The Harman Kardon Affair

One of the reasons I got a 2.8 instead of a 2.3 was the “premium” Harman Kardon stereo system with “upgraded” speakers. Granted, it wasn’t the ONLY reason, nor was it the PRIMARY reason, but it was A reason. I have to admit that as far as stock sound systems go, I’ve heard worse. But I’ve heard better, as recently as the day I got my Z3, which is when I turned in my 1998 Ford Expedition Eddie Bauer with a Mach 460 stereo system. Without getting too much into an acoustics argument, the Harman Kardon system, well, how can I put it….. SUCKED.

I am not an audiophile. I am not a music hardware nut. However, I do enjoy my music, and I like it loud and I like it distortion free. The first clue that the HK was a POS was the rattling of the subwoofer enclosure. However, through my “investigation”, I found out that the HK amp was “tweaked” to produce 10% harmonic distortion. Now, I am not an audio engineer, but for something that is usually measured in FRACTIONS of ONE PERCENT, 10% cannot be good. Cranking the volume up supported this conclusion. The distortion was there, and life sucked.

The Amp has GOT to GO

In one of those fits I am famous for (hey, the car cost me quite a bundle with all the stuff I put in it, so I WAS frustrated), I took it to the folks at Tampa Bay Audio Sound, and they hooked me up with a couple of brand spanking new Alpine amps — an MRP-F306 and a MRP-F406.

Alpine MRP-F306 4 channel amp

MAX POWER (EIAJ)

75W x 4 (4 Ohm Stereo) 180W x 2 (Bridged 4 Ohm)

FEATURES

RMS Continuous Power (Watt) (at 14.4V, 20-20 kHz): 4 Ohm Stereo (0.08% THD) 30W x 4; 2 Ohm Stereo (0.3% THD) 40W x 4; Bridged 4 Ohm (0.3% THD) 80W x 2

Alpine MRP-F406 2 channel amp

MAX POWER (EIAJ)

90W x 2 (4 Ohm Stereo) 240W x 1 (Bridged 4 Ohm)

FEATURES

RMS Continuous Power (Watt) (at 14.4V, 20-20 kHz): 4 Ohm Stereo (0.08% THD) 40W x 2; 2 Ohm Stereo (0.3% THD) 60W x 2; Bridged 4 Ohm (0.3% THD) 120W x 1

Why two? Trunk space was a prime concern (or lack thereof), so any of the premium solutions that ate up trunk space were unacceptable to me. No 1000 watt amps for me. I wasn’t looking to win a BOOM BOOM competition, just clean, distortion free, loud music. Simple.

The Alpine MRP-F356, a 5 channel amp, would have sufficed, but it was BIG. The F406 fit nicely into the space the HK POS amp fit (marked by the red circle in the middle picture below), and the F306 was fitted vertically neat and tidy on an L board on the other side of the trunk with virtually no loss in trunk space.

The guys at Tampa Bay Audio Sound configured the F306 to supply only highs and mids, and the F406 to supply the bass (using a simple switch on the amps themselves).

Now, with this came some good news and some bad news. The good news was that the highs and mids sounded better, cleaner and crisper at high volumes. The HK amp was clearly very deficient in this regard. The bad news? The subwoofer popped, Bad. Of course you genius!!! A subwoofer rated at 30W was getting juice from the F406 which can pump up to 240W!!! Ok, so of I went into the quest for a new subwoofer.

The Quest for a Subwoofer

Putting a subwoofer in a Z3 is like trying to fit an elephant into a Jetta. Reading some more articles at MZ3.net and the Z3 message board I learned of many options, including custom enclosures and Bazooka tubes. None of these options sounded good to me (literally and figuratively) since the Z3 trunk is sealed and the lack of air put a serious cramp in the boom of the subs. Drilling holes in my brand new Z3 was DEFINITELY not an option for me, so on I went trying to find another solution.

I took apart the subwoofer enclosure (thanks to Robert Leidy and his article on Dissecting the HK Subwoofer) and took it to the folks at Sound Advice. They hooked me up with a couple of Boston Acoustics 5.5 ProSeries woofers (I had to pay for two whole kits which included tweeters and crossovers, which sucked) and installed just the woofers it into the Z3 subwoofer enclosure.

Something tells me that I could have gotten off a LOT cheaper than $400, but at that point all I wanted was a functional subwoofer that would fit in the stock enclosure. Money was not an issue (never is until the bill gets here… 🙂 I plugged the enclosure back into my Z3 and… Voila!

Ahhhhh, nice, neat tidy bass. Cool. I cranked up the volume all the way and it was now the tweeters and midranges distorting — the sub was cool as a cucumber. It was a good thing I padded all the contact points as specified in the Z3Bimmer.com Subwoofer Rattle article, since the extra bass would have certainly worsened the rattle problem. Once the proper insulation was installed, the rattling disappeared.

I cranked down the gain on the F306 a notch (to NOM setting) since I don’t listen to music that loud anyway (it was really hurting my ears at that point) and I reached a happy compromise — $1,000 later. 🙁

Upgrading the Front Speakers

With new amps and a new sub, the remaining speakers started to get on my nerves. Having seen the poor quality of the speakers I removed, I wanted the rest of those POS speakers out of my Z3 pronto!!! After reading several messages in the Z3 Message Board, I learned that to remove the tweeters on the doors, I had to remove the door panels. All of a sudden, the tweeters started to sound good to me. Nahhh, I didn’t need to replace THEM (wimp).

So I turned my attention to the kick panels in the front. An article in MZ3.net showed how easy it was to do, so I did the logical thing… took it to the folks at Tampa Bay Autosound to do it for me. 🙂

They replaced the front speakers with a couple of Rockford Fosgate 5.25″ coaxial 2-way speakers. Yes, I know, the stock speakers were component speakers and had no tweeter. However, I am the guy who turns the treble all the way up anyway, so a pair of extra tweeters didn’t bother me. And since I am not an audiophile, I had no clue what this would do to the sound balance in my car (ignorance is bliss…)

Actually, they sound pretty good to me. I can crank the sound up more, but the tweeters in the doors pop a little bit at the highest volume. Darn. I guess I’ll have to remove those door panels after all. Maybe some other day, but not today… 🙂

Upgrading the Rear Speakers

Turning my attention to some easy-to-replace items, I focused on the rear speakers. Removing the covers revealed a couple of 4″ component speakers (again, no tweeters here). Removing the covers was relatively easy. On the Y2K 2.8, the speaker grills and covers are held by five plastic tabs. You can pop a little door on the base of the roll hoops and you will see the top tab holding the cover to the plastic wall of the car. With a long screwdriver you can push down on that tab and pop the cover off.

WARNING: Do this at your own risk. I broke the little tab on one of my covers, although it didn’t seem to mind too much when I put it back. Don’t blame me if you brake your precious little Z3…. 🙂

I took my car over the folks at Tampa Bay Autosound and they hooked me up with a pair of Sony Xplode XS-F1020 4″ two-way speakers. We tried some SAS and some Alpines, but the tweeters wouldn’t allow the grills to be put back on. The Sony’s were a good choice since they had recessed tweeters which did not add anything to the size of the speakers themselves. No drilling or cutting of any kind was a goal of mine, not to mention a depleting budget made the Sony’s a good choice at $85 for the pair, installed. WOW!

Leave the Door Panels Alone

Which brings me back to the “popping tweeters” in the door panels. The folks at Tampa Bay Autosound put in some other kind of crossover that filtered out more of the mids and lows, sending more of the highs to the door panel speaker to address the popping sound. Seem like it took care of most of it. Only when I crank it ALLLLL the way up (and my ears start to bleed) do I hear some popping, but even at the loudest level I use it (which is doing 90Mph with the top down) they sound great. Besides, leaving those door panels alone is worth a lot to me… 🙂

Upgrade Summary

BMW’s “premium” sound system is, in my humble opinion, disappointing. They could have done better.

However, this is the ONLY thing that I can find fault with in an otherwise very, very, very cool car.

In summary, this is what I did:

Replaced Harman Kardon amplifier with a pair of Alpine amps

Replaced stock subwoofer speakers with a pair of Boston Acoustic Pro Series 5.5 woofers

Replaced front footpanel speakers with a pair of Rockford Fosgate 5.25 two-way speakers

Replaced the rear speakers with a pair of Sony Xplode XSF1020 two-way speakers

Filtered out all mids and bass going to the doorpanel speakers

The choices in speaker brands were mostly driven by price and fit into the car. The Rockford Fosgate speakers cost me $85 for the pair plus $20 install fee, and the Sony Xplode cost me $85 for the pair, installation included. For that price, you can’t go wrong! The Boston Acoustics Pro 5.5, on the other hand, cost me $400. Too pricey.

The system as a whole sounds good to me. No, I will not be competing in any auto shows, but it sounds a heck of a lot better than the stock system, virtually no modifications to the car at all, and 99% of my trunk space is still available.

1.9 “Fogged” Airbox Modification

Pros: Increased Performance, Proven Results, Retains Stock Airfilter
Cons: The stock airbox is expensive to replace, so don’t mess up
Cost: Roughly $20, and 3 to 4 hours of your time

In the year and a half since I first posted the DIY instructions to modify the M44 Z3s airbox I’ve found that I get the same sorts of questions. I figured a document that tied all the info together would help me and those also interested in the modification. This primarily deals with the Fogged Airbox mod for the M44 but also talks about how the fuel injection system on the Z3s works as well as alternate intake products that are available and my thoughts on them. The instructions are slightly updated from my original plans to make assembly easier and to add an optional safety step.

