Since we started the EV project, the plan has always been to do a body swap. But we’ve been held back by the lack of a dry space in which to do it. Though the kit we plan to use is largely a bolt-on swap for the existing Z3 panels, there is a lot of fettling required, for example fitting the rear lights (which don’t come with the kit and require the body to be modified), installing a charge port, and mounting number plates etc. All this means the car might be body-less for a few days.
But, after over a year of searching, I have now found a garage to rent about 15 minutes drive from my house. And it has space for some friends to come in with their projects too. So I’ve taken the plunge and put the deposit down on the Tribute Automotive Z300S kit.
This has about a six week lead time. So that means for the next six weeks I will be thinking about all sorts of aspects of the looks of the car, as well as trying to get the garage in order for the work. I’ll save information about the garage for an upcoming video – and for when I’ve actually put pen to paper on the contract (this all might yet be a bit premature…). But I am starting to plan some bits for the car.
One of the big decisions to make is about what lights to use. I confess I’ve found choosing these pretty confusing. There doesn’t seem to be much in the way of clear guidance in terms of what is allowed with regards to LEDs etc. Since we’re going for a real resto-mod look, I want to have quite modern features on the car, including LED lights all round. These should also save on energy consumption a bit – every little helps.
So the question is, what lights do I need?
At the front, you clearly need headlights, dipped and full beam, as well as indicators. Fog lamps are optional (there are none on the original car) and I could choose to add those later.
I really like these all-in-one units for this. They are certified for E9 (Spain) but from what I can gather this should also be fine for the UK (E11), though this may come down to the judgement of the MOT station.
At the rear I need brake lights, position lights (that come on with the front lights), indicators and reversing lamps. And lights for the number plate. I like the multi-function nature of these Fristom FT-230s but not totally sold on the design yet. Bit too ‘back of a truck trailer’. Something like that would be good though.
Again, fog lights are optional, though these are integrated into some units.
Then there’s just the sides where I will need repeaters for the indicators.
The confusion comes with the regulations. It’s not entirely clear what the legalities are here of installing LED lights on a car that didn’t originally have them, when I’m completely changing the body shape. I’m hoping that as long as the lights are appropriately marked up with ‘ECE’ certification, I should be fine.
My daughter wants wire wheels. I don’t. Not only do they not go with the resto-mod theme, they would be a ball ache to clean.
Our compromise so far is BMW Style 42 wheels which we both like.
I’ve been looking at a 17in set with an 8J profile from a 5-Series. The problem with these is that I want something with enough width or offset to really fill out the rear arches and I don’t think these will. As I understand it the 20 or 47mm offset these wheels come with (ET20/ET47) mean that they very much tuck under the car. Instead I want wheels that go the other way from the centreline of the wheels and perhaps have a bit of a dish.
The car can take 18s but I want a fair bit of tyre, both for the look (it’s resto-mod, not mod) and for comfort.
More research required.
This is a consideration for down the line really, but I have already started working on some custom parts for the interior. Notably, customising the heater controls for my electric heating system, and adapting the centre console for a double-din touchscreen head unit. Videos to follow over on the YouTube channel. I also want to change the seats in the car or have the current ones re-upholstered – not sure which is the more cost-effective option at the moment. And fresh carpets and door cards are also a must.
The plan now is to get the second car (the basis for my future electric GT car) into the workshop and get it stripped down. Then I can use its gearbox to make up the adaptor plate for the new motor for the cabrio, without having to take the cabrio apart. I can also make up the engine mounts and the beginnings of the frame for the ancillaries, before taking the cabrio off the road for a week or so to complete the swap.
While the second Z3 is in pieces, I can also use it to mock up the body panels for the cabrio and install things like the lights and number plate, before again taking the cabrio off the road for a few days and swapping all the pieces over. Then the cabrio will have to go off for paint before it can be finished. Maybe I need another car while both cars are off the road…
Anyway, day dreaming aside, once all that is done I will get the GT/second Z3 completely stripped down and start to properly fix any rust and recondition any parts while simultaneously beginning to put together the new drive train. News on that to come down the line.