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Thread: Danny's 330ci

  1. #1

    Danny's 330ci

    Hey, y'all!

    After selling my Oxford Green 330i/5 last year, I had a variety of different cars, ranging from an E39 540i/6 to an E32 740i to several E34 525i's. Nonetheless, in that time I still missed having an E46... there's something irresistible about its blend of modern features along with classic BMW handling prowess and a relatively light curb weight.

    The timing for another E46 never seemed quite right until this one fell into my lap (not literally, that would hurt!). As a little bit of backstory, I run a small BMW specialty shop here in Tempe, AZ, where I specialize in older BMW's like the E28, E34, E39, E36, E46, etc. That's where this particular E46 came in— it got towed to the shop one day on a flatbed, having overheated. After running a compression test and verifying that the engine was still in good shape, I diagnosed the overheating issue as being caused by an ancient (if not original) cooling system and a completely dead clutch fan. I also noted a variety of common E46 issues when I talked to the customer about their car. They told me they were trying to sell the car and didn't really want to invest much money into it for that reason. That got the gears turning in my head, as I needed another car to daily drive with my E34 525i falling apart (long story). I made them a fair offer on the car, taking into account its mechanical issues, and they accepted, so I became the owner of this 2003 330ci.

    A little about the car: it's a titanium silver coupe with a gray leather interior. Super exciting color combo, I know! It's well-loaded, with the sport package, auto headlights, self-dimming mirror, lumbar support, seat memory, Harmon Kardon audio, bixenon headlights, and style 68 wheels, albeit in a less-than-desirable chrome finish. No heated seats, but being a coupe it does have folding rear seats, which is super exciting to me. Believe it or not, I've almost never owned a BMW that had folding seats before. For whatever reason that seems to be an extremely rare option. The car has an automatic transmission, for better or worse. It works okay for now aside from the usual torque converter lockup issue on the highway. The plan in the near future is to manual swap it, which should be relatively easy to do with a shop at my disposal.

    The car has clean title, clean Carfax, no error lights, and originally came from Arizona, hence the faded front and rear bumper paint. The rest of the paint is in decent shape though, and should respond nicely to a paint correction once it cools down a bit here. At a mere 135k miles, it's one of the lowest-mileage cars I've owned in recent years, with the vast majority of my past fleet having 200k or more. It's got working keyless entry, all the original owner's manuals and paperwork, and a decently complete trunk toolkit.

    After suffering through all this rambling, I will reward y'all with two extremely mediocre pictures of the car in question. I'll take some proper pictures once I have the chance to detail the car properly.





    The absolute first order of business was making the car not overheat, at least for the time being until I can scrounge up enough money to redo the entire cooling system. Topping off the cooling system regularly along with swapping on a good used clutch fan seems to have solved the overheating issue, at least temporarily. I definitely won't be taking any long trips in this car until everything in that system is brand new.

    The next thing I needed to fix immediately was the HVAC fan working intermittently. An intermittent fan is not fun at all in an Arizona summer, especially when it's been 110º+ every day for the past month. After verifying that the blower fan motor was in good shape, I quickly obtained a new FSU. The one I removed looks to be original, nice.



    With the AC working correctly, I turned my attention to the absolutely awful tires, two of which were worn down to the cords. I ordered 4 new tires, which will hopefully be here in the next few days. That alone should make a massive difference to the handling and ride comfort of this car, considering it has 4 completely mismatched tires in varying states of decay.

    Here's the to-do list so far, in no particular order:

    - Valve cover gasket
    - Oil filter housing gasket
    - Cooling system (radiator, hoses, expansion tank, thermostat, water pump)
    - Control arm bushings
    - Spark plugs
    - Differential bushings
    - Transmission mounts
    - Engine mounts
    - Passenger side window regulator
    - Sunroof delete (sunroof is currently super broken)
    - Inner & outer tie rods
    - Trailing arm bushings
    - Alignment
    - Factory aux input install (perks of it being a later car)
    - Polish (or replace) headlight lenses
    - Vanos rebuild (would probably make sense to do along with VCG)

    As for the more major changes I want to make:

    - Black interior swap
    - Manual swap
    - Maybe different wheels, if not just style 68's in the stock finish
    - Some kind of intake
    - Catless headers
    - Tune
    - Coilovers of some kind
    - ZHP bumpers maybe?

    Anyways, that's where I'm at with the car at the moment. I want it to be a good daily but also want to tear up some mountain roads with it and fling it around at a track day semi-regularly.
    2003 Titanium Silver 330ci - Maintenance Thread

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jan 1970
    Location
    NJ
    Posts
    1,968
    Awesome! Looking forward to seeing the progress.
    - Marc

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Feb 2013
    Location
    Austin TX
    Posts
    6,206
    This sounds interesting ! Please keep us posted. About the headlight lenses, I hear very good results from the 3M kit. But I never tried it myself.
    2005 IR / black / 6MT
    150,000 miles

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Dec 2019
    Location
    Raleigh, NC
    Posts
    348
    I would honestly just replace the lenses. I used one of those restoration kits and it faded after about 6 months, so I just got $20 eBay lenses and they still look like new over a year later. Super cheap and easy to do.
    330i Base | Mysticblau | Slicktop | 6MT

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Feb 2013
    Location
    Austin TX
    Posts
    6,206
    On coupes, you need to bake the headlight assembly to replace the lenses. I agree it's easy to replace the lenses on sedans.
    2005 IR / black / 6MT
    150,000 miles

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Dec 2019
    Location
    Raleigh, NC
    Posts
    348
    Quote Originally Posted by fredo View Post
    On coupes, you need to bake the headlight assembly to replace the lenses. I agree it's easy to replace the lenses on sedans.
    It's the same procedure on the prefacelift coupe as on the sedans.
    330i Base | Mysticblau | Slicktop | 6MT

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Feb 2013
    Location
    Austin TX
    Posts
    6,206
    Quote Originally Posted by Galapolis View Post
    It's the same procedure on the prefacelift coupe as on the sedans.
    Thanks for the clarification, I was not aware of that.
    2005 IR / black / 6MT
    150,000 miles

  8. #8
    Join Date
    May 2020
    Location
    Toronto, ON
    Posts
    481
    Quote Originally Posted by Galapolis View Post
    It's the same procedure on the prefacelift coupe as on the sedans.
    Quote Originally Posted by fredo View Post
    Thanks for the clarification, I was not aware of that.
    Lucky bastards
    2004 BMW 330CI ZHP (well, technically ZAM)


  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jan 1970
    Location
    Southern California
    Posts
    17,520
    Congrats on the car! GL with sorting out the rest, a great list!

    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
    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

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jan 1970
    Location
    Branford, CT
    Posts
    15,792
    Quote Originally Posted by dannyzabolotny View Post
    The car has an automatic transmission, for better or worse. It works okay for now aside from the usual torque converter lockup issue on the highway. The plan in the near future is to manual swap it, which should be relatively easy to do with a shop at my disposal.
    Could you please touch on what you mean by the 'usual' torque converter lockup issue? Is this a common issue? Which transmission?

    My late 2002 / early 2003 build touring had a torque converter issue right after I bought it (probably already existed) where on lockup, it would shake and constantly alternate between lockup / no lockup (at least that's what I think it was). Mine is a ZF 5HP19; is yours a ZF as well?
    BP
    2005 330i ZHP / 6MT
    Imolarot / Naturbraun



    It's not the car you drive, it's how you drive it.

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