Almost every BMW enthusiast will unanimously agree that the E46-generation 3 Series is the best 3er of all time. It strikes the perfect balance of handling dynamics, performance and comfort. Of all the sport sedans in history, the E46 3 Series might be the closest to perfection. So perfect, in fact, that when Cadillac was developing the ATS, it benchmarked the E46. It really makes a statement when a rival company is benchmarking your decade-old car for its newest sport sedan. The best version of the E46 sedan, though, is the BMW 330i ZHP and this one that’s currently up for sale on Bring-A-Trailer is tempting.
The ZHP package for the E46 330i made what was already a superb sport sedan about as close to perfection as possible. New cams for the 3.0 liter naturally-aspirated I6 engine brought power up to 235 hp. Now that’s not much more than the standard car’s power, but the hotter cams brought the redline up and allowed it to rev faster. It also got a six-speed manual gearbox, rather than a five-speed and new suspension. The latter bit is the most important, though, as it made the 330i handle even more sweetly than it already did.
On top of that, it also got some new wheels, new body work and some new interior bits, including an alcantara steering wheel and shift boot, that make it look fantastic. Personally, I feel that the E46 is the best looking 3 Series of all time and the ZHP is the best looking version.
Now, it’s not perfect, admittedly. There are a couple of scuffs and scratches on the exterior and the rear bumper, where it meats the wheel arch, is a bit beat up. It also has 135,000 miles on the clock. However, it seems to be in overall good condition and is said to be completely mechanically sound. Plus, those minor issues are cheap and easy to fix.
At the time of writing this, this specific E46 BMW 330i ZHP is at $4,000, with the bid ending in 4 days. It’s likely to go up and I sort of hope it goes up out of my price range so I’m not so damned tempted. Bid, folks, bid. Save me from myself.