2004 BMW 330i ZHP

It’s always a happy occasion when I come across a ZHP that has been well loved and remains unmolested. In fact I think these cars are more likely to have been left in their original state than an M3 simply because the folks that tended to opt for the ZHP were more “grown up”. All I mean by that is while the E36 3 series was in production there was no four door M3 option so if you were a family man who wanted a go fast BMW, this was your car.

The ZHP only got a 10hp increase over the regular 330i but reprogrammed engine management and a close ratio six speed manual made it feel quite zippy. It’s stiffer and slightly lower too but from what I’ve read the ride quality didn’t suffer and that’s a big plus. I’ve driven a couple of E46 M3s and while they’re fantastic for spirited driving, I don’t cruising around in them on city streets. In this era before adaptive suspension setups you had to decide whether you wanted a performance car that was tolerable in day to day life or a sporty car that was OK when you wanted to get after it a bit. The older I get the more I find myself thinking the latter is the right way to go and I think the 330i ZHP is a near perfect choice for the driver who might go to the track a few times a year but mostly enjoys a spirited canyon run.

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2004 BMW 330i ZHP on Pelican Parts

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1995 Mercedes Benz E320 Cabriolet

Aside from the 500E I can’t think of another Mercedes from the 90s that I like more than the E320 ‘vert. All the reliability and practicality of the W124 mixed with the fun of having a convertible that can comfortably seat four adults, that’s a recipe for something really special. The only real knock against these cars is that the tops can wear out both mechanically and cosmetically but that’s true of many convertibles so I don’t think it’s fair to hold that against the car. If you’re in the market for a classic drop top you’ve already accepted that there may be some issues in exchange for bathing you and your passengers in sunlight on a regular basis.

Thankfully this beautiful example has been extremely well kept and the top looks wonderful in addition to operating properly. In fact the entire exterior looks wonderful, both in condition and aesthetically. The Azure Blue with blue top is classy as can be, contrasts wonderfully with the tan leather interior. I’ve always felt these cars had a distinctly nautical vibe regardless of what color they came in but it’s especially strong with this example. Perhaps it’s the fact that much like a boat you and 3 friends can go out and feel the wind in your hair, not always the case with convertibles. I can’t think of a car currently on the market that is both a drop top and legitimate four seater. Perhaps that’s why the E320 cabriolet is quickly becoming a much desired collectors car.

Year: 1995
Model: E320
Engine: 3.2 liter I-6
Transmission: 5 speed automatic
Mileage: 104,106
Price: $12,950 Buy It Now

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1995 Mercedes Benz E320 Cabriolet on eBAY

You are looking at a very popular sporty luxury convertible. The vehicle has been made and assembled entirely in Germany, and consists only of Germany made parts! This vehicle has a good sport car feeling to it. Because it’s a 3.2L engine, it has nice performance to it. The midnight blue exterior color gives the car a certain kind of unique classy appeal.

The car spent most of its life in Florida!

There are no reported manufacturer’s defects on this vehicle. A never-smoked-in before beauty that looks great and smells clean.

The engine is very strong and provides the power you have come to expect from a Mercedes and runs extra smooth. The transmission has the Mercedes mark on it as well and shifts like on a new car, no skips or slips on shifts. The suspension feels very nimble and comfortable at the same time.  

The A/C works well and blows cold air!

All the electrical options appear to be in working order. As you can judge for yourself from the pictures – the interior is clean!   The check light of the diagnostic computer reads ok. The engine compartment is clean, and free of any leaks.

The power locks, windows, seats and moon roof all work and are in good condition. All the power controls and buttons work.

Like so many of these cars it appears to have lived a pampered life in Florida(of course) where it was probably used as a secondary vehicle, hence the low mileage of 104,106. The interior looks just as good as the exterior, I love that it still has the mobile phone in the center arm rest, little period correct details like that get me every time. The leather still looks fresh, no cracking or wear of any kind. After all these were incredibly well built cars from tip to tail so the detailed service records are really an added bonus here. Too often do I come across W124 Benzes that have been let go, their owners relying on the solid reputation to keep them going instead of going the preventative maintenance route. It’s nice to know that the previous owners really cherished the car and made sure it never wanted for anything.

