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General E46 Forum
This is the place to get answers, opinions and everything you need related to your E46 (sedan, coupe, convertible and wagon) BMW!

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Old 11-30-2012, 10:05 AM   #1
bbenj10
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2004 M3 to 2006 330Ci ZHP, Will

Iím considering trading in my 2004 M3 w/ SMG and picking up a 2004 330Ci ZHP. Both cars have about the same miles (50K) and are in about the same good condition. My main reason for considering this is to switch from a SMG to a 6MT. I learned to like the SMG and after about a month of having the car was much smoother with it than when I got it. But I still wish I was able to row my own gears at times. Iíve looked at the conversion (way too much money IMO and would void the warranty I bought with the M3) and also looked at picking up another M3, but havenít found any that really wow me.

The 330 Ci ZHP I found on CL did wow me though. Black Sapphire Metallic over Black Interior. Love the look of the interior trim on the ZHP, and the price is good too. I assume gas will be almost a wash between the two, but maintenance would certainly be a little less on the 330. Just wanted to know what anyoneís thoughts were on going from M to non M. I know Iíll have less power, but Iím okay with that because it mainly would be used as a daily driver, which I think the 330 has enough power for. I also know the M3 isnít just a more powerful 3 series, itís a different car altogether. Do you think Iíd miss the M3 that much if I had a clean í06 ZHP? Going to test drive it this weekend, Iím sure that will be the main deciding factor, but wanted to see if anyone had anything to add to help me decide.
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Old 11-30-2012, 10:48 AM   #2
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there was a thread a while ago where someone was asking about going the other way (ZHP > M3) and here was my post:

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Originally Posted by webster View Post
I researched both extensively last year when looking to buy. The E46 M3 is superior to the 330i/Ci ZHP in just about every performance category aside from the steering and gearbox. It is faster, much more powerful, handles better at the limit due to the LSD (although at ~50% or less the ZHP is pretty much equal handling-wise), has better brakes and much beefier suspension.

The M3 is also significantly more expensive than the ZHP to maintain if you stick to "old school" BMW maintenance plans (PM on cooling system, Vanos, brakes, suspension, fluids/filters, bushings, etc.). Plus it has extra stuff to tend to like the LSD and valve adjustments.


One thing that really sold me on the ZHP, aside from cost to own and maintain, was the uniqueness, the subtleness and exclusivity. An M3 is quickly and easily identifiable; there is no mistaking it. The bulged wheel wheel arches, the quad exhaust, the badging...you stick out like a sore thumb. I realize a lot of people absolutely love this aspect of M3 ownership, but I like the subtle qualities the ZHP has. Further, there are almost 50k E46 M3s in North America, but not even 7k ZHPs. And the majority of those are sedans, not coupes. The ZHP also has unique bits like the Alcantara interior and M-Tech2 body kit.

I do wish I had that extra top-end power and LSD, but for a DD i don't really think I'm missing it all that much. I will probably try to find a nice ZCP M3 in a couple years once the miles start to rack up on my ZHP. For now I'm thoroughly happy with what I got.
hopefully that helps. i think you can't go wrong either way (except for SMG of course)
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Old 11-30-2012, 11:00 AM   #3
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Thanks for all the info. You make some great points. What wheels are on yours? Are they authentic CSLs?
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Old 11-30-2012, 11:02 AM   #4
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I'll chime in on this since I went from a zhp to an m3..

As for the zhp and the m3, it depends they were both amazing cars, reason I went to an m3 was not because I didn't like the zhp, in fact the zhp was an awesome car and I owned it for 6 years. I moved to the m3 because I got kinda bored with the power the zhp lacked, and I have always wanted an m3. I would have purchased an m3 back in 2006 when I purchased but the m3 was slightly out of my budget at the time..

Some one said that the zhp brakes were better than an m3? I call bs on that one. As for the handling, it is very similar but I still think the m3 has a tighter feel to it.

