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Thread: The third year starts at 228,000 miles. My project thread.

  1. #1
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    Alex's 228k+ mile project thread

    Today marks the beginning of the third year of my experience with my high-mileage ZHP. I figured it was time to make a project thread.

    What initially threw me into the idea of buying a BMW was when I was a kid. My front neighbor had a 2002, Orient on Natural Brown, 6-speed E46 M3 vert, and I was always excited when I heard him drive around. After driving a friend's 5-speed ZSP 325i, I was attracted to the overall feel of the car - it had 139k miles, albeit it showed some wear it definitely didn't feel like a 10-year-old car. Doing some more research I realized that the BMW maintenance nightmare was nothing more than a myth if I used common sense and didn't cheap out on preventative maintenance. I started looking around for ZSP 325's until I stumbled on a 152k 330i that had a nice body kit and nice wheels. This particular car was garbage, but upon further research I discovered the ZHP package. The quest was on.

    I initially set a 140k limit for mileage, and alcantara was a must. As I was searching for cars I was also researching every aspect of E46 ownership. I knew I'd be OCD and replace everything anyway... so I ditched that criteria. I finally found an imola/alcantara/manual sedan in central PA. It had 204,xxx miles, but had a great maintenance history, with some perks such as FX-R projectors, and the fantastic Borla exhaust. It had some other mods I wasn't a fan of (painted OEM wheels, unwanted CAI), but I could swap back to stock for most of them for break-even (or even profit in some cases). A couple emails were exchanged, and 2 days later, I was on the road with a bank draft to go get this:

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    I was absolutely thrilled by my first drive. I just went all out for an hour - redlining at every opportunity, brake-checking, basically testing out my gut feeling about this car. I was immediately sold, and was arrested 20 mins after officially taking ownership for driving to the AAA to get a temp tag with no tags.

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    Over the past 2 years, I've been mainly focusing on getting the drivetrain, suspension and interior up to my standards. I've replaced most of the rubber on the car that hadn't already been done. I have a full running tally of what I've spent in maintenance - it's been an average of $1,700/year, which includes a brand new front suspension a month ago. Of course this is only in parts... I'd easily be at double that if I wasn't doing everything myself. I paid for the car in cash and allocated a fake $150/month "car payment" to a separate bank account to allow for any maintenance issues to be addressed quickly... it's been working great so far. I'm gonna be doing much less maintenance from now on as most issues are addressed, so I'll be reducing this significantly very soon, probably after my yearly October inspection.

    First detail:

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    First ski trip:

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    Off the top of my head, this maintenance budget has allowed for replacement of the following - most of it was preventative, apart from the rear shocks and window regulators, which actually failed. All using OEM parts. It's a lot of money, but most of it was spent getting the car up to my standards, which I would've done on a low-mileage car anyway. I expect to be spending much less from now on.

    • Rear shocks & mounts
    • RTAB
    • Front left and rear right regulators
    • New console and storage cubbies, windshield cowl
    • BMW SSK and shift bushings
    • Struts & hats, tie rods, control arms, control arm bushings, sway bar endlinks
    • Radiator
    • Oil filter housing gasket
    • Fuel pump
    • Rear tires, wiper blades, 2 alignments
    • 3 oil changes, 1 tranny flush, 1 diff flush
    • Both camshaft sensors, VCG, VANOS seals and rattle kit
    • Engine and cabin air filters
    • O2 sensors
    • License plate delete, new hub caps, new speaker covers for rear deck, power steering flush and reservoir replacement
    • Sunroof clips


    What's left to do:

    • Driveshaft flex disc and CSB (already have the parts, it's my next project)
    • Cat replacement (I got low mileage cats for a steal - might sell them if I ever decide it's not worth it)
    • Oil pan gasket + motor mounts... one day
    • CCV - already have the parts


    After that, the car will have been mostly renewed throughout the drivetrain. Now the paint in the front is faded, and this will be the next step - I need to have the entire car from the front to the B pillar resprayed. I've been putting this off as it still passes the 4-foot test, but now I'm starting to consider having it done.

    It's been a terrific learning experience, and it's a great feeling to know you've done the job properly and with the right parts. This is an awesome car, and I've been enjoying it thoroughly. Living in a city with great transit I've always thought that I'd either own a fun, kinda cheap car, or no car at all. The ZHP has filled these expectations extremely well.

    After driving an M-Sport 135i on German Autobahns this winter I've had a very light itch for one, surprisingly not because of the power (it's useless for a daily driver, IMO) but because I loved the modern amenities in the car. iDrive was fantastic, despite the critics, and push-start ignition has always made me giggle like a kid - no idea why. Interior was refined, sound system was amazing, and N54/5 exhaust note = eargasm. But it makes absolutely zero sense for me at this time, so it's only a distant dream.

    So there you got it - this is my ZHP story. Do I wish I gone with a lower mileage car ? A bit, if only because my biggest grip with the car is the faded front-end paint. Extremely high-mileage cars are also harder to sell. But I have less money in this one than if I had bought a CPO yaris, and most of the wearable components are new, so there's that. I'd drive my ZHP across North America tomorrow without a doubt about its ability to make the trip.

