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Thread: Ultimate phone/nav/radio upgrade

  1. #1
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    Ultimate phone/nav/radio upgrade

    Although I love my 2003 black/crema/black (especially after fitting the Motorsport wheels!) I am certainly not happy with the outdated phone/nav/radio solution.
    I have in the mean time fitted a bluetooth device for my iphone and proper nav I get through using a Tom TOm device, but I feel this doesn't do justice to the car.

    I am talking to a company here in Holland that suggest to fit a new (one piece) center console (in my case the black part underneath the handbrake lever and the folding little door) that holds a 2DIN (Kenwood screen) and the actual unit would go somewhere not visible. They suggest to make a mould for a resin piece that would be painted in the proper colour. The four buttons that are horizontally placed would go two-two on either side of the hanbrake lever. The two buttons for the RDK and anti-skid systems would be moved to the handglove compartment (as you never touch these buttons anyhow). It will all be done in a way that the original parts can be re-installed at anytime. Overall look is guaranteed to be "factory-like".

    On the one hand I think it would be great to have this "problem" ultimately solved, on the other hand I am not sure about the degree of destroying the cars look.

    May I have your thoughts please?

    P.S. Should this solution work out fine it is obvious that the center console piece will be available to others as well, as a dedicated mould will be made, which can easily be duplicated several times. Any interest?

    _________________
    Dutch Frank
    2003 Z8 Black/Crema/Black

  2. #2
    Having been around classic cars my whole life my first reaction is don't do it.

    The upgrades you are discussing will date very quickly, and in a few years just seem out of place on the car. How many times have you seen a lovely '60's E type Jag with a bad 80's JVC or Pioneer radio that just looks out o place?

    I use my iPhone for everything, and hardly touch ever the cars own nav or stereo systems now. Bluetooth is useful, as is an iPod link, but I'd leave it at that, anything else is just going date badly.
    Andrew Macpherson

    Expert Z8 Inspections, with full support for both Z8 sale and purchases.

  3. #3
    in Coral Gables, Florida DirkZ8's Avatar
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    That would be one way to really mess up your car.
     
    Dirk

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  4. #4
    Sport Button On - DSC Off Old Baillie's Avatar
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    I agree, don't do it. I share the same frustration sometimes, even my Prius has all the electronics you could wish for, but I think there's something sacred about leaving the Z8 in it's original form. With the top down it's very hard to have a phone conversation anyway.
    Alpina, Silver/Black

  5. #5
    Z8Mania
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    The fellas are correct. Don't do it. Its not worth it.

  6. #6
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    I wish we could send in the existing head units to BMW or Alpine and they would add Bluetooth , and an aux input, to the head units and we would pay them for the upgrades

  7. #7
    Administrator thegunguy's Avatar
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    You can easily add the BMW BT unit to the existing radio.
    thegunguy

  8. #8
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    Thanks for sharing your comments!
    I have been to have look at the car today now with the center console stripped. I have seen a mock-up of what it is going to look like and it looks very tempting.
    I agree with all of you that this solution may look dated in a couple of years, but I would then still have the choice to go back to stock (nothing will be changed in a way that the stock parts i.e. look can not be replaced) or fit something else. Having said that I wonder whether a 7inch display will ever look dated. The controls are touch screen and the screen itself will be programmed with the Z8-logo, so should look nice.

    The build will take about 3-4 weeks (mould for new center-piece takes some time to produce) and I will post some pictures upon its completion.

    Thanks again for sharing.

    Dutch Frank

  9. #9
    Z8 Ate My Homework! Norcal's Avatar
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    Will the screen fit in behind the flip-up door?

  10. #10
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    No it will not! the flip-up door is taken out completely and so is the (in my car) black center-console part.
    The 2DIN screen fits where the flip-door was and the four buttons sport/locks/roof/emergency lights (screen is 7").
    A new center piece (one piece) is moulded replacing the piece underneath the handbrake lever and filling the "holes" around the new screen. It will have exactly the same finish; painted in the right glossy black and with the slight radius of the center console. The four buttons are going to be repositioned two on each side of the handbrake lever. The buttons for anti-skid and RDK are moved to the inside of one the ashtrays.
    The original parts will not be touched, either replaced or repositioned. Luckily the flip-door unit is screwed on, so no problem to take out.

    The unit installed will be a Kenwood dnx 9260 bt unit which contains (Garmin) sat nav / Ipod / Iphone / USB etc etc. This unit will be split; screen will go in center console; unit will go behind dash.

    It is quite a big undertaking, but I am fairly confident that the result will be very clean. Just a screen can be seen; no additional buttons, lights or whatsoever. Even the standard frame that comes with the Kenwood screen will not be used but integrated in the new center piece.

    Again in a couple of weeks I will post some pictures. Let's wait and see!

  11. #11
    Z8 Ate My Homework! Norcal's Avatar
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    It does sound like quite an undertaking. Good luck, and please do post some pictures.