I had originally posted my zhp for sale last year and had a few people look at it and the typical tire kickers, but no bites. So I decided to keep the car until a friend of mine brother was interested in a zhp and wanted to see what the alcantara looked and felt like, and absolutely fell in love with it and pretty much put me on the spot to buy it off of me at my willing to sell price.. I looked saw an m3 that fit my standards and made the decision to move on.. I'm happy with my decision

If you go from the m3 to a zhp you will be happy but you may get bored of the zhp power if your used to the m3 power
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Old 11-30-2012, 11:08 AM   #5
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Thanks for all the info. You make some great points. What wheels are on yours? Are they authentic CSLs?
No problem. The wheels are Avant Garde M310 18'' staggered.
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Old 11-30-2012, 11:13 AM   #6
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i always find it funny when people make this comparison as if the zhp is some kind of "somewhat equal alternative" to an M3. any ZHP you buy is going to have a completely blown suspension (unless owned by a proper enthusiast)
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Old 11-30-2012, 11:30 AM   #7
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i always find it funny when people make this comparison as if the zhp is some kind of "somewhat equal alternative" to an M3. any ZHP you buy is going to have a completely blown suspension (unless owned by a proper enthusiast)
Pray tell, why would a ZHP be more likely to have a blown suspension than a regular e46 or an M3?
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Old 11-30-2012, 11:36 AM   #8
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^just an attempt at being antagonistic. that statement is ridiculous. i bought my ZHP w/ 50k miles and the suspension was fine. sure, CABs needed to be replaced but that's standard and relatively minor.
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Old 11-30-2012, 11:37 AM   #9
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Pray tell, why would a ZHP be more likely to have a blown suspension than a regular e46 or an M3?
Who said I said that? OP is considering a ZHP.
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Old 11-30-2012, 11:38 AM   #10
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^just an attempt at being antagonistic. that statement is ridiculous. i bought my ZHP w/ 50k miles and the suspension was fine. sure, CABs needed to be replaced but that's standard and relatively minor.
Try again
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Old 11-30-2012, 11:41 AM   #11
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Pray tell, why would a ZHP be more likely to have a blown suspension than a regular e46 or an M3?
An M3 owner is far more likely to know what he's driving. Obviously this makes him far more likely to know when the dampers are in need of replacement.


Regarding going from an M3 to a ZHP, I know I post this every time, but I have this close friend who went from a gorgeous, 33k mile, 2003.5 M3 to a 2005 ZHP sedan and he could not be happier. This same friend of mine also previously owned 2 immaculate e36 M3s, so he's run the gamut. He drove the e46 m3 for just under a year or so until he sold it and bought his ZHP. Maintenance costs were never an issue, rather it was the practicality offered by the sedan with the alcantera/cloth interior that attracted him. It's an excellent compromise. In addition, he much prefers the transmission and steering of the ZHP to the M3.
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Old 11-30-2012, 11:42 AM   #12
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making a blanket statement "any car with XX,XXX miles will have a blown suspension" is just ridiculous. that ignores road condition and driving style completely as well as previous owner maintenance history. it's antagonistic and provides no useful information to a potential buyer.
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Old 11-30-2012, 11:44 AM   #13
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making a blanket statement "any car with XX,XXX miles will have a blown suspension" is just ridiculous. that ignores road condition and driving style completely as well as previous owner maintenance history. it's antagonistic and provides no useful information to a potential buyer.
I'm pretty sure anyone with half a brain can figure that part out on their own. Do you really need me to spell that out? That's a given.

I always say (if you ever read my threads) that my advice is a guide. Generally speaking, stock Sachs-Boge struts/shocks are heavily degraded, if not completely blown, by 50k miles.

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Old 11-30-2012, 11:54 AM   #14
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I'm considering trading in my 2004 M3 w/ SMG and picking up a 2004 330Ci ZHP. Both cars have about the same miles (50K) and are in about the same good condition. My main reason for considering this is to switch from a SMG to a 6MT. I learned to like the SMG and after about a month of having the car was much smoother with it than when I got it. But I still wish I was able to row my own gears at times. I've looked at the conversion (way too much money IMO and would void the warranty I bought with the M3) and also looked at picking up another M3, but haven't found any that really wow me.

The 330 Ci ZHP I found on CL did wow me though. Black Sapphire Metallic over Black Interior. Love the look of the interior trim on the ZHP, and the price is good too. I assume gas will be almost a wash between the two, but maintenance would certainly be a little less on the 330. Just wanted to know what anyone's thoughts were on going from M to non M. I know I'll have less power, but I'm okay with that because it mainly would be used as a daily driver, which I think the 330 has enough power for. I also know the M3 isn't just a more powerful 3 series, it's a different car altogether. Do you think I'd miss the M3 that much if I had a clean '06 ZHP? Going to test drive it this weekend, I'm sure that will be the main deciding factor, but wanted to see if anyone had anything to add to help me decide.
You're going to miss the power and that's it (for daily driving). If you put an S54 into a regular E46 and raced an M3 around a track, you wouldn't get beat by that much. Maintenance costs will be much less. For example, a new M3 water pump is a few hundred dollars while a regular M54 water pump is $60.

