Face it. The BMW 3 series are a dime a dozen these days. With reasonable lease deals and free maintenance for 4 years/50,000 miles, drivers that want a taste of the good life are snapping these Bavarian machines up as fast as they can. Which brings me to my next point. Since the BMW 3 series is such a great driving machine, how can an enthusiast who wants to revel in its performance do so without blending into the woodwork? Of course, you could always go the M3 route. But towards the end of the E46 generation, BMW offered something a little bit more interesting in sedan, coupe and convertible flavor: the ZHP Performance Package.
Available from 2003 through 2005, the ZHP Package upped the horsepower with a hotter cams and software to up horsepower by 10 to 235 bhp. Also included were the M-Tech II bodykit, 18″ staggered size wheels, anthracite window trim and a mix of leather and alcantara on interior surfaces. With a shorter final drive ratio, the ZHP could rip off 0-60 times of 5.6 seconds.
Here’s a relatively low mileage example for sale in Minnesota.
The seller states:
This 330I is flat out exceptional in every way. The interior is perfect. The exterior is exceptional (save a few very small rock chips on the front). Mechanically, this car is in great shape, and it rides and drives like The Ultimate Driving Machine. Figure this is an M3, just not as high insurance premiums, and not as harsh. Unlike and M3, this is a perfect daily driver; fun and sporty, but still comfortable and well mannered.
This car is super clean. It has no accident history. It was absolutely not smoked in. It has no paintwork. It has a clean title. It has a clean carfax. You can bid with utter confidence-this 330i is awesome!
This 330i is loaded with features including:
-Leather interior with Alcantara inserts
-ZHP M PERFORMANCE Pkg
-Harman Kardon Stereo
-Adaptive lights that turn when you turn
-Exclusive M Performance Package interior Trim
-dual power seats
-fold down rear seats
This 330i rides and drives perfect. It is fast and the engine is very strong. The transmission shifts precisely and smoothly.
The mileage is very reasonable for a car of this vintage, but given this is a dealer who is selling it, this particular 330i ZHP is about $3,000 to $5,000 to dear. There are forums dedicated to this version of the 3 series, such as ZHP Mafia, and from the classified listings, one can tell these are highly desirable models. Another demerit with this particular car is the automatic transmission. Since these cars generally attract enthusiasts, the 6 speed manual would make this vehicle that much more lustworthy. Still, this is an attractive piece and one of the very few sedans I’d ever consider buying with such a bright hue of red (in this case, Imolarot).
Of course, I can hear the echoes, “why not just buy an M3.” Well, the ZHP is a lot more scarce and you could not get a sedan version of the E46 M3. So a 330i ZHP sedan is about as close as you are going to get to a factory E46 M3 sedan. On top of this, the previous generation M3s have become almost commonplace and play a little too much to the “Fast and Furious” set for my tastes. I like the ZHP so much, in fact, that I’m persuading my father to seek out a clean, low mileage example to replace my mother’s 2000 C280 sedan. It will be a little more hard edged than the C280, but with few new vehicles of interest out there on the landscape, unique sport sedans like the ZHP play well to the family Henriques.