If you judge a model’s success by the number made then the ’02 series was a staggering achievement by BMW. During its production life nearly 862,000 examples were manufactured – and that’s a number that’s the same as BMW’s entire production during the first 50 years of its life. It outsold the ‘New Class’ four-door saloon on which it was based by a significant margin and while the New Class was the machine that rescued BMW’s fortunes and got the company back on the road to recovery it was the ’02 that sealed its position as the maker of some of the world’s finest sporting saloons. An ’02 in fine fettle is still a wonderful thing to drive, with decent performance and excellent handling and a finesse to its chassis that’s been lost these days as we sacrifice feel for grip. It’s also the car’s 50th birthday this year, so what better time for the model to come under the spotlight in one of our Buying Guides?
In the early ’60s, BMW’s ‘New Class’ saloon was proving popular, and the company wanted to reestablish the sporting image that it had made for itself in the ’30s. Talk of creating a new, smaller, sportier saloon began as early as 1963 but it was three years before the 1600-2 appeared, based on the New Class. Still classed as a saloon but with two doors instead of the four-door layout of the larger car, the new car was lighter and looked more sporty than the four-door. Seeing as it was based on the larger New Class, the 1600-2 used a lot of parts from its forerunner, with the wheelbase being shortened by two inches and most of the running gear being carried straight over, though the 1600-2 employed a narrower track rear axle, making the car’s front and rear track the same width. Due to the reduction in wheelbase length, Wilhelm Hofmeister restyled the interior and the car was given a minor face-lift. The ‘1600’ part of its name referred to the 1573cc engine that the first cars were launched with, while the ‘2’ was used to differentiate this as a two-door model thus saving confusion with the four-door 1600. The BMW 1600-2 was an immediate success, and its styling and dimensions had endowed it with the sporting attributes that BMW was so keen to push. Moreover, the fact that it was lighter than the New Class meant that the 1600-2 was almost as fast as the largerengined 1800 four-door, and it handled as well as it went. The press loved the car, and comparisons were made with contemporary Alfa Romeos, much to BMW’s delight. The next stage was to give the car more power, and a year after the 1600-2’s launch, BMW announced the 1602ti at the 1967 Frankfurt Motor Show, with a 105bhp twin-carb engine, and was toying with the idea of offering the car with a two-litre engine. Unbeknown to BMW’s top brass its engine guru, Alex von Falkenhausen, and its Planning Director, Helmut Werner Bonsch, had both had twolitre conversions carried out on their 1600-2s and these two test mules proved what a wonderful machine the ’02 would be with more power.
The two-litre appeared sooner than anyone expected, mainly thanks to the success of the 1600-2 in the US. Previous BMWs had never sold that well in the US, and had only ever been imported in small numbers. The 1600-2 was set to change all this and met with rave reviews from the US car magazines.
The American public echoed this by promptly upping 1600-2 sales. Keen to make the most of this sudden success, BMW importer Max Hoffman suggested the company give the US market another car like this, but with more power. At the time, the fastest 1600-2 was the ti, but the twin-carb engine failed to meet the USA’s emissions regulations – the two-litre engine from the larger 2000 Coupé, however, passed without a problem. Despite the fact that the creation of a two-litre 1600 was a given, the project faced opposition from within BMW’s ranks, with Chief Development Engineer Bernhard Osswald and Production Director Wilhelm Heinrich Gieschen against the production of the proposed car. In the end, however, the desire to build on this newfound sales success won, and the 2002 was born.
The 2002 was in production for seven years. Its lightweight body and powerful engine made it an instant hit, and it enjoyed many track-based successes as well. Launched with the 100bhp twolitre engine in 1968, the autumn of that year saw the 2002 gain an extra carburettor and 20bhp, creating the ti in the process, with a grille badge denoting this and, at the same time, all models received dual-circuit brake lines. Despite only costing slightly more than the regular 2002, the ti never enjoyed the same success in the showrooms as its smaller-engined counterpart, but all this was set to change in 1971, with the introduction of the 2002tii. Replacing the ti, the new model dropped the carb-fed engine for the 130hp fuel-injected four-cylinder motor from the 1969 2000tii saloon. The Kugelfischer fuel injection was hard to set up but it resulted in the sort of throttle response that was a world away from carb engines. The car was an instant hit with both the press and the punters, and waiting lists soon built up – suddenly BMW had a worldwide hit on its hands.
In 1971 all models received a very minor face-lift and the 90hp 1802 was introduced and the 1600-2 changed its name to become the 1602. There was a more major face-lift in 1973 which saw the introduction of a plastic front grille, square rear taillights in place of the delicate round ones of pre-1971 cars and trim levels all-round were improved.
