Introduced towards the end of E30 production, the M Technic II package brought a lot of special revisions to the convertible version of the venerable benchmark. Option 771 included the M Technic body kit, special Sport Evo upholstery and M Technic badging, M Sport suspension, 15″ BBS wheels, and a few other treats. These were only available in Brilliant Red, Sterling Silver Metallic, or Macao Blue Metallic, and the claim is that perhaps less than 250 were made. A $4,700 option when new, it was a serious premium on top of your already quite dear E30.
As a result, there was a second M Technic II package – option code 770. This was the M Technic appearance package, and it offered most of the same look at a much more affordable $1,800. You got the M Technic body kit and painted 14″ BBS wheels, but you gave up the special suspension, special upholstery, and most of the special badging. These cars were available in either Alpine White with Lotus Nappa leather or Diamand Black Metallic with black Nappa leather, so if you see one of those two colors with the body kit, you’re looking at an appearance package car, as we are here today. However, as you can get the bulk of the special bits that made the full M Technic package super special, many of these cars have been modified to look like their more expensive siblings:
The success of the Motorsport derived versions of each generation of the venerable 3-series mean that it’s both easy and a natural choice to concentrate on them in the used market. But BMW has also offered some pretty special non-M models in the 3-series lineup, and the 2003-2006 330i. Much like the M3, the 330i was available in 2-door coupe and convertible no surprise there – but the 330i was also quite popular as a sedan and the E46 M3 never came in that configuration. If you ticked the ZHP Performance Package box, you paid an additional $3,900 on top of the premium for your top-of-the-line 330i. While that was no small amount of change, what that amount resulted in was actually quite a bargain. Developed by BMW Individual, you got a plethora of performance details throughout the package. Outside, M-Tech body pieces adorned the car front, sides and rear and blacked out trim replaced the chrome. So too were M-branded special Style 135 18″ wheels, with tires to match the width of bigger brother M3. Lower and stiffer suspension was met with more negative camber, special reinforcement and control arms. The engine was upgraded too, with unique cams and a revised engine map resulting in 10 more horsepower, but the ZHP was more than 10 hp quicker off the line thanks to a shorter final drive and a 6-speed manual borrowed from M. Performance wise, the ZHP split the difference between the 330i and M3 in acceleration and cornering, so it really was a performance package to live up to its name. Inside, too, many special details adorned the ZHP – from small items like lightly revised gauges with special needles to unique shifter, steering wheel, seat fabric and eggcrate dash trim. Just like the S-Line Titanium Package Audis, these more potent 330is have a cultish following who proudly claim they’re not only special, but one of the most special BMWs made:
We’ve seen some great full-on Hartge automobiles here, and they’ve always struck me as an interesting (if not quite as desirable) alternative to Alpina. This 325is has no real Hartge provenance, but has had enough hard-to-find and period-correct pieces retrofitted to warrant mentioning. The factory original M-Tech II bodykit and cloth interior are nearly as desirable as the Hartge pieces, painting a picture of an owner who has spent a ton of time and effort sourcing parts to put together his perfect 325is. No doubt this is a gorgeous and carefully-composed love letter to the E30, but $21k is a lot of money for a 325is with 166k miles!
Right out of the gate I have to say there are a few things that I really don’t care for on this car. The M badge on the trunk is obnoxious, I do not like the current marketing gimmick of slapping the “fastest letter in the world” all over BMW models and it’s even tackier on a classic E30. I don’t know if the seller thinks it is a clever or what but with these classics I believe that only an M engine justifies an M badge. Also, AC Schnitzer wheels have never been my thing, not even as a winter set. In my opinion chubby little wheels are not a good look on any car but especially here. An E30 needs OEM basket weaves or some generation of M3 wheel to maintain the classic look. However those are both personal cosmetic dislikes, both easily remedied, so I find it easy to look past them and see the potential in this example of a unique E30.
After all, there is a whole lot to like here. The Recaro cloth seats look immaculate and I can tell you from personal experience that they’re very, very comfortable. The M-Tech II wheel is one of my favorite BMW wheels of all time, great thickness, perfectly cut out thumb rests and visually pleasing unlike the monster airbag wheels that followed. The M-Tech II tiller does come in two different sizes, 365mm and 385mm respectively. I’ve only gotten my hands on the smaller of the two but I can’t imagine the larger one being a better option. The seller doesn’t note which wheel he put in so that’s something I’d want to find out early on. Outside the car looks pretty darn clean for living up in the great white north. Again I’d need more information as far as the car’s life story is concerned but overall it looks like it has lived on easy street. Of course looks can be deceiving, especially with these cars so serious homework would have to be done to determine if this car is worth your time. As you’ll see in the gallery at the bottom of the page, the dash is cracked so that’s something that’ll need attention rather quickly and there’s also no A/C, a deal breaker for a Southern California resident like myself. However if you don’t need cold air on your face and couldn’t care less about a visible fault line in front of your eyes all the time, then perhaps this E30 is for you.