Features

Dan Wagener's E46 330i

If you look back at the features of Ultimate Klasse’s first year you get a good idea of the standard we continually strive to showcase. Our passion for BMW’s is more than just an admiration or a job though, we are all enthusiasts with builds of our own as well. So occasionally we will share what we are driving too.

My love for this brand started when I was around the age of 14. I was a freshman in high school and I have to admit at that time I was more interested in japanese imports and exotics. It wasn’t until a senior had showed me a certain website dedicated to bimmers that my preference had dramatically changed… that website was www.dtmpower.net. I instantly fell in love with the look, the sound and everything that BMW's had to offer. Before then I had always assumed that they were just luxury cars. My first car was a ’92 E36 325i (Schwarz with black interior) and a couple years later I moved onto an ’89 E30 325i (Schwarz with black interior). That brings us to the E46, which was a 2003 330i Sport Package (5-speed manual). Although I was originally after a pre-facelift model, this one seemed to fit everything that I was looking for with the exception of the black interior.

I liked it the way it was and had no plans to modify it—but plans often change. In the first year of ownership I only added a few things here and there, an M-tech II front bumper, a slight drop on H&R Sport Springs and an iPod kit. I’m not exactly sure where it began, but I eventually went through around 10 sets of wheels and numerous parts to get the right appearance that I was looking for.

The funny thing is that I finally realized the look I was searching for was more or less the one that I started out with. In my eyes the E46 is one of BMW’s finest works of art, modernizing the classic lines while not straying too far from the looks of the past generations of the 3 series. So with that in mind, I set out to take a slightly less popular approach to this platform. I wanted to tastefully acknowledge its age by creating a nice blend of a vintage bimmer with a sleek and contemporary look.

I came across a set of AC Schnitzer Type II’s that were made during the early 90's. Being that they were designed at an older time gave it a vintage feel and the roundness of the spokes seemed to work perfectly with the rounder, more modern body style of the E46. I decided to swap out my OEM euro clear lights for a set of ambers and the OEM chrome kidney grill was back in place of the sportier matte black one.

Not everything was swapped back to the stock option though. I upgraded to an E46 M3 wheel, which in my opinion, is a must-have mod in any E46/39/53.  Some other interior mods included some silver gauge faces from Bimmian, alcantara shift/ebrake boots, 3M Brushed Graphite vinyl wrapped trim, OEM M3 dead pedal and the stock grey seats were swapped out for black ones.

Those who followed the car’s progress since the beginning will tell you that when the wheels changed, so did many other parts to keep the “theme” consistent. The last stage as you see here was no different, I bought every AC Schnitzer accessory that I could get my hands on. Unfortunately with the rarity of ACS parts, not all of what I found was authentic, but aesthetically it made no difference.

After about a year of owning the car, I was interested in improving the stance. The H&R Sport springs were traded out for a set of FK Konigsport coilovers. This allowed me to get the car as low as possible with the suspension stiff enough to still drive at that height. Because each new set of wheels were more aggressive than the last, I usually had to roll the fenders after each set. So they were flared out pretty far by the time I picked up the Type II's. Because they were made for the 5 series, the offsets were perfect for my car—the rears were et15 (I added a 15mm spacer resulting in et0) and the fronts were et13.

Since this feature the car has been traded in for an E53 X5 3.0i Sport. As much as I loved my E46, this past year I wanted to get a more practical vehicle. And call me weird, but I've wanted an E53 since their debut in 1999. These car projects are never finished so I think it was just about reaching a point where I was happy with remembering the 330i this way and moving on. I hope it can be an inspiration for some out there and also show that sometimes less is more.