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speedblind Reader
2/12/10 12:28 p.m.

Not buying a car because you're afraid of what people will think of you is just sad.

Tom_Spangler GRM+ Memberand Reader
2/12/10 12:28 p.m.

One other thing to consider is resale. E46s are still on a steeper part of the depreciation curve than E36s, and having that magic "M" on the car means that you could probably drive the E36 M3 for a few years and still not lose much money on it. There will always be a market for M3s. The ZHP will hold it's value better than a regular E46, but it's still not the same as an "M" car.

rogerbvonceg New Reader
2/12/10 12:31 p.m.

In reply to angusmf:

Well, c'mon. M3 drivers? For most people, anyone driving a BMW is a "prick." Porsche drivers? Tenfold, plus the stigma of "must be having a midlife crisis." At least a bimmer can fake "family car" some of the time.

This used to bother me a little, but only just a little. It does make "weird" or "stealth" cars a little more attractive, but then again, life is short.

Then again, there used to be what I think was an M5 in employee parking. I say "I think" because it had the right stance and beefiness to it, but it was totally debadged. And black, of course. How cool is that? It could have just been a modded 5-series, but we'll never really know, will we?

racerdave600 Reader
2/12/10 12:59 p.m.
Tom_Spangler wrote: I also owned a ZHP for about a year and have driven a couple of E36 M3s. I'll echo what everyone else is saying. The performance is really quite similar, the E46 is more refined, the E36 is a bit more raw and hard-edged. For a DD that's going to see occasional track or autocross use, it's pretty hard to beat a ZHP. It's a modern, practical nice-looking, refined car that gets 25+ mpg, but it can also run mid-14s in the quarter and handles better than any car I have ever owned. The steering in mine was just telepathic. One other thing to keep in mind is one of the reasons I got rid of mine, though. It's a fairly complicated car, and parts aren't cheap. The VANOS units are known to be troublesome. I was running out of CPO warranty on mine and was deathly afraid of owning it out of warranty. My understanding is that E36 parts area easier and cheaper to find, and of course the car itself is less complex. In short, I think I'd rather own an E36 with 100k on it than an E46 with 100k on it. Lately I've been more attracted to simple cars, which is why I own an OBD-1 Miata and why I don't have any German cars at the moment.

This is a very good point, my E36 experience was horrendous after the warranty was gone and why my dad usually trades his before the warranty expires. They are complicated and break in that ever so German way. But boy do they drive good.

angusmf New Reader
2/12/10 1:01 p.m.

It was intended to be a humorous remark, ok?

<---- see?

I know some of you got it. For the rest, please ignore. That goes for everything else I say from here on, because if I can't joke, there was no point in me starting to read this board again.

mad_machine GRM+ Memberand SuperDork
2/12/10 1:10 p.m.

If you want the M badge... get it.. but a cheaper E36 328 can be easily made just as fast and handle just as well..

as for problems.. granted the TI was at the low end of both price and amenities when these cars were new.. but 140,000 miles later and it is STILL as reliable as gravity.

Chris_V SuperDork
2/12/10 1:46 p.m.

I roefer the feel of the E36 M over the E46, and the crisper styling. But the E46 is a nicer place to be for a DD.

Having said that, I woudn't get a 4 door version of either, as a small 4 door is no longer my style. The 740iL is a great DD, and way more comfy than the 4ddoor 3 series, just as reliable (and cheap to work on mysle) and surprisingly economical on fuel. Which means the only reason to get a 3 is for a toy, and that means coupe and raw.

rogerbvonceg New Reader
2/12/10 2:18 p.m.
angusmf wrote: It was intended to be a humorous remark, ok?

Mmm. I know.

ZOO GRM+ Memberand Dork
2/12/10 2:21 p.m.
angusmf wrote: It was intended to be a humorous remark, ok? <---- see? I know some of you got it. For the rest, please ignore. That goes for everything else I say from here on, because if I can't joke, there was no point in me starting to read this board again.

So was mine -- that's why I used this:

I was surprised that all three of my cars had stigma -- so apparently I'm a hairy-chested, gay hair dresser who's also a prick

Good thing the Corvette's in the process of being sold. That makes things much clearer.

angusmf New Reader
2/12/10 3:02 p.m.
ZOO wrote: So was mine -- that's why I used this:

I hear ya, brother. I have to use more smilies. This is exactly what they're for.

Now go shave your chest, sweetie darling.

racerdave600 Reader
2/12/10 3:45 p.m.

Before I got married I had a friend move in for a while during his divorce. I drove a Miata for a DD and he had an Outback (evidently also a gay symbol among the not-so-in crowd ). You'd think fairies were dancing in the yard and bubbles coming out of the roof by some of the comments from my non-car buddies!

3/5/20 9:41 p.m.

Old thread, new post (for those maybe still weighing these, or similar, options). 

I owned both.

5 years as daily driver: 1997 E36 sedan, 5-speed, Dinan ECU + Dinan CAI (probably around 255hp/tq).

3 years as daily driver: 2004 E46 330i ZHP sedan, 6-speed. 

Reliability: engine goes to the E36, but ultimately a wash. E36's are well-documented to have cooling system and strut issues rather frequently. E46 costs were more sporadic (failed sunroof motor, instrument panel malfunction, etc).

Power: given the fact even a moderately higher-skilled driver would makeup any noticeable difference in actual acceleration, the additional torque of the M3 (dinan or not) gave the M3 a stronger pull and more visceral and audible experience. The feel of the M3 coaxed you into pressing down the accelerator nearly every time you'd just made the shift to 2nd. FYI: Dinan CAI = best mod to an E36. Combined with Dinan ECU, you'll get noticeable gains in power and responsiveness. But more than anything, it's the SOUND. A baritone sort of whirling of air at WOT between 4K-6K rpm (sort of the automotive version of blowing into a large empty coke bottle). 

