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Thread: Dilemma

  1. #1

    Dilemma

    Hi ZHP team,

    Iím not a big forum poster, but regularly read the forum.

    Iím facing a dilemma. I love my zhp. Itís a 2004 JET Black 6mt with sand interior 135k miles. The car is well sorted, and has no issues, though I havenít yet done a major maintenance overhaul. I bought the car with every intention of long term ownership, but thereís a problem. My wife really doesnít like it. She wants me to have a bigger car, and to be honest with my 6í4 frame, the zhp is pretty

    Hereís the dilemma, out if the blue a 2001 E39 540i 6mt in TiAg sport package with 80k miles popped up locally. I can get my wifeís support to buy it, but it will cost me the zhp. This car is probably a bit more ďpracticalĒ for my family, and from what I can tell is the closest to a zhp I could get in a 5 series.

    I have yet to see the car in person, but the pictures are promising.

    If it checks out, should I go for it?

  2. #2
    You will have to look at maintenance requirements of the 540i and make comparisons between your ZHP and see if it is worth making the move. Only you can determine whether or not it is best to sell the ZHP in favor of the 540i. I have never been in a 540i but from what I have heard, they are fast and responsive. Good luck

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Dec 2019
    Location
    Raleigh, NC
    Posts
    412
    One of my friends recently bought a 6MT 540i E39. It's a very nice car and you will definitely feel right at home in it when coming from an E46. However, it is somewhat deceptive, as the E39 is not much bigger than the E46. In fact, it is smaller than a modern 3 series. I think it's a great size, but if you want something noticeably larger than the E46, I would look towards an E38.
    330i Base | Mysticblau | Slicktop | 6MT

  4. #4
    Sure. Either car, due to age, will require maintenance to keep them running long term. I keep both if I could.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jan 1970
    Location
    Branford, CT
    Posts
    15,845
    I have experience with both platforms - my ZHP, an E39 525iT I used to own, and my brother's 540i 6-speed from back in the day.

    The driving experience will not be comparable. The E39 is bigger, softer, quieter, more refined, andheavier. The steering of the 540i is a weak point as it uses a recirculating ball setup, and I personally didn't like it in my brother's 540i. Otherwise, the torque and sound is nice. It's more antiquated with regards to the electronics compared to the E46. E39's are quite nice to drive, but they're not exciting.

    The maintenance kind of sucks on those V8s, so be prepared for that. Personally, I'd go with a 530i as that has the better steering setup as well as an easier-to-work-on engine.

    IMO you're going to regret getting rid of the ZHP. Most people do. The E46 is just simply more enjoyable to drive.
    BP
    2005 330i ZHP / 6MT
    Imolarot / Naturbraun



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

  6. #6
    Thanks for the helpful feedback everyone. I’m definitely torn. I posted here because I want to have all the reasons to keep my zhp front of mind. I’ll learn a lot when I see and drive the car. I plan to do major maintenance to either car, so those costs are likely in the same ballpark. I do all of my own labor. What major extra costs arise with the v8?

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jan 1970
    Location
    Branford, CT
    Posts
    15,845
    Quote Originally Posted by SFTorange View Post
    What major extra costs arise with the v8?
    Well, mainly labor-related costs so if you do all your own work then you should be good. I would recommend looking up all the major maintenance-related things with the M62 platform before you dive in.
    BP
    2005 330i ZHP / 6MT
    Imolarot / Naturbraun



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

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Nov 2014
    Location
    Portland, OR
    Posts
    9,802
    Quote Originally Posted by az3579 View Post
    I have experience with both platforms - my ZHP, an E39 525iT I used to own, and my brother's 540i 6-speed from back in the day.

    The driving experience will not be comparable. The E39 is bigger, softer, quieter, more refined, andheavier. The steering of the 540i is a weak point as it uses a recirculating ball setup, and I personally didn't like it in my brother's 540i. Otherwise, the torque and sound is nice. It's more antiquated with regards to the electronics compared to the E46. E39's are quite nice to drive, but they're not exciting.

    The maintenance kind of sucks on those V8s, so be prepared for that. Personally, I'd go with a 530i as that has the better steering setup as well as an easier-to-work-on engine.

    IMO you're going to regret getting rid of the ZHP. Most people do. The E46 is just simply more enjoyable to drive.
    I'll second basically all of this. My father had a '98 540i 6MT. It was a fantastic family car growing up. It has plenty of room, front sport seats that were still very comfortable on long drives (I wish my M3 seats were that comfy), it had good sound insulation, and could pull 28 mpg on the highway. The V8 sound was relatively subdued below 3k RPMs, but it had a nice throaty growl higher up. The lazy torque was really nice. It is definitely bigger than the E46 too in terms of headroom, foot room, and trunk space. Yes, by today's standards it's not large, but it was big for the era.

    But as BP said, there are some downsides. If the timing chain guides haven't been done, it's a spendy project. Also, the inlet on the radiator is plastic and breaks like clockwork around 60k miles. The steering is definitely not as good as the E46, especially the ZHP with the shorter ratio. It is noticeably heavier as well. If you didn't get an upgraded stereo from the factory, it was atrocious. The cupholders are a joke.

    That said, if you're looking for a more refined cruiser, the 540i is great. But if you're one who likes to get a little loose in the twisties, you'll lose out on the fun of the ZHP.

    And as others will tell you, people regret selling their ZHP all the time. But also - happy wife, happy life.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jul 2016
    Location
    Boston, MA
    Posts
    67
    I am 6'5" and have both a ZHP convertible and and an E39 530i. Both are manuals. I fit in both, but am a lot more comfy in the vert with the top down.

    When test fitting in an E39, please note there is a metal clip on the inside driver seat track that prevents the seat from going all the way back. You actually get another 1+ inches of travel by removing this clip..

    Some people love the 8 cyl's E39, but I like the lower cost and ease of service of the 6 cyl... I suggest you drive both a 540i and a 530i, and see if the extra power is worth it.

    Is an E39 M5 an option? Yes, M5's are pricey, but your ZHP is likely worth quite a bit too. M5 maintenance is more expensive, but I hear the engines are really quite reliable and don't require as frequent attention as the 540i...Not sure of this though.

  10. #10
    I met up with the owners today. It was a very nice older couple, and we had a nice chat. They no very little about cars, and the wife had bought the car 5 years ago because she wanted a ďsports carĒ. It has been driven less than 1,000 miles per year under their ownership.



    The car was beautiful, but frankly it feels like itís missing that extra something we get with the ZHP in the looks department. I was very disappointed in the front legroom. I drove my zhp over to look at the car, and even after finding and pulling the pin out of the front seat track (thanks for the tip Pilot05), I felt less room than the e46. Iím 6í3 and all of my height is in my legs, so this is very important.

    The car has 80,000 miles, and I was disappointed with the number of rock chips, seat bolster wear, and brake condition. The car would need a lot of work to get fully sorted out. The car has had no major maintenance done. They want US$10,500, and I just think that is too much money for the car.

    It was a fun experience though, and this is a great example of an E39 though. Noticeable pull from the V8, and I was blown away by how smooth the shifter was. There would be merit to owning it given the mileage and relatively desirable spec, though the grey interior and lack of extra options is a negative.

    Itís clear that my ZHP needs some work in the shifter area. I want my 6 speed to be that smooth!

    I talked to my wife about it, and we agreed that she so rarely rides in the e46 anyway that itís not a big deal if she doesnít like riding in it.

    Thanks for all of the advice. This is such a great supportive forum, and Iíll work on being more active in the future.

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