All models (well, almost all) ceased production in 1975 to make way for the first of the 3 Series models but, somewhat bizarrely, it was at this time that the 1502 was introduced which was sold until 1977. Despite the moniker it actually featured a detuned version of the 1602’s 1573cc engine. While not an integral part of this guide (it had its own one a couple of years back) the BMW 2002 Turbo should also be mentioned as the poster boy of the range when it was launched in 1973. It was Europe’s first turbocharged production car and used a blown version of the 1990cc unit, good for 170hp. The Turbo was short-lived, however, due to the global fuel crisis which struck in the mid-’70s. In total, only 1672 cars were ever made, all left-hand drive.
One thing the 2002 did very well was rust. They weren’t in the same league as the Alfasud, Escorts and various Fiats, but with no galvanising or wax injection, most needed welding by the time they were eight years old – and that’s a long time ago now. We can recall 1970-ish cars in scrapyards in the early Eighties with more to follow. 2002s rust everywhere: sills, floors, rear arch housings (open the boot and examine carefully), front wings, and door bottoms, as well as the bonnet and bootlid around the lower seams. Front chassis rails rot where the front subframe bolts on, and the area around the rear subframe mountings can really suffer – lift the rear seat base and look under there. The front panel can rot just about everywhere, as can the boot floor and spare wheel well, whilst the front inner wings can be a nightmare of rust and bad repairs. Restoring a 2002 is expensive. Panels are not cheap. A new door is £400. A front wing is nearly £500 (although pattern ones are around £110 each).
A rear wing is around £650. BMW sell rear arch panels for £43 each plus VAT, and whilst bonnets and bootlids are still on the price list at £748 and £645 respectively, plus VAT. They are on major back order, though, meaning they aren’t in stock. With enough orders both will be remanufactured eventually.
The problem with these cars is that they’re so old, they will all have had restoration work (unless you find a very low mileage example that hasn’t seen much wet weather – good luck finding one of those!) What you need to be sure of is just how well the work has been done. Were those sills welded on top of the rusty originals or did the repairer cut the old ones off, repair the inner sills before painting the unseen inner sections with red oxide paint? This is where a photographic record of restoration is important, or at least knowing where the job was done, because if it was done by ‘Bodge it and Dodge it, c/o The Arches’, you can guarantee you’ll be cutting the thing open again before long.
Chrome-work is very hard to find new, although its heavier quality means it lasts pretty well anyway. BMW doesn’t list much and what it does list is often on major back order and fearsomely expensive. A rear bumper corner is a not unreasonable £162, so £400 for a really decent complete used rear bumper is not out of the way.
All ’02 cars use a derivative of the four-cylinder M10 engine. The original 1600/2 from 1966 used the M116 unit and, with a capacity of 1573cc and a compression of 8.3:1, it gave 83hp with a single choke Solex 36PDSI carb. The 1600ti used a pair of Solex 40PFF side-draught carbs and a higher 9.5:1 compression to give 110hp, but it was overshadowed by the 2002, the definitive model in the range. With bigger valves as well as 1990cc, the 2002 was also joined by a 1766cc 1802 version in 1971, at which point the 1600/2 was renamed 1602 to join the new 1802 and existing 2002. A 2002ti with twin 40PHH carbs appeared briefly but was effectively replaced by the fuel-injected 2002tii in 1971 with its mechanical Kugelfischer system. The 1602 was phased out in 1975 along with the 2002 to be replaced by the new E21 3 Series, but a budget 1502 was built until 1977.
Despite the 1502 name, this model wasn’t a 1500 but a low-compression 1573cc unit with 75hp. The M10 series engines were very well made and tough, but they’re also very old now. After September 1972, the E12 520 and 520i engines were used and these can be spotted by the ‘E12’ marking on the inlet side of the head – older ones would be marked ‘121’ or 121ti and later units from 1975 will have E21 on them – some very late 2002 cars as well as the 1502 may well have E21 coded heads.
Problems are typical of old cars with high mileages – such as low oil pressure caused by worn bearings, a tired oil pump, and even failing O-rings on the oil supply pipe from the pump into the block oil gallery.
Bore and piston ring wear is common and often the heads require a complete overhaul – most now will have corroded waterways, worn-out valve guides, worn rocker pads and even cracks in the head between the inlet and exhaust valves. Very often it’s not worth doing just a top-end rebuild as, if the top end needs a rebuild, the rest of it’s not far behind and these engines are so easy to remove, you may as well rebuild the whole lot. The problem is that there are so few good used engines. The 2.0-litre M10 ended production nearly 40 years ago but 1602 and 1502 owners have a very cheap ‘get out of jail’ card in the form of a carburettor’d 1800 unit from an E30 316.