  12. #12
    Z8Mania
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    I would very much like to see the pictures. Good luck with the project.

  13. #13
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    Just a little update on this project.
    Attached is a picture of the first print from the new mould.
    As you can see the center console and the "flip-door" are now in one piece.
    Next step is to fit in the frame of the new screen and tailor the edges of the screen.
    After that the four buttons need replacing and proper fitting

    It's a lot of work.... Thankfully the guys doing it like the Z8 a lot...
     

  14. #14
    Well sure looks like it is going to be done to the quality of a factory option, certainly I'm looking forward to seeing the final product.
    Andrew Macpherson

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  15. #15
    Team Z8 RRZ8's Avatar
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    Good luck Frank!

  16. #16
    Z8 Madness
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    Very nice. Out of curiosity, what is the ballpark cost of this upgrade?
    2016 Porsche GTS/MT

  17. #17
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    The "only" upgrade on this upgrade is the new center console. Luckily our cars are sort of handmade so all of the center console is bolted on and/or in combination with velcro tape. Taking the center console apart is not a big deal.

    Therefore none of the original parts will be touched nor anything cut out or damaged. So at anytime I could decide te re-install the stock center console, which just takes a couple of hours or so of labour.

    As I didn't want to destroy the orginal center piece I decided to have a mould made; also I wanted to keep the right radius of the two pieces, as if you watch closely even the flip-door is not straight!
    That's why my guy started off reproducing the two parts as a whole. Once he has cut out the 7" screen (which covers the "door" and the area where the four buttons are) he will produce another mould that reproduces the final piece.

    So in the end we will end up with a new centerpiece that can be duplicated a number of times. Ofcourse this "raw piece" will need a lot of sanding, professional painting etc. It is designed to hold the Kenwood dnx 9260 bt. This unit retails for about ?1800 in Europe I don't know about the US but I reckon it would be a similar amount in $.

    On top of that you need to buy loose another backside of the screen and the receptive side of the screen on the unit (this is another ?200,00 in parts), as the unit needs to be split. (Screen in the center console; unit under the dashboard). As the screen doesn't click-in anymore a new connection will be made soldering wires between the screen and the main unit. By using new, separate, parts you leave the unit intact in case you need to claim warranty on it (this step is not neccessary, but at ?200 it's a nice insurance)

    The expensive part is making the mould (not parts, but labourwise). I did a deal on this, as the company doing the update is crazy about the Z8, wants to take their custom building to a next level and have been working on other cars I have. Also I allowed them unlimited time to do the project, as I won't be using the car in the winter anyhow.
    To be honest I don't what they will charge for the center piece once it's available for reproduction.

    As a guestimate:
    Total investment is ?/$ 2000 for hardware.
    In your case installation would have to be done in the US as is the painting. I reckon you have going rates for this. The centerpiece, finished, but not painted will be in the hundreds, but this is pure speculation!

    I will post more pictures when we takes things to a next step.

  18. #18
    Z8 Madness
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    I'm sure the end result will be worth the effort and expense. I look forward to more pictures. If my Z8 was a daily driver, a stereo upgrade would be a must, probably not to the same extend as yours.
    2016 Porsche GTS/MT

  19. #19
    Z8 Ate My Homework! Norcal's Avatar
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    Thanks Frank

  20. #20
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    It has been a while since my last post, but I can now present a first glance at the new center console. It is a lot of work...
    The picture shows the set-up of the new center console. Again the four buttons will be moved two by two to the side. The new center piece was made in two pieces, the backside an exact print of the original with the factory connection points.
    From this the final mould will be made using a large block of silicone.

    We have decided to no longer put the actual unit under the dash, but behind the seat where the CD-Changer is.

    The project has proven to be slightly (...) more complicated than anticipated, but we are getting there.
    Still convinced the result will be beyond expectation.

    From here it should two more weeks or so to get the whole thing completed. I will post some more pictures later.

    Regards,
    Dutch Frank

    2003 Black/crema/black
     

  21. #21
    Z8Mania
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    Very nice progress. I am looking forward to seeing the outcome of this. In terms of it being more complicated and perhaps more expensive than originally planned for: you know thats to be expected.

  22. #22
    Team Z8 ZMates's Avatar
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    can't wait to see the finished product.

  23. #23
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    Any news???

  24. #24
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    Yes and No! The good news is that the project is still very alive and going well, but like I posted before it involves more work than originally anticipated.
    Since I am not using the car over the winter I have allowed the company that does the conversion time until March 1st.
    They have been very busy with other projects and I didn't feel the need to push them in anyway. I rather have a 110% result.

    Having said that the prototype of the new center console is ready and indeed looks very nice. They are having some aluminium brackets CNC'ed that hold the screen and some other components.
    Although not visible it does contribute to the "factory-feel" I want this conversion to have.

