Materials to Maintain Your ZHP IIIII Hand Protection IIIII Tools to Maintain Your ZHP
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  1. #1
    Join Date
    May 2020
    SF Bay, CA

    Tim's Mystic Blue ZHP Coupe

    Current Mod List (August 1, 2021):


    • BMW Performance Grilles
    • Smoked side markers & reflectors
    • LED license plate lights
    • Debadged


    • MK4 Nav
    • TCU
    • TV Module
    • Homelink
    • Rearview mirror w/homelink and BMW Assist (so I have a total of six garage door openers, lolz)
    • M dead pedal
    • M door sills
    • One-touch rear windows
    • Napa leather steering wheel
    • Cheap ebay aux cable to cheap ebay Bluetooth adapter (hey, it cost $5 total and works really well)
    • Findway F518 3D floor mats
    • A & C pillars in black alcantara, B pillars recovered with original fabric (I didn’t buy enough material, but the slight mismatch doesn’t bother me)
    • Car-Solution eKombi Module (Numerical Oil & Water Temp, Battery Voltage, Vehicle Speed Gauges)
    • Underseat First-Aid box
    • Sparco Pro2000 w/ Brey Krause mounts on OE power slider (driver’s side)


    • GAS DISA
    • BMW Performance Intake
    • BMW Performance Exhaust
    • S54 Oil Fill Cap
    • BavAuto Viton OFHG
    • URO aluminium water pump pulley
    • URO aluminium power steering pump pulley
    • E30 expansion tank cap
    • M3 engine mounts
    • M3 transmission mounts
    • ECS 88A poly diff bushings
    • BMW Performance shift lever
    • CDV delete
    • M3 fuel pump baffle
    • Flipped underhood positive battery jump post


    • Redish V2 RACP reinforcement plates
    • Vincebar Epoxy & Rivet (original design)
    • Powerflex Yellow subframe bushings
    • Powerflex Black RTABs
    • Ground Control Double Adjustable Koni dampers, Eibach springs (440/900 lbs. F/R)
    • Ground Control Hybrid caster-camber plates
    • Ground Control Street rear shock mounts
    • Front strut reinforcement plates
    • 17 x 8.5” ET40 TRMotorsport C2 (street)
    • 245/40/17 Continental ExtremeContact Sport (street)
    • 17” x 8.5” BMW Style 68 (track)
    • 245/40/17 Hankook RS-4 (track)
    • Motorsport Hardware 78 mm wheel studs, black acorn nuts
    • Condor Speed Shop Street Brass Caliper Bushings (front)
    • Zimmermann Rotors
    • Hawk HPS Pads (street)
    • Hawk DTC-60 Pads (track)
    • Stoptech SS Braided Brake Lines
    • ATE Type 200 Fluid
    • ST Suspensions 30 mm M3 front sway bar
    • Custom front ARB reinforcement plates (epoxied with 3M DP460)
    • Custom power steering reservoir catch can

    Thought I'd start a thread on my car, after just over 5 years of owning it.

    A bit of back story: Like most here, I'm a car guy inside-out. I grew up collecting model cars, eventually working my way up to a $200 AutoArt Koenigsegg CCXR. I was always a fan of JDM cars, that is until I got to high school autoshop. Unlike most autoshops with a donated Cavalier, my autoshop teacher was building an E36 racecar. Like most projects, everytime he said it would be done by so and so date, it wasn't. So for two years I had my hands dirty with that car, swapping out the M50B25 for an S52B32, Moton dampers, Megasquirt ECU, the works. He also had an 328is for the street, and working on both those cars combined sparked my interest in older BMWs.

    Fast-forward to March 2015. I needed a car for co-op, as my first job was in Windsor, and I lived 400 km away in Toronto. I was initially looking at WRXs and Foresters, but they were all beat up or out of my price range. But then a clean E36 323is popped up on Kijiji, so I decided to check it out. Unfortunately it had massive lifter tick, and although clean inside-out was priced too much for what it was worth.

    Then, one night I was laying in bed browsing Kijiji, when a 2004 330ci popped up. It was high mileage at 303,000 km, but had the ZHP package (which I wasn't too familiar with at the time) and was Mystic Blue on Black. More importantly, at least through pics it looked like it had half the mileage it did. I lost a bit of sleep that night thinking about it, especially because I knew about the "subframe" (RACP) issue, and that it was more than double my budget. I stayed up doing a bit more reading to learn about the E46 platform, ZHP package, and the RACP issue. It seemed that the consensus with cracking RACPs were limited to pre-LCI cars (ha, ha........ words I will eat 2 years later). So the next morning I decided to pay a visit. This was the first picture I ever took of the car, and the first time I ever saw it when we parked next to it:

    The seller and I got along really well, and you could tell he took good care of the car. He wasn't even planning on selling it, as he had brand-new Michelin PSS fitted to the rear, and a full paint correction + Opti-Coat a few weeks prior. Turns out he found a good deal on an E92 M3, and decided to upgrade - we even took a joyride in that car during the viewing!

