- Post is under moderationA PERFECT PAIR Gorgeous matching modded 2002 and R75/6 Retro Rides
Building one project can be challenging enough but building a matching modified car and bike combo at the same time takes some real dedication. Words: Elizabeth de Latour. Photos: Courtney Cutchen.
Matching modded #BMW-2002 and #BMW-R75/6
Until now, you won’t have seen many motorbikes in PBMW. While we admire BMW’s two-wheeled offerings and respect those who ride (because we’re not quite brave enough to rocket down the road gripping an engine between our thighs ourselves), they’re not really PBMW fodder. However, if you happen to be the sort of BMW enthusiast whose garage is home to both a modified car and a modified bike, and who has poured just as much passion into two wheels as four, then you’re definitely our sort of person. And here we have just such a person. His name is Michael Le and he owns both a stunning, modified 1975 #BMW-2002-E10 and a stunning, modified 1975 R75/6.
“I grew up on imports,” begins Michael, his first car having been a 1994 Honda Civic Coupé. “Then I crossed the bridge to an R53 MINI Cooper and then moved over to classic BMWs about ten years ago, after I learned more about their aesthetics, performance, heritage, and relative rarity. I feel that cars are my way of self-expression and art. A costly form of self-expression. My first BMW was a 1991 325iS. I got it for $2000 and had quite a few problems with it but for my first BMW it was affordable and a good place to start from.” Once he’d got a taste for German motoring there was no holding Michael back and the 325iS was followed by a 2002, a 1976 Porsche 911, a Euro 635CSi, an E30 318iS and, most recently, another 635CSi. But what we’re really interested in is this really interesting pairing of 2002 and R75/6.
“I have a habit of abandoning projects and an even worse habit of coordination and matching,” explains Michael. “I wanted to have a unique canvas that few people have, and I wanted to continue the matching four-wheel-and-two-wheel theme that started with my MINI Cooper and Vespa. It’s personally satisfying to walk out to a parking lot and know exactly which vehicle is yours. They stand alone in a sea of modern, bland vehicles and are an extension of my eccentric, old-soul/new-school personality.” Indeed.
“My focus for these two in particular was a matching set of vintage and unique smog-free machines I could daily drive given my mood,” he continues. “I learned a few things from my first 2002, such as OEM is usually best and that it’s a good idea to keep it tasteful and respectable with just a few personal touches. As for the motorcycle, this is my first bike but my second two-wheel vehicle. I’m a proud self-taught rider with scars to prove it. I knew it would be a cafe racer; the style and simplicity is so appealing.” A café racer, for those not well-versed with modified bike styles, is a lightweight bike built for speed, handling and short, fast rides rather than comfort. The name originates from the ’60s when members of the British rocker subculture (as in mods and rockers) used fast, personalised bikes to ride between transport cafes along the newly-built motorways and Michael’s R75/6 has the classic café racer-look.
The 2002 was purchased from an enthusiast and already had a number of attractive mods, with an M42 up front, a five-speed gearbox, an LSD, Recaros and metal bumpers. “It was halfway done!” Michael exclaims. “The bike’s previous owner commuted over 50 miles each way on a daily basis for a few years; it had some leaks, as to be expected from a 40-year-old vehicle, but it was useable.” And with both machines in his possession, the projects could begin.
When Michael says he has a thing for coordination he’s not kidding as the work he’s put in to get these two matching on virtually every level is outrageous. With an emphasis on the individual, styling was extremely important for the both the 2002 and the R75/6, especially as the café racer-look is distinctive and calls for certain mods to achieve the desired style.
The 2002’s pumped-up look was achieved with a selection offbeat styling additions. “Everyone has turbo flares,” says Michael, “so I got OEM replica flares from 2002 GarageWerks. And everyone has access to the standard 2002 turbo front air dam, so I got a Jaymic front air dam.” He’s also added an Ireland Engineering rear spoiler and rear chrome shorty bumpers, deleted the antenna, and fitted a Cibie third brake light and flat Euro front turn signals. You can’t build a bad-looking 2002 and this one in particular looks fantastic, with period styling that’s got an individual twist to it.
