Faces in Places-Car’s Edition #4

It is easy to find Faces in Places with classic hood ornaments on old time cars.  We featured hood ornaments a couple posts ago in the Faces in Places series and they seemed to get a lot of attention.  Several ended up being posted in a variety of websites/forums were you would not expect.

This classic Buick Goddess hood ornament was mounted on a display stand at the National Automobile Museum in Reno, Nevada.  She now watches over a gallery of classic cars as opposed to the open road.

Hood Ornament

The Archer hood ornament on the  Pierce Arrow was an absolute classic.  This American luxury car was produced between 1901 and 1938 before going out of business.  These fine cars were prized by many Hollywood stars and Royalty during there production run.  Rumor has it that the marque may even return if a Swiss company has its way.
Hood Ornament

This frosted glass Lalique Eagle Head hood ornament is a definite crown jewel for any car.  These pieces are highly treasured and very delicate–they obviously have a shorter life depending on where you live and what type of road debris you may encounter.
Hood Ornament

Still can’t get your fill of  hood ornaments–Check out this great reference website (Ken Thornton).

Keep your eyes posted–Faces can be found everywhere.

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Trim Replacement–Preventative Maintenance for the BMW Z3

It’s hard to believe our Z3 will be celebrating its 14th year of life this February.  It doesn’t seem that long ago that we picked her up at the dealership in Columbia, South Carolina.  To ensure she will make it to classic car status looking grand–now was a great time to attend to some basic repairs.  A great starting point is to keep the rubber gaskets and seals lubricated or replace them when they become cracked.

The door handle trim and antenna gasket had started to crack and deteriorate recently.  I am not sure if that is a function of living in the desert or just age; given I do wipe them down with a protectant/sunscreen.  The repairs didn’t seem too difficult and would ensure that the weather (what little we have) does not get into the body.  You can see from the photo below how they looked before the start of the project.

Z3 Gasket Repair

To replace the door handle trim you will need to purchase part numbers 51 21 8 400 195 & 51 21 8 400 196. First start by opening the door and prying open the small access hole cover that is located near the handle with a small flat head screwdriver.

Z3 Gasket Repair

This opening allows you to get to the door handle trim release slide which is how you unlock and lock the handle trim into place.  In order to accomplish this task you need a few tools (thin flat head screwdriver and hanger bent into a small right angle hook).  For the next step a bright light, good eye and patience will come in handy.  Using the screwdriver insert it into the hole and push it against the pale gold object you see above the lock cylinder.  It should slide forward about a 1/4 inch and the trim should release from the door. Pull off the old trim and clean up any dirt and debris that has accumulated under the door handle trim.

Z3 Gasket Repair

Using the appropriate door handle trim, insert the new piece into position starting at the bottom and pick up the hanger hook tool.  Insert the hook tool into the access hole and pull the slide you just pushed forward back into position to lock the trim down.  The process seems a little bizarre but once you do it the first time you will be a master.  Reinsert the access hole cover and this door is complete.

Z3 Gasket Repair

Congratulations!  First door took about 3-4 times longer than door #2.  Now that you have a new skill you can impress your friends and family by performing this trick in minutes when their door trim starts to crack.  Check out how great it looks below.

Z3 Gasket Repair

Now we move on to the antenna gasket (Part #65 21 8 389 698).  This gasket takes a lot of abuse from the antenna being tighten down on it and the vibration that the antenna puts on it during time out on the road and track.  Everyone has seen the antenna being blown backwards and thrown side to side as the Z3 carves up the curves on a mountain drive.  I just replaced the antenna this last summer because the rubber was cracking on the base.

Z3 Gasket Repair

You start by opening the trunk and and pulling back the carpet on the left side of the trunk.  This will allow you access the antenna bracket.  Loosen a couple of  nuts and the gasket swap can be completed.  I found a small amout of lubricant (water works just fine) will help the gasket install easier.  Reattach the nuts and replace the carpet.

Z3 Gasket Repair

You can see how bad the original gasket was in the photo below.

Z3 Gasket Repair

The antenna and gasket look as good as new.

Z3 Gasket Repair

The total cost in parts for these two projects was about $30.  The best place to order these parts is Bavarian Auto.  So next time you need to fix something–check the Bentley Z3 Service Manual: 1996, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, search the internet and take the task on yourself to save a few dollars and get closer to your car.

Let’s keep these cars looking beautiful.  There’s nothing more depressing then remembering how these cars looked back in the day displayed on the grounds of the plant at Homecoming in Greer, South Carolina and seeing some of them now on the roads tired and beaten.

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What’s in your Trunk?

Sports cars aren’t  supposed to be practical but who really cares when they are so much fun to drive. Over the years I have hauled an incredible amount of items in the Z3 and M3.  Below is a short list by car of the unusual stuff:

Z3

  • 6 foot palm tree and other misc. landscape material
  • Cat-back exhaust
  • 4 tires (to be mounted)

M3

  • 2′ x 4′ sheets of Styrofoam (insulated 3 car garage door project)
  • Crown molding
  • Folding tables
  • 4 tires (to be mounted)

Why is this worthy of being written about?

Way back in 1998 I took photos of a BMW E30 pick-up truck at the Z3 HomeComing event in Greer, SC.  The story surrounding the E30 truck, as told by the curator of the Zentrum museum, was that a group of German BMW techs built this one of a kind 3 series as a project car.  He was never clear if the project was supported by BMW or not but the fact that it made its way from Germany to the US is enough support for me.  Other  enthusiasts throughout the years have converted BMWs into pick-up trucks but this was built by BMW techs from the ground up.

This car was the Ultimate Hauling Machine for the enthusiast that wanted style and functionality.  It captured a lot of interest on display at the time and based on a review of popular mybimmer.com site searches it still does today.  Enjoy the original photos below.

E30 pick up truck

E30 pick up truck

E30 pick up truck

Although BMW builds the X3 and X5 SUV lines it can’t match up to the functionality of a pick-up truck.  At the plant they always said if we built a pick-up truck the employees that used the leasing incentive would be 100%. Practical will almost always win out over stylish–unless you are up to the challenge.

We can all hope that BMW builds a pick-up truck someday.

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Mercedes, Running and the Coolest Medal EVER!

We are just a few weeks away from the 10th annual Mercedes Marathon (Feb 11-13) in Birmingham, Alabama.  This event supports several great local charities in the community and features one of the coolest Finisher Medals ever (see below)

If you are not in shape to make this year’s run you can perhaps prepare for next year by reading a runner’s training/race blog from last year or purchasing a book on marathon training from Amazon.

If your up for the challenge next year, be sure to add a day or two on to your visit to tour the Mercedes Plant and Museum in nearby Vance, Alabama.   Check out our Photo Gallery from the museum from back in 1999 when we made the trip from Spartanburg, SC.

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