Curbside Classic: 1975 BMW 2002 – Freshly Squeezed

The BMW 2002 is another one of those cars that CC had covered extensively since the beginning. Just look at the list of related posts I tagged on to the end of this one: at least 15 distinct entries, including two penned by yours truly, as well as several period reviews. It would take a pretty special find to add to this body of work. Hope this tall glass of OJ will be up to the task.

See, if it had been a rarity, like a Touring hatchback or a Baur drop-top, the question would not even have arisen. But this was a plain late model 2002. The kind of car you wouldn’t notice at a local classic meet. But then I didn’t find this at the local Cars and Green Tea, I just discovered it sitting pretty, and pretty much alone, out in a public car park on a fine June morning.

Fine June mornings are a rarity in their own right in Japan – it’s a rainy time of year, usually. So that was already an auspicious sign.

But then, bathed in sunlight and sticking out like a vintage bright orange sore thumb among a sea of mundane 21st Century white and black appliance-like fingers. OK, not a great metaphor, but you get what I’m saying: that BMW was a sight!

It was impossible not to photograph this thing from all possible angles (except straight from the rear, as there was a pole in the way). It looked like it just came off the Dingolfing factory lot.

I’m more partial to the pre-1974 round taillamp / chrome grille version of the -02, but there was no getting around the fact that this was one of the most gorgeous Bimmers I had ever seen in Japan. The period-perfect colour helped a lot.

The fact that this particular car looked completely stock, at least externally, was also a huge plus point. The temptation to turn these into Turbo lookalikes or to drop the suspension and put on modern rims and low-profile tyres was mercifully resisted.

I have no idea whether this car was sold here when new, or sourced in Germany and shipped over more recently, but it’s certainly not a botox-bumper US model. Another blessing…

The owner even resisted the temptation to put a sexier steering wheel. Hats off to that!

The upholstery is not exactly original, if a nit must be picked. A rather minor blemish to an otherwise meticulous restoration.

The only issue with covering a model that’s been written up many times over, aside from the photos, is to figure out what might be left to write about it. All the technical and historical background has been gone into extensively in prior posts, so there’s practically no meat left on those bones.

How about a little marrow, then? When doing a bit of research on the Neue Klasse, I found this photo of an early prototype without the famous kidney grille motif. I was not aware of this before now; it’s different and I kind of like it!

But let’s be real: the BMW grille, though it has gone through a lot of changes since it first graced the front end of the carmaker’s wares in the early ‘30s, is an iconic design feature that few Bimmers could reasonably do without, especially front-engined ones. They were right to slap it back on the Neue Klasse saloons.

According to some sources, the true paternity of the Neue Klasse and their related -02 cousins was Giovanni Michelotti, with some assistance from the famous Wilhelm “Kinky” Hofmeister. But as noted by our Editor in one of his seminal posts (really, do go and read it), some important aspects of the BMW’s design can be attributed to the Chevrolet Corvair.

The key Corvair features are there in that chromed beltline that goes around the entire body, the clean flanks, as well as the airy and upright glasshouse. But the genius of Michelotti lay in what went under that beltline in the front. The shark-like trapezoidal profile was to influence BMW designs for over two decades. I always liked how the turn signals were tucked on the edges of the fenders, too. Neat and clever.

Regardless, by 1975 the -02’s early ’60s-infused design must have looked rather dated. It was still pretty brisk (0-60mph in 11 seconds – not too shabby for a 100hp car shaped more or less like a brick), remained very well put together and was fairly roomy, both cabin- and boot-wise, for its class.

These came at a price. In the US, that would have been about $5000 in 1975 – our feature car has a few optional extras, such as a radio, A/C and alloys, so it could even be a little more than that. You could buy a Dodge Charger SE for that kind of money, though I doubt many people cross-shopped that and the 2002…

I could not find the 1975 Japanese MRSP for the 2002, but it must have been quite a fistful of Yen. Nowadays, there are a lot of BMWs in the streets here, but back in the mid-‘70s, things were probably different. And a lot more orange.


Related posts:


Curbside Classic: 1972 BMW 2002 Tii – Fifty Years Of Unbeatable Success, by PN

Curbside Classic: 1973 BMW 2002tii – In Need Of Rescue, by Perry Shoar

Curbside Classic: 1976 BMW 2002 – The Ultimate Big-Bumpered Driving Machine, by Tom Klockau

CC Twofer: 1974 BMW 2002 Automatic & 1970 BMW 2002 Ti – Right In The Kidneys, by T87

CC Capsule: BMW 2002 – Why Would You Use A Vintage BMW For A Home Depot Run?, by Jim Grey

CC Capsule: 1972 BMW 2002 Tii – Simplii Extraordinarii, by T87

CC For Sale: 1973 BMW 2002 tii – Beautiful, But Beware!, by Tom Klockau

Vintage Review: 1968 BMW 2002 – Car and Driver’s David E. Davis Picks Favorites, by GN

Road & Track Tested in Europe: 1974 BMW 2002 Turbo – “Watch Out!”, by PN

Vintage Review: BMW 1600 & 2002, by Yohai71

Road & Track 1975 Vintage Review: Sports Sedans vs Sports Cars – Triumph Spitfire vs Chevrolet Vega; Fiat X1/9 vs VW Dasher; Jensen-Healey vs BMW 2002tii, by PN

Neighborhood Outtake: BMW 2002 – Evergreen, by PN

Curbside Outtake: 1972 BMW 2002 – A Study in Grüne, by Ed Stembridge

Curbside Outtake: 1971-73 BMW 2002 tii – These Happy Golden Years, by Ed Stembridge

Curbside Outtake: 1975 BMW 2002 – Exactly Like The One Stephanie’s Mom Had, by PN

Cohort Sighting: BMW 2000-02 Touring – The Hatchback Version (and Cabrio) Never Sold In The US

, by PN

COAL: 1974 BMW 2002 – Rust-Bucket Resurrected, by Matt Spencer

COAL: 1976 BMW 2002 – My Real Impulse Buy, by Sam