The bike, by comparison, was a far more involved build as there’s a lot of work required to go from regular old motorcycle to café racer. “Modernised café racers usually retain the exterior gauges or eliminate them completely,” explains Michael, “but I located the gauge in the headlight bucket for a clean look. Garage builders usually don’t do any cutting and keep the two-up tail; I had to get a seat that went along the clean lines of a single seat bike and cut the rear subframe, along with de-tabbing anything unnecessary. When I say I, I mean my friend and firsttime builder Fernando at Morales Custom Cycles. He did nearly everything for the bike except the paint. Let me tell you, for a first timer, he’s professional-grade in my book. We both learned together. His patience was tried and my wallet was tried, but it was worth it.”
Even if you’re not a bike fan you have to admit that Michael’s R75/6 looks achingly cool. Of course, as good as the car and bike looked, they didn’t match at that point, so Michael took them both down to Affordable Auto Body in Hayward where they were sprayed in #BMW Individual Moonstone metallic. He even got his crash helmet sprayed in the same colour. “The finishing touch was done by Lyle’s Vinyl Styles in San Carlos. He does custom vinyl wraps and did some seriously clean BMW M pinstripes on both the car and bike as a subtle theme tie-in,” Michael explains.
Now, matching paint colours and stripes are one thing but matching the car and bike’s wheels was a much bigger challenge, especially as far as the bike was concerned. “I started off with some black/silver 13” ATS Classics on the 2002 to go with the theme at the time,” Michael tells us. “A few months later I was browsing eBay Germany and came across these vintage gold BBS E76s. I wanted mesh wheels for the car but felt the BBS RS look has been done time and time again. But magnesium 15” E76s? Yes please! I bid on them for fun and ended up winning them. So I then had to change the whole game plan for the car and bike to accommodate the colour scheme of new the wheels,” he laughs. 2002s and cross-spokes go together like toast and jam and the E76s look so good on this car they could have been custom-made for it.
The gold centres and polished lips are the perfect match for the silver paintwork and they do a fantastic job of filling out those fat little arches. “Since the BBSs were vintage gold with polished hardware, polished lips and red BBS logo stickers, for the bike I had a set of wheels custom-made at Woody’s Wheel Works in Colorado,” Michael continues. “They’re such helpful, friendly and professional people. They made some custom vintage gold spokes, polished nipples, and polished Akront rims. Then I bought some red Akront stickers to place on the rims.” The end result is about as good as you can get considering how different bike wheels are to car wheels. Hats off to Michael for going to these lengths to get the two looking as similar as possible.
The interior on the 2002 is absolutely gorgeous, a perfect blend of wood and black leather, and Michael has spent some time on the finishing touches. “The car came with these great quality, smooth and perforated leather black Recaro front seats, so I carried the theme throughout the rest of the car and over to the bike,” he says. “The 2002 interior and the bike seat were sent to Super Auto Upholstery in Hayward. The E24 rear buckets were given the same treatment, as well as the door panels to match. Even the headlining was done in black. The car also came with a wooden Nardi steering wheel, a wooden gear knob, and a wooden gauge cluster with black face gauges and red needles. The bike seat is an identical replica of the car seats, down to the size of the stitching, piping, and materials used. I sourced some Harley wood grips that matched the steering wheel as closely as possible. Fernando made them work on the bike and Lyle did a vinyl wrap around the gauge trim to mimic the wood and, yes, the bike’s gauge is black with a red needle.”
This pair is not simply a case of style over substance, though, as Michael’s put the work in where it counts: the engine and chassis. “The 2002 came with the M42 out of an E30 318iS mated to a Getrag 240 gearbox from an E21 and a 3.73 LSD – really the perfect combo for the peppy and light E10 chassis,” he says. “I considered a turbo to go along with the turbo tribute look and it would have meant having to go turbo with the bike as that’s how anal I am, but I found a good deal on a set of Dbilas ITBs which I couldn’t pass up.” In addition to the ITBs, the engine’s had a coilover plug conversion, a Midnight tuning chip and a straight-through exhaust system with a Scorpion silencer. “When it came to chassis mods, my research suggested that Ground Control coilovers and Koni Yellow adjustable struts were the way to go, along with Ireland Engineering anti-roll bars and a nonadjustable camber kit. It’s the perfect setup for a comfortable daily driver that’s also good for some spirited twisty canyon driving when needed.”
