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Thread: The incredible story of car #62235 - the one and only Right Hand Drive E52 conversion.

  1. #1

    The incredible story of car #62235 - the one and only Right Hand Drive E52 conversion.

    It was a little over two years ago when I was first contacted by Peter from Australia looking for a really clean Alpina to ship back there and convert to RHD.

    My initial thoughts were very much along the lines of 'there's no way you can do that!' but as someone who's spent his life breaking rules and pushing the boundaries I knew I had to support his dream. We found a gorgeous 100 point concours Alpina, I did a full inspection, and off it went to Australia. I still had my reservations, knowing how hard aluminum is to work with, but here are the results. Peter also decided that the Black/Black car would be reborn as a Black/Red one, and as you can see the results are stunning.

    The work was done by MCI and 62235 looks sensational. I was originally concerned that doing the conversion would diminish the value of the car, but seeing the quality of the finished work I'd say that as an absolutely unique Alpina it has a real value, especially for anyone in an RHD country.

    Andrew Macpherson

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

  2. #2
    Z8 Millennial Monster 2112's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2005
    The Mirror-image plastic dash components alone had to be a monumental undertaking.

    Love to see progress pictures if they exist, then again, it may be like hip replacement. You don't want to see how it is done.

    Beautiful result.
    2000 Red over black
    heavily modified for performance. Although, not to the level of GM's car

  3. #3
    Here as promised is the next installment in the story....

    Motor Cars International
    BMW Z8 Alpina

    Being one of Australiaís leading conversion specialists, Motor Cars International is renowned for its mirror-image steering conversions and compliance of vehicles across a range of makes and models. From exotic sportscars such as the Chevrolet Corvette, Dodge Viper, Lamborghini Gallardo and Ferrari 360, to the functional Chevrolet Silverado, Cadillac Escalade and GMC Denali, Motor Cars International has over 20 years of experience in the compliance and steering conversion industry.
    When we were approached by Peter regarding the BMW Z8, we knew this was not a simple task.
    Peter was quite confident the task of converting the BMW Z8 was achievable; being aware that the task had been attempted in Europe but was not completed.
    With no evidence to suggest that the conversion was possible, Joe Scordo, Managing Director and Rocco Morda, Workshop Manager and the MCI team began investigating the vehicle.
    One of the reasons the Z8 is famous and sought after is its revolutionary aluminium chassis. While this does provide a light-weight design and helps with structural rigidity, this complicates the necessary firewall modifications needed to convert the vehicle from left to right-hand drive.
    With that in mind, we were ready to accept the challenge.
    Inspired by the original BMW 507, the BMW Z8 was designed to be the ultimate cruiser. With a complex, light-weight aluminium space frame, the engineers at BMW pursued performance just as much as drivability.
    With this in mind, MCI staff members were determined to maintain BMWís vision. The reliability, functionality, feel and performance of the vehicle were not to be compromised.
    Prior to the process of conversion, the MCI team inspected the vehicle as part of the analysis process. Here, multiple tests are conducted, along with many hours of research and development, covering measurements such as, but not limited to;
- Steering column position 
- Seating reference points 
- Pedal positioning/alignment 
- Turning circle test
- HVAC testing
    The results of these tests ensure that the original specifications and functionality of the vehicle are maintained after the conversion process. During the conversion stage, MCI staff make continuous adjustments to the above parameters in order to ensure that the vehicle performs as originally intended by BMW.
    The comprehensive process of steering conversions can be broken down into the following core activities:
    Disassembly of vehicle
    Firewall modifications
    Steering elements
    Heating, Ventilation and Air-Conditioning modifications
    Interior modifications
    During the disassembly phase, the vehicle undergoes an extensive wrapping and marking process. Here, all original components to be retained are wrapped, marked, photographed and securely stored in colour-coded containers. This allows the reassembly of the vehicle to be time efficient, reassuring that no components are misplaced or damaged.
    With the completion of the vehicles disassembly, the modification process begins.

    Firewall Modifications
    One of the first tasks during the firewall modification stage is the establishment of the newly configured steering column position. This dictates where and how the steering wheel is placed. Measurements and positioning of the steering column are compared with results gathered from the vehicles initial inspection. This is done to ensure that the position of the steering elements are symmetrical to the original design of the vehicle.
    When converting a vehicle from left to right-hand drive, one must consider the positioning of certain components that may require relocation, such as the position of the Brake Booster, and any other components that may be intrusive to the reconfigured steering elements.
    Intrusive components that cannot be relocated, such as the exhaust manifold, undergo light modification to allow clearance of the right-hand steering elements.
    Once the positioning of the steering elements and corresponding components have been determined, the firewall can be modified.
    The firewall modifications required a combination of extensive planning and delicate craftsmanship, as the chassis is made from Aluminium.