    I'm gonna keep driving this car for at least the next two years, when I'll be done with school. As such, I'm opening this project thread, which will mostly chronicle DIY maintenance stories, as I'm an OEM+ kinda guy... It's been a great journey!

    As she sits today:

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    Last edited by alexandre; 10-12-2019 at 06:27 AM.

  2. #2
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    Sent from my SM-G900T using Tapatalk
    2003 Oxford Green ZSP 5MT 330i
    "I thought you were the car whisperer, Dario." -johnrando

  3. #3
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    A great read and looking forward to the next journey this year will bring.

  4. #4
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    Very nice. Looks great. Are your license plate bulbs purple or is that just the light?
    Randeaux/Rando/John/jr - '06 Cic ZHP; Southern California
    "ZHP or not, I still like you"


    ZHP Performance Package, Cold Weather Package, Leather, Jet Black/Black/BlackCube, NAV
    ESS Stage 1 Twin Screw Supercharger, Sprint Booster, BMW Perf Intake, Magnaflow Exhaust, Dinan TB & STEP S/W, Ground Control Coilovers, UCC Sway Bars, Apex EC-7 18x8.5 ET38
    Dynavin D99+, Hardwire V1 (w/V1 Connection), BSW Stage 1 Speakers, Kicker Amp/Subwoofer
    BMW Performance Strut Brace, Orion V2 Angel Eyes, No-holes License Plate, SMG Paddle Shift Mod, Besian VANOS, Gold DISA, Fan Delete, M3 Side Mirrors
    Note: Actual car no longer resembles signature picture

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by johnrando View Post
    Very nice. Looks great. Are your license plate bulbs purple or is that just the light?
    They have a 6,000k tint. Cheap $1 eBay LED bulbs
    Alex '03 Imolarot BMW 330i ZHP - 6MT


    Drivetrain: 3.46 Diff | Borla Catback | Gruppe M CAI | CDV Delete | 330d SSK
    Exterior: Black Kidneys | Front License Delete | Orion V2 Coronas | OEM Clears
    Interior: Parrot BT | OEM Aux | OEM Homelink | OEM Alarm | LED Interior | Clutch Stop | Euro 4.0 LCM

  6. #6
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    Great read and it was nice meeting you and seeing this fine automobile in person at the reunion Alex! Also seeing you do that suspension work the night before and then driving down was impressive to say the least!

    My favorite picture here is the one of the first ski trip, what does your snow/winter setup look like for the car? And how is driving it up there in the winter?

    Current:
    2011 BMW M3 E92 6MT - Info/Maintenance Thread
    2000 Toyota 4Runner SR5 5MT - Restoration/Project Thread on T4R.org
    Sold:
    "Scarlett" the 2005 BMW 330i ZHP 6MT - Project/Maintenance Thread

  7. #7
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    good stuff alex! looking forward to an imola sedan get-together.

    peter
    peter

    2009 BMW 335i M Sport 6MT

    2015 VW Golf TSI Comfortline 5MT

    2007 BMW X3 3.0si M Sport 6MT

  8. #8
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    Good stuff buddy. Car is beautiful especially considering the miles it has

    Sent from in the bushes

    My 7 year itch.

    Mods: BimmerBrakes Headers, Magnaflow full system, BYS Cross Drilled and Slotted Rotors, Hawk HPS Pads, Racing Dynamics Intake, Dinan Throttle Body, Bavarian Auto Short Shifter, ECS Tuning Strut Bar, Projector Fogs, Blackout Grilles, Euro Smoked Tail Lights, Black Corner Lights.

    Upcoming: Coil Overs, Sway Bars, Polyurethane Bushings all around, M3 motor mounts
    .

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by NoVAphotog View Post
    Great read and it was nice meeting you and seeing this fine automobile in person at the reunion Alex! Also seeing you do that suspension work the night before and then driving down was impressive to say the least!

    My favorite picture here is the one of the first ski trip, what does your snow/winter setup look like for the car? And how is driving it up there in the winter?
    I'm running Nokian Hakkapeliittas on gunmetal style 44's. Every other car we have in the family is AWD so I needed some adaptation at first, but now I take it out in major storms without an issue. When I took that pic I had just driven 2 hours through a storm that dumped 2 feet in 4 hours - I was literally plowing the highway.
    Alex '03 Imolarot BMW 330i ZHP - 6MT


    Drivetrain: 3.46 Diff | Borla Catback | Gruppe M CAI | CDV Delete | 330d SSK
    Exterior: Black Kidneys | Front License Delete | Orion V2 Coronas | OEM Clears
    Interior: Parrot BT | OEM Aux | OEM Homelink | OEM Alarm | LED Interior | Clutch Stop | Euro 4.0 LCM

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by alexandre View Post
    I'm running Nokian Hakkapeliittas on gunmetal style 44's. Every other car we have in the family is AWD so I needed some adaptation at first, but now I take it out in major storms without an issue. When I took that pic I had just driven 2 hours through a storm that dumped 2 feet in 4 hours - I was literally plowing the highway.
    awesome. we're going to have to discuss your techniques as if i end up keeping the imola ZHP as the solo family hauler, winter traction is my main concern.

    peter
    peter

    2009 BMW 335i M Sport 6MT

    2015 VW Golf TSI Comfortline 5MT

    2007 BMW X3 3.0si M Sport 6MT

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