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Thread: 330Ci ZHP

  1. #1
    Ninja Messiah kung fu jesus's Avatar
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    330Ci ZHP

    I’m starting my stewardship of the latest acquisition. It would be my sixth go-around with BMW and my second e46 (99-05 3-series). My previous models were an ‘81 320i (e21), ‘86 325i (e30), ‘88 325is (e30), ‘95 M3 (e36), ‘05 325it (e46), and this…2005 330ci ZHP.



    Sometimes referred to as ‘the last of the good BMWs’, it is a progressive refinement of the 3 series models that originated from the fabled 2002 model.

    Why would I do this? Give up on a well-sorted, dual purpose NB for a car known for its douchey ownership base and questionable reliability? I love the vehicle dynamics of these cars. Agile and sporty, yet strong enough to be thrashed by the scruff of its neck. They are entertaining and even rewarding to drive at its limits. It is also sophisticated yet luxurious enough to placidly cruise on the freeway all day in reassuring poise and comfort.

    The ZHP is a limited package offered in 03-06 (04-05 on the coupes, 06 was the carryover convertible chassis only) as a bit of a swan song and offered unique upgrades. This meant a slight bump in power(235hp), M-Sport aerodynamics from the M3, special interior package, and unique paint options. The Sports suspension is a revised geometry, dampers, springs, and sway bars shared with the //M variants. An exclusive ZF 6speed manual transmission option previously only available to the M3.

    The ZHP package was available on e46 sedans, coupes and convertibles. Here are the composite production numbers:







    My particular car, a sparkling graphite metallic coupe, 6 sp manual, with grey leather interior is 1 of 19 as optioned. It doesn’t make it a collector’s car, but it is pretty unique and desirable as optioned. It would be considered a “future classic” as I think a lot of Miatas are. There were a LOT produced, but not many in this style and options. Given the attrition over time, the popularity of the Spec e46 racing series in the US, and the 1 - owner history of my particular car, it’s special and I’m extraordinarily fortunate to have it.

    I bought this car from the original owner. He special-ordered it after experiencing sticker shock shopping for an M3. It has lived in Georgia all its life, very detailed and comprehensive dealership repairs, zero accidents. The owner was transitioning into retirement, and it was just dumb luck I saw his ad 20 minutes after he posted it.

    This one has subtle, quality upgrades (Dinan intake, bracing and stage 2 software), 100,300 miles, and was well-loved.

    I was originally looking for a 128i with a 6sp manual, but was watching e46 coupes too. Both are pretty hard to find in my experience, especially clean, well-cared for, and I was looking coast to coast. This one was 45 minutes from my door, literally around the corner from where I adopted my current two greyhounds.

    I bought the car the same visit I first saw it, and I have thoroughly enjoyed driving it these past two weeks.












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  3. #2
    Ninja Messiah kung fu jesus's Avatar
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    330Ci ZHP

    Currently, I am just familiarizing myself with the car. For all intents and purposes, it feels like my e36 M3 mechanically with the better interior of my e46 wagon. The 6 speed in this car feels better than any 5 sp in my previous BMWs, stock or modified.

    My commute to work, I cruise at 2800 RPMs at 80 mph in this versus 4200 in the Miata. The interior is hushed, the chassis is incredibly stiff, and the torque of the inline 6 allows me to creep in stop and go or pass at will without constantly rowing the gearbox.

    The biggest downfall is the ICE. The car is equipped with a decent Harman Kardon 10 speaker system, but smartphone integration is negligible. This is something I rely on not only for commuting, but in-car entertainment as well.

    To remedy this, I purchased and installed an Eonon 9450 head unit. It is Android and CarPlay capable, works with the factory steering wheel controls, and fits the interior aesthetic. I installed it the weekend and it has some really neat features I will utilize soon (Torque app real-time OBD2 monitoring and datalogging, front and rear camera expandability, split-screen capabilities)

    The capacitive screen is very responsive and the OS loads quickly when starting the car. I have only just began to use it, but I am pleased with it so far. I did have to buy a relocation trim set to accommodate this. It basically deleted a tiny storage cubby in order to move the HVAC controls down along with the seat heater, stability controls. A small price to pay to install a 2 DIN headunit and integrated USB.




