Black Wood Dash Kit

Pros: Looks good, matches Larry’s steel gray/black Z3
Cons: Evaluation kit, product canceled and is not available
Cost: Unknown, Product Unavailable

To my knowledge this is the only black wood dash kit made for the BMW Z3. It is an evaluation kit made my a company in Korea. However just after developing this evaluation kit the model year 2000 Z3s showed up and it was apparent that this kit was already out of date so the manufacturer decided to cancel the project.

Even though the project was canceled I thought owners would like to see what a black wood dash kit would look like in a Z3. The carbon fiber shift knob was added later and is a nice (matching) addition to the looks. Hopefully another dash kit maker will consider adding black wood to their collection for those looking for something a little different.


Even though this particular black wood dash kit is not available, MG Racing has a black wood dash kit. If you are looking for a very unique dash kit that looks really good with black interior this may be what you have been looking for.

BMW Wood Steering Wheel Upgrade

Pros: Looks good
Cons: Expensive, not really wood
Cost: $71 / $500

BMW Z3 Wood Steering Wheel Upgrade

Part Number 82-21-9-405-289

After shockingly noticing that the leather at the very top of the steering wheel was wearing through and my car was not even a year old yet, I went to the local dealer to ask about a replacement under warranty. I asked my service advisor if I could upgrade to the wood steering wheel since they were going to have to replace it anyway (and I would pay the difference in price). Also, since I had recently heard that the NHTSA was allowing manufacturers (and after-market places) to 1) disable airbags, and 2) depower airbags, and that the Euro airbags are already de-powered (the difference between US and Euro spec airbags are the fact that in Europe, they assume that a person WILL be using their seat belt, and consequently require less force to slow them down in the event of a crash as opposed to the US assuming that people will NOT be using the seat belt and will require airbags coming at you in excess of 200mph!) I asked the dealer to see if I could get an Euro spec wood steering wheel. The difference between the US and Euro wood steering wheel is the Euro wheel has 3 spokes (at 3:00, 6:00 and 9:00) and wood on the entire circumference of the wheel, the US has 4 spokes (at 2:30, 3:30, 8:30 and 9:30) with the sides (2:30 to 3:30 and 8:30 to 9:30) being leather. I also called the 800 customer service line to see what I could do. Admitting defeat I settled for the US spec wood steering wheel. I had to wait a week or 2 for them to put in the new wheel (would have been about the same for the leather steering wheel). First of all, the wood steering wheel is darker than the beige interior on my car, but it does look pretty good in combo with the beige color (IMHO I’m not sure if it would look good in the black interior of not). I think the interior would look even better if I had a wood dash kit (including the shift know and the handle on the hand brake). Secondly I think the leather on the sides of the wheel is of a much better quality. Lastly, the wood steering wheel is NOT wood (we can argue this point till the cows come home, but you will not change my opinion), it is PLASTIC (feels like plastic, sounds like plastic….hmmm, must be plastic), but it looks kind of like wood. If you tap on the “wood” it doesn’t sound like wood, and if you try to press you fingernail into the “wood” it doesn’t leave an impression. All in all I like the “wood”, but I wouldn’t spend $500 (plus installation) for it, the $71.01 I paid was just about as much as I would spend on it.

I think now I might have been able to get the Euro spec wheel. If you go to the Edmund’s Web Site and look at the specs on the 1998 2.8L Z3 you will noticed that depowered airbags (at least the driver’s airbag) are standard, so I would think that you might be able to get the smaller airbag. But, having seen a 1998 Z3, I didn’t notice if the airbag was smaller (I don’t think it was), but there is hope because the specs on the M Roadster list a 3 spoke steering wheel (so hopefully it has the smaller Euro airbag).

Robert’s Wood Dash Saga

Pros: Wood looks good with tan interior
Cons: Still looks “stuck on” in places
Cost: $240

The Good, the Bad and the Ugly.

Short Version:

One day I was gawking at a green and tan Z3 with a wood dash, it looked so incredibly good I decided I had to look into a wood dash kit for my Z3. I went back and forth trying to decide what dash kit would look good in my silver/black/gray Z3. While contemplating this my wife decided a dark walnut wood dash would look good in her 318i. I ordered her a kit from New England Wood Dash and it was horrible (for further details see “The Bad”). I ended up returning that kit, and purchased a kit from Auto Designs (for further details see “The Good”). The Auto Designs kit fit like a glove and looked great. The looks were so good I finally talked myself into purchasing a carbon fiber kit for my Z3. Well, that kit also fit perfect, unfortunately I didn’t care for the look of the “real” carbon fiber (for further details see “The Ugly”).

Update: Apparently AutoDesigns has gone out of business since the creation of this article. ///MZ3.Net recommends HMS wood dash kits as well as those from MG Racing.

