2004 E46 330i ZHP: Jeremy Kuhns
2004 BMW E46 330i ZHP #KM06603
3.0-liter M54 inline six-cylinder, 235 hp/222 lb-ft
February 14, 2004
Jeremy Kuhns (since 2017)
Despite the tremendous popularity of the E36 M3 sedan in the US, BMW declined to build a four-door E46 M3, disappointing those who wanted M3 performance with four doors instead of two.
In 2003, BMW NA offered a corrective in the form of the Performance Package for the 330i sedan. The ZHP option increased the output of the 3.0-liter M54 six-cylinder from 225 to 235 hp, and from 214 to 222 lb-ft. A lighter flywheel, six-speed transmission (exclusive to the ZHP among non-M cars) and a shorter rear-end ratio dropped 0-to-60 time from 6.4 to 5.9 seconds. ZHPs also got a 13.7:1 steering rack ratio, M-tuned suspension, M-Technic aerodynamics, and 18-inch M Double Spoke wheels. Silver or Black Cube interior trim was ZHP-exclusive, and so were Alcantara-covered seats, shift and e-brake boots, and steering wheel.
The ZHP option proved so popular that BMW NA began offering it on coupes and convertibles, with an automatic transmission, and with full leather in place of Alcantara, making early cars like the one you see here especially desirable. With nearly all of its ZHP-exclusive equipment intact, Jeremy Kuhns’ ZHP represents a fine expression of the Performance Package concept.
Kuhns was driving an automatic E46 325xi when he fell in love with the ZHP’s M-Tech aero, wheels and distinctive induction and exhaust note. When he found 330i ZHP #KM006603 for sale near his home in central Illinois, he couldn’t resist.
The car had 148,000 miles on the odometer, and previous owner Wynn Baldock had fitted Bilstein/H&R suspension, Turner Motorsport anti-roll bars, a Racing Dynamics strut tower brace, DMS exhaust, and M3 motor mounts. Kuhns added his own oil pan baffle when it was time to replace the gasket, and he also fitted a cold air intake with a K&N filter.
“I can drive it gently and it’s calm and unassuming, or I can push it hard and hear it come alive as the motor revs to 6,800 rpm,” Kuhns says. “I love feeling the torque push me back in the seat, and having four doors lets the kids get in easier. I can’t think of a more complete package, especially not in a car that makes me this happy to drive.”
Kuhns says his ZHP is a forever car, and he’ll be smart to keep it. ZHPs remain sought-after to this day, and those with their original ZHP equipment command prices well in excess of an ordinary E46. It’s a rare car that’s both popular when new and collectible years later, and it speaks to how right BMW NA got it with the ZHP.