Engine and Fuel Injection:

The fuel injection in the Z3s is a mass air fuel metering system. What this means is your car directly measures the weight of the air being draw into your engine and injects an appropriate weight of fuel (in the ratio of 14.7 parts air to each part of fuel) which it then ignites through your ignition system. Under cruising conditions and light acceleration your cars computer (DME) uses feedback from the oxygen (O2) sensors to fine tune the mixture.

The DME measures the weight of the air using a sensor called the Hot Film Meter. (HFM) The HFM is basically a film through which a current is passed to heat it. If you were to look at the inside of your HFM you will see that the film is very small and it actually only samples a small fraction of the air that passes through the meter. By measuring the temperature change of the film (and knowing the intake air temperature) the DME is able to calculate the mass (weight) of air that is flowing over the film. It can then calculate the total mass of air flowing through the HFM. This works if the airflow through the meter is smooth and evenly distributed, in other words laminar flow. The DME then uses this to determine how much fuel needs to be injected to keep the AFR at 14.7/1, also called Lambda=1. An AFR of 14.7/1 results in the most complete combustion of your fuel which gives you the least emissions. If an engine is running rich OR lean (more or less fuel to air) the engines emissions will increase. At full throttle the DME runs the engine richer for more power.

Now a key point… if you increase the airflow into your engine, the DME will measure it using the HFM (assuming smooth airflow) and will increase the fuel injected to compensate. The DME must do this or your engine would run leaner which would increase emissions. If you increase the amount of air, to keep the ratio between air and fuel at 14.7/1, the DME must add more fuel. If you increase airflow and burn more fuel you have increased your power output.

Problem:

As delivered from BMW the M44 engine in the Z3s really is not as rev happy as say the engine in a Miata. Above 5000 rpm the power feels like it has reached a plateau and there isn’t much more to be gained by revving the engine higher. The reason for this is because up high your engine’s ability to breathe is being restricted. I wanted to see if I could correct this and verify an improvement.

After looking into the intake systems that were on the market or known to be ‘in the works,’ I determined that there was nothing out there that I would put on my car. The following are a few of the setups I found and some of my reasons for rejecting them:

Drop in K&N filter ($40): in my opinion, K&N filters do not filter as well as your stock paper filter. I will not put one on my car. Your filter is the first and only line of defense against letting dirt into your engine. The K&N is made from an oiled cotton gauze, if the oil dries out the ‘filter’ basically stops all filtering. I have heard it said that when a K&N filter gets wet the water can ‘wash’ the previously filtered dirt right through it and into your engine. The person who told me this raced motorcycles and said that when he switched from K&Ns back to paper filters his engines lasted much longer between rebuilds. Lastly, Greg Hudson had performed dyno tests comparing a new stock paper filter against a new drop in K&N filter… the result was a LOSS of power with the K&N. That demonstrates that the paper filter isn’t what is limiting airflow as the paper filter has a huge amount of surface area for the size of our engine. Swapping filters does nothing to address the real source of restriction in your intake.

K&N Filtercharger cone filter ($149): Has a lot of problems. It has the same filtering concerns as the drop in filter and the rest of the setup adds a few more problems. The cone filter can suck in hot radiator air which will hurt performance. This is because cooler air is denser air (heavier), the more air weight you can get into your engine the more fuel will be injected and the more power you will get out of your engine. The circular shield that some sell might help a little but it will also increase restriction as it blocks the filter somewhat. It still doesn’t get all that great of a source of cold air either. As with most other cone setups the tube that connects the filter to the HFM changes diameter at the cone filter and at the HFM. Those ‘adapters’ are not a good idea. When they increase or decrease in size it will cause turbulence and restrictions in the airflow. For the HFM to meter the air weight properly it needs a smooth flow of air through it. The connecting tube changes size right at the start of the HFM, this could cause turbulence which would result in improper metering by the HFM. If the HFM isn’t able to properly measure the airflow into the engine the DME is going to be injecting the wrong amount of fuel. This will keep the engine from running optimally and won’t be making the power it should. Additionally, the filter is right in front of the HFM and the airflow doesn’t have much space to ‘settle down’ so it will still be turbulent from passing through the filter itself when it hits the HFM. There will be more on this later.

Art of ROAR cone filter (~$200): Mostly the same problems as the K&N setup above.

ECIS (~$200, when available): Uses a K&N cone filter so it has all the same filtering concerns and most of the other problems except it has a shield behind/besides the filter to block off the filter from the rest of the engine compartment to help with the heat problems.

Dinan Cold air intake ($299): uses a K&N cone filter so it has all the same filtering concerns. It positions the filter behind your foglight to avoid the hot engine air problem but exposes it to more water. Has the same type of ‘adapters’ and the problems they can cause that all the above cone filter setups share.

What I was looking for was a setup that kept the paper filter (they filter well.. even when wet) that had a smooth airflow to the HFM for proper metering, and had a good source of cold air but that allowed the engine to breathe better.

Factory airbox setup:

On the stock M44 airbox the air intake is in a snorkel between the passenger side headlight and the edge of the radiator. The snorkel has a fairly narrow opening which may limit airflow somewhat plus it isn’t in a direct path of air, the hood support blocks it somewhat. From the snorkel the air flows through a 2 5/8″s insulated hose over the top of the radiator then down the other side where it connects to a plastic funnel on the airbox itself. Each turn causes restrictions.That funnel has a 1 3/4″ opening into the airbox itself and is ,IMO, the biggest source of restriction in the intake.

After the air is inside the airbox it has a good amount of area to expand to evenly pass through the filter then changes over to the HFM as BMW designed for proper air metering.

The solution… aka the ‘Fogged Airbox’:

It increases the air intake hose into the airbox to a 4″ diameter hose. That is about a 700% increase in surface area for air to flow through easier. The setup grabs its air from behind the foglight for a good source of cold air. It keeps the paper filter for maximum engine safety and the flow to the HFM is exactly as BMW designed it. In my opinion, it addresses the real problems with the factory airbox and doesn’t create any additional problems like the other setups do. It costs around $20 and takes about 3-4 hours or so to build and install.

Testing, Does it work?:

Instead of using formulas and/or a flow bench I tested the best way possible, the actual DME measured airflow into my engine. This is the ideal way to test because if your intake/engine has a bigger restriction elsewhere the formula/flow bench methods will give you misleading numbers that won’t be realized in the real world.

As was mentioned above the DME in the Z3s has a hot film sensor to calculate the actual mass (weight) of the air flowing across it based on the temperature of the film. The cooler the film is the more air mass that has passed over it. If the airflow is smooth through the HFM it will be metered properly. From this and a few other sensors the DME can calculate the mass of the air being taken into the engine. In other words, your DME knows exactly what the airflow is… all I need to do is have the DME tell me that information on before/after runs and compare the two.

Getting that data is actually very easy, provided you have the proper tools. OBDTOOL plugs into the OBDII port on your car and can grab data directly from the DME. For this test I need to grab airflow (expressed as pounds per minute) and engine RPM and log that, in real time, to a file.

Grabbing the data is easy. You set OBDTOOL to log the data to a file, drive at about 1000rpm in second or third, then just floor it till redline. When you are logging two data points (airflow + RPM) OBDTOOL is able to receive 2-3 updates per second. To get more data points (for more accurate airflow curves) I made multiple runs and merged the data points together. The higher the gear you are in the more data points you receive as well.

For the first set of data I made 3 runs with my car in its normal modified state. That includes the Fogged airbox , a +3mm big bore throttle body and a Remus exhaust. My car is a ’96 without traction control so it doesn’t have the secondary throttle body in the air stream.

Since I’m interested in just the effect of the airbox mod that is all I changed for the second set of runs.

There is one slight problem though… I can’t get my airbox back to exactly stock as I modified my personal airbox. The factory stock setup has that 1 3/4″ diameter inlet into the airbox which is the largest source of the restriction in the intake system. So I made a 4″ diameter plate (size of the Fogged’ airbox inlet) that has a 1 3/4″ hole in the center to simulate having the stock inlet in the airbox. This plate fits right in front of the rodent screen on my inlet and is held in place by it with tape around the outside edges to seal better. Because the airflow on the incoming side of the restrictor plate is still less restrictive (because it is still attached to the 4″ hose of my setup vs. a 2 5/8″ hose and the stock snorkel ) the airflow numbers recorded are probably higher then if the airbox was fully a stock setup. Still, the test will give a fairly accurate result of the real world results of opening up that stock 1 3/4″ inlet to 4″s.

Looking at the graph (click on the picture to the right for a larger view), at low RPMs the Fogged’ box seams to flow a bit better than stock. In the midrange the flow is basically stock, then at 4000 rpm or so the difference begins to grow and above 4800 it grows very quickly. The difference is about an 8.5% increase of air flow at 6400 RPM. That means your engine is burning about 8.5% more fuel there too… which also means you are producing about 8.5% more power! In fact because you are getting more air in the cylinders at higher RPM (increased volumetric efficiency) you will have a higher effective compression ratio and you will extract slightly more power from the air and fuel you were already burning before the mod in addition to the extra power for the extra air and fuel.

Now my thoughts as to why the ‘Fogged’ midrange flow is nearly stock. Simply because in that range the stock airbox is not the limiting factor. I assume if there is a problem (the cylinders could be filling to capacity) that it is the intake manifold in that range. Above 4800 rpm the DISA setup has changed over the butterfly in the manifold and the stock airbox was limiting flow again.

As an aside I also tested the intake air temperature. According to my center console computer it was 70 degrees during the test. The intake air temp. (as read from the DME using OBDTOOL) was 75 degrees while just cruising around and when I floored it for a few seconds it dropped to 73 degrees and stayed there.

