I got a new job! – Yay!
Better pay, better title, better crew to work with. However, there was one big problem: In my old job the Z3, which is my daily driver, got parked in a garage. Nice and safe, walls on both sides, protected from the elements. I am now faced with the issue of parking in a public lot, with loads of other people with their doors aimed squarely at my car on a daily basis. In addition, since I like to keep my tonneau cover on during the summer months, I had to figure out something to keep the car interior protected from the elements (in the winter I run with the hard top, so it’s not as much of an issue). I, of course, suggested to management that they build me my own, private garage. The suggestion was not well received.
What to do?
Z3Solution to the rescue!
I remembered that Z3Solution was now offering a cover that also includes unique padded door protection. This would allow me to not only protect the cockpit, but also the sides of the car from those that would poke my baby. A cockpit cover is a great idea if you park outside a lot. Remember – BMW says that you must use your tonneau when you are running top-down or your top may get worn prematurely. Putting the tonneau on and taking it off is much more of a pain that putting on a cockpit cover. A Cockpit cover will also keep your interior cooler than leaving the roof up.
I ordered the cover the week before I was scheduled to start my new job in order to give me some time to get acquainted with it. I also own another cover from MM Marketing that I have used on occasion, but it was no where near as nice as the Z3Solution cover. The Z3Solution cover is cut much fuller than the MM Marketing version and also includes the door protection with built-in foam pads. I can actually put the cover on the car with the top up or down and it fits just fine.
The cover attaches at several points:
* There are Velcro ties in the front that attach to the wipers.
* There are small “barrels” in the back. These are basically fabric-covered tubes that can be shoved down between the tonneau cover or placed into the trunk opening to secure the back.
* Unique to the Z3Solution cover are the tie-downs that slip into the crack at the bottom of the door. These help secure the sides and the side-padding.
The quality of the cover is excellent. It is well made from something called “Weathershield” fabric from Nextec. Weathershield is light, compact and very weather resistant. While most covers have a weatherproof layer appied onto them, Weathershield actually has the waterproofing applied to each individual strand of fabric. This means that the protection is much better than most traditional car-covers (see comparison chart). It compares very favorably with NOAH, but with significantly less bulk. The stitching on the unit is very sturdy and all the parts look like they will last a long time. The entire cover and all parts that touch the car are covered in a soft flannel. The number of connection points to the car is excellent: two in the back, two in the front, two on either side. There have been several windy days and the top stayed securely anchored and I have noticed no “rubbing”. I have used the cover for several weeks and have found that the design works well with the top up or down. The ability of the top to repel water is simply amazing!
As I intend to use the cover to protect my top from weathering, being able put the cover on with the top up was critical to me. In the spring and fall it will act as a safeguard against the torrential rains we sometimes get in New England and in the summer it will protect the top from sunlight and keep the cockpit cool.
With the top up, it’s easy to attach the cover. Simply plunk it on top and make all the connections. It does require a trip around the car, but I can do it in about 20 seconds. Removal is even quicker. It’s not quite as easy to put the cover on with the top down (it tends to billow around a bit), but it’s also not particularly difficult. In general, it’s much more time consuming to put the cover on than to put the top up (assuming you don’t use the tonneau cover), but the extra protection justifies it’s use for me. If you do use the tonneau religiously, you’ll find it much easier to deal with a cockpit cover than taking the toneau off and raising the roof.
Before ordering the cover, I also considered a full car cover. I decided not to go that route because I did not want to put the cover on the car when it was dirty. I was primarily interested in protection for the parts susceptible to rain and sun: the interior and the fabric top.
The Z3Solution cover doestouch parts of the car and I’ll have to see what the long term effects will be, but early indications are good: the sides do not move significantly because of the bulk of the foam padding and the tie-downs, therefore the cover does not rub on the paint.
At $109 The Z3Solution cover is slightly more expensive that some of the competitors (MM Marketing offers its unit for about $80), but the full cut of the cover, the Weatherguard material and the ding protection make it well worth the increment. It’s significantly less expensive than a full body cover and takes up less space in the trunk (but it should be noted that the padding makes it bulkier than a normal cockpit cover).
The cover comes with a nice carrying case, but so far I’ve never used it. I just fold the thing up and dump it in the trunk.
Cockpit covers may not be for everyone. I have a number of friends who are comfortable with parking their cars outside for long periods of time with no protection. For me, however, the protection afforded by the cockpit cover, including the protection from the inconsiderate co-worker’s doors, easily justifies the cost of this new accessory…..and I get to keep my new job!
Comparison chart from www.covercraft.com