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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.
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…
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.
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…