When the OEM never made the car you wanted, you get it made yourself. That's what the owner of these amazing custom-built E46 M3 Sedan and Touring did. These Alpine White beauties are complete conversions with S54 engines and 6-speed transmissions. To top it all off, both of these cars are slicktops as well! Truly the stuff of dreams! Which one do you prefer?
Being one of the top BMW shops in one of the car culture centers of the world, we have the privilege of seeing all sorts of interesting builds. Every now and then, we receive a customer who drives a car that is so exceptional, the whole shop drops what they're doing to have a look. This Imola Red E46 330i is rightfully one of those builds. The first thing we noticed that it was a "slicktop", meaning it has no sunroof. Slicktop cars were relatively rare for the E46 stateside. We then noticed the interior. This red beauty featured the front seats and steering wheel of the legendary E46 M3 CSL! The real magic was witnessed under the hood however. An immaculate S54 swap was housed in the engine bay!
The E46 M3 never had a sedan variant but this car is definitely its owner's vision of one. One might decry its lack of fender flares, but we think it a cool, low-key sleeper look. It was quite the treat to be able to admire this tastefully done build!
For the E36, E9X and the upcoming F8X chassis, BMW decided to offer the M3 in three varieties: a coupe, a convertible and a sedan. For some reason though, BMW ditched the two extra doors and built only coupe and convertible models of the E46 M3. However from 2003-2006, the final years of the E46's production run, BMW built this: the 330i ZHP. The ZHP was the absolute closest thing you could get to an E46 M3 sedan. It featured a tuned engine that revved higher and made more power than the standard 330i, a tighter ratio steering rack, firmer and lower suspension, 18" style 135M wheels, an M-tech II body kit, and unique "cube" interior trim along with a few more upgrades.
If we're comparing the ZHP and M3 side by side, the elephant in the room is the nearly 100hp difference between the two. This 2004 Jet Black 330i ZHP came to our facility to finally level the playing field by having us add some boost. In its stock form, this E46 put down 196whp and 195wtq SAE on our Dynojet. After we installed the ESS Twin Screw Stage 1 supercharger system, the same car recorded 262whp and 236wtq SAE; that puts it right smack in the middle of M3 territory! The ESS kit is also incredibly stealthy and unassuming; most people wouldn't look twice unless someone pointed out the kit hiding in the engine bay. With its newly found 133% increase in power, this 330i ZHP sleeper isn't exactly an M3, but it will certainly give one a run for its money.