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Thread: Z8 set-up for iPhone - latest info

  1. #1
    DSC Off REG Z8 01's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2005

    Z8 set-up for iPhone - latest info

    Has anyone set-up their Z8 for an iPhone? My 2001 silver/black came with a set-up for an old clam shell cell phone and I have never used it.

    Would appreciate step-by-step instructions and/or photos if available.


    REG Z8 01

  2. #2
    Z8 Addict Z8doc's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2004

    yes, you need to ....

    bluetooth your OEM head unit by swapping out the ULF unit in the storage compartment behind the driver seat. Very easy to remove the unit but be careful sliding out the trim cover so you can access the bolts that secure that cover to the back of the compartment.

    The Bluetooth ULF unit from the same year e46 3 series. You will have to install the pairing button somewhere and I chose to install mine in the rear compartment of the console out of the way.

    Go to and look under Bluetooth retrofit -- there are detailed instructions for installation on a Z8 there. Mine works great. Note: This is only for bluetoothing the telephone features to your OEM radio. It DOES NOT bluetooth the music from your iPhone as the limitation is with the ULF unit and the OEM head unit.

    Otherwise, the only options are to choose a complete replacement of the OEM radio head unit with a more modern up to date radio/CD/iPhone/iPod unit that has the features you want.

    Best Regards,

    61995 Silver /// Rot - Original Owner
    Z8 Club of Germany e.V. #102

  3. #3
    Sport Button On
    Join Date
    Jan 2013

    New head unit installation

    I ended up swapping the head unit for a Pioneer one. It's pretty straightforward and you can put the old radio back whenever you want.

    Tools you need:
    Head unit - go for what looks best in your car with the features you want. You can get one with a front USB connection, and not bother with wiring the USB cable from the back, but it's a much cleaner install if you go from the back. That way you can keep the cover closed while using the phone. Many also come with A2DP bluetooth connection which lets you listen to music from your iphone without wires, but the quality of the sound may be questionable.

    A BMW radio adapter harness. - There are basically 2 kinds and you want the one with flat pins, not the older round pins. Fry's Electronics sells the Metra 70-9003 for about $20 dollars, but you can get a generic brand for half the price on the internet.

    A stereo antenna harness - This is for radio reception, it's not really necessary if you don't listen to the FM/AM radio, but I got it anyways to complete the install. The Metra 40-eu10 is available at Fry's but any generic brand on the internet is good enough.

    Solder/Butt-splice - A heat shrink butt-splice is good enough, but soldering is also a good option. This is to connect the above mentioned Metra harness to the harness that comes with the head unit you purchase. The cables are color coded so connecting them is really straight-forward. But there are diagrams online that show what each pin/cable controls (right speaker, left speaker, ground, etc.). I've included a pic of this at the bottom of this post.

    Crimping Tool/Soldering Iron - for soldering or crimping

    Metric Hex Allen Key set - This is to unscrew the two screws that hold down the stock BMW radio in its place. Older BMWs required a special 5-sided hex key, but my 2001 Z8 (and I'm pretty sure all the other Z8s) work with the 6 sided hex. I think the size is 2.5mm, but they usually come in a set that's pretty cheap. Harbor Freight sells them for like $5. Keep in mind the screws don't actually come out of the radio, just unscrew each until it's loose.

    T20 torx bit - This is to remove the 2 screws holding down the tray in the armrest.

    Philips screwdriver - This is to remove the old cell phone (screws are underneath the tray) and to loosen the plastic tube that guided the old phone's wire into the tray under the armrest. I had to loosen this so I could fit the USB cable through, I couldn't see another way but there's probably other ways to do it if you take your time and take apart some more stuff.

    A long USB cable that'll go from the back of the head unit to the tray.

    A USB - Iphone cable.

    Splice/Solder the Metra harness (or whatever brand you end up with) to the harness that comes with the head unit you purchased. I think the Metra harness had one of the wires removed from the harness, and our cars require the wire inside the harness. It came with a piece of paper that said "for Mini Cooper only" but it applies to our cars. It comes with the wire, but it doesn't say which slot in the harness it goes into. This is why I looked up the diagram so I didn't mess anything up. There's also a blue "power antenna" wire you'll need to splice; for some reason the instructions that came with my head unit weren't exactly clear on what you do with this wire, but it won't work unless you splice it to the radio's head unit. Like I mentioned, it's all universally color-coded so it's really not as difficult as it may sound.
    This is really the hardest part of the whole install, but it's not all that difficult and you don't need to be in the car to do it. The second hardest part is fitting the head unit into the old radio's slot, but if you maneuver the wires into the space in the back left, it should fit.

    Pop off the two plastic tabs on either side of the radio to expose the hex screws. Using the proper Allen key size unscrew until they're loose, remember that the screws don't actually come out, but only come loose.

    Now you can gently slide out the stock radio, another guide on this board recommended putting duct tape over the trim underneath the radio to prevent scratches. I probably would have scratched my interior without it.

    Now remove the harness from the stock radio. Don't just yank it out, you're supposed to unclip it a certain way, I can't remember how it is off the top of my head but it's pretty self-explanatory if you look at it.

