It isn’t uncommon to see an E46 BMW 3 Series on the road these days. The E46 was one of BWMs most popular models and one of the brand’s best-sellers. In fact, it’s probably difficult to drive around on any given day without seeing an E46 of some sort on the road. They’re simply everywhere.
Being that they’re so common, E46 BMWs aren’t worth very much and can be had on the used market for relatively little money, aside from the M3. However, there is one “standard” E46 3 Series that is very highly sought after and is actually worth quite a bit. It’s also quite rare and considered to be one of the best BMWs of the era. That BMW is the 330i ZHP.
The E46 BMW 330i with the ZHP package is a favorite among enthusiasts of the Bavarian brand. The reason behind that is that the ZHP package turns the 330i into pretty much the perfect BMW for enthusiasts. What the ZHP is, is basically a sports package. And while that might not sound that exciting, it does far more that the average sports package.
With the ZHP, the BMW 330i gained an aerodynamics package, which gave the ZHP 330i a distinct look over the standard car. It also gained unique 18″ wheels that are probably the best looking wheels to come on any E46, M3 included. On the interior, the ZHP gives the 330i an alcantara steering wheel, some faux carbon fiber trim and red needles in the gauges. The ZHP just gave the 330i some sportier touches to make it look and feel more special than the standard 330i.
However, the ZHP isn’t just some lipstick for the 330i. It’s far more than that. It also came with some engine tweaks, including different cams, a reconfigured engine management system and a six-speed manual, which was a first for any 3 Series without an M badge. It also had slightly stiffer suspension, but not M3 stiff, and those gorgeous 18″ wheels gained wider tires than the standard 330i. All of this adds up to better performance than the standard car with a bit more feeling and precision.
Those engine upgrades only brought about 10 more horsepower which bumped it to 235, but the shorter gearing and faster revving engine allow 0-60 mph to come in 5.6 seconds, compared to the 6.1 seconds of the standard car. That’s quick even by today’s standards. That’s about as fast as the current BMW 328i, which is almost a decade newer and has 5 more horsepower. So the ZHP 330i is very quick. It would give a current VW GTI a run for its money.
So when you see a 2004 BMW 330i with the ZHP package for sale, your eyes open. It was a rare car to begin with, so when you see a pre-owned one for sale, it’s exciting. This is one of the truly special BMWs on the early 2000s. This particular model is in a beautiful Orient Blue color with two-tone brown and black leather interior. This model also has navigation equipped, though nav systems from 2004 aren’t very good, so that isn’t that impressive. However, the condition of the interior is fantastic. There seems to be almost no wear and tear. Same goes for the exterior, which is incredible condition.
With only 100,000 miles on the odometer, this 330i has done relatively little driving. So the next buyer of this car is getting one with pretty fresh legs. The only real issue with this specific car is its price. At $11,500, this isn’t exactly an inexpensive for a car that is over a decade old. While the ZHP is rare and fantastic, it isn’t uncommon to find a standard E46 330i with decent mileage for around $5,000. This is more than double that price. Though it is one of the more rare BMWs from the era and a fan favorite, so the price might be justified, despite its age. Regardless, though, this is a very special car and the kind of car anyone looking for a used BMW would hope to find.