There’s a lot less that can be done on the bike, according to Michael, so he’s kept things simple: “On the engine front I went for maintenance, cleanliness, and reliability! I had all the seals replaced, valve adjustment done, and cleaned the cylinders, heads, rings, valve covers etc. In terms of chassis mods you can’t do too much for a café racer besides beef-up the suspension and weight reduction, so I ordered some Redwing rear struts and lowered the front with new fork fluid. It looks good and still rides comfortably.”
On their own, this 2002 and R75/6 are magnificent builds with incredible attention to detail and some really fantastic, unique mods. However, taken as a matching pair they are truly something special. “I spent two-and-a-half painstaking years developing both vehicles. I have the vision but don’t possess the talent or patience. There were a lot of favours, switching back and forth between vehicles, and a lot of restless nights in which I nearly abandoned these projects,” says Michael. Fortunately he didn’t and the end result is unquestionably worth all that effort. We all know what we’re signing up for when we take on a new project but not all of us have the mettle to see them through. It’s doubly difficult when you’re working on two projects at once.
Michael just has a few finishing touches to add on both the 2002 and R75/6. He’s currently working with Dbilas on a chip tune specific to his combination of M42 on ITBs, while for the bike he’s lined-up a big bore kit, lightened flywheel, and a rear monoshock conversion. You’d think once that was done he’d be ready to put his feet up and enjoy the fruits of his labours but he’s clearly a glutton for punishment as he’s got an E24 635CSi project in its infancy. “My goal is to make my ideal black-on-black Euro E24 and if I had to continue my four-and-two-wheel theme, I may opt for a motorised bicycle built by Dutchman Motorbikes,” he muses. “They build custom motorised bicycles, either cruiser or café racer style, to your specifications. It would seem fitting to go on the Euro E24’s roof rack!” he laughs, but we don’t think he’s joking.
“I spent two-and-a-half painstaking years developing both vehicles”
Leather seat material and design has been mimicked on the bike, as have all the wooden interior details.
TECHNICAL DATA FILE #1975 / #BMW-2002 / #BMW-2002-M42 / #M42 / #BMW-M42 / #BBS / #BMW-2002-Tuned / #BMW-E10
ENGINE AND TRANSMISSION 1.8-litre four-cylinder #M42B18 , coilover plug conversion, #Dbilas ITBs, custom straight-through exhaust with Scorpion silencer, #Midnight-Tuning chip, E21 five-speed gearbox, 3.73 LSD, Z3 short-shift.
CHASSIS 9x15” ET10 (front and rear) #BBS-E76 vintage gold magnesium wheels with 12mm spacers (front) and 15mm spacers (rear), 205/50 (front and rear) Kumho Ecsta tyres, 2002tii front hubs, E21 250mm rear drum brakes, #Ground-Control coilovers, #Koni-Yellow struts, Ireland Engineering front and rear anti-roll bars.
EXTERIOR #Jaymic-2002-Turbo-style front air dam, 2002 #GarageWerks Turbo-style arch flares, Ireland Engineering rear spoiler, rear chrome shorty bumpers, antenna delete, #Cibie rear third brake light, flat Euro front turn signals, Vinyl Styles M stripes.
INTERIOR #Recaro front seats, E24 rear seats, matching fabric and stitch pattern, black pillars and headlining, #Ireland-Engineering Turbo-style gauge pods, Autometer gauges, Nardi wooden steering wheel, wooden gear knob, custom Honda Civic armrest, Esty salt and pepper carpet.
TECHNICAL DATA FILE 1975 / BMW-R75
ENGINE AND TRANSMISSION 749cc flat-twin 247, all-new gaskets, rebuilt #Bing carbs, #K&N air filter pods, sport exhaust, #Battery-Tender lightweight battery, #BoxerCafe starter cover, five-speed gearbox, new fluids, seals, and gaskets.
CHASSIS 19” (front) and 18” (rear) #Akront aluminium rims and vintage gold spokes, 3.25/19 (front) and 4.00/18 (rear) Michelin tyres, stock front springs with new fluid, remanufactured rear drum brakes, #ToasterTan triple tree, Redwing rear struts, #Boxer-Metal rear sets, clip-on bars.
EXTERIOR De-tabbed and shaved Ural headlight bucket, Motogadget dummy lights, Autometer digital gauge, custom extended bucket ears, shortened rear subframe, frame and body de-tabbed, battery relocated under Thorsten Strenger fibreglass singleseat rear cowl, X-Arc LED integrated turn signals/brake lights, chrome bar end mirrors.