The ZHP is nearly as quick to 60 (5.9 vs 5.5 of E36), just doesn't feel as muscular. It does sporadically kick you back around 5k RPM, not unlike those old Honda VTech motors. I can't always duplicate that extra pull (is it the camshafts or the Vanos?), but it inevitably kicks in whenever I accelerated hard from standstill.

Dont buy one or the other based on power differences or approaches alone as any difference would be easily mitigated by a few upgrades.

Handling: anyone claiming the M3 is more "nimble" is either highly biased or hasn't spent time behind the wheel of a ZHP. It's not even close. Compared to the ZHP, the M feels top-heavy and bloated around corners. Solid for its era, but not at all the backroad warrior you think of when you think M3. My M3 never lost its grip when I pushed the envelope, but it didn't inspire the kind of confidence or balance of the ZHP. 

Perks of M3: LSD, collector(ish), torque, better Harman Kardon sound system, engine sound

Perks of ZHP: handling, xenon lights (incredible advantage over M's halogens), 6-speed (M3 desperately needed an extra gear on the highway)

Choose your beemer based on style, cost, type of owner, heated seats even... I personally wouldn't get too hung up on performance differences as neither will present you with a "should've gone with the X" remorse we've all felt at times. 

lnlds Reader
3/6/20 12:13 a.m.

I choose the E90 330i or 328i with a 3-stage manifold/tune + m3 lower control arms. Modern safety, rock bottom prices, more rear seat space. Normal BMW problems. The zhp has always been too pricey on the used market for me.

ZOO GRM+ Memberand UltraDork
3/6/20 6:00 a.m.

TIL that I could edit a ten year old post to correct a typo . . .


AngryCorvair GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
3/6/20 9:03 a.m.

Was great to see angusmf posting again, then I saw 2010 and lol'd.

penultimeta HalfDork
3/6/20 9:50 a.m.

Take my opinion with a grain of salt because I have much more experience driving an e46 (ex girlfriend had one) and the only e36 examples I've driven were e36 M3 boxes or track rats, but I much prefer the driving experience of the e46. It may not be quite as nimble, but the other amenities like a better interior and quieter ride makes up for it imo. Considering where prices are right now, I'd choose any e46 over any e36. Thought I still fantasize about doing a turbo s52 into an e36 coupe.  

AWSX1686 GRM+ Memberand UltraDork
3/6/20 9:56 a.m.

I've owned a ZHP, but haven't really driven an e36 m3. 

The ZHP was nice, but left a bad taste in my mouth from issues that came with it. (PO swapped in an e46 M3 LSD, but it was shot.) When it had the LSD, it was sweet, but it was decent ever without it. I'm fairly sure that if I had kept it, it would have been a solid car for a good while since I fixed the issues. I like the e46 chassis enough that I own a 323i sedan, and plan to swap in a 330 engine, and convert it to a manual transmission. 

The e36 M3, especially the coupes, look great to me. I've sat in e36's, and I definitely prefer the interior of the e46's. That said, I really wouldn't mind an e36 at some point too. 


As for value, I think people overprice both of them, but for a clean example of either it might be worth it. 

AWSX1686 GRM+ Memberand UltraDork
3/6/20 9:57 a.m.

Dang, I missed that this is a zombie thread. 

AWSX1686 GRM+ Memberand UltraDork
3/6/20 9:59 a.m.

Oh, and putting eBay headers on the ZHP engine makes a wonderful sound...

Tyler H
Tyler H GRM+ Memberand UberDork
3/6/20 11:44 a.m.

I've owned both, still own an E36 M3.  The ZHP was worlds ahead in interior comfort and quality.  If I had an opportunity to buy back my ZHP, I would.   Aftermarket LSD with a shorter final drive is a must-have upgrade for the ZHP.

The E36 M3 is getting vintage-ish, and definitely feels like an old car. 

Both cars have a laundry list of crappy common issues, so you have to be a BMW apologist to really appreciate them.  

P.S....Ten years on and still getting the kind of relevant forum topics I come here for.  Either that, or I plateaued on my car journey ten years ago.  laugh

Knurled. GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
3/6/20 1:10 p.m.

The E46 is a better car all around, but they look nowhere near as good.

dyintorace GRM+ Memberand PowerDork
3/6/20 5:59 p.m.
Knurled. said:

The E46 is a better car all around, but they look nowhere near as good.

I respectfully disagree! Tyler just above mentions his old ZHP, which I bought from him and then drove home via the tail! Foolishly I then sold it not long thereafter sad

Knurled. GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
3/6/20 6:07 p.m.

In reply to dyintorace :

Gesmachssache (sp?).  I like more angles and edges, the E46 looks like someone overinflated an E36.

maj75 HalfDork
3/7/20 12:09 p.m.

I've owned both.  Bought the ZHP new and put over 100,000 miles on it.  If I was to buy one again, given both cars are equally nice, I'd get the E36. Tighter, lighter, parts are available everywhere.  Anything you can do to an E46 you can do to the E36.  Value wise, E36 M3's are definitely on the rise.

BTW, most people don't know what a ZHP is and don't care.  You can often find them advertised as a 330i or ci.  The Alcantara interior bits don't weather well.  They are only worth a premium if you get the 6 speed manual.

Knurled. GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
3/7/20 1:03 p.m.

In reply to maj75 :

What is the easiest way to identify a ZHP from out of focus online ads?

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