Tuesday, February 23, 2021

My Daily Driver: @HeyItsDerekJ's BMW 330i ZHP

1. How did you come to the decision of buying this car?

Quite simply, a case of quarantine boredom. I started looking around Craigslist for manual transmission equipped E39 or E46 BMWs that needed a little work, but nothing too far gone. I ran across an ad for a cheap 2005 330i six speed, with the ZHP package and wearing Imola Red paint. Cheap and manual E46 ZHP don't go together normally, so I knew it would have some character. 170k miles, sure. Oil leaks, check. Smashed rear door, yep. But it appeared decent otherwise so I figured it was worth a look. I met the seller who was a cool guy with 4 other BMW projects and a new house, so something had to go. He originally bought the ZHP from a kid who inherited it from his dad, with the intention of pulling the engine and transmission, until his friend talked him out of killing it. A quick drive and I knew it was the right project for me.

2. What has your ownership experience been like?

It immediately failed emissions for the gas cap (of course). I got it home from the DMV and the power steering pump failed, which I expected since it had been run low on fluid for too long in the past. After replacing the cooling system, power steering pump, brakes, control arm bushings, filters and fluids, interior bits, and fixing most of the oil leaks, I got to enjoy it. It had been years since I drove an older BMW and I immediately remembered why people liked the E46 so much. Amazingly I found an Imola red door on eBay to replace the damaged one and it was ready for daily duty on non snow days. It still needs a new windshield, a new steering wheel wrap, and a VANOS solenoid, but it's mostly sorted now.

3. What is your fondest memory with this car?

At first it was a project, and projects need repairs, so my early fond memories were learning how to work on it and annoying my neighbors as it sat on jackstands awaiting parts. Now that it's running it gets plenty of fun mountain drives. I really haven't had it long enough to have one favorite memory of it yet, but my daughter loves it and always wants to go for drives in it. That's enough for me for now.

4. Why do you love cars?

I honestly have no idea, but I can remember as a little kid being obsessed with airplanes and cars, which earned me zero credibility with most of my friends, but I never cared. Cars have been much more attainable than planes so I've gravitated their way. A lot of the fun has been learning more and more; first track days (bro), getting into more and more advanced repairs, and of course looking for the next project.

If you would like to participate, just answer the above four questions and submit one to three photos of your daily driver to milhousevanh at geemail. Thanks and have fun!

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