I’ve tested a similar mod on a 318ti and recorded about a 5% airflow increase. That car was a ’97 with the additional throttle body in the airflow (read extra restriction) and it the rest of the engine was totally stock.

I’ve also done before/after 0-60mph runs using a G-Tech Pro. With just the Remus exhaust I was able to get a best time of 8.1 seconds. After the airbox, throttle body and Garrett Lim’s software (with stock 6500 rpm rev-limiter) my best times dropped to 7.45 seconds. My software was overwritten last December, by the way. Since then I have run stock software with the box.

Tools you need to build it:

Something to cut a hole in the plastic airbox. You could use a 4 1/8″ hole saw, reciprocating saw, Dremel or whatever else you feel comfortable with.

A Dremel with a heavy duty cutting wheel, a grinding stone and if you are using it to make the main hole the dime sized metal bladed circular saw and one of the grinding stones.

Eye protection (you are going to need it!)

10 mm socket and socket wrench

Hot glue gun with extra strength glue

Regular screwdriver

Permanent marker

Scissors and Wire cutters

Optional but recommended: Propane torch and plumbing solder, only needed if you are going to install the rodent screen in the inlet

Stuff to buy:

Go to the nearest Home Depot or the like and in the ventilation section get an aluminum 5″ to 4″ duct adapter. This is a tubular piece to allow a 5″ hose to plug into a 4″ hose and should cost about $3.

Optional but recommended: While at Home Depot in the ventilation department you need a ‘Rodent Blocker’ which is just a square piece of heavy mesh which is meant to go on your clothes dryers exhaust to keep mice from getting into you house. Figure a buck or two for this.

Go to a Pep Boys or whatever and in their ventilation section they should have a 4″x72″ air intake type of plastic hose for under $15. Anything similar should work OK but make sure it’s flexible. The stuff at Pep Boys worked really well and is very smooth on the inside for better air flow. Also get a 4.25″ hose clamp for a buck.

Very optional: can of flat black spray paint… high temperature outdoor gas grille paint works OK

Making the inlet:

First thing you need to do is to make the 4″ inlet out of the adapter you bought at Home Depot. To do this on the expansion funnel (between the 4″ and 5″ tubes) you need to cut/drill the two rivets. This lets you separate the adapter into 3 pieces, the 4″ tube, the expansion funnel and the 5″ tube. We only need the 4″ tube with the ‘rib’ on the side that was connected to the expansion funnel which opened up to the 5″ piece. The 4″ diameter tube will become your inlet into the airbox.

Optional but recommended: Cut down the ‘Rodent Blocker’ to a circle that will just barely fit inside the ‘rib’ on the inlet and solder it in place. This is a safety step to be sure a rodent doesn’t climb up your airhose and decide to make a nest in your airbox.

Very optional: spray paint the intlet. Paint doesn’t stick very well so it will take multiple coats. I’ve found that it helps if after each coat of paint you ‘bake’ it on with a hot air gun but even then it can come off fairly easily.

Completed inlet along with the airhose and hose clamp. This is all the parts required for the Fogged airbox.

Adapting the airbox:

It would be helpful if you have the car up on ramps or jack stands but it isn’t required. You need to get the bottom half of the airbox out of the car. To do that release the four clips holding the top of the airbox on and move the top aside. Take out the air filter and put it somewhere clean till you are done. On the fender side of the airbox there are two 10 mm nuts holding the air box in place. Remove them.

Above the radiator is the big black plastic box which holds the stock intake hose. Take the cover off of this by removing the (4) 10 mm bolts. Two are right in front of the plastic box in plain sight, the other two are right behind the plastic box. Lift the cover of that off and put it out of the way. You will now see the stock hose and where it connects to the snorkel on the airbox. Just pull that hose off and the bottom of the airbox can be removed from the car. While you are at it disconnect the other end of the stock hose and remove it from the car as it’s not needed.

Now with the bottom half of the airbox out of the car remove the external snorkel from the box. There is a clip on it that will let the snorkel slide off the box. Notice how tiny the hose is at the end of the snorkel! Next the internal funnel needs to be removed. There is a clip on the top of that and another clip on the opposite side of the box that lets you take the plastic frame out along with the sound deadening material. Don’t worry if you break some of the plastic frame pulling it out… I left mine out and it’s not a problem.

Now comes the fun part, you need to cut a 4″ hole where the stock hole is. Put the 4″ side of the inlet over the hole, on the outside of the airbox, and draw a new circle on it with the marker. Don’t center the new hole over the old one. You basically want the new hole to be as far forward on the airbox as you can make it. You need the inlet to be forward so it can clear your steering reservoir when you reinstall the box.

Now PUT ON YOUR EYE PROTECTION!!!!! – Using whatever method you decided on, cut out that 4″ circle. This is the most time consuming part of the project as hot, nearly liquid plastic is going to be flying around so be careful! Be sure to also look inside the airbox as in a couple of places there are plastic ribs and such that you need to cut from the inside for the hole to come out. After you get the hole cut out test fit the inlet into it. The inlet should fit through the hole but stop at the ‘rib’ on the inlet. For the test it is easier if you just put the 4″ side through the air box from the outside but this isn’t how it will be when you are done. If you can’t get it to fit use the grinding wheel to smooth and enlarge the hole. It should be as tight a fit as you can make it without distorting the inlet. After you have the inlet fitting in the hole remove the inlet from the airbox. Scrub out the inside of the air box with a brillo pad or something similar to remove all the plastic bits that got thrown around when you cut the hole. After you get it all cleaned out dry it.

Now put the inlet into the airbox for real. The side with the rib goes inside of the box with the 4″ tube pointing out the hole. Only have the tube protrude from the box up to the rib on the tube hitting the inside of the airbox. The rib will keep the inlet from pulling through the box if you cut the hole properly. Now from the outside of the box seal the inlet to the box with the hot glue.

A slight air leak here isn’t critical, as it’s still before the air filter, but do the best you can. Do NOT use a silicone glue as it could cause problems with your O2 sensors.

After the glue has set, slide the 4″ air intake hose over the inlet protruding from the airbox. It is a very tight fit but if you take your time and work it around the inlet you will get it on. Secure it in place with the hose clamp. Do not overtighten the hose clamp as you could deform the inlet. You could cut the length down to about 3-4 feet now or you can wait till it’s installed then cut it.

Now reinstall the airbox into the car. The tube and hose should just fit into the car but it will fit if you cut the hole in the proper position. You can either put the old air intake cover back over top of the radiator and put back in the (4) 10 mm bolts or pull the bottom half of the plastic assembly off of the fan shroud and out of the car. I took it out of my car but if you want your intake to look stock leave it all in place.

Reattach the (2) 10 mm nuts holding the airbox in place. Put the air filter back into the airbox and secure the cover with the 4 clamps. Be sure you get a good seal. Now would be a good time to replace your air filter if you haven’t in 10k miles or so.

Route the hose pretty much straight down along the side of the radiator. This is easier to do from under the car but is manageable from above. Run the hose into the opening that leads into the front bumper, right in front of the wheel and place the hose opening behind the foglight. Trim the hose as needed to do this. You may want to disconnect your battery for a few minutes to reset the long term fuel trim (adaptation) that occurs in your DME but it isn’t really needed.

At this point you are done. You too now have a Fogged Airbox. Go take your car for a spin and run it up to redline a few times! You are going to love it!

Fogged Airbox FAQ:

(Q) Why not put the hose in front of the radiator or below the car or add a scoop or where ever?

(A) I’ve tried a scoop and it resulted in no measured airflow increase. It also greatly increases your chances of hydro-lock. Putting the hose behind the fog light gives good airflow and you would need to drive through a VERY deep puddle (several feet) before you would have a problem. Hydro-lock occurs when you fill your combustion chamber with enough water to stop the piston on its compression stroke. When this occurs you cause major damage to your engine. Even if you submerged your hose in water I don’t think the M44 creates enough vacuum to suck water up the 4″ diameter hose, then fill the airbox and finally draw it into the combustion chamber. If it was 1″ diameter hose, yes but not the 4″ hose. Your airbox has a drainage hole in it that would act as a vacuum relief if the main hose was submerged. Having said that it doesn’t mean I recommend that you drive through very deep puddles. You are not a U-Boat captain after all. You also want to limit the number of bends the hose needs to make as each bend will cause some restriction. Keep it simple and put the hose behind the foglight, it works.

(Q) Won’t rain get behind the fog light and get into the intake?

(A) Yes, but small amounts of water isn’t a problem. This can happen on the stock setup during driving in the rain or on very foggy nights. It basically wets your filter and since it is still a paper filter there is no problem.

(Q) Won’t I get check engine lights? IE… Dinan says that if the mod worked it would cause Check Engine lights as the DME won’t know how to deal with the airflow. They also claim the engine will run lean with any air intake on it and no ‘Stage II’ software in the car.

(A) Simple answer: No

Much longer answer: I’ve put around 15k miles on my car and never had a Check Engine light. No other Z3 owner that has done the mod has had lights that were caused by the Fogged airbox either. Remember how your fuel injection works, the HFM directly measures the airflow into your engine and injects the appropriate amount of fuel. It ‘knows’ how to deal with the increased airflow. This is assuming proper air mass metering by the HFM. I have done wide open throttle (WOT) runs recording my O2 sensor data vs. RPM to see what mixture I’m running at. At WOT my engines goes rich (O2 data at 0.8v) from right off idle and stays very consistent (+/- 0.05v) all the way to the rev-limiter. IOW, with the Fogged airbox the HFM is properly metering the airflow increase and the DME is adding fuel as needed throughout the rev range. This is with stock BMW software in my DME. If this was not the case the O2 voltage would drop off (go leaner) as I got above 4k RPM where the airflow increase occurs. On other types of fuel injection: air-flow metering or speed/density the DME would NOT be able to measure the additional air and they would need a ‘chip’ or ‘software’ to properly deal with the increase flow. On our cars this is NOT the case.