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Old 11-30-2012, 11:59 AM   #15
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making a blanket statement "any car with XX,XXX miles will have a blown suspension" is just ridiculous. that ignores road condition and driving style completely as well as previous owner maintenance history. it's antagonistic and provides no useful information to a potential buyer.
It's not ridiculous at all. Your cars dampers take a lot abuse during conventional, everyday driving. When they're working as intended, you don't even notice it. That's the point.



I'm glad someone besides myself has posted this chart. It's not just an advertising gimmick by Bilstein. Low end brand shock absorbers like KYB, for example, will degrade heavily before they reach 50,000 miles. This condition is aggravated by road condition and driving style. The majority of people drive like **** and road conditions all over the country continue to degrade. It's a recipe for dampers to fail early, and they do.

We have a '93 Toyota Previa van in my family that serves the specific task of hauling wheels and tires around. It has 260,000 miles on it and it has had more sets of shocks than I can remember. Recently, we opted for a cheap set of shocks and 20,000 miles later, they're completely blown.

Most people are not willing to agree with the 50,000 mile statement because they are too embarrassed to admit that their dampers are blown. Newsflash: Your dampers are most likely blown. There is a huge, noticeable difference between new dampers and ones that have, for example 80,000 miles on them. Granted some higher quality dampers wear slower and more gradually, they still degrade.
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Old 11-30-2012, 12:02 PM   #16
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It's not ridiculous at all. Your cars dampers take a lot abuse during conventional, everyday driving. When they're working as intended, you don't even notice it. That's the point.



I'm glad someone besides myself has posted this chart. It's not just an advertising gimmick by Bilstein. Low end brand shock absorbers like KYB, for example, will degrade heavily before they reach 50,000 miles. This condition is aggravated by road condition and driving style. The majority of people drive like **** and road conditions all over the country continue to degrade. It's a recipe for dampers to fail early, and they do.

We have a '93 Toyota Previa van in my family that serves the specific task of hauling wheels and tires around. It has 260,000 miles on it and it has had more sets of shocks than I can remember. Recently, we opted for a cheap set of shocks and 20,000 miles later, they're completely blown.

Most people are not willing to agree with the 50,000 mile statement because they are too embarrassed to admit that their dampers are blown. Newsflash: Your dampers are most likely blown. There is a huge, noticeable difference between new dampers and ones that have, for example 80,000 miles on them. Granted some higher quality dampers wear slower and more gradually, they still degrade.
well said.

we used to have discussions on another forum many years ago how used 40k sachs E36 M3 shocks/struts were NIGHT and DAY versus brand new ones.
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Old 11-30-2012, 12:33 PM   #17
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when i bought my car and took it to my indy for thorough examination, they did a suspension rebound test and said the shocks/struts had about 75% dampening compared to original spec. i was recommended a suspension overhaul somehwere between 70k-90k miles. they DID show me on the lift the suspension bushings were totally shot and disintegrating. so i had those replaced with Meyle HD. this is a shop that makes its money recommending service. (for example, same shop recommended complete cooling system overhaul @ 54k miles, which i did)
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Old 11-30-2012, 02:02 PM   #18
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I will say that I find my ZHP more suited as a daily driver whereas my ///M is more fun to take out occasionally. I used to drive my ///M full-time during the first year of ownership and decided that it would be better to have that as a seasonal car, not because of maintenance but because the roads where I live are harsh during winter from salt. After I got my ZHP and began daily driving duties with it I realized that it has a much softer/smoother ride than my ///M (two different cars - I know) and seems like a much more refined ride compared to the brute power ride I have in my ///M.

Now I love the personalities of both cars but since I happen to be lucky enough to own both I choose to use my ZHP for daily driving duties while saving my ///M for perfect days...
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Old 11-30-2012, 02:04 PM   #19
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when i bought my car and took it to my indy for thorough examination, they did a suspension rebound test and said the shocks/struts had about 75% dampening compared to original spec. i was recommended a suspension overhaul somehwere between 70k-90k miles. they DID show me on the lift the suspension bushings were totally shot and disintegrating. so i had those replaced with Meyle HD. this is a shop that makes its money recommending service. (for example, same shop recommended complete cooling system overhaul @ 54k miles, which i did)
I am curious how the shop determined that you still had 75% of your original dampening capability. What instrument/apparatus did they use?
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Old 11-30-2012, 02:37 PM   #20
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I am curious how the shop determined that you still had 75% of your original dampening capability. What instrument/apparatus did they use?
Eyeball measuring apparatus
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