These were built up until mid-1988 and you have a good chance of buying a very good runner. With the sump and manifolds swapped over, this unit just drops in and you’ll struggle to pay more than £200 quid for one. Some ’02 cars have been fitted with the 105hp fuel injection version from an E28 518i. Be aware that post-1980 engines have a distributor that runs in the opposite direction to a 2002 unit, so use the distributor that comes with the engine and benefit from electronic ignition.
Kugelfischer injection on the tii cars is nothing like the electronic systems used on the later cars, and is not dissimilar to old diesel systems – there is a belt driven pump with fuel lines and injectors operating at 500psi. Setting it up is not easy, and new parts are neither cheap nor common but when it’s in good condition it’s a great system that gives very brisk performance and half decent economy as well. It’s also pretty reliable as there isn’t that much to go wrong. But while the tii is the darling of the range (after the Turbo), the carburetted 2002 is still a very nippy car. With a five-speed overdrive ’box, it goes very well (as you’d expect from a car weighing just 1000kg with 100hp to propel it). The Carbs on the 2002 and 1602 cars are Solex units that last well and are easily rebuilt. Cooling systems are straightforward, but the price of parts is getting silly – from BMW a new radiator is a whopping £424 plus VAT.
Transmission and drivetrain
The standard gearbox for an ‘02 was a fourspeed Getrag 232 and it’s a decent unit that seems to last forever. Good used units are not particularly valuable, though, as a common and desirable upgrade is to fit a five-speed overdrive Getrag 240 gearbox from an E21 – the only fivespeed M10 unit to have a drive for the speedo cable, although you may well find one on a pre-1983 BMW 518 E28. Be aware that 240s from the sixcylinder cars will not fit, and the E30 version has no speedo drive. BMW used a close-ratio, fivespeed, sport gearbox with the infamous dog-leg gear change pattern (first gear to the left and back): the Getrag 235/5. These are incredibly rare and most of us have never actually seen one. The E21 five-speed conversion is more difficult than it looks and is pretty involved including a shortened prop, revised mounting points and so on, so it’s best to buy a car that’s already been converted. Some cars were fitted with a three-speed automatic ’box: the ZF3HP12. These are good units that, with a yearly fluid change using Dexron, will plod on forever.
Used units are now becoming rare but the E21’s 3HP22 complete with converter and flywheel can be made to fit. Propshafts and diffs don’t present much of a problem. Ratios are pretty low – the 1600 cars are 4.37 or 4.11, 2002 cars are 3.64, and the tii and Turbo diff is 3.45. As they all swap over and interchange, you may want to fit a taller diff to a lesser model to make it less revvy at speed. Complete clutch kits seem hard to find, and a clutch plate from BMW is nearly £250 (although Jaymic sells a complete kit). As is often the way, the 200mm clutch used on the 1600 cars is more expensive at £290 but the 228mm clutch kit for the 2.0-litre cars is a lot cheaper at £214.
Steering and suspension
A 2002 in good order drives well despite having a steering box and not a rack. The steering box needs to be in good order. If it’s not, forget about a new one as there aren’t any left. If so, look for a good used one or a reconditioned unit at £350.
Front dampers are not easy to find but Jaymic does Bilstein front inserts for around £240 for the pair. Rear struts are about the same price, and the bolt-on rear axle beam bushes are around £100 the pair from various sources, BMW included. Rotten spring cups are always a worry on old McPherson strut cars and be aware that the tii front struts are different to the carburettor cars. Steering drag links and the idler arm are available easily enough – tii and Turbo cars had fully boxed-in rear trailing arms, unlike the lesser models with ‘open’ arms. These boxed-in arms can rust from the inside and good used ones are scarce. However, standard open arms can be used if they are sandblasted, the reinforcing section welded up, then painted and a hole drilled before being immersed in paint to prevent future rust.
At the front, heavy steering can be due to seizing top strut mounts – these can be removed, cleaned up and regreased but are often too far gone. New ones are £67 each. Stiff steering can also be due to the steering box being over adjusted.
Wheels, tyres and brakes
All ’02 cars used 13-inch wheels. These were mainly steels that were 4.5-inches wide on 1600 cars and five-inches wide on 2000 stuff. Alloys were fitted to many tii and Turbo cars – a similar style alloy wheel was optional on the early E21 but they have a different offset: ET28 on the ’02 and ET18 for the 3 Series. The steel wheels were restyled for August 1973 (M registration) with vent slots around the outer edge. Turbo wheels are steel, 5.5-inches wide with an ET18 offset or six-inch alloys. E21 13-inch steel wheels can be used but due to the offset, the tyres can foul the arches.
Brakes are often a trouble spot on these cars. Up until early 1969, a single vacuum servo was used. After that, RHD cars used twin vacuum servos and a split hydraulic system. These were a great idea when new but now they can be a problem. The servos incorporate a master cylinder each, both fed from the main master cylinder. These are iron bodied and the bores rust just past the seal operating area and seal failure is the main issue. Any sponginess in the pedal is a problem and there must be a working warning light for low fluid levels.
