Smaller Mirror

Repository of 'how to do' articles relating to the Z3 and M roadster/coupe
Mike Fishwick
Joined: Fri 19 Jun, 2009 10:27
Posts: 2091

  Z3 roadster 2.8
Location: Daglan, France

Smaller Mirror

Post by Mike Fishwick »

Mike Fishwick

In common with many other tall Z3 drivers I had long been concerned about the risk of the rear view mirror obscuring my view of another car, as the huge mirror is suspended in the centre of the screen. It is close to one’s eyes, and directly in the line of sight to the left, at the ‘ten o’clock’ position. As well as being too low, it is also too wide.
The outer areas of the mirror – comprising about half of its total area – do nothing, for they are obscured by the roll-over hoops. As the hoops are covered by two layers of the mesh wind deflector they constitute effectively blind areas. The high seats (and passenger’s head) do not help, either.
The mirror could therefore be half the size without any penalty. The use of this item is simply due to it being a standard BMW saloon component, which also provides a convenient mounting for the remote locking system’s radio receiver.
Worse still, the mirror – when viewed on its axis, rather than from below as in a saloon – gives a dull image, upon which is superimposed another image looking upwards – very strange, and certainly not safe.
The only BMW option is the mirror used in the M Roadster etc, which has all the same problems as the standard type, with a curious oval shape.
An after-market solution is available in the USA, where a specialist company produces an adapter to fit the BMW windscreen mounting, enabling the use of mirrors from certain General Motors vehicles. Without first-hand experience of the GM types this option was not attractive. (See
A few minute’s work confirmed the advantages of fitting a mirror at the top of the screen, and I therefore decided to manufacture a high-level mirror.
I cut two pieces of thin 20 mm steel channel to provide the horizontal pivot, joined by a screw, the stiffness of which was set by a spring washer clamped with a nyloc nut.
I used a small hinge (stiffened with Loctite) for the vertical pivot. One half of this hinge was screwed to the windscreen surround above the interior light, while the other was attached to the front section of the horizontal pivot.
The mirror used was a ‘clip on’ type from Halfords, mounted in a plastic enclosure. It is approximately the same size as the original, but provides an orthodox bright image.
One end of the mirror enclosure was carefully cut away in order to remove the glass, permitting two flat-headed screws to be passed forward from the space behind the mirror, at a point roughly a quarter of the distance from its upper edge. These screws were attached to a piece of steel strip, which was in turn screwed against the rear section of the horizontal pivot, the screw again stiffened by a nyloc nut and spring washer. The mirror could therefore – just – be rotated.
The mirror could therefore be rotated into a higher position. This provided an ideal view, over the roll hoops, when the roof was lowered.
The mirror enclosure was screwed to the strip, the glass replaced, and the end piece secured using black silicone rubber ‘instant gasket’ as adhesive.
The complete mirror took half a day to manufacture, and cost about five pounds. It works well, and looks good too, but I will later manufacture a neater pivot arrangement, in the form of a carefully-machined piece of aluminium. That is beyond the scope of most owners, but the prototype is easy for any practical person to manufacture.
As the radio receiver for the remote locking system is within the original mirror, it was removed and relocated to a small plastic box behind the new mirror. In order to remove it from the mirror, the ‘barbed’ locking tabs which secure the individual connectors to the plug body must be depressed, and then bent outwards before being re-inserted. Remember to first make a clear diagram showing the location of each wire!
In use the new mirror makes the Red Zed feel like a different car, as I can now approach a left-hand hairpin bend, European roundabout, or even a junction, without the feeling that I suffer from tunnel vision, or only have one eye. Being slightly convex, it provides continuous vision from just behind the passenger’s window to the driver’s left ear, so enabling one to see any traffic coming up on the left side at roundabouts, or about to overtake when driving in Europe – this is a real boon,
Forward vision is no longer obscured, and when the roof is lowered rear vision is greatly improved, being less obscured by the roll-over bars. The penalty for this is that when the roof is in place the higher position of the mirror reduces its effective range. This simply means that the door mirrors must be used in conjunction to provide a good all-round view – which should be normal practice anyway.
The mirror cannot be easily adjusted to deflect dazzling headlights from the incompetent or inconsiderate (unfortunately there are now plenty of such drivers around) but this is a minor problem. During long night drives I find that use of the mesh wind deflector – even if the roof is up – usually provides an answer. The ultimate solution for the more ill-mannered driver is to have the passenger slowly hang a coat over the deflector, which sometimes acts as a hint!
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