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  5. #3
    Ninja Messiah kung fu jesus's Avatar
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    People ask me what my plans are for this car. I tend to do some pretty dramatic modifications. ;)

    Honestly, I really like the car as it sits so anything I do will be judicious and well-considered. Obviously, like all my previous cars, resetting the maintenance is priority #1. This requires little of that, but tierods and front control arm bushings are already on order, a fairly easy job to me.

    Beyond that, I am going to have the steering wheel re-wrapped by a local company that specializes in this for BMWs.

    I intend to track this car, so a suspension/bushing refresh may be in order, but I need to assess the state of it more beforehand.

    In terms of modifications, *maybe* cooling system upgrades for reliability and top-shelf coilovers. Coilovers for handling, not for appearance.

    As current, these options penciled in are an all-aluminum radiator, replacing some of the plastics in the cooling system to take some of the added stresses of the track environment. Coilovers I have been eyeing at first glance are KW Variant, Ohlin Street&Track, and AST 5000 Series. I am still considering replacing the OE Sport dampers with new units.

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  7. #4
    3,000 rpm - starting to feel the power ScratchNSniff's Avatar
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    Very very nice. One of the cars I've considered getting for a loooooong time too. Excited to see how you only improve on this one.

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  9. #5
    Individual-1 ☚ ☻ ☛ Agent☣Orange's Avatar
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    Great intro to your new project! I know all too well about the douchey ownership base of my car but I love the vehicle dynamics as well. You got a beautiful ride there. Can't wait to hear a sound clip of that engine.

    No exhaust in your upgrades list?

    That aftermarket stereo looks factory. Good job. Was that originally a 1.5 DIN opening?


    "No bueno..." Mrs. Phatmiata

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  11. #6
    Ninja Messiah kung fu jesus's Avatar
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    Thanks!

    I’ve never been impressed with aftermarket exhausts on BMWs. There isn’t much to gain other than weight savings and sound.

    I tried a few on the M3, but they were boomy and just noisy. When I had that car, one of the systems I tried would set off the neighbors car alarm across the street when I fired it up. The system in my 325is sounded very nice, but was a tad boomy at cruising speeds.

    The only exhaust I’ve ever been impressed with on these cars are the Eisenmann exhausts and they are stupid-pricey.

    https://youtu.be/uc06OrhACDo

    I don’t think I will do one, there isn’t much return to the expense.

  12. #7
    Ninja Messiah kung fu jesus's Avatar
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    330Ci ZHP

    Here is a good synopsis of what the ZHP is from an article written in 2019:

    https://www.gearpatrol.com/cars/a534...-bmw-330i-zhp/

    I totally understand the appeal of the //M models, I really enjoyed mine. There are some drawbacks though; special parts and characteristics that also add to the performance add additional costs and upkeep. Every jackhole with a modified car wants to benchmark their car by racing you at every stoplight. It gets tiring.

    Would I like an e46 M3? Yeah, but the known flaws with the car would always be looming in the back of my mind like an impending storm. I can’t really use a high-performance car as it was meant to be used in day-to-day driving.

    Maybe that sounds like justification for settling for less, but I like to fly under the radar, make the most with less and utilize what I do have…also wouldn’t look forward to re-shelling the crankshaft on an e46 M3 or swapping out an SMG trans for a manual.

  13. #8
    Supporting Member MiataQuest's Avatar
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    During my wallet draining and garage time fling with (3) 80's Audi 5000 Quattros, I found the perfect exhaust was the stock exhaust with the Helmholtz resonators but use a test pipe for the catalytic converter. The sound was perfect.
    Then I kept a large quantity of quality donut hangers on hand since they would always fail.