    After 3 hours looking over the car and talking, I made an offer he immediately accepted. Looking back on it I was young and naive, and could have easily bought it for >$1000 lower than what I paid. However I really needed a car, and to this day it still puts a smile on my face everytime I take it out, so I don't regret the purchase.

    So as of April 5, 2015 I was the new owner of a 2004 BMW 330CI ZHP.

    Last edited by; 08-01-2021 at 12:41 PM.

  2. #2

    Mysticís a great color on these cars

    Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk

    2006 Coupe | Black Sapphire Metallic | Natural Brown | Gruppe M Intake | Corsa TSE3 | Michelin PSS on Apex ARC-8 | Koni Yellows |

  3. #3
    Very nice! Welcome from a fellow Mystic Blue owner.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jun 2012
    nice to see that you're here too

  5. #5
    Join Date
    May 2020
    SF Bay, CA
    Thanks for the warm welcome everyone! Now, to continue (note, this will take a while: I pretty much have a novel at this point up until last year, and am still writing). To avoid spamming I'll probably stick to 1-2 updates/day.

    Brought the car home and a few pics under my new ownership:

    Crusty BMWP Exhaust (that I somehow didn't get around to cleaning until 4 years later...)

    I brought the car to my highschool autoshop to do the oil change, because why not take advantage of using a lift. But more importantly I wanted to remove the rear rotors to investigate why the handbrake wouldn't work. I don't have any pics, but there were chunks of friction material missing from the shoes. I actually bought the handbrake rebuild kit 2 years after this point, and even to this day still haven't gotten around to replacing it. For now I've been parking in gear with no issue.

    Additionally, there were traces of rust here and there:

    I didn't know it at the time, but the above pic came in very handy when diagnosing the RACP!

    The previous owner was somehow able to take advantage of BMW's 12 year rust warranty. The warranty technically only applies for perforation, and the fine print says that you have to go back to the dealer every so often for inspections. So the car has had a couple partial resprays and blending done, but it kept coming back. The previous owner and I managed to put a case in with the same guy at the same dealer all the previous repairs were under, so we crossed our fingers and waited for BMW Canada for approval.

    Throughout the summer of 2015 I didn't do much with respect to mods and maintenance. Looking back through my maintenance log I did an oil change, coolant flush (pulled the drain plug on the block), and trans fluid. I also did my best to keep it clean with regular 2-bucket washes. But I mostly just kept driving - putting 400 km every 2 weeks driving between Toronto and Windsor, man the ZHP is such a great road trip car. I was also part of the Formula SAE team at my school, so a few weekends I'd also drive there for summer testing.

    At some point I also bought a cable for PA Soft and changed the hexadecimal values to make the coolant temp gauge more linear. I distinctly remember driving back from work and after 5 minutes, the temp gauge was at 12 o'clock. So, I revved it out and it sounded... stressed. More than likely coolant temp was juuuust at 75 deg C, and if that's the case, oil was likely at 40 deg C. Yeeeeaaaaah... again, I was young and dumb (which you'll see more of in my next post). As we don't have oil temp gauges nowadays I make sure to drive a minimum of 10 minutes after coolant is at 90 deg C, to make sure oil is more or less up to temp before giving it the beans. And I just bought a module from Germany that taps into the K-Bus and will display coolant & oil temp, battery voltage, and vehicle speed on my MK4 NAV!
    2004 BMW 330CI ZHP (well, technically ZAM)

  6. #6
    Join Date
    May 2020
    SF Bay, CA
    Alright, here comes the one stupid moment I had with the car, it comes down to bad timing and bad judgement. I was late for work and stuck behind a garbage truck. It was a 1 lane road with a solid yellow, and there were no other cars in sight. The truck started to pull to the shoulder with no signal, and there were houses with bins lined up by the curb. So I (wrongly) assumed he was stopping to pick up garbage, and crossed the solid yellow to go around. Unfortunately this was a case of him just signaling at the last minute, to turn left into a driveway. As he started the left turn I was too far gone, and his left front corner tagged my rear quarter panel. Quite a bit of carnage:

    As I’m sure many of you are aware, insurance lowballed me and tried to total my car. I took it to the best collision shop in town, which caters to high-end exotic cars (more on this in a bit). After a bit of back and forth, they put out their final evaluation, and told me to get my own to prove the value of my car. So that’s what I did, and the appraisal came back for much more than I had purchased the car. Of course this was biased as the appraiser knew what was going on, but it did the job, as after 2 or 3 weeks of sitting repairs were approved.