Even IF what Dinan claims was true (in that it applies to ALL intakes, it is not true) why wouldn’t the ‘Stage I’ software (which makes your engine run slightly richer at WOT and slight advances your timing) be enough? A theory on that: Assume for a second you have two intakes.. their actual airflow into the engine is the same. But one intake has smooth laminar flow at the HFM and the other intake has turbulence at the HFM. What would happen when you put them on your engine? Again, if you look at the inside of your HFM you will see that it actually only samples a small fraction of the air that passes through it. Based on that small sample it calculates the total air mass. This works fine if the airflow through the HFM is nice and smooth. In the case of the intake with smooth airflow through the HFM if you increase the airflow through the HFM your DME will properly measure the airflow increase and add fuel as required. In it’s maps it says for ‘A’ amount of air inject ‘X’ amount of fuel. Because the metering is accurate you are running at the proper air to fuel ratio.

Now what happens if you put on the intake that flows the same amount of air but causes turbulence at the HFM? Because the HFM only samples a small part of the airflow if the airflow through the HFM is turbulent the HFM will NOT properly meter the mass of air flowing through it and the DME will inject fuel based on the INCORRECT metering. You could end up running richer or leaner depending upon which direction the metering was off. The DME reads that you are taking in ‘B’ amount of air so it injects ‘Y’ amount of fuel. Since you are actually injesting ‘A’ amount of air (it was just mis-metered by your HFM because of turbulence) you should be injecting ‘X’ amount of fuel. But because it is in fact injecting ‘Y’ amount of fuel you are NOT running at the proper air to fuel ratio.

So, what can you do about this? Either smooth out your airflow for proper metering OR add a ‘correction’ (re-calibration) into the DMEs maps so that when it meters ‘B’ amount of air (still actually flowing ‘A’ amount) it in fact injects ‘X’ amount of fuel. This would result in you running at the proper air to fuel ratio.

If you ran that ‘correction’ on a car that meters its air properly (say a stock airbox, or an intake with smooth airflow that metered properly) you would end up running at the wrong air to fuel ratio. Hence, ‘Stage I’ and ‘Stage II’

(Q) What is laminar airflow and why is that important to your HFM?

(A) This is an attempt to explain it, not the best example but it was all I could think of. Picture six lines of people all running parallel to each other waiting to get on a subway.

Subway

A B C D E F

A B C D E F

A B C D E F

A B C D E F

A B C D E F

A B C D E F

A B C D E F

A B C D E F

RULE: When lines C and D move forward 1 person lines B and E move forward 1/2 a person and lines A and F move forward 1/4 of a person. Knowing this and starting at the front of the lines by watching the people in any single row (A,B,C,D,E or F) you can determine how many people total have gotten on the subway. For example if the first person from row A just got on the subway you can calculate that a total of 14 people have boarded the train. You use a small sample to determine the total knowing the ‘flow’ characteristics. This is what your HFM does but for air mass flowing into your engine.

(Q) Will I really feel the difference? Can it really work that well for so little money?

(A) Yes!!!

I have a very hard time convincing people that this works as well as it does. I’ve never heard from a person that has done it and not been thrilled at the difference. Above 5000 rpm it feels like a totally different engine. Now your engine pulls HARD all the way to redline. You might even hit the rev limiter a few times while you get accustomed to the difference.

(Q) Do you really think BMW screwed up on the airbox design that much?

(A) I think they met their design goal, so in that sense they didn’t screw up at all. Their engineers had to make a compromise between noise and airflow. The stock airbox acts like a ‘muffler’ for intake noise. Just like any other muffler this limits airflow somewhat in the pursuit of reduced noise. The Fogged mod is sort of like putting on a straight pipe for your intake. It lets air in easier but it also lets intake noise out easier. Under acceleration you will get a little bit of an intake roar but it sounds great and is perfectly appropriate in a sports car.

(Q) What do you get out of all of this?

(A) Besides the satisfaction of helping out other M44 Z3ers, nothing. 😉 To that end if you do Fogg your airbox please e-mail me or preferably post a message on the Z3 message board with your opinions on it.

(Q) But xxxx tried a K&N and noticed a huge difference in performance, why?

(A) Most of the people I’ve talked to that tried a K&N decided to give it a try when it was time to replace their paper filter. The reason they felt the increase in performance wasn’t from the K&N itself but because their paper filter was clogged and needed to be replaced. If they had just put in a new paper filter they would have felt the same thing. I replace my filters every 8-10k miles, I can tell when they need to be replaced as my gas mileage starts to drop.

Photographs courtesy of Rich Carlson, Robert Leidy and Tom Mosteller, thanks guys!

The Fogged airbox is copywritted by Shawn Fogg and is for individual use only.

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PIAA Replacement Headlight Bulbs

Pros: Fairly easy to replace, same wattage, brighter light, whiter light
Cons: Can’t see more any more road, same coverage area as stock bulbs
Cost: $70

I’ve always been unhappy with the headlight performance on my 1998 M roadster. The brightness of the headlights was okay but the light coverage area was terrible. BMW has apparently designed the headlights with more concern for oncoming traffic than the Z3 driver. There is a dead space (I call it the black hole) that is just left of center. The problem is that if I was driving on a road that was turning to the left (like in the picture above) the black hole ended up being RIGHT in the middle of the lane I was trying to drive in. I’ve never been comfortable driving my car at night because of this. Even after repeated attempts to adjust the aiming of the headlights I still wasn’t comfortable with the results. Not knowing what else to do, I decided to start throwing money at the problem and see if that would fix it.

PIAA makes replacement headlight bulbs (model number 9006) that are the same wattage (51 watts) as the stock Sulvania bulbs, but claim to produce brighter, whiter light without producing additional heat. The pair of bulbs cost a hefty $70 but my frustration with the stock headlights made the purchasing decision easier to swallow. I waited until after dark and then drove the roadster to a dark road so I could take before and after pictures. Replacing the bulbs wasn’t simple, but only took about 10 minutes for each side (picture to the right was taken after upgrading only the left side). It would have been a lot easier if I had tiny hands, but the PIAA instructions repeatedly warned about not letting anything touch the bulb so it was difficult to maneuver everything in the tight space. (I’m sure working on a dark road also made it more difficult but it was necessary for this article.

After getting both headlight bulbs replaced my first reaction was “Wow”. But then I took a longer look and went back to my before and after pictures to confirm my suspicions. I think everyone will agree that the PIAA bulbs are whiter and brighter, but if you look at the pictures closely you will notice that the PIAA bulbs don’t light up any additional area, which is what I really intended to do with this upgrade. So now I have brighter and whiter headlights, but my roadster really isn’t any safer to drive at night.

Mikky’s M Coupe Stereo

Mikky’s 99 M Coupe has a JL Audio 10W3 Subwoofer with a Precision Power 6600 amplifier built in on the top.

You can see the blaupunkt toronto with the remote control mounted on the steering wheel.

UUC M Roadster/Coupe Short Shift Kit

Pros: Reduced shift throw, solid shifts (no “play” in linkage)
Cons: Requires some crawling on the ground if you don’t have access to a lift
Cost: List price: $300 (from UUC motorwerks)

The UUC motorwerks M roadster/coupe short shift kit comes with all the parts you need to reduce the shift throw of your M roadster or coupe by 15-20%. The kit includes a replacement M roadster shifter lever with a custom bend in it, a CNC machined adaptor to mate the shift lever to the shift selector rod, all clips, pins, washers, and lubricant needed for the installation, replacement Delrin bushings for the shift carrier, and a special tool for removal of the shifter cup.

The kit also comes with a 17-page booklet detailing every aspect of the installation. The instructions are detailed, but it is wise to take some time to familiarize yourself with all the different terms used before beginning, and to constantly go between looking at the parts on the car and the pictures and descriptions in the booklet. If you don’t know what all the parts are (I didn’t when I started), it may not be immediately obvious what the “carrier” is, for example.

Besides all the parts in the kit, you will need some tools. An 8mm hex bit or 8mm allen hex wrench is absolutely necessary. You will also need some blue “Loctite” threadlock. A small hammer may be necessary to tap some things into place, and a flashlight is a must. A large flat-bladed screwdriver is needed, and snap ring pliers (tips to the side, not straight out) and work gloves are recommended although not absolutely necessary (I made do without them, but having them would have made the job easier). You will also either need access to a lift (recommended if you have any chance to get your car on one) or jackstands to lift the front of the car. Two final notes before beginning: First, make sure the car is cool. You will be working all around the exhaust. Second, some parts of the installation are almost impossible without two people. For example, sometimes one person will need to be under the car, working to attach something to the bottom of the shift lever, and at that time it is very useful if you have someone else above the car to hold the shift lever in place and keep it from flopping around.

Step 1 is to remove the shift knob by pulling up on it forcefully. Be careful not to mash your nose, and also be careful not to rip loose the wires for the lighted shift knob that M roadster and coupes feature. After you have the shift knob loose, pull on the leather boot on the sides towards the center and lift the boot up. This will expose a foam insulating insert which covers the connection to the lighted shift knob.