Fitting new servos is a good idea but new 2002 servos are very hard to find. Reconditioned ones are around £350 each but there is a cheaper solution: a pair of new Lockheed servos for an MGB. These can be found for under £150 the pair on eBay and whilst they must be fitted as a pair, they are a far more cost-effective solution. You’ll need to faff about with mounting brackets and may have to swap the brake pipe unions from metric to imperial, but due to the popularity of the MGB you’ll then have a limitless supply of new units in the future. Not for the purist, perhaps, but something to consider.
Rusty brake pipes are an obvious problem – not so obvious are old flexible brake pipes that have healed up inside. These will let fluid through under footbrake pressure but not let it back again, leading to dragging brakes. The same also applies to the clutch flexy pipe.
All cars have front discs and rear drums and the tii and Turbo have different, bigger front brakes with different front struts as well. Calipers are around £600 a pair. Upgrading to tii brakes involves using the tii struts as well.
165SR13 tyres are still readily available and silly cheap – about £170 for a set of four Kumhos. Brake discs and pads are also cheap. Although Euro Car Parts doesn’t stock them, BMW sells a pair for £160 plus VAT. What you will struggle with is a brake master cylinder that is no longer available. BMW quote a price of £210 but there is no stock. You best option is to have it rebuilt with a steel bore pressed in and new seals. BMW sells a repair kit, but that’s no good if the cylinder bore is rusty and pitted.
Old age is against these cars, but at least the differences between the basic cars and the plush Lux models was down to trim and not extra gadgets. There was no central locking, electric windows or air-con on the options list.
The velour cloth used was always fragile and six years of daily use was enough for it to be getting a bit threadbare. Retrims can be expensive and you may find the standard seats a bit flat and unsupportive. A common upgrade used to be fitting a pair of Recaro-type sports seats from an BMW E21 – but the days when you could find these in breakers’ yards have long gone. Various different steering wheels were used ranging from the two-spoke wheel on the original 1600 though to various incarnations of the plastic three-spoke steering wheel and finally the late E21-style wheel and the rare three-spoke Turbo item (this was fitted to some early E21 cars as an option and good luck in finding one). You’re better off buying a new wheel, such as an OMP 350mm three-spoke with a boss kit. Dashboard cracks are common near to the instrument cluster ‘hump’ and unless you find a perfect used dash, your best option is black flexible sealer forced in with the excess wiped off.
Err, there aren’t any! Although, there are a few related things to look out for, such as a squeaky heater fan or a wiper motor that could use some fresh grease, but these cars didn’t even have electronic ignition. Also, be aware that the voltage regulator can be a separate unit on the inner wing and failure can lead to overcharging and boiling the battery.
The 2002 is too old for any recognised service plans as it even predates the BMW ‘Inspection’ service scheme. But as an idea, a full service – all filters, oil, coolant, brake fluid, plugs, ignition timing, points, valve clearances, gearbox and diff oil plus adjusting rear brakes (but excluding repairs and new parts such as brake pads) would cost £384 from Parkside Autos in Worksop (01909 506555) who admit they’ve not seen a 2002 for a few years but still remember what they’re about. An oil and filter change would cost £79 using a suitable oil such as 20/50 or 10/40, and given that the parts come to nearly £180, front discs and pads would cost around £280.
|MAX POWER:||75hp @ 5800rpm||85hp @ 5700rpm||105hp @ 6000rpm||90hp @ 5250rpm||100hp @ 5500rpm||120hp @ 5500rpm||130hp @ 5800rpm|
|MAX TORQUE:||89lb ft @ 3700rpm||97lb ft @ 3500rpm||97lb ft @ 4500rpm||108lb ft @ 3000rpm||118lb ft @ 3500rpm||123lb ft @ 3600rpm||134lb ft @ 4500rpm|
|0-62MPH:||14.3 seconds||12.8 seconds||11.0 seconds||11.8 seconds||10.9 seconds||9.7 seconds||9.4 seconds|
The days when a decent ’02 could be picked up for a couple of thousand pounds have gone now and whilst they aren’t in the same price bracket as a MkI Escort, they’re now getting pricey with good examples now the preserve of wealthier enthusiasts. Even a half decent 1602 needing some cosmetics is around £5000 and a really good carburettor 2002 is now around £15,000.
Low values for so long meant that very few were saved and, correspondingly, there aren’t many really good ones left, and even fewer for sale. In many ways an E21 is a better bet, but if you really want an ’02 then be prepared to sift through the dross and dig deep for a very good one – with the cost of restoration, it simply isn’t worth buying one to restore unless you can do the majority of the work yourself.
The tii was an instant hit with both the press and the punters – suddenly BMW had a worldwide hit on its hands.