    The following steps are optional if you want to wire a USB cable from the back of the unit to the tray in the armrest. It's much easier to just use a head unit with a front USB connection, but it doesn't look as clean.

    Open the tray and pull of the two rubber stoppers/covers that cover the T20 screws. This is the same size screw for the soft-top string btw. Unscrew the two screws and pull out the tray. You need to keep the button that releases the tray cover depressed, otherwise the tray won't come out. My tray was a little stuck, but it'll eventually come lose.

    The above pic shows one of the rubber stoppers/covers removed.

    Next remove the two phillips screws holding the plastic guide for the old cell phone harness in place. Push it aside and kinda shove the USB cable through.

    Now pop off the leather boot around the e-brake. Start from the front end, but be careful because the tabs can easily break. The back end can't be removed unless the front is first removed I believe.

    Now pop off the leather boot around the shifter. Gently squeeze the sides and pull up, just be careful of the tabs on the sides.

    Next pull the wire through the e-brake and shifter slot and into the radio slot from underneath the trim. You might have to squeeze the wire through the section between the shifter and the radio slot.

    The above pic shows the USB wire through the e-brake slot.

    The head unit should come with a metal tray with tabs that secure it into the car. Just place that into the radio slot and bend the tabs until it stays in place. Just be careful when doing this if you want to remove it one day.

    The above pic shows the USB and cell phone mic wired through already. And it shows the metal tray that holds the new head unit in place installed. The cell phone mic came with the head unit and I just keep the mic in the tray, and hang it on my shirt when using it. I didn't like the idea of gluing it anywhere in the car. I'm pretty sure you can't just use the car's built in mic with aftermarket head units.

    All that's left is putting everything back into place. Connect the harness from the head unit to the car, connect the USB cable to the head unit, connect the radio antenna cable to the head unit, then slide the head unit into place. I had some trouble getting it to fit, but there was some space in the back left where you can put most of the wires. You can also cut the Metra harness' wires short before splicing it to the head unit's wires to reduce the amount of wire.

    Now replace all the leather boots, pull the USB cable through the hole where the old cell phone cable comes through into the tray. To remove the old phone's cable you'll have to take the car apart even further, but I didn't want to take the car apart any more than I did so I just left it in there for now.

    You can customize the Pioneer's screen with over 200,000 color options. It works by letting you increase/decrease the Red Blue and Green levels. But honestly their "orange" option worked pretty fine for me, as you can see in the following pics. So my advice is that it's probably not worth going for Pioneer just for the color customization if typical orange works, but they're great head units.

    You can also wire the iPhone cable through the side of the try toward the back while the cover is closed. There's a lot of slack if you do it like this, which shows the wire isn't being pinched nor is the tray being deformed. It's much more convenient because my arm keeps bumping into the tray as I'm driving when it's opened.

    The head unit works fine with the newer iPhone 5 lightning cable. Also keep in mind that any USB device/hard drive works as well, and you can easily swap out your head unit later on without having to rewire the USB again. (although you may need to re-splice a new harness unless you stick with the same brand head unit)

    There's another set of instructions on this message board for a similar install, and it's probably in the "stereo, phone, nav" section but I couldn't find it. It's a good idea to search for it and go over those instructions as well. That's where I got the idea for the duct tape to protect the trim. You can also search other BMW message boards for info on the harness wiring if you need to, this type of wiring isn't unique to the Z8.

    Also make sure the head unit you want actually fits, especially if you want to close the cover over it. Mine is the Pioneer DEH-X9500BHS which perfectly fits. Their DEH-80PRS and DEH-X8500BH will also fit because its the same dimensions. There are also other brands, such as Alpine, that will fit as well with the cover closed, which have been mentioned on the radio, phone, nav section of this message board.

    There's a brand of Japanese head units called Nakamichi which are beautiful and perfectly blend into BMWs. The problem is they can be pricey and hard to come by, I've only seen them on eBay myself. And some may lack some modern features (such as iphone connectivity), but audiophiles seem to love them.

    Oh and before I forget, here is the diagram for the harness that's in the BMW.

    Just focus on the "A" section, the "B" and "C" will not be used for an aftermarket head unit install.

  4. #4
    This is the first aftermarket headunit that I think aesthetically works on the Z8. Which model is that? Very nicely done!

  5. #5
    Quote Originally Posted by Z8Mania View Post
    This is the first aftermarket headunit that I think aesthetically works on the Z8. Which model is that? Very nicely done!
    I was thinking exactly the same when I read this earlier today. I've lost the tweeters in my door speakers and will have to get new ones - might do the head unit at the same time...
    Skip Hammerman

    2002 BMW Z8 - Meisterschaft GT, PP installed, CDV delete. 100,000 Mile Club
    2013 BMW X3
    2015 Porsche 911 Targa 4S

  6. #6
    JC jc.guilbaud's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2012
    Hi everyone,
    I am sure not the only one who wants to keep my Z8 original but dream of being able to be able to listen music from my iPhone.
    I found this on Amazon but not sure it works with our beloved car. They sell it for 112$.
    Has anybody tried it or something similar that works with the original factory radio ? Digital Music Changer for BMW 40pin Connector E46 E38 E39 X3 X5 Z4 Z8 Mini R5x -Huahee: Car Electronics


    60737 - Silver / Red - Performance Package