The 2001 BMW 330ci is part of the storied BMW E46 generation of 3 Series cars. This example has put its owner through his paces, but it was all worth it.
The driver and car
E46Gav hails from Queens, N.Y. and drives a 2001 BMW 330ci. Part of the revered E46 generation 3 Series, its 3.0-liter I-6 engine produces 225 horsepower and 214 pound-feet of torque. Power is sent to the rear wheels through a five-speed manual transmission.
Gavin bought the car with about 164,500 miles and the clock now reads 208,800 miles.
Gavin’s Jet Black BMW 330ci came equipped with the Sport Package, Cold Weather Package, staggered 17-inch alloy wheels, M-Tech front bumper, and 225/45/17 tires up front with 245/40/17 tires in the rear.
This 330ci has a muffler delete and Gavin added DC Sports matte black exhaust tips. He also installed a K&N short ram intake kit, upgraded Bavarian Autosport performance coil packs, JDM Sport adjustable coilovers, eLine performance drilled and slotted rotors all around, an ///M sport shift knob, and an aftermarket Android GPS radio.
Gavin’s BMW 330ci story
“I have always been infatuated with the E46 generation of BMW 3 Series cars. Growing up in the late ’90s/early 2000s, this particular car has caught my eye from the beginning. I loved it so much that I would constantly tell my friends I will own one in the future.
“The car was produced from 1999 to 2005 with many different variations and engine types, including the famous E46 M3. The E46 models were the most produced BMW generation of all time and practically benchmarked the BMW brand for the later generations we have today.
“I had originally owned a silver 2001 BMW 330ci without the Sport Package. I bought this car after going through my divorce. I spent any free time I had outside of work fixing what needed to be fixed, upgraded, or replaced. I had the car for a mere eight months before it was rear ended. The car was deemed totaled.
“I was devastated and heart broken. It felt like I had betrayed my older brother because he helped me find this car. I purchased the silver 330ci in Allentown, PA where my brother resides. He helped me as I spent countless hours searching for one here in NYC. When I called him and told him the bad news, he also felt for me. I told him not to worry and that I will find another.”
Back in black
“It didn’t take long to find the black 330ci I have now. I bought it in Maspeth, Queens from a German kid named Adrian. He personally drove the car to my house, where we made the transaction and he signed the title over to me.
“The car then turned out to be a ‘lemon.’ I’ve had problem after problem with it. My family, friends, and co-workers kept telling me to get rid of it. I instead watched YouTube videos to educate myself on everything about this car. I started trying to fix little things, but as I fixed one thing another one always popped up.
“Since I use this car as my daily driver to and from work, I know that putting wear and tear on parts that are already almost 20 years old is a risk. I keep a small toolkit in my trunk just in case.”
Getting my hands dirty
“I never gave up and stuck with with my 330ci, even to the point where I was stranded at the midtown tunnel toll booth. The culprit was a bad fuel pump, which was replaced. Then there was a night I went to purchase movie tickets. As I was pulling out, smoke billowed from the hood — blown upper radiator hose. This itself was a story about getting home without overheating.
“Next there was the time when my alternator pulley seized up and the belt broke as I was driving to work. I pulled over and realized something was wrong as all of my dash lights came on.
“Stranded at 77th street and 3rd avenue, I called a friend who drives for Uber and let him know my situation. He went to an auto store in Queens, bought got me a new alternator and belt, and I replaced it right there at the side of the busy city street.“I never gave up and stuck with with my 330ci, even to the point where I was stranded at the midtown tunnel toll booth”
“Finally there was the last straw when I thought, ‘This is it, I may have to get rid of this car.’ As I was driving home from work one night, I noticed the engine was smoking. I pulled over knowing something was very wrong.
“The engine block was warped from all of the overheating it endured in the past. I actually made it all the way home with the engine and exhaust spewing smoke from burnt-up up oil and coolant. As I parked in front of the house, the engine died.”
Stop, swap, and roll
“I had to decide whether to junk or fix my BMW 330ci. Of course, I could not let go. I found an engine and had my local shop install it. Ever since the engine swap, all has been good and she drives like a champ. I plan on keeping this car as long as I can. I also have plans of doing many more modifications for as long as I own it.”
Gavin’s previous vehicles:
“My first car was a silver 2003 Toyota Matrix XR. It had a 1.8-liter four-cylinder engine that produced 130 horsepower. I believe I was one of the first to own this model in all of Queens. People used to pull up next to me and ask, ‘What kind of car is that?’ The birth of the crossover generation I guess.
“I also had a red 2011 Hyundai Sonata, the first of the sixth generation.”