll come back to this).

The final two connections are in the rear of the car using thick rubber rings with holes for the support pegs. I had to pull and pull to get the stock exhaust off of these rings, however about a month after the install another roadster owner said that a shot of WD-40 made this easy (why didn’t I think of that?). So to review the Remus system fit just like the stock system, bolted on in the front and attached in the back with three rubber rings that allows the unit to swing freely (slightly). The Remus exhaust fit precisely in place of the stock exhaust, so precisely that the Remus exhaust did not make contact with the middle support ring. I was going to live with this until I discovered that the chrome tip was making contact with the top of the hole cut out in the rear for the exhaust. This made me decide to take the roadster to a muffler shop and show them the Remus install and the part that didn’t fit. The muffler guy took one look and said, “well you didn’t finish the install job”. He fired up his blow torch, heated the two rear support arms on the Remus exhaust (that those rubber rings are connected too) and the whole setup slowly sank another 1/4 – 1/2 inch. He then turned off his blow torch and said “now your done, no charge”. He said he had installed over a hundred exhaust systems on various cars and trucks and he has yet to have one fit without slightly bending those rear supports. He claimed that most after market systems need a little custom modifications for that perfect fit.


At the peak torque values, the Remus exhaust gained 3 ft/lbs of torque. Looking at the entire torque curve and measuring the differences every 50 RPM the Remus exhaust averages a gain of 2.91 ft/lbs of torque between 2000 and 6500 RPM.

Click on the graph to the right for a full dynograph of the before and after differences.