    As it’s the quarter panel my car is now tainted, but there was no way insurance was going to pay for a full quarter replacement (plus, 2 years down the line the other quarter panel got damaged, due to a drunk driver – again, more on this later). The quarter was pulled as flush as possible, then a skim coat of filler was applied. A donor door was sourced and fully stripped for paint. There were no LKQ mirrors with shadowline trim available, so the entire passenger’s assembly was replaced. The whole lot was then painted:

    After another 2 weeks, repairs were complete:

    And as an added bonus, I salvaged as much as I could off both doors. You don’t realize it when you’re just swinging it on its hinges, but jesus christ that sucker was heavy. My door card was swapped over so I have the door card off the donor, which I ended up selling online, amongst other things:

    Immediately after taking delivery of the car, I noticed this:

    Which, under more revealing lighting conditions turned into this:

    So, of course I’m like WTF? They didn’t even touch the roof when painting, and the roof is Opti-Coated! But then, I remember walking into the body shop still shaken up by the accident, and seeing an employee drying the car. He was using some kind of foam squeegee to dry the cars, which explains why the swirl marks aren’t “swirly”, but rather straight. Well, given that half the car is coated and half is not, and that the whole thing is so messed up, time to break out the Harbour Freight DA I had recently bought. After some trial and error, that above spot turned into this:

    A few lessons were learned with this accident (only had one more due to a drunk driver, 2 years later), including the fact you really have to do research into body shops, and that perhaps I’m too fussy with paint. Definitely wouldn’t have expected a body shop of that calibre to cause that much damage. Anyways at that point I was hogging my parent’s garage too much, plus it was insanely hot. So with the paint mostly corrected and protected I kept driving it until the end of August. At which point my co-op term ended, and it was time to go back to school. It was pretty odd putting the car away for storage when there were still 2 more months of relatively nice weather, but I lived a 5 minute walk from campus, was super-busy managing school and FSAE, and would save a bunch of money on insurance.

    So I gave it one final detail, swapped on the winter tires and pumped them up to 50 psi, plugged the exhaust tips, disconnected the battery, brimmed the tank and added fuel stabilizer. Then threw a car cover over it, and said goodbye for 4 months.
    2004 BMW 330CI ZHP (well, technically ZAM)

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jan 1970
    Southern California
    . Will have to read it all later.

    Sent from my SM-G988U using Tapatalk
    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, Anthracite Black "my individual" interior trim
    ESS Stage 1 Twin Screw Supercharger, Sprint Booster, BMW Perf Intake, Magnaflow Exhaust, Dinan TB & STEP S/W, UCC Sway Bars, Apex EC-7 18x8.5 ET38
    Suspension: AST 44100 dampers, Bimmerworld front adjustable end links, Swift springs (8K front, 10K rear), Vorshlag camber plates
    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

  8. #8
    Join Date
    May 2020
    SF Bay, CA
    Quote Originally Posted by johnrando View Post
    . Will have to read it all later.

    Sent from my SM-G988U using Tapatalk

    After driving my car with that crusty, ripped alcantara wheel for a few months, I decided it was time for a change. Being the budget-conscious student I was, I wasnít willing to buy a new leather wheel, and I didnít want to go back to alcantara. These were the days before DIY sewn-on-covers from China, so my research led me to buying a napa cover from Redline Goods. So while my car was in storage, I removed the wheel and installed the cover:

    Iíd like to say Iím fairly decent with my hands, but this is probably one of the hardest DIY jobs I have done. Thereís just a certain level of finessing you need to get the fitment to an acceptable standard, and I was never truly satisfied with the fitment of the cover. At that point in time though, thatíll have to do.

    Come the start of 2016, my car was coming out of storage (in the winter!) for my second co-op job. In January, BMW Canada finally approved rust repairs on my car, for what would be the final time since the 12-year mark was approaching that April. As mentioned before the rust kept coming back with resprays, so this time they decided to cut out both rocker panels and replace them:

    Suffice it to say I did not want rust coming back, so since then I have not driven the car in the winter.

    Come April 2016, I was going back to school for the summer, then ended up landing my third co-op in the SF bay area for the fall. I wouldíve loved to drive there, but would not want to drive back in December. Then I was back in school for winter 2017, so the next time my car was out of storage was March 2017, 11 months later. It was at this point, 2 big things were coming up Ė the first stage of my RACP reinforcement, and a road trip to the SF bay area for my fourth co-op term.
    2004 BMW 330CI ZHP (well, technically ZAM)

  9. #9
    Join Date
    May 2020
    SF Bay, CA
    It’s now March 2017, and I’ve taken my car out of its 11 month hibernation. I had been planning a road trip to the SF bay area for some time now – I had an internship there for 4 months in the summer, and what better way to spend 4 months there than driving the canyon roads? So in addition to completing my oil change before even starting the car up for the first time, I also had a quick look at the rest of the underbody.