INTERIOR Custom seat with matching fabric and stitch pattern, wood-style grips, colour-matched Biltwell Gringo helmet and bubble shield, black leather Members Only jacket with custom-sewn armour pockets.
THANKS My girlfriend Cindy for her patience and letting me ‘express’ myself; Frank and Jesus at Super Auto Upholstery, Joel at Affordable Auto Body, the team at Woody’s Wheel Works, Bryant and Jeriko at Bryko Motors, Le from 2002 GarageWerks, Lyle at Vinyl Styles, eBay.de for not letting me retract my best offer for the BBS wheels, Phill and Jessa for chauffeuring me around, Patrick for letting me borrow his car, Matt for the continual optimism and inadvertent help with naming the vehicles, Tristan for both the motivation and keeping me grounded, Courtney for spotting my 2002 at a local car show, befriending me, and giving me the opportunity to share my art in PBMW. Ultimately, Fernando at Morales Custom Cycles for his patience with my vehicular sickness and making my car and motorcycle visions a reality. Without him, I don’t think my motorcycle would be as ideal as it is. My mom for her sense of art and meticulousness that rubbed off on me while I grew up, and my dad for encouraging me to create my visions growing up as a child via a seemingly endless supply of Lego sets.
Car and bike have been finished in matching Moonstone metallic and wear matching vinyl M stripes.
Not something you expect to see in PBMW but this classic café racer is a gorgeous retro machine.
“Cars are my form of self expression and art. A costly form of expression”Stream item published successfully. Item will now be visible on your stream.
- Post is under moderationWIDE-ARCH M3 Stunningly modified E30
With its flawless finish, custom wide arches and blood-red innards, this E30 M3 is a rare beast indeed. And Ricardo Oliveira’s lengthy unicorn hunt has certainly been quite a journey… Words: Daniel Bevis. Photos: Anna Taylor.
Wide-arch E30 M3
When we interview feature car owners, we always ask if they have anyone they’d like to thank – and it’s very telling that Ricardo Oliveira chooses to thank ‘all the people that laughed at my plans’. His, you see, is a tale of following his own path, cutting against the grain, and numerous other inspirational fridge-magnet clichés that have led to one of the cleanest and most eye-watering E30 M3s we’ve seen.
Oh yes, and it is a bona fide M3. Haters be damned, Ricardo’s ‘ruined’ it to his own dream specs, and he really couldn’t be happier about that: “This whole thing dates back to 1997, when I was 11 years old,” he explains. “My brother, Pedro, purchased his first E30 M3; it was a #1989 car, Alpine white, with 60k miles on the clock. I fell in love with it as soon as I laid eyes on it, there was something about the box arches and the way the little four-cylinder engine sounded coming down the street. I would wash it and go for rides in it any chance I had. I still remember the smell of the fresh leather and sitting in the rear seat listening to the Borla exhaust like it was yesterday.”
It’s safe to say that this early obsession showed little sign of abating; Ricardo was in deep, and there was no way he wouldn’t own an M3 one day. He was totally single-minded about that. “By the time I was 20, I had saved up enough money to buy one,” he says, “and heard of someone local selling a Lachs silver example that had a salvage title. It needed work, but was fairly priced… although as I prepared it for restoration, I began to have doubts about spending money on something that had been a weekend track car – which had evidently seen a barrier or two!”
As you may have deduced, that car is not the M3 you’re looking at today. Ricardo pulled the cord on that one and set about hunting down a better example to fulfil that childhood dream. In the course of his search he happened across a Henna red shell with matching numbers and all the right bits which he ended up buying, but then selling once he realised that the magnitude of the work, combined with his having been accepted into police academy, meant that realistically it just wouldn’t get done.
Fast-forward a few years and, at the age of 24, our man found himself graduating from police academy and, of course, the E30 fire was still very much burning away in the depths of his soul. “I began working my regular night shift, along with countless morning overtime shifts,” he recalls. “I remember going to bed at 4pm and waking at 10pm, only to grab a bite and head right back to work – just so I could purchase another E30 M3!” Ricardo really was committed to this dream, and those previous false starts did nothing but spur him on. And so, having saved enough money (rather more than the $7500 he paid for his first one – these cars certainly aren’t getting any cheaper) the search was resumed and, after quite some hunting, a 1990 Diamond black car presented itself in Clearwater, Florida. “It was being sold by a guy named Mike, who was getting progressively sicker from cancer and could no longer enjoy the car,” Ricardo explains. “I bought the car sight unseen after numerous hours on the phone discussing every detail – and a week and a half later, it was home with me in New Jersey!”