    The Audi 5000's was a joy to drive but an over-engineering pile of manure when it came to problems.
    At first I enjoyed the challenge, but it took up too much of my time to daily drive them.

  14. #9
    Ninja Messiah kung fu jesus's Avatar
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    330Ci ZHP

    Small project for tonight, I reupholstered the grungy armrest.











    The color matches better than the pics show.

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    Individual-1 ☚ ☻ ☛ Agent☣Orange's Avatar
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    I never noticed how bad that was originally but sure looks great now.

    Cup holders could use a little love:


    https://smile.amazon.com/WINKA-Coast..._t3_B07WLCFBMF
    BD7BED08-A042-454B-9DD8-52F7D4BEB749.jpg


    "No bueno..." Mrs. Phatmiata

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  18. #11
    Ninja Messiah kung fu jesus's Avatar
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    Holiday weekend! Nothing like spinning wrenches on a foreign car to mark a rebellion!

    I ordered new tie rods (inner & outer), boots, and lower control arm bushings (LCABs). I prefer to use Lemforder brand products on these systems, OE supplier and very good quality from previous experience. FCP Euro is who I ordered from, they offer lifetime replacement on these.



    There are a couple of other projects lined up, too, but I am waiting for delivery later today.

    Should have updates later this weekend!

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  20. #12
    Ninja Messiah kung fu jesus's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MiataQuest View Post
    During my wallet draining and garage time fling with (3) 80's Audi 5000 Quattros, I found the perfect exhaust was the stock exhaust with the Helmholtz resonators but use a test pipe for the catalytic converter. The sound was perfect.
    Then I kept a large quantity of quality donut hangers on hand since they would always fail.

    The Audi 5000's was a joy to drive but an over-engineering pile of manure when it came to problems.
    At first I enjoyed the challenge, but it took up too much of my time to daily drive them.
    When my family moved out of the city and to the ‘burbs, we lived very close to the (at the time) North American HQ for Audi.

    Needless to say, there were a lot of Audis and VWs around that area the same vintage as yours.

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  22. #13
    Individual-1 ☚ ☻ ☛ Agent☣Orange's Avatar
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    Control arm bushings are "bolt on?" Right on!


    "No bueno..." Mrs. Phatmiata

  23. #14
    Ninja Messiah kung fu jesus's Avatar
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    330Ci ZHP

    Yes, fairly straightforward:


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  25. #15
    Ninja Messiah kung fu jesus's Avatar
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    330Ci ZHP

    Tierods and FCABs done!



    I bought a 6 foot folding table for garage projects like this. It has been a wonderful addition to the workbench to stay organized.



    Getting a BMW onto jackstands is a process.



    Weird surprise; locktite on the wheel bolts.



    Getting the old tierods off went exceptionally smooth. I have found most of my BMWs interesting and sometimes fun to repair.



    I tried a new process to get the new tierods the same length as the old ones. I saw a flaw in the process after I had already installed the driver side.







    Tackling the FCAB, I had to use a 2-jaw puller and remove it in two pieces because the carrier would leave the inner bushing on the control arm. An electric impact wrench made short order of it.



    When I removed the under tray and bracing, I was astonished how clean the underside of the engine was!





    This car has lived a good life.



    Installing the new FCAB required some persuasion to get it onto the control arm. A 5# hammer and a 36mm socket helped.



    Buttoned up the new boot and it was time for the passenger side.



    Old and tired above. Found the original part numbers on the control arms to verify the car’s sport suspension option;



    Passenger side went smoothly.





    I am going to pick up a set of slip plates and jackstands from a buddy tomorrow. I should be able to correct the alignment with them or get it very close.

    First test drive: success! This tightened up the steering and corrected the pull I was experiencing under braking.

    Finally, I treated all weatherstripping with Shin Etsu grease. This is really helpful for keeping the rubber supple and helps the door glass release when using power windows.


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