BMW Z3 Hard Top Fitting (1996 – 2002)
The following is the experience from Paul Lynch in fitting his hard top.

I fitted my fitting kit and hardtop a while ago now – but it wasn’t really perfect (I was about 95% happy with it).. It was weather tight – but I was getting a slight clunk from the rear when going over bad roads/potholes etc and a very slight wind noise. I always said I’d get round to sorting it out once and for all once time and weather permitted! and low and behold it was actually sunny here today for a change!!

I’ve attached the official BMW HardTop Fitting/adjusting guide which is a good base to begin with – but felt it was fair warning to say that it’s not a simple one and done job. I’d say that if anyone was looking at doing this then set aside 2-3 hours or so (and it needs 2 people).

BMW HardTop Fitting Kit instructions (PDF)

BMW HardTop Fitting Instructions (PDF)

The equipment/items you’ll need (don’t skimp on the mounting gauges as they give you the exact gap you need!)

  • Hook spanner (BMW part no: 54211972684)
  • Mounting gauge (BMW part no: 54219408881)
  • Dust sheet (to rest the roof on when off the car)
  • T40 Torx screwdriver or screw bit (for the front windshield mountings)
  • T30 Torx screwdriver or screw bit (for the adjustability in the roof windshield mounting)
  • 24mm open ended spanner (for the height adjustment in the lock down latches either side)
  • 10mm combination spanner (you can use a 10mm socket on the drivers side -the wiring for the defrost switch gets in the way on the passenger side)
  • 13mm socket (for the pass through bolt from the folding roof frame support to the covers for the side rear pieces)
  • Tape measure
  • Feeler gauge
  • Loctite
  • BMW rubber treatment or Gummi Phledge
  • Rag
  • Hexagon socket screw 2.5mm (for trim pieces that cover mounting bracket)
  • Phillips screw driver (for removing and replacing rear latch down covers)
  • BMW screen cover
The attached guide pretty much covers the steps you need to take.

  1. You remove all of the covers and loosen everything off (and there is a LOT of adjustment in the roof and the brackets).
  2. I’d then suggest you remove your aerial as it is one less obstacle to try and avoid.
  3. Fit your rear BMW screen cover and lower the roof.
  4. Fit your mounting gauges.
  5. You then offer the roof up to the car (lining the front/windscreen edge first) and then look at getting the spikes in their hole each side. (The instructions are pretty good at this point regarding talking you through getting the roof square and aligned properly on the car – remember to nip up all of the bolts and make sure the height in the rear adjusters/brackets is good in comparison to the gauges).
  6. Tighten up the windscreen mounting bolts and the 3 x T30 bolts each side of the roof (making sure the seal from the a-pillar is spot on each side and it lines up roughly how your cloth roof did with the windshield frame)
  7. You can now remove the hardtop
  8. Remove the mounting gauges
  9. Fit the trim pieces to the hardtop (2 front covers and the 2 covers that fit over the rear latches)
  10. Refit the hardtop to the car
Job done!!

Things to watch out for:
* Make sure there is NO gap either side on the A-Pillar otherwise you WILL get leaks/water ingress
* When you’re fairly happy with the roof position – check that both windows go up and down without interference (if not then adjust! – you shouldn’t need to adjust the windows – if it was fine with the cloth roof then it should be fine with the hardtop! the adjustment needs to be made in the hardtop!)
* Make sure the height with the gauges is accurate! – if not then you will get a clatter from the rear of the roof when going over rough ground as the roof comes into contact with the body!

Hopefully this helps add some more clarity around fitting a hardtop!