Though currently located in Pennsylvania and photographed against a bland backdrop of northeast flora, it’s easy to envision yourself cruising through South Beach with a cigar in one hand and the other on the leg of some beautiful woman. Maybe she’s your wife, maybe not, it’s your fantasy not mine! $12,950 isn’t much to make at least part of that fantasy a reality and you’ll even have some money left over to buy some cubans. In many ways I think the E320 cabriolet is still very much a status symbol just not in the same way it was when it debuted. These days I think it lets people know that you’re an enthusaist, a saavy buyer of used cars, someone who knows a classic in the making when they see it. I really don’t think this car will run for its entire 19 day bidding period, not with this level of tidiness. If you like it, better act fast because the E320 cabrio secret is out and I think we’re going to see these things start rising in value considerably over the next couple of years.



1998 BMW M3 Coupe

If you’re a regular reader of this site you’ll know that I’m a big fan of the E36 M3 and have absolutely no problem saying so. Where haters see the blandest, most under powered M3 in the history of the nameplate, I see a perfectly proportioned bridge between the go kart E30 and the upscale E46. I came of age during the E36 years and though they were few and far between in my neck of the woods, I was well aware that they were something special. Of the two body styles offered during the ’95-’98 production run I prefer the sedan, mainly for the increased sleeper look but also for the daily drive practicality. However I am fond of the coupe as well, especially a well kempt car that hasn’t been stanced, tracked, thrashed or otherwise tampered with. This ’98 coupe in Estoril Blue Metallic over Dove Grey leather is an excellent example of an unmolested car and with just 119,000k on the clock I think this E36 represents the reasonable end of the M3 spectrum.

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1998 BMW M3 Coupe on Cars.com

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1980 Alpina B6/2.8

I love how the BMW E21 3-series perfectly completes BMW’s early 80s lineup, sharing design language with the E23 and E28 while introducing the 3-series nomenclature as a diminutive sports sedan. It was a good start to a model line that became great, but it was definitely more entry-level than we know the 3-series as today. How to fix that? Not that difficult – a bigger engine and a legendary name. Hence the Alpina B6/2.8, giving the 3-series E30 M3 power starting in 1978 by shoehorning the 528’s M30 into the tiny engine bay. Add some technolines, spoilers, and the best wheels ever made, and you’ve got a bonafide Alpina classic. Extra points for being a Euro import, tiny bumpers included. This may be one of the cheapest ways to get into a genuine Alpina out there.

Year: 1980
Model: Alpina B6/2.8
Engine: M30 2.8L I6 – 197hp/183lb-ft
Transmission: 5-speed
Mileage: 43,223
Price: $8,300 at time of writing, reserve not met

1980 BMW Alpina B6/2.8 for sale on eBay

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This is one of only a few original and authentic Alpina B6/2.8 models in the US. Based on the BMW E21, with the ‘big six’ M30 engine & injection from the 528i installed by Alpina along with many other upgrades, it’s as fast & rare an ’80s car as you can find. The wide-striped velour interior is in very good condition (w/rare A.S.S. seats). It has a 5-speed close-ratio trans, a limited-slip differential w/cooling fins, Alpina suspension & brakes, extended-range fuel tank, rare A/C & power windows, very low miles, and the wheels, spoilers, stripes, steering wheel, shift knob, emblems, mud guards, etc. that make an Alpina stand out from the crowd like it does.

The body is free of any dents or visible rust. The clear coat was failing on the horizontal surfaces, so those surfaces only were repainted in October. The rest of the car still has the original paint, inside and out, which on some panels shows faint scratching or crazing in certain light. The mechanical condition is very good. The car has recently undergone a thorough inspection, servicing, and replacement of worn parts as necessary. Everything works on the car except for the A/C, which has a leaking condenser that needs replacing. All import documents necessary to register the car in any state, including exemptions from both the DOT & EPA, will be provided to the buyer.

This must be a hoot to drive. Maybe not quite the same panache as the E24/28-based Alpinas, but you’re getting about 90% of the Alpina effect with low miles for what appears to be a good price. It’s hard to say exactly what the market is here, but the nicest normal E21s have gone for up to $14k, so anything under $15k seems like a good deal if you want a rare E21.