Tug the foam insert up out of the way and unplug the connector for the lighted shift knob. You should now be able to set the shift knob, leather boot, and foam insert to the side.

If you feel like having a little fun at this point, you could try driving your car around the block using just the stub of the shift lever–the effort is noticeably increased, but you get a great Miata-like feel to the shifter. This just makes you look forward to getting the short shift kit fully installed!

Notice in the pic of the bare shift lever that there is a rubber boot around its base. Your next step is going to be to pull up on it to remove it.

Once the rubber boot is off, you can see the top of the aluminum carrier. In this is the nylon cup which holds the ball of the shift lever in place.

Now that the rubber boot is out of the way, push the shift lever to the right and look down on the left hand side of the carrier underneath it. You should see a circlip. This clip is what is holding the selector rod in place in the hole in the bottom of the stock shift lever. You can push the clip off with a screwdriver, use a pair of snap ring pliers to remove it, or push it off with a gloved hand. After removing it, remove the small yellow washer and you should then be able to push the selector rod pin out of the shift lever.

I was naive about how the shifter lever in an M roadster actually connected to the transmission. I had no idea what a “carrier” was. The carrier is a metal piece that attacnes to the top rear of the transmission and extends rearward into a rubber fitting behind the shift area. The shift lever itself has a round ball that mounts into a nylon cup which fits in the circular area of the carrier. The bottom of the shift lever is under the carrier and attaches to a selector rod which extends forward to the transmission. The UUC instructions are about to tell you to remove the nylon cup and then to remove the carrier. This is a picture of the carrier next to the car so you can realize how long it is–this will keep you from a little bit of puzzlement as you try to figure out where various clips are (that you need to remove) in relation to the shifter lever.

I’m going to fast forward a bit in the installation. The instruction booklet from UUC contained better pictures than I could take with my camera–since I didn’t have the car on a lift, I just didn’t have room to try to take any pictures from under the car. The UUC instructions clearly take you through removing the shifter cup (either with the supplied shifter cup removal tool or, in a pinch, with a pair of small screwdrivers). The instructions then take you through removing a clip/pin that attaches the front of the carrier to the top of the transmission. Take your time feeling out where the carrier ends and where this clip is. It is not immediately obvious and is hard, if not impossible, to see–you just have to feel along. The clip can be hard to pry up–as the instructions say, “some cursing and swearing tends to make the job easier”. I really recommend trying this tip, as it really works!

Once you have the carrier out of the car (see picture above of it laying next to the car), you can remove the stock rubber bushing shown already out at lower right in this picture) and replace it with the Delrin bushings shown on either side of the hole in the carrier in this picture.

Before reinstalling the carrier, you need to flip the selector rod (which is currently still attached at the transmission end) from side to side and end to end. You will need to remove a circlip from it at the transmission end just like you did at the shift lever end. Make sure to note where yellow washers are used when you take it off and put new ones (supplied with the UUC kit) in place when you reinstall the selector rod. When you take the selector rod out, you should see that in its original position, it had its pins pointing towards the left side of the car, and had a “kink” or bend in it near the transmission end, which bend “pointed” up, giving the rod a little clearance over the driveshaft. When you flip the rod end to end and side to side, you will be reinstalling it with the pins pointing to the right side of the car. If done properly, the kink will now be towards the rear of the car and will still be pointing “up”. This is important to maintain clearance of the drive shaft.

After moving the selector rod, you now need to reinstall the carrier. Again, the clip that fastens it to the transmission is going to give you fits. UUC provides a replacement clip, which you need because you will probably destroy the original clip when you remove it. Make sure to get the replacement clip snapped down all the way when you install it.

Once the carrier is back in place, you should slip the UUC-provided new nylon cup over the ball of the shift lever, slide the cup into the hole in the carrier, and snap it into place as per the instructions. Use the provided grease to lubricate the ball of the shifter before placing it in the nylon cup. Unlike the stock lever (shown at bottom of picture), the UUC lever (top of picture) has a bend in it. Make sure that the lever leans towards the back of the car, and that the bottom part of the lever is also pointing towards the back of the car.

You now will install the supplied adaptor onto the bottom of the shift lever. Note that it can be installed in one of two positions. You should install it in the 15% reduction position to match the way you have now flipped the selector rod. Continue with the instructions to attach the selector rod to the adaptor.

Back to the rubber boot–after you have the shift linkage reassembled, and you have tested your way through the gears, you need to reinstall the rubber boot. The instructions do tell you to make sure to get the bottom of the rubber boot around the top “lip” of the carrier. However, they don’t say that the best way to do this is probably from beneath the car. Get your fingers up in there and tug the boot down around this lip–this is important to keep dirt from getting in the pivot point of the shift mechanism. After reinstalling the rubber boot, reinstall the foam insulation, reconnect the lighted shifter wires, and reinstall the leather boot and shift knob, all in the opposite of the order in which you took them off.

gear pair Stock

throw UUC

throw difference

(savings)

1-2

2-3

3-4

4-5 3 11/16″

3 3/4″

3 11/16″

3 11/16″ 3 3/16″

3 3/16″

3 3/16″

3 1/4″ 1/2″

9/16″

1/2″

7/16″ So, what is it like when you are done? I took the following measurements. In general, the UUC short shift kit reduces the throw about one-half of an inch between each pair of gears. This may not sound like a lot at first, but it certainly feels different when shifting and is a very nice change. The shifter feels like it should have come this way from the factory.

The animation below shows the stock shifter on the left and the UUC shifter on the right. This gives you some idea of what it is like to shorten your shift throw the UUC way.

All in all, I recommend the UUC short shift kit. The installation is difficult for a first-timer, but having been through it once, I think it would be much easier the second time around now that I know where all the components are and what they look like. It feels great in my car, and I have been enjoying it each day since I installed it.

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1.9 Borla Exhaust

Pros: Performance, Exhaust Sound
Cons: Not a “Do It Yourself” Install
Cost: $400

BabyZ wanted to get her exhaust modified for two basic reasons. One for increased performance and two, so she would sound like the high performance sports car she is. Three things hindered performance of the OEM exhaust system. First of all the OEM unit is very heavy (approximately 30 lbs.). The reason it is so heavy is that there is a lot of baffle material in it to make the engine very quiet. This results in the second performance problem that this material creates a large backpressure that reduces engine horsepower. The third problem is an additional source of backpressure in the exhaust pipe. Where the pipe goes under the rear axle it has a large kink put in it to apparently increase the clearance from what look to be quite ample with a full diameter pipe to an even greater clearance.

The kink is not easily seen in this picture of the OEM system as it is right behind the massive hangar and in front of the shinny resonator (close-up of this kink follows in a bit). The second basic desire was to hear the engine. BabyZ didn’t like being a wolf in sheep’s clothing. She’s bad and doesn’t mind anyone knowing it!

Well we have a pretty good idea why BabyZ wants new pipes now, so the next problem is deciding what to put on instead. The first requirement was the system had to be all stainless like the OEM one. In some areas this may not be as important as it was to me but with the rain, humidity and chemicals present in Houston, this was a must. This eliminated the Remus as it is not stainless, a nice sounding unit for sure, but not stainless. The stainless units available were Supersprint, B&B and Borla. With Supersprint and B&B you can get a cat back bolt on system that uses the OEM hangars while the Borla is a weld up modular system. If you want to do this all yourself, and assuming you aren’t a stainless welder, you would not be able to do the Borla. This however may not be a total disadvantage if you don’t mind letting a muffler shop in on the fun. Two reasons balance out the ability to do it yourself are the cost of the system and the sound. Borla is cheaper even after the shop install and gives more sound with a deeper tone than either the Supersprint or B&B (IMHO). Based on the extremely detailed research done by theBaba, where he determined that the Borla did make a muffler (PN 40651) that fit the system and satisfied all BMW requirements (even though they did not list the Z3 on their application list) and testing out his fine ride, Hans, this was the system decided on for BabyZ. Another advantage for BabyZ is that she could keep the resonator which was felt desirable given her automatic tranny (of course you can drop the resonator for a manual if you like).

In the photo of the OEM and Borla mufflers on the ground the difference in size is apparent, but what you see is only part of the story. The weight difference is incredible with Borla weighing in at well under half of the OEM. The smaller size should also help with heat dissipation and reduce the heat exposure to the floor of the trunk and the battery. You can also see that the inlet and outlet to the muffler line up around the centerline of the muffler exactly at the same points as the OEM so the tips will line up with the bumper cut out without any modification.

This is a close up of the infamous “kink”. It actually is more of a smash. The pipe looses fully half of its diameter to go under the rear axle and meet the BMW engineers specified clearance. This smashed pipe is eliminated in BabyZ’s new pipe. In over 2 years of operation since installing the Borla with a full diameter pipe I do not see any indication on the pipe that it has ever been hit by the axle. This includes street, cross-country, track and autocross driving.

This shows the full diameter pipe going under the axle and you can hopefully see that there is plenty of clearance. Also, a new hanger was used on the pipe and attached to the original mounting point. (Note. The second OEM mounting point on the left of the muffler was also used but the third on the right rear of the muffler was not used.)

The shop foreman fabricated the stainless steel “Y” for the dual tips. It was quite a battle to see who would get to install the muffler on BabyZ, I guess this proves that “Rank Has It’s Privileges”. The tips are Borla Turbo Intercooled (PN 20102) and are also stainless steel.

The tips are staggered at the ends to follow the contour of the bumper. This is a personal preference as theBaba and others have theirs straight across and both ways look fine. Another thing to note is that the tips are not positioned on the centerline of the opening in the bumper cover but are moved toward the right side of the opening. This was done to give the maximum room for the tips to move left as the exhaust pipe warms up and expands. This will prevent the tips from touching and melting the surrounding bumper material. The tips are also positioned close together to further maximize the safe area for tip movement.

