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SNAPSHOT 260: BMW 2002

Spotted a few days ago outside a sports car repair shop in south Manchester, this lovely ‘straight but a bit oily rag’ 2002 took our eye.  Perhaps it is now safely tucked away and the garage is closed for the duration of you-know-what; garages are allowed to stay open for essential work, so was this a daily driver in for a service, or a cherished classic ready for non-essential restoration? We shall probably never know.

There is not much to be said about this particular example except that it is not the 2002 ti that is so much coveted by enthusiasts: it is simply a 2002 – but no less attractive for that. Its registration carried an N suffix – which dates it between August 1974 and July 1975.

The BMW 02 Series were a range of compact two-door executive cars produced between 1966 and 1977, based on a shortened version of the New Class saloons.  The first 02 Series was the 1600-2 (later renamed 1602) in 1966. In 1975, the 02 Series was replaced by the E21 3 Series, with the exception of the 1502, which carried on until 1977.

BMW’s design director Wilhelm Hofmeister gave the two-door project to staff designers Georg Bertram and Manfred Rennen.  The famous ‘Hofmeister kink’ at the back of the rear side window can just be seen in our Snapshot.  The car was shorter (by 23 cm) and lighter than the New Class saloon – which made it ideal as the basis for the sporting versions of the ‘cooking’ 1602.

From 1968, a convertible was built by Karosserie Baur, and a hatchback, the Touring model, was available from 1971.

Without the knowledge of each other, Helmut Werner Bönsch, BMW’s director of product planning, and Alex von Falkenhausen, designer of the M10 engine, each had a two-litre engine installed in a 1600-2 for personal use. When they realised what they had both done, they jointly proposed a two-litre version to the BMW Board.  American importer Max Hoffman had also asked for a sportier version for US sale.

The two-litre engine was sold in two states of tune: the basic single-carburettor 2002 (seen here) produced 101 bhp, and the twin-carburettor high-compression 2002 ti put out 119 bhp.

The rare 130 bhp 2002 tii was launched in 1971 to replace the 2002 ti.

The renowned 170 BHP 2002 Turbo was launched at the 1973 Frankfurt Motor Show: the first turbocharged production BMW. The oil crisis meant that only 1,672 were made.

Our Snapshot shows the facelift model that in 1973 received larger tail-lights (we saw these) and grille and kidney changes. It is well worthy of restoration.


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