    I will post some new pictures soon to keep you "visibly" updated.

    Best Regards,

    Frank

  25. #25
    Sport Button On - DSC Off Z8-NL's Avatar
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    Frank,
    I am certainly interested in your project. Live in holland as well so could work if the company can repeat it for another Z8.

    "groeten"

  26. #26
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    Although I am not personally involved the idea of the guys working on the project is to make a mould that could reproduce minimum 10 centerconsoles.
    So yes, it could be repeated for you without any problem.

  27. #27
    Sport Button On - DSC Off Z8-NL's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dutch Frank View Post
    Although I am not personally involved the idea of the guys working on the project is to make a mould that could reproduce minimum 10 centerconsoles.
    So yes, it could be repeated for you without any problem.
    Appreciate if you can get me contact details in due course.

    Thanks
    Klaus

  28. #28
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    Hallo Klaus,

    het bedrijf is Brian Custom Car Audio in Zoetermeer (www.brian.nl). Vragen naar Brian; hij is de eigenaar.

    Groeten, Frank

  29. #29
    Sport Button On - DSC Off Z8-NL's Avatar
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    veel dank
    Klaus

  30. #30
    Team Z8 ZMates's Avatar
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    sorry I'm so impatient, but is there any news yet?

    thanks a lot, John
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  31. #31
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    Unfortunately things are not working out very well. The new console is ready, everything is ready, but the touchsreen that has to be separated from the main unit (because of lack of space underneath the dash; unit should go in CD player "box") does not receive a signal. It seems that the extended wiring creates a problem. This has not occurred on the previous model of this Kenwood unit, but it does appear on this one.
    They are working on a fix, but no joy yet; needless to say that Kenwood Holland is not cooperative to help them in finding a solution.
    So I am back to square one; Tom Tom nav and looking at changing the radio unit for one with a bluetooth iphone connection.
    Should they fix the problem then I will post straight away.

    Bye, Frank

  32. #32
    Team Z8 ZMates's Avatar
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    thanks for the update.

    I'm actually most interested in the console: I want to install a carputer. Are they ready to sell the console yet?
    Silver/black
    Dinan S2 package: headers, throttle bodies, oversized MAFs, airfilters, anti-roll bars, lightweight flywheel
    Dinan by Brembo brake kit and monoball control arm bushings
    BBS forged individual wheels
    Quaife differential, 3.64:1 final drive
    Meisterschaft GT titanium mufflers
    K&W 3 way adjustable competition monotube dampers and monoball adjustable mounts
    CDV delete

  33. #33
    Z8Mania
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    Sorry to hear of your troubles but I suspect you will be able to overcome them with some kind of signal repeater or booster.

  34. #34
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    Hi Frank, i am a Dutch Z8 driver as well, was wondering, did you complete the project or is it stopped? Last days i tried to find a single din navigation system, not easy... Only some 2nd hand Becker Cascade Pro seem to be an option (next to some chinese low qual stuff....

    So if your project has been finished i am interested as well to install a double din navigation system

  35. #35
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    Project has stopped. Impossible to overcome the weak i.e. loss of signal between unit and screen. Sorry. back to square one; din unit (alpine 117i is great!) and Tom Tom or equivalent.

  36. #36
    Team Z8 ZMates's Avatar
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    what about the console. will they make that available?
    Silver/black
    Dinan S2 package: headers, throttle bodies, oversized MAFs, airfilters, anti-roll bars, lightweight flywheel
    Dinan by Brembo brake kit and monoball control arm bushings
    BBS forged individual wheels
    Quaife differential, 3.64:1 final drive
    Meisterschaft GT titanium mufflers
    K&W 3 way adjustable competition monotube dampers and monoball adjustable mounts
    CDV delete

  37. #37
    Sport Button On jwgerritsen's Avatar
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    Thats a pity of all the energy! OK i will then start to use the becker cascade pro, they stopped production and you have to pay crazy prizes on ebay and the likes...

  38. #38
    in Coral Gables, Florida DirkZ8's Avatar
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    Saw this last week at the Techno Classica in Essen and thought that some of you may be interested. It looked very well done.

    Somewhat troubling was the seller's description: "Upon delivery, BMW USA equipped several cars with Alpine multi-function media units which we (the seller) converted to German specs.".

    Is that true ? (sorry, I don't believe anything that I hear or see at car shows, TC is no exception)

    Note the asking price on the flyer.
       
    Dirk

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  39. #39
    Z8Mania
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    Very nicely done but very not true. First off, there is no "BMW USA". Its "BMWNA". Second the only things BMWNA did was making sure the radios had the proper tuning for the NA market and update software. I believe the first batch of Z8s sat for several weeks, if not months, for the final codes from BMW AG.

    So what you have above is a really nice install but its still a modded Z8.

  40. #40
    Team Z8 RRZ8's Avatar
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    Where are the buttons? All linked to the touchscreen?