The finished product is and all stainless steel system with the resonator left in place to compensate for the low rpm preference of the automatic transmission. The Borla is the easiest available system to customize this way and can be installed with or without the resonator (true cat back) as per your preference.

Borla is also the loudest of the systems and depending on your desires this is either a positive or a negative. One drawback is that it is the loudest at 2300 to 2800 rpm’s. This equates to 50 to 60 mph and can resonate quite a bit with the top up. There are two other things wrong with that scenario in the first place; i.e. why is the top up and what are you doing going less than 60mph for any way, so it isn’t much of a consideration for me.

Installation of the Borla resulted in a nice performance boost that was most noticeable in the low rpm range especially in accelerating. The Borla was the first performance upgrade on BabyZ so there were no other mods that could have interfered with the effect of the exhaust upgrade. Since this time the chip has been upgraded with Dinan programming and the airbox has been “Fogged”. Each of these upgrades had an additional effect and I recommend that the full trifecta be done to get the maximum effect from all of the upgrades. One interesting side effect of the addition of the airbox upgrade is that the tone of the exhaust changed and a particular resonate tone was eliminated. I take this as an indication that a definite restriction in airflow was eliminated with this upgrade and that the exhaust was happy to accommodate the additional airflow.

One other benefit is that you won’t need “no stinkin stereo upgrades” when you are listening to the sweet Z3 engine music played through a Borla.

Cost of the muffler and tips is about $300. Installation, including all the needed pipe was $100 and it took about an hour and a half even with a substantial amount of discussion and picture taking. . The Borla is made of T-304 stainless and has a one million mile warranty. Borla’s website is at http://www.borla.com.

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BMW Fog Light Kit for the 2.3 Z3

When I bought my ’99 2.3 in March from dealer stock there was one option missing that I would’ve ordered – fog lights. I had considered after market PIAA’s. But when BMW came out with a retrofit kit, I ordered one right away. And the installation is pretty easy, since the car is pre-wired from the fog light connectors all the way to the switch connection behind the dash.

The part # for both 1999 and 2000 Z3s is 99 00 0 001 658. The suggested retail is $229, but they are available from Circle BMW for about $161 plus shipping (www.circlebmw.com)

The kit comes with easy to follow instructions that are well illustrated. The only tools required are simple hand tools, but a hook awl is handy to remove the existing fog light mount covers. I’m not very handy with tools around the house or cars. I usually have to be retrained each time I remove or replace my Stonegards. So I got a friend to help me, and I’m glad I did. Despite interruptions for picture taking and running into a glitch or two, it took about 50 minutes from unpack to drive away.

The preparatory instructions called for disconnecting the battery ground cable, but we decided against it to keep from reprogramming the anti-theft radio.

I began by removing the plastic fog light mount covers with a small pick bent to form a hook awl. They pull out easily.

Install the silver Tinnerman clips over the fog light mount as shown with the smooth surface facing you. (LH light opening shown.)

The RH fog light connector is located behind the bumper adjacent to the receiver dryer. Pull up on the wiring harness to cut the tape holding the connector to the harness. The instructions said to secure any other connectors that were loose with cable ties (not provided) to prevent wire chaffing or interference with the A/C compressor pulley. This did not appear to be a problem so we skipped it. Then pull the connector through the opening and push the RH fog light connector into the RH fog light assembly.

Position the RH fog light assembly in the opening and press the assembly flush against the Tinnerman clips. Then secure with two of the 4.2x16mm hex head screws provided.

The LH fog light is installed in the same manner, except there was no need to secure any wires with cable ties.

To access the fog light switch connector you have to drop the driver’s side lower trim panel (knee bolster). With a small screw driver, pop off the caps that cover five M6x12 hex head bolts and remove the bolts and washers. Then push out the oval knock out panel from the alcove where the switch will be mounted just left of the steering column. The fog light switch is easy to find behind the panel and is larger than the oval knockout opening. Now came the only tricky part of the installation. I couldn’t reach the connector and hold it up against the oval opening in order to push in the fog light switch to connect it. So we strung a wire around the connector and pulled it flush with the back of the oval opening and held it while we pushed the switch in. The round switch button should be positioned on the left.

Next, reassemble the knee bolster and lower trim panel.

Under the hood, remove the cover from the power distribution box and plug in the provided relay in position K47. There should also be a 5 Amp fuse in position 22. If missing, use a spare fuse. Mine was already in place.

Functional check of fog lights is next

Turn ignition to position 2 and switch low beams on. Switch fog light switch on the green fog light indicator on instrument cluster should illuminate when fog lights are on. Then select high beams – fog lights and indicator should go out. There is a screw adjustment on each light assembly to adjust the vertical beam – no adjustment available to side.

Last step is press in the black plastic covers supplied to fill in the opening.

Note: Two things are different from the factory fog lights:

The lens is crystal clear instead of a ribbed surface. Personally I like the appearance better.

The fog lights will only come on with the low beams, period. You can’t turn them on with only the parking lights selected as the factory installation allows. That I don’t like. I suspect the relay is the problem. My service rep promised to get me an answer about this oddity. Maybe the relays are defective or maybe the factory relay can be substituted. I’ll provide an answer as soon as I find out.

In summary

This was an easy installation that any 1999 or 2000 2.3 driver could do in 45-50 minutes. You’ll save $100 over the factory lights and have a unique set of fog lights. Now, go out and shine your light!

Short Shift

The Short End of the Stick

(A romp in the Connecticut woods with some seriously height-impaired shift levers)

Ron Stygar is a man of small tolerances. – Very small tolerances.

In engineering terms a tolerance is a lack of precision. Manufacturers build in many tolerances into their product. There are many reasons for this. Sometimes tolerances give you an added measure of safety. Sometimes, however, tolerances are merely a way of appealing to the most common tastes or a way of saving money. The shifter on the Z3 is a perfect example. The shifter in most Z’s feels like it belongs in a family hauler instead of a low-slung sports car.

Ron does not like this type of engineering tolerance. He believes in precision in his gear shifting and has invested a serious amount of time developing an approach, which both preserves your warranty (mostly) and offers you some serious short shifting fun. In addition, he’s come up with a magic do-hickey to improve your driving (more on this later).

Row Row Row your gears…

OK, so a little exercise is not a bad thing, but don’t we live in a world of modern-day laborsaving devices? Turns out we do.

It was Ben Liaw who first noticed that a significant change had been made between the M3 and the MZ3 shift levers. Ben took the shifter from the MZ3 and transplanted it into his M3, making short-shifting history. A number of people followed his lead, transplanting the heart of motorsport shifting into their more mundane vehicles, resulting in a serious amount of short shifting fun. But the fun was not without a price – the transplant of MZ3 shifters into 1.9-Z3’s resulted in issues with 5th gear hitting the transmission tunnel, but more seriously, while 328, 2.8-Z3 and 1.9-Z3 owners were enjoying the fun, MZ3 owners were left out of the party.

Enter Ron Stygar…

Ron goes back a bunch of years with BMWs. He has a 318ti with and ///M Coupe on order. In addition to his many other projects with his cars, Ron has spent a year investigating the ins and outs, ups and downs and the backs and forths of BMW shifters.

Ron has developed a number of shift levers, which just scream short shifting fun! At the prompting of Jon Maddux (the leather guy), Ron sent me a picture of some of his creations a while ago and invited me down to sample them in my Z3-2.8. Ron had heard that I had upgraded to the MZ3 shifter, but had gone a little further – I had dropped the height of my shifter by installing a round aftermarket knob. This, effectively, shortened the shifter another inch. The upside was seriously short shifts. The downside is the loss of the gorgeous BMW knob.

Ron said he had the solution.

Bug Collecting…..

It seemed like a good day for bug collecting, so I headed south to rural Connecticut where Ron does his work.

What I found when I got there was a meticulous garage, a workshop complete with fiche reader, and loads of special tools which Ron makes himself. Ron was interested in trying a number of prototype shortened MZ3 shift levers on my car. The plan was to start with the standard 2.8-Z3 shifter and work our way down to his most shortened unit. Along the way we would take key metrics:

The height of the stick (with the standard BMW knob),

The length of the throw from 3rd to 4th and the amount of force needed to shift from 3rd to neutral and from neutral to 4th.

We would tabulate these metrics into a guide for shift-lever reduction.

Levers 101…

Give me a lever long enough to move the world, a fulcrum big enough and a place to stand and I will break my lever!

Short Shifting in concept is an easy thing to comprehend if you think of the basic physics of a lever. A lever has two parts: the lever and the fulcrum.

The most common lever we are familiar with is a seesaw. Remember when we were kids and the seesaws had several adjustments, which allowed you to lengthen the lever on one side and shorten it on the other? The purpose of this arrangement was to allow you to distribute force in the most effective way. The lighter kid would sit on the longer side, the heavier kid on the short side. Do it right and each kid exerted the same amount of force. The difference was in the length of the lever on their side of the fulcrum. The longer side of the lever takes less force to move, but translates the force over a shorter span on the short side. The lever is a classic force multiplier.

If you imagine the seesaw stood on end, you’ve got your shift mechanism. The lever is your shifter. The fulcrum is the pivot ball which sits under your shift boot. In general, if the longer end of the lever is on the top, you will have to travel more to move the shorter end any significant amount, but it will be easy to move. This is the situation right out of the box. The advantage is that it’s easy for everyone to move the lever because of the force multiplication of the long end.

