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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
Hi folks,

Quick question. I understand at some point the Z3 started coming with a power top.

I just picked up a 1997 2.8 built 1/97. Should this car have a manual or motorized top? Presently it's a manual top and if I keep trying to raise it from the driver's seat over my shoulder, I'm gonna pull something in my shoulder...

Mike B
 

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BMW CCA 1405
1997 BMW Z3 1.9
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5,177 Posts
For the first Z3 in July 1995, RealOEM shows a motorized top, and also shows a gas pressurized spring for a manual top. My 1997 made in October 1996 actually has neither.

In the process of ordering and returning a gas spring for my car, I saw info indicating that the gas spring and its ball mounts were introduced in March 1997, and that some clearance had to be made for it in that congested and confined area.

From another forum thread, I think the gas spring was replaced by the hydraulic cylinder of a standard motorized top soon after that, with the manual top remaining available as a "delete" option at least until 2000.

To answer your question, I think your car is like mine, too early for the gas spring, and too early for the hydraulic. There are some checks you can make:
1. Motorized tops have a switch on the console between the seat backs. If so, go to 3 below.
2. Remove the driver door jamb trim and pry back the plastic cover to see if there's a gas spring (or a hydraulic cylinder.) This is hard and risky as you can break tabs, especially on the rubber molding in Step #7 here:
http://www.tophydraulicsinc.com/bmwz3removalguide.pdf
3. Remove the carpet on the left side of the trunk and see if there's an electric motor and hydraulic pump. Sometimes they fail and are made manual by turning a T handle on the pump.
http://www.bimmerforums.com/forum/s...-make-auto-top-manual&p=29228343#post29228343
 

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My '97 (also build 1/97) is a manual. My shoulders are junk now, so there's no way I even try to pull it up while sitting in the seat.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Yup, I've given up too. I have the wife get out of the car to hand me the roof. I can already see it some day pulling over, and asking a complete stranger to hand me my roof so I can lock it down. Boy I'm starting to miss the power roof on my old Rx7 ragtop.
 

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Mine is the same and built 6/97. I've started to get out of the car and close the top. Anyone ever add the pump? Is it a big project and can it be done?
 

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I watched a video on YouTube where a guy was doing a comparison to I think it was a Pontiac solstice, when it came to putting the top up and down the guy just kind of stood up in the drivers side with one knee on the seat and reached around and grabbed the top and put it up, that's what I do now, easy peasy.
Terry
 

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My '97 2.8 was also built in 4/97 and before I purchased it I read several buyers guides that recommended staying away from the motorized roof if at all possible and stick with the manual operation. After seeing several posts regarding issues with the motorized roof I'm thankful that mine is manual. It takes only seconds to open or close and that's with using a fabric window protector.
 

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BMW CCA 1405
1997 BMW Z3 1.9
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... Anyone ever add the pump? Is it a big project and can it be done?
Not heard of it. In addition to the switch and power back to the motor, as well as the motor and pump, and the hydraulic cylinder, there are the ball mounts for the cylinder. And when I looked under my plastic, I did not see how the cylinder could fit. So I suspect there was some rearranging under there by BMW to make room.
It is not the possible difficulty, or the considerable cost, that might be involved, that deters me from retrofitting a powered top. I don't want the complexity, and problems that powered tops seem to develop.
 

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BMW CCA 1405
1997 BMW Z3 1.9
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5,177 Posts
... stood up in the drivers side with one knee on the seat and reached around and grabbed the top and put it up, that's what I do now, easy peasy.
I never kneel on a seat, as I fear my 210 lbs concentrated like that might harm the heating grid. When I need to work behind the seats, like cleaning the window, cleaning the top drains, or replacing rear shocks or mounts, I put a boat flotation cushion on the seat to kneel on.
I don't think the Z3 manual top was designed to be raised from a seated position like the current Miata top.
 
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