This BMW 2002, which sits across the street from the Porsche I wrote about two weeks ago, needs no introduction as it’s possibly the company’s most famous model. It’s been a few months since one has been featured on CC, though, and this example is in particularly sorry shape. Lest you think its owners, who run the appliance repair shop where it’s parked, have only recently begun working on it, it’s been in this state since I first saw it twenty-two months ago.
And as this license plate shows, it’s actually quite likely this car hasn’t been regularly driven for the past twenty-two years. Although the owners were clearly concerned enough to bend the plate down, it wouldn’t have taken much more effort to simply remove the plate–or at least, not in 1991 when the screws weren’t so rusty–so I’m not hopeful that they are motivated enough to sell, let alone restore, this unfortunate car. But for any of our readers in the Bloomington, IN area with potential interest, it’s located almost directly southwest of Bryan Park.
The legendary “bathtub” styling is fully apparent with the bumpers removed. On display in this corner is an abandoned attempt to patch up a ding on the hood, now certainly not worth following through with, as rust is forming from the inside-out across its entire leading edge. As this is a tii model with all the glass intact, it’s worth saving, but it will likely require a lot of work.
That would include some meticulous and thorough welding. If you enlarge the picture above, you’ll see holes beginning to appear in the frame rail. Not good, and likely to spread. A very well-judged, painstaking intervention is required. As to how one would treat the inside of the boxed-section to prevent its further spread, I am unsure, but it might be a fun project to tackle (I always enjoy doing bodywork).
For those who are unfamiliar, round taillights mark a pre ’74 model, but without bumpers, it’s hard to narrow down the exact model year, making this either a ’72 (the tii’s first year in the US) or ’73. Since this particular car has a plastic grille, I’m going to make a guess and say that it’s a late production 1973, but that may also be an indication of a prior repair.
Buyers guides indicate that halfway through 1972, aluminum intake runners replaced plastic ones and that the cylinder head was revised, slightly improving performance. Incidentally, enthusiast forums report that the notoriously fragile Kugelfischer injection pump is actually quite stout and that issues with poor running often can be resolved by replacing the distributor or injectors themselves.
Note the subtle ribbing at the top of the very solid door pull; it’d be nice to see such expensive touches today. If anyone drove this car regularly, such a detail would give them a sense of reward before they even sat down. This door appears to be fully latched, but the way it doesn’t quite sit flush with the body indicates a degree of stress put upon the structure, possibly from sitting up on only two jack stands–well inboard of the missing front suspension–for so long.
With a decal like this, you can’t say that the last driver of this car didn’t have some intention of making it a more serious machine and the minilite wheels fitted to the rear also suggest SCCA racing ambitions, as does the deletion of its bumpers. There’s nothing terribly complex about these light and simple machines, which were made to be flung through corners, so leaving it to sit like this is particularly tragic as it transforms a simple, rational machine into a basket case. If it’s really been sitting for over twenty years, any restorer will have his or her hands full with frozen brake calipers, decaying rubber gaskets and hoses and a variety of other headaches.
On the other hand, it’s nice to see that the interior is complete and, aside from some cracks on the dash, mostly intact. Imagine yourself sitting in this airy space, driving down your favorite road and you might have an easier time understanding why the car’s current owners haven’t sold it or given it away. Like that slim pair of pants you don’t want to throw out, a car like this is something that’s hard give up on. I’m sure its owner promises himself that one day, he’ll be ready to take care of it again. In the meantime, I hope it doesn’t sit around and rot for too much longer.
Related Reading: 1964 BMW 1800 and 1976 BMW 2002
I can’t think of a more desirable street 02. Round light, small bumper, tii. Despite its condition, wow.
I’ve always liked the BMW 2002. Condition is everything, though. I wouldn’t want to buy a car that is rusted through, with its engine not running, none of the NOS parts are there with the car, and nothing on the car working.
Despite my being a big American sled kinda guy, I have always liked the 2002. A friend once remarked back in the late 80s that he observed a huge difference in personality between drivers of 2002s and drivers of any newer BMWs. The 2002 guys (and they were always guys) were friendly, enthusiastic car people, while the drivers of newer ones tended to be yuppies. I remember him every time I see a 2002.
I’ve noticed the same phenomenon with old and new Toyota 4Runners, Some cars you wish they could build already ten years old.
On a side note, why can’t Indiana pick a license plate design and stick with it?
As much as I would like to see this back on the public roads, this requires a lot of work. Having had three of these (not tii) I see this as more of a good start for a race car.
If I can recall, there is the carcass of a Porsche decaying under some tarps behind this building.
I’ve always liked these BMWs,never had one they were very expensive when new
As a teenager I had my walls plastered with pictures of BMW’s of that vintage. I recall the distinct whistle they made at speed.
Yipes, might be a good parts car but I’d leave it at that unless you really really (and independently of budget) wanted a challenge
It’s too bad about all the rust on this one. The chrome trim at the front of the hood and around the sides is extremely hard to get in good condition because it was so easily damaged when new. Those pieces are missing on this car. When you add up the cost of parts, rust/paint work, mechanical and labor it would be a very expensive car.
Then you look at the pics again, especially of the interior, and start thinking about what a solid non-tii (even a 74-76 bumper car) would cost.
I agree. People go bananas for an M, but the tii is the progenitor. I don’t think the desirability of these things is going to die down soon. Quite the opposite, in fact.
Unlike the Turbo (which is less numerous but also less of a pure drivers car), these things are a bit of a sleeper. A bit like the 6.9 with only a little chrome badge telling the rest of the world what you have until you floor it. I can’t do a cost benefit analysis of what it would take to get this back on the road, but it will eventually be worth it, if its not already.
That isnt too rusted not to be repaired but is it worth doing, here it certainly would be these are quite rare being very expensive for what you got new, later M badged cars are more desirable though when you discover M stands for Recaro seats only even those are rusting on lawns all over NZ.
With the cost of 2002s these days, and the popularity of E30s the E21 would have to be a good overlooked alternative. I’ve been seeing a decent 323i on the way to work recently and they are still fairly reminiscent of the 2002 with a very different but neatly-styled rear end. Are they so much less developed than the E30 to make up for the price difference?
No. I can’t speak for for outside the US, but over here, the lack of 6-cyl engines and super lux features cause them to be overlooked. And, of course, their less compelling styling versus the perfectly proportioned E30. But they’re most certainly great to drive, especially in 323i form.
And this one is my car. To answer some of the questions, yes, I have all of the parts. The engine was rebuilt by Clint Abernathy and mildly warmed over, and hasn’t been run. The plan for it was never to return it to stock, but make a good driver/occasional track car. Most everything I have for it is brand new, from suspension, to window gaskets, etc. The door is not shut all the way, the hinges are a bit tight. The injection pump was rebuilt, plus I have a spare, etc. As silly as it sounds, I honestly can’t remember if it’s a 72 or a 73, but I do know one of the prior owners swapped in the later grills, but as far as I know it wasn’t hit in front, and I can’t find any collision damage. So, I will either get going on it in about a month or so, or I’ll sell it. Haven’t totally decided yet, but since it has always been a bucket list car for me, I may have to keep it. But time will tell.