But it’s not much fun.

Adjusting the See Saw…

You can shorten the shift in a couple of ways: You can “adjust the see-saw” by extending the shift lever below the pivot ball. This is basically what the MZ3 shifter does in the 2.8-Z3 and 1.9-Z3 applications. This has the effect of slightly increasing the effort needed to shift, but it’s really not all that noticeable.

However, the 1.9-Z3 shifter has and additional twist – or rather an additional turn: it’s bent. The bend in the lever accommodates the different transmission in the 1.9-Z3. In the 1.9-Z3 implementation, the straight MZ3 shifter results in the bottom of the shifter and the transmission being seriously out of line, resulting in a condition called “notchiness”, or the difficulty in getting into gear. When you replace a bent 1.9-Z3 shifter with a straight MZ3 shifter, you can compensate for the increased vertical off-axis force by raising the fulcrum point of the lever. Ben Liaw sells a kit call the “ERK” (Effort Reducing Kit”) which allows you to do this. Luckily, in the 2.8-Z3 the difference in height is negligible, so this does not become an issue.

Where’s my Chainsaw?

Another way of changing the relationship of the lever in the shifter is by taking a more radical approach: Shorten the top of the lever.

Using this approach, you can, effectively, shorten the throw down to just about nothing, but there is a cost: as you shorten the upper part of the lever, the force needed to move the bottom part increases. Any reduction in shift throw results in an increased effort regardless of the method you choose to shorten the throw. Remember how the lever works. Extending the length below the pivot ball as well as shortening the length above the pivot ball will result in increased shifting force Shortening the upper part of the lever is the heart of Ron’s idea for short shifting the MZ3. Although Ron chose to shorten the prototype levers 3/4, 1 1/8, and 1 1/2 inch, to equate with a 5% , 10% and 15% reduction, this distance could be any value in between.

It’s actually quite a simple approach. It also leaves all the important parts, those below the lever, in the same relationship and generally intact. Other short shifting kits sold for the Z tend to replace more components, thus encroaching on your warranty. Ron’s approach trades off increased effort in exchange for a more standard implementation where it really counts. The question has always been – how much effort?

That was what we intended to find out.

The Measure of Success

Ron had created several prototypes of shortened sticks from BMW ///MZ3 shifters. Each change in length reduces the throw by five percent: The sticks were shortened by 3/4, 1 and 1/8, and 1 and 1/2 inches. We set out to measure the differences in throw and effort between both the standard 2.8-Z3 shifter, the ///MZ3 shifter and Ron’s shortened ///MZ3 shifters.

Jack of all Trades

Ron is an amazing guy. Not only is his garage neater than just about any room in my house, but he has the most incredible collection of tools, many of them specially made for the sole purpose of swapping out BMW shifters. The first hurdle was to get the car jacked up. Not an easy task. First of all, floor jacks don’t work because the nose is so close to the ground, same problem with ramps. Solution: Ron had built a set of “mini-ramps” which raised the car enough to get the jack under. Next problem: standard jack stands won’t fit the indentations on the bottom of the Z3 at the jack points.

Solution: Ron has built a set of adaptors for jack stands, which exactly fit the Z3. (Ron actually sells jack-stands modified to fit BMW’s, he has been asked by an owner to create a set of jack stands which will fit his Z3, but that’s another story). Once the car was up on the stands, we inserted standard ramps under the front wheels as a backup. We also chucked the rear wheels using Ron’s modified Tru-Cut chucks in the back of the car. This car was not going anywhere!

Mr. Wizzard Goes To Work

We measured the height of the MZ3 shifter with the modified aftermarket knob, then put everything back to standard 2.8. We then measured the height of the standard 2.8 shifter, removed the knob and measured the throw from 3rd to 4th.

We then used a calibrated scale to test the force needed to move the shifter from 3rd to neutral, then from neutral to 4th. By this point I thought I was back in Mr. Wizard’s physics class. Only Mr. Wizard was nowhere near as precise as Ron was!

How to shorten a Shifter

Ron, with the help of Manoj Mehta, Alan Alfano and his coworker Jim Guyan has come up with a way to shorten the upper portion of a shift lever that works well. He and his friend Alan Alfano have been dissecting BMW shift related parts for about a year now.

They cut apart a number of shifters to find out how they are constructed. They’ve discovered a couple of things about how the units are made: The shifter is a rod within a rubbery substance, surrounded by a metal shell. The purpose of the rubber is to isolate shift knob from the vibration and heat of the transmission. The upper portion of the inner rubber is glued to the inner rod. The lower portion is not.

Ron with the help from his dedicated and fanatical crew (OK, he buys them beer) has discovered a way of removing the outer casing from the unit without damaging it. They then cut down the top of inner rubber core to the desired length, while, at the same time cutting down the bottom of the outer casing to match. Afterwards, they re-glue the shortened parts together and polish the unit to a dazzling brilliance. The end product rivals BMW for workmanship.

Instead of adonizing the stick, Ron polishes his to a high gloss

Getting Bent

Ron also bends the ///MZ3 shifter to fit the M3/328 (and, presumably, the 1.9-Z3). His method uses a number of specially machined parts, which places no stress on the shift lever. The bending tool and clamping pieces were made by Alan’s Dad. Ron places the shifter into a vice and bends it to an angle and length known only to High School Math teachers.”When we first started to bend these things”, said Ron, “we assumed that the angle should be the same as the OEM shifter. But it turns out, that this results in the top of the shift lever being too far back, depending on the car. The increased length below the pivot ball, brings the top of the shift lever back”. That was way too much tolerance for a guy like Ron. He wanted precision, so he calculated the X-Y delta between the stock and new lever and bent the new lever accordingly. The new lever duplicates the position of the stock lever in neutral accommodating the height of the new lever.

Note: of course this does not apply in the 2.8-Z3 since the stick in both the ///M and the 2.8 are straight to begin with.

SAT’s (Shifting Attitude Test)

In order to quickly swap out the shifter, Ron developed several special tools to do the job. The first mimics the BMW tool used to remove the nylon cup from the carrier. Unfortunately, the tool must be applied from underneath the shifter, a tight squeeze. We loosened the heat shield under the car to make room. Once you reach it, a simple turn and the tool unhooks the nylon cup and the shifter pops out the top. “You know, a smart guy like you should figure out how to remove this things from the top, then anyone could do it”, I said. I guess Ron took this as a challenge to his engineering prowess, because a couple of weeks later, he sent me a picture of his new tool — the Upper Cup Removal tool. Unlike the BMW tool, this can be used from the top, significantly simplifying the job. Ron’s the only one in the world who makes these things.

We used another special tool, a bent screwdriver to remove the clip, which secures the bottom of the shifter to the rod, which connects with the transmission.

Using Ron’s tools, a shifter can be removed in a minute or so. You simply follow the reverse procedure, making sure the nylon cup is aligned properly for reinstallation. Push the securing back on and the new shifter is in. In the Z3, there is actually no need to remove the carrier or other parts to change the shifter. However, we did discover one “gotcha” — when reinstalling the rubber boot on the shifter at the end of the day we found out how hard it is to actually reseat the boot properly. There is actually a “lip” which needs to be hooked below the carrier. Ron’s tool which is designed to reseat the lip around the carrier in a 328 does not work in a Z3. We somehow managed to do it through brute force. Most do-it-yourselfers (like me!) tend to just let the boot sit on top of the carrier when they are done. The problem is that it will then get dirty and gritty, sure recipie for trouble down the road. Luckily, there was no need to reinstall the boot every time, instead we just swapped out the shift levers to take our measurements.

Even with the special tools, it still took us the whole afternoon to test all the sticks (and we weren’t even drinking beer yet!). The results are tabulated below:

Height “ Change “ Throw “ Reduction “ Change Change Force1 Change Force2 Change
std 2.8 5.0000 3.8750 2.8 ///M 3.75 5.75
//MZ3 4.7500 -.2500 3.2500 -.6250 -16% 4.75 +1.00 6.75 +1.00
“3/4 3.8125 -.9375 2.8750 -.3750 -26% -12% 5.25 +.50 7.50 +.75
“1 1/8 3.5000 -.3125 2.6875 -.1875 -31% -17% 5.75 +.50 8.25 +.75
“1 1/2 3.1875 -.3125 2.5000 -.1875 -35% -23% 6.25 +.50 9.13 +.88

The table shows the results of our obsevations in white and the calculations in gray. Force 1 is the force needed to go from third to neutral and Force 2 is that needed to go from neutral to fourth as measured by Ron’s force meter.

Basically, we found what we expected — as you decrease the length of the shaft, the effort to shift increases. We found that for every third of an inch the shaft was shortened, the effort increased by about 3/4 of a pound of force. Although it does not sound like much, it does tend to add up when you get down to the shortest stick. However, the increase in effort for all sticks was still in the “quite acceptable, thank you” category.

In addition to the metrics, I also offer my subjective impressions of the various levers:

2.8 Standard– Effort to shift is very light, but the throw is enormous. Coming from a Miata, the standard Z3 shifter feels like a giant step in the wrong direction. Feels like I’m driving my Maxima.

3.2 (//M) standard– Better, feels much more like a sports car should, but there seems to be room for improvement. There does not seem to be a great deal of effort or increase in notchiness by stepping to the //M shifter, even though the figures show that this is the largest increase in the force figures. If you’re looking for a marginal improvement, nothing drastic, in fact, something that even a BMW tech could not detect, this is the way to go. If you’re looking for something more read on.

