From R&T’s 1981 March issue, comes this “Used Classic Car” article they used to do (you can read another interesting one here).
Again, I’m surprised to learn that these were already seen as desirable, and the E21 3-series as fat and soft by comparison (like every new BMW compared to the model it replaced, it seems).
The bumper height booster discs in the front suspension are something I’d never heard about. When the British did the same sort of thing it became the first thing they taught young car-guys after learning to drive a stick but somehow the Germans kept it from being joke fodder…
Way back in the ’60’s and ’70’s, I was a devoted hot rod and muscle car guy. I was a young kid working in the garage of a local gas station and hangin’ out at the drag strip.The perfect life…or so I thought.
A chance encounter with one of these magnificent machines changed everything. The hook was set deep, and those old big-blocks were just never the same.
The end of the story is a 30 year career in the BMW workshop and an enduring love of European cars.
I’m surprised the Jensen-Healey with its Lotus 907 16-valve engine didn’t have a pronounced straight line speed advantage. I’m also surprised it was the judged the superior handler to the 2002tii.
It’s entertaining that this review was calling for appreciation of the 2002s, something that only took about twenty-five more years to actually occur. People were already restoring them in the ’80s, at least is rusty Virginia, but it was a labor of love rather than a business plan. When BMWs started improving from about the 1983 introduction of the 533i, 2002s stopped being in as high demand as they were when the alternatives were 1.8 liter fours and 4,700 rpm ‘eta’ engines. It wasn’t until BMW abandoned driving enthusiasts and people with money could get more for free that 02s and CSs finally took off in value, as did M3s.
The Jensen is Vauxhall based including the LV engine and they really do handle well BMWs advertising has sold its cars on a myth but it works so why change it.
I’ve driven a Jensen-Healey. It was enough to persuade me not to buy it, having wanted one for years. The 2002 caused a revolution among US car enthusiasts. Whatever their loyalties were; whether they were to muscle cars, to English roadsters, to Alfa-Romeos, or to 356s; many people suddenly saw the glaring deficiencies of their chosen cars and abandoned them for BMWs, primarily on the strength of their handling. Only the MX5 Miata has had a comparable impact on enthusiasts.
As far as parts prices, repair labor and reliability vs. Fun Factor are concerned, I would rather have a ’69-’70 Datsun 510, thank you.
I wonder how an early 2.0 Pinto would’ve stacked up, at that. You could probably have had one of each for the price of a similar year/mileage 02 in ’81, which only leaves the question…which one to get as a wagon?
I’ve owned several 2002s over many years, and they are one of the few cars from that era that can still serve as daily drivers with reasonable fuel economy (about 30 mpg), comfort, acceleration, handling, reliability, and safety (best visibility of any car ever made). In the 1980s when my friends had rattly Mustangs and Camaros that handled like pigs, got 15 mpg at best, and were only slightly quicker (with a V-8), the 2002 was a real revelation. Only the poor rust-proofing and lack of face-level ventilation were the only drawbacks, but everything else rusted back then as well. I wish I still had one, but I have the best modern equivalent – a Mini Cooper S.
Agree with every word of stingray65’s remarks.
Here in salt free New Orleans, these otherwise superlative cars were serious rusters.
Thanks to their outstanding visibility from their tall windows & crapppppppy dealer add on Air Conditioning, these cars were sweat boxes in the summer here, which lasts from April until November.
Most German cars of this era also had deficient (for New Orleans, LA) air conditioning; only the Japanese cars had sufficient A/C during this time period.
Seems like a nice car. I have seen these but I have never even sat in one. Unfortunate that the acceleration tests were so slow.
Lets compare this to something people are more familiar with. How about a 2008 Honda civic LX:
The civic weighs about 2500lbs if equipped with a stickshift, has about 140hp from an 1800cc 4cylinder and will do 0-60 in about 7.5sec
I see that the 1967 version weighed about a ton even. That is impressive. There is no front/rear weight distribution provided but I expect it would be superior to a FWD Honda Civic. I see that the 1971 version had about 140hp. Not too bad. However the 0-60 times were not as good as one would expect…probably because the engine was a little too peaky and had a power range a little too narrow and tires of that era didn’t help either. If BMW had made a version with 140hp and a flatter power curve in a car that weighed 2000lbs with a 5 speed, it would have been just what it needed to be. Possibly even get 0-60 times under 7 seconds even with tires of the day.
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