Long Version:

# The Good:After my horrible experience with New England Wood Dash I was pretty soured on any wood dash kit. Thankfully, Jonathan Gentry of Auto Designs contacted me (he saw a post I had made on the message board about my ill fitting wood dash), we exchanged e-mail a couple of times, and I sent him the pictures I had taken of the New England Wood Dash. He assured me his kits were of a higher quality and I eventually ordered a wood dash from him for my wife’s 318i.

The kit promptly arrived two days later. Still a little leery I tested (dry fit) each piece and was elated to see how precise the entire kit fit. After a final go-ahead from the boss (my wife), I started applying each piece. The kit was very easy to install (and kinda fun). About 30 minutes later it was all done. My only complaint about this kit was that I wished it had more pieces. Unfortunately the 318i kit doesn’t cover as many areas as a Z3 kit does. That small complaint aside, I was very pleased with the end result.

I highly recommend Auto Designs to those of you considering wood dashes. The product is precise and the wood is beautiful. I even received a unsolicited e-mail from Auto Designs asking if everything went well after the sale (pro-active customer service, kinda rare). (return to top)

# The Bad:When the New England Wood Dash kit arrived for my wife’s 318i, one of the first things I noticed was that they sent the wrong instructions (the instructions were for a 2 door convertible). So I started looking at each piece and trying to figure out where it would go. I tried the pieces, starting with the center armrest. On the armrest the pieces fit okay, but not perfect. The biggest flaw made a cup holder slightly smaller in diameter. I go ahead and install these pieces on the center console and was fairly pleased with the results. It was late that night so I stopped for the evening.

The next evening I tried the piece around the gear shift. This piece just did not fit at all. The geometry was off and I started to think that maybe New England sent me the wrong kit. This theory was further backed up when I discovered that the four door panel pieces couldn’t be installed because where the wood was to lay down, there was cloth fabric on the door (they would never stick for longer than a week). The final blow was the wood piece for a rounded coin holder, the piece was square. At that point I gave up and tried to resolve these issues with New England Wood Dash.

At first I called them and ended up talking to an “Eddie”. Eddie confirmed that I had received the correct kit, so I started addressing the individual flaws. I got the impression that Eddie either didn’t understand me, didn’t believe me, or that he thought I was an idiot. After not getting anywhere I told him I would write him an e-mail describing the problems I was having and attach a bunch of digital pictures and e-mail them to him at New England Wood Dash.

Two days passed, no response. So I called Eddie again, he said the e-mail showed up but no pictures (he didn’t say why he had not responded). I sent the e-mail again, this time actually sending several separate e-mails each with it’s own picture. Two days passed and once again no response.

Needless to say at this point I’m a little upset with New England Wood Dash and call them once again. “Eddie is not here can I take a message?” I leave a message but Eddie never calls back. The next day I try again, this time catching him while he’s in the office. I hardly get a word in as Eddie boldly tells me (paraphrased) “You don’t like any of the pieces, something must be different with your 318i, it would cost me too much money to make a kit just for your car, return the kit for a full refund”. I ask him about the pieces that are already installed, he said it was my fault for not testing (dry fitting) the entire kit first. He said to return the pieces I had not installed for a full refund. This left me with a wood arm rest and nothing else (Eddie didn’t care).

I packaged the remaining 17 pieces up and send them back. Nearly two weeks pass before I see the credit on my VISA card. And when the credit finally shows up it was $180 (I purchased the kit for $198) Eddie shorts me $18 despite his claim of a full refund.

In my opinion you should avoid doing business with New England Wood Dash. I have only dealt with them this one time but my opinion is that their product is flawed, their support is evasive, and their ethics are questionable. (return to top)

# The Ugly:After dealing with Auto Designs for my wife’s 318i, my impressions of wood dash kits was once again very high. I talked myself into ordering a carbon fiber kit for my Z3. (When I purchased my car alarm the little plastic clicker thing was carbon fiber and I liked the looks of the black and gray pattern). When I was placing the order with Auto Designs, I was asked “do you want real or synthetic carbon fiber”. Not knowing that there were two different kinds of carbon fiber, I decided on the more expensive “real” carbon fiber (only the best for my Z3). The kit promptly arrived two days later. I tested (dry fit) every piece and once again the kit fit precisely. However the look of the carbon fiber was not what I was expecting. Apparently there is a big difference between real and simulated carbon fiber. The real stuff is reflective, kinda like a hologram. This is pretty neat but very distractive. It also surprised me because it wasn’t black and gray (like my little plastic car alarm remote). It was black and hologram like. The color depended on what kind of light you were under. In direct sunlight the dash looked black and bluish white (kinda cool). However, in the shade it picked up a yellow/green tint. In my garage, it had a nasty burnt yellow tint. After showing some of the pieces to a couple other Z3 owners, we all agreed (Yuck!). So this kit got returned, in the end I decided to stick with the stock black plastic dash. (return to top)