    Steering Elements
    With regards to the tests conducted at the beginning of the conversion process, the new steering rack needed to perform with the same standard as the original component. With this in mind, an OEM BMW Steering Rack was sourced in order to achieve a comparable steering ratio to the factory design as well as a comparable turning circle. As the vehicle is only available in Left-hand drive, modifications were made in order for the rack to bolt into the desired position.
    Before any further work is done, the steering tests are reconducted on the vehicle to ensure that the rack results match the original design of the vehicle.

    HVAC Modifications
    The Heating, Ventilation and Air-Conditioning (HVAC) system required modification in order to redirect airflow to suit right-hand drive. The standard system is designed to suit left-hand drive vehicles. Through intricate design and many years of experience, MCI staff were able to redirect the flow of air whilst maintaining the volume flow rate and thermal efficiency of air travelling through the system.

    Interior Modifications
    As the Z8 incorporates a complex, yet unique dashboard design; MCI modified the existing dashboard to suit the right-hand drive configuration. With quality and durability in mind, MCI maintained as much of the OEM dashboard as possible. Not only does this simplify modifications, but also allows the dashboard to maintain as much structural rigidity as per designed by the manufacturer. Furthermore, this assists in eliminating any vibrations and squeaks that many modern cars develop over time.

    With the conversion of the vehicle completed, our Compliance Engineer, Zein Jaber, began the assessment and compliance of the vehicle in accordance to the relevant Australian Design Rules (ADRís).
    During the compliance stage of the vehicle, one of the main changes undergone on the Z8 was the replacement of the lighting system. This was required as the U.S supplied lighting system does not conform with Australian Standards. With that in mind, the applicable lighting system was sourced from the European-delivered Z8.
    After endless hours of testing, modifying and research and development, Motor Cars International is truly proud to have produced the only right-hand drive BMW Z8 in the world. This project has been an absolute pleasure and a true display of our teamís capabilities.
    Andrew Macpherson

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

  4. #4
    In this post I have laid out the images that MCI shared of the process of the work on the interior. As you can see they did an extraordinary job.
    Andrew Macpherson

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

  5. #5
    Here are some other shots of the work in process from MCI.
    Andrew Macpherson

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

  6. #6
    Sport Button On - DSC Off
    Join Date
    Nov 2013
    Wow, what a feat... but also particularly cool to see all of the innards! Thanks Andrew!!

  7. #7
    Z8 Millennial Monster Z-acht's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2012
    Great story!
    1 of the 71 original Dutch sold cars (jetblack/red)

  8. #8

  9. #9
    Quite an incredible transformation. I guess we will never know, but it would be great to know what the cost was.
    Skip Hammerman

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

  10. #10
    The engineering required to make this LHD to RHD conversion is more extensive than I originally thought. The interior color change from black to sport red was something I hadnít appreciated before too. Enjoy your one of a kind Z8 Peter!
    My Best,


    2002 Z8 Jet Black//Sport Red
    2012 SLS AMG Obsidian Black/Classic Red

  11. #11
    DSC Off
    Join Date
    Nov 2016
    In most cases they say that modified cars are often worth less than the original. I am certain this is not the case here. The conversion is awesome.The good news for you Peter is that you don't have to keep yours in the garage worrying about the impact of miles on the value. If somebody wants to buy a RHD Z8 then they have a choice of 1.......Bravo Sir !!

  12. #12
    RHD Z88 Peter Koh's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2015
    Thank you all for kind comments and yes, it has been a worthwhile and challenging journey. Just liked 2112 said, ďitís like hip replacement, you donít really want see how itís doneĒ. Initially, itís quite a heart wrenching experience to see the best piece of the vehicle get torn apart and painstakingly carrying out the mirror transformation.Thank you Andrew for setting up this forum that provided me the wealth of information needed and the platform to take the first step with you. Cheers to all.

  13. #13
    Team Z8 zed8's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2003
    What an extraordinary work. Its like an art. Congratulations. Now this is a one of a kind E52.

    AF77768 Topasblau / Schwarz

    PP installed
    Motorsport 20" style 101 wheels
    Eisenmann catback
    Supersprint headers
    CDV removed
    Quaife LSD
    3.64 gearing

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