    Right before storage I had the brake pad warning light come on, but I still had tons of pad life left. During my inspection I found this:

    When I first got my car, it needed pads and rotors to pass safety inspection. The PO took it to a generic shop, so I guess they just didn’t tuck the wire behind the dust cap for the bleeder. I quickly fixed it with a brand-new sensor I found cheap off some guy on kijiji.

    I also realized that my driver’s mirror cover was pretty loose. All the retaining tabs were broken, and it was held in with black butyl tape. Removed the cap, epoxied zip-ties to the inside of the cap, and had the zip-ties come through the holes for the tabs.

    Another thing I found was this:

    Remember when I took my car to my highschool autoshop when I first got the car? I thought that split seam in the left rear wheel well was just compromised seam sealer, and was probably something I should take care of. Doing a lot more research, turns out cracks in the sheet metal are not the only indicator of a failing RACP, but the split seam is a result of the RACP actually starting to come apart and fall down, away from the rest of the body. At the time I was quite shocked and disappointed, as repair costs are a decent chunk of the vehicle’s value. But I decided to look into it, as I planned on keeping the car as long as I can. Normally I’d DIY everything, but I was still in school for another month, and there was no break period from end of school to my road trip. Luckily I found a shop that was vetted on the local forum by multiple people, and their pricing was unbeatable (though there was a small conundrum that was peacefully resolved later on). After discussing with the owner of the shop what exactly I wanted done, I was confident that this was the right shop to trust my car with.

    Things that were done at this time:

    • Repaired the existing crack (stop-drilled the ends, then welded it closed + grinded flush)
    • Welded Redish Motorsport V2 plates in
    • Welded separated seam in left rear wheel well
    • Powerflex Yellow subframe bushings (while we’re in there)
    • Powerflex Black RTABs (while we’re in there)
    • New OEM diff bushings (while we’re in there)
    • Replaced fuel pump with VDO unit (I was going to take care of this on my own, and had the part. But they said they’d do it for free since it takes 5 minutes with the tank out of the car anyways. Very kind of them!)

    Crusty subframe, ugh I hate Canadian winters:

    Crack I found:

    Plate welding in progress:

    Repaired seam in left rear wheel well:

    With stage 1 of RACP repairs complete, I then took my car to the dealer for the driver’s side airbag recall:

    Ooooooh shiny new badge:

    Throughout the winter I was also keeping a close eye on eBay for reconditioned steering wheels. There are a couple well-known sellers within M3 Forum, but their prices were out of my budget. But then, a relatively unknown seller popped up, and they had only sold 3 or 4 wheels at that point. The pictures showed a wheel as nice as the ones by the more well-known sellers, so I decided to chance it and went for it, knowing I had eBay buyer’s protection in case things went south. Contrary to what most people like, I decided to stick to black instead of tri-stitch, I think it just looks much cleaner.

    The wheel arrived before I took my car out of storage, and man it was beautiful. I held off installing it until after the RACP repair and airbag recall, to keep it clean.

    Aaaaaaah much better. And it was only $220 USD!

    I think I held onto my old wheel for about a year, before I found a buyer to recoup some of the cost.

    With the RACP repair, airbag recall, new steering wheel, and the car inspected with a clean bill of health – it was now time to drive to California.
    2004 BMW 330CI ZHP (well, technically ZAM)

  10. #10
    Join Date
    May 2020
    SF Bay, CA
    I had a lot of car work planned for the 4 months I was in California. The last time I was there, I had spent 4 months helping a friend 2ZZ swap his MR2 Spyder, so I was able to use his garage, tools, and help this time around. Nevertheless, I still brought some of my tools with me, and was able to make full use of the space above the spare tire and under the trunk false floor:

    My first stop was supposed to be Chicago, but I had visa issues and was held an extra night in Sarnia. Luckily things got resolved, so I’d still be able to make my 2nd stop with a bit of extra driving.

    Crossing into Port Huron, Michigan:

    12 hours later, and a lot of killed bugs:

    The view from my AirBNB at Council Bluffs, Iowa:

    Saw an actual cowboy en route to Denver:

    Past Denver and starting to climb:

    Went from fairly decent spring weather, back to winter. Surprisingly the Michelin PSS did fairly decent in the little slush I did encounter:

    Made it into Utah!

    Sitting hellaflush with all the weight in the rear:

    Unfortunately, this is the only pic I have of my car at the Grand Canyon:

    At a family friend’s house in Kingman, Arizona:

    Stopped for a couple nights in Vegas (no pics, unfortunately):

    Almost there!

    Aaaaaand, made it. Of course, lots of carnage:

    The best view I’ve ever had out of any bedroom, and I’ll have it for the next 4 months:

    2004 BMW 330CI ZHP (well, technically ZAM)

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