3/4″ short– Effort is still very reasonable, but the shift throw is starting to come down significantly. But there still feels like there’s room for improvement. Personally, I think this stick falls into the gray area of either “too short” or “not short enough”, depending on what you’re looking for. Interesting side note: This is the stick which closely approximates the Miata throw. However, because the standard BMW knob is taller than the standard Miata knob, the final throw is more losely approximated with the 1 1/8th short.

1 1/8″ short – This was my favorite. When we measured the height of the standard knob with this unit it was almost exactly equal to the height of my aftermarket knob on the //M shifter. I’ve been very happy with the throw reduction, but this unit allowed me to use the standard knob. Very Nice! This definitely qualifies as a short-shift implementation. The shifts are more than an inch shorter than the standard 2.8-Z3 shaft and about 1/2-inch shorter than the MZ3 shaft.

1 1/2″ short– This approach was a little too extreme for me. Although it gives you toggle-switch-like performance, the effort increase and the notchiness were beginning to show, but not actually to the extreme where it was unmanageable, but the knob had begun to sink into the shifter well and getting into reverse was starting to be a pain. In addition, the reduction of the amount of external metal sleeve was beginning to show. I would have some questions about the longevity of this diminutive stick with a heavy-handed shifter.

The ///MZ3 shifter in a 2.8-Z3 results in about a 17% reduction in the throw. The 1 1/8th shortened lever results in another 17% improvement over the ///MZ3 shifter. Ron figures that a 30 to 40 percent reduction in throw is about optimal. Anything more than that is too extreme in his opinion. The 1 1/8th short results in about a 30% reduction from the standard 2.8 shifter.

Conclusion: if you were happy with the upgrade to the //M shifter, you’ll be twice as happy with the 1 1/8th short.

In the end, I decided to leave the short stick in my car. It allowed me to get the same performance I was getting from my aftermarket knob, but with the standard BMW knob which matched my dash. In addition, it also gave me an additional feature: by keeping aftermarket knob for “special occasions” I can shorten the shifter by another inch to almost the same dimensions as the 1 1/2 short! It’s a nice option if I feel the need for the occasional bout of “toggle-switch shifting”. If you’re interested, Ron is still looking for someone with an ///M to go through the same exercise with.

You want one of these bad!

Before I left, Ron showed me another special modification. It’s very simple: it’s an adjustable clutch stop.

If you look at the carpet floor in back of your clutch pedal, you’ll see a small black knob. The purpose of the knob is to stop your clutch at the end of it’s travel (it’s a sort of cushion). BMW has actually engineered in another tolerance in the clutch: the last 3 or 4 inches of travel don’t actually do anything!

Try it: Sit in your car with plenty of space in front of you. Shift into first and slowly let up on the clutch. Try to figure out the exact point that the clutch catches then press your foot down slightly. Look down at the floor and notice the amount of space till you hit the floor. What a waste! When you shift, if you are pressing your foot to the floor, you spending close to six inches of travel time in the tolerance zone.BORING!

Ron has the solution: This little do-hickey replaces your standard clutch stop, allowing you to raise it up. This prevents you from going all the way down to the floor with every shift. The result is a much quicker uptake from the clutch and a much faster launch. In fact, as I found out in front of a gang of bikers at a rest stop, it may be such a quick uptake that you’ll end up stalling out the first couple of times. (The bikers were actually very nice and waited to make fun of me until I left the parking lot).

This is the next best thing to sliced bread. Ron sells these things, but he also has a page to show you how to build one yourself. Believe me, if you can get your hands on one of these, do so ASAP!

The Future

Ron has indicated that he will soon be retiring from his job at the East Hartford, CT Pratt & Whitney motor mill. Ron helps maintain the computer / instrumentation systems facilities used in testing the F100 military jet engines. Although he now does things by request, he plans to offer his shortened shifters (and all his other neat thingees!) on a small commercial basis in the near future. If the quality of the work he did on the prototypes can hold up in production, I predict he’s got a ready market out there.

The smile never left my face in the 99 miles of driving back to Boston from Ron’s house. I parked just long enough to jot down these notes and switch to my “short-shorts” aftermarket knob (which shortens the shift by another inch!). Time to take my precision instrument out on the road again!

Postscript: If you think this modification was cool, let Ron know. If you’re hard up for projects for excuses to spend time with your car, Ron can help. Check out his web page which lists more than 120 separate articles with pictures showing stuff Ron has done with his and other BMWs.

Discuss this article and other Convenience upgrades in the

///MZ3.Net discussion forum.

Z3 Solution Cupholder

Pros: Very convenient location, holds 12oz cans and slim 20oz bottles, flexibly material so its easy to install and uninstall
Cons: Condensation can drip into door pocket
Cost: $24.95 (from Z3 Solution)

“Here I am driving one of the most fun automobiles in the world, yet I can’t find a good place to put this can of coke 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. This is where Z3 Solution enters into the story. Pictured below is a cupholder that Z3 Solution makes that snaps into the side door pocket.

This design is simple and functional, its a single piece of molded plastic/rubber material that was custom made for the Z3. The flexible material lets the unit snap into place in the door pocket. Once installed the cupholder holds standard 12oz cans and the newer styled slim 20oz plastic soda bottles. It sticks out from the door slightly more than the door pocket, so there is a slight loss of leg room. However the positioning doesn’t affect the driver, on long drives I even find myself resting the side of my knee on the soft rubber since its more comfortable than the door pocket.

I find myself using the cupholder to also hold my sunglasses and other items when I don’t have a drink in there. I needed to come up with some “cons” for this article, so I got really picky and found one. Condensation from the can ends up dripping down into the door pocket since there is no bottom to the cupholder. If you keep items other than the cup holder in the plastic door pocket they could get water dripped on them (so its not a good place to keep paper). I’ve learned to keep something like a napkin under the cupholder so this isn’t much of a problem.

Chrome Grill Kit

Pros: Looks great, Very solid, 1-2 hours to install (depending on how anal you are)
Cons: Pricey for a vanity upgrade, Adventuresome ordering and shipping process
Cost: $95.00 from MG Racing & Tuning

Most of the upgrades to my Z have been either to make it go faster, louder, or handle better, but not really to change its physical appearance. OK, so the wheels are very noticeable, but they were justified as a handling upgrade. Anyway, for no apparent reason I decided to spice up the grill area. I called all three Houston area BMW dealers to get a price and delivery date on the MY2k chrome grill, and received answers of: “Huh?”; “they don’t make those”; “the grills haven’t changed”; and so on. I decided to order the chrome grill insert kit from MG Racing & Tuning instead.

MG Racing & Tuning is an unusual business. Based in St. Maarten, N.A., they are a small company that sources cool parts for cool cars from all over the world, and sells them over the Internet. It can be a slow, tedious process, due to the weird Caribbean telephony, parts delays, and service and attitude problems with their US shipper. Giampiero, owner of MG Racing & Tuning is an honest guy, and will shoot straight with you. The problem is making contact. The best method is via eMail, and then Giampiero will call you back. I had initial problems with the ordering process, due to my extremely impatient nature, but Giampiero made it right. I would order from MG Racing & Tuning again.

I placed my order and 24 days later it arrived. The kit is packaged nicely, and the English instructions were a pleasant surprise. These would be important later. The instructions would have you install the slats with the grill on the car, but I decided to remove the grill assemblies to clean them thoroughly. Besides, it was hot as hell that day, and I wanted to work inside. Please note that if you want to work with the grills out, you will need to remove the chrome trim ring to help align the slats. One side note, I was very disappointed to see that the “chrome” trim ring on the Z3 is a cheap piece of chromed plastic. For BMW, happiness is cutting corners.

To remove the grills, I simply gave them 2-3 whacks with the palm of my hand, and they popped right out. No problem. The chrome trim rings had some sticky foam/tape inside of them (they’re hollow, too), but they pulled off as well. The car now had a toothless look to it, and a huge amount of wax build-up that I cleaned away. With grills in hand I went inside to work.

I gave the grills a nice bath in the kitchen sink with some Maguiars. I didn’t wash the trim rings that way, since I didn’t want to get the foam/tape wet. Next came the tape. The kit supplies exactly enough double sided tape to put two pieces on each grill fin to receive a slat. Simple enough. Where I made my mistake was applying the first slat without having the trim ring in place as a guide. As a result on a trial fitting, the slat was too high, so I had to remove it, snap the trim ring in place, and then put on the rest of the slats. They went on pretty easily, especially when I followed the instructions advice to use a little soapy water to ease the fitting. A few of the slats were spread too wide, but a little squeezing made them fit perfectly. I would imagine that installing the slats is easier with the grill off the car, since you can press them into place from overhead. Whichever way you do it, you may want to wear some gloves, as it can be pretty rough on the thumbs after eighteen slats.

Each slat has a number and letter to signify its position. It works best if you orient the box (where the slats are in proper order) and the grill the same way to make sure the slat and fin locations are matching. Once I finished, I popped the trim rings off the grills, and was ready to reinstall them on the car. The grills now weighed about two pounds each – very substantial.

Reinstalling the grill assemblies on the car was the worst part (another argument for installing them on the car to begin with) due to the fact that the hood hydraulics wanted to lift the hood past the optimal working position. Also, the rings had to be stretched a little bit to clear the grill slats. But, after fifteen minutes of work, the grills were on the car, and looked fantastic.

A week later I am still amazed by the appearance of the grills as they are simply dazzling in the bright sunshine, and complement the Boston Green paint very nicely. While this is purely a vanity upgrade, it is one I’d recommend if you are in the market for such a look. About the only thing I’d do differently is to install the slats with the grill on the car.