A fairytale ending? Er, no, not quite. Unfortunately it turned out that Mike had been, shall we say, a little creative with the detail, particularly in his use of the word ‘perfect’. Knowing E30 M3s inside out by this point, Ricardo started to feel some serious buyer’s remorse when he began to comb through the car. “I’d been told it was perfect, 100% rust-free and had recently been repainted,” he laments, “but it had been sprayed at a #MAACO body shop where even the window trims had been painted over; it was a very poor masking and spraying job, and in addition to that it’d painted over some surface rust that was already starting to bubble. I began to feel like Nicholas Cage in Gone In 60 Seconds – just like he continuously ran into problems with Eleanor, his ‘Unicorn’, so was I with the E30. That’s why I nicknamed it ‘Unicorn’.”
Ricardo tried to take these issues up with Mike, but he understandably had bigger fish to fry; shortly afterwards, word came through that he’d succumbed to the cancer. A sad turn of events, but it served to harden Ricardo’s resolve: the car would get sorted, and done right – Mike’s work would be finished properly, and Ricardo’s own childhood dreams would be fulfilled. So, where to start?
“I spent the first year ordering and collecting parts,” he says. “It was so bad, the house looked like a BMW parts department! I became a regular at the local BMW dealership, and the guys there now all know me by first, middle and last name. Probably even by credit card number…” In addition to all the new OEM stuff, he was hoarding period aftermarket addenda like some kind of eager magpie. It was all leading to the end-goal vision he had in his head.
And so with parts collected and boxes ticked, the work began in earnest. “The first step was the engine bay overhaul,” he says. “The engine came out along with all the sound and heat insulation, the bay was shaved and wire-tucked, and the motor was fully rebuilt. All the brackets, covers, pans, throttle bodies, belts, wires, gaskets, housings and bolts were either galvanised, polished, powdercoated, or replaced.” While stalking through the shell with militaristic force, it goes without saying that any rot Ricardo came across was swiftly eliminated and remedied with fresh metal. This was to be a better-than-new finish, no compromises.
With the bay sorted, Ricardo chose to focus on the wheels and arches. “I knew I wanted to do something no-one had done before,” he grins. “I decided to widen the rear arches to match the curves of the front wings – look closely and you’ll see that the standard rear quarters are flat while the front wings are round – and I aimed to extend them 1.5” further than stock. I basically wanted to widen the car, but to look as if BMW had originally done it.” You’ve got to admit that it works. The finish is flawless, and you might be hard pushed to put your finger on exactly what he’s done, had he not just explained it to you.
Impressive arches demand impressive wheels, so after a period of head-scratching and careful consideration, Ricardo acquired a set of BBS RS faces and sent them over to Paul at Ehrlich Wheel Works; a proven favourite design for the E30 M3, but these were to be finished with a twist. “To set these wheels apart from others, Paul and I planned to not only have the normal 3” slant lips people use for their rears fitted to the fronts instead, but we’d also be doing 4” lips on the rears – and we’d be doing them on a set of soon-to be-18” #BBS RSs.”
Much like the treatment of the arches, this is an exercise in tricking the eye – onlookers will see something familiar, and perhaps not immediately notice how radically different it actually is. This is Ricardo’s style – the car’s packed with features that fly under the everyday radar, but consistently drop the jaws of true-blue enthusiasts.
Once Ricardo got started on the exterior, it seems he couldn’t quite restrain himself from spreading yet more custom touches throughout the build. The rear panel was shaved to mimic the period AC Schnitzer offerings, a Euro front bumper arrived which was quickly shorn and smoothed, custom tail-lights were made up, and the rear spoiler received an Evo II lower item, an Evo III upper (with its famous threeposition adjustment – Monza, Normal, Nürburgring) and even a ’1992-spec carbon fibre DTM flap. “The custom bodywork took up most of the restoration, two years to be exact,” he recalls, “which then gave me the time to start the interior.”
Oh, and what an interior it is! Sending the parts out to Charlie of Branch Brook Auto Top for refreshing, Ricardo admits that he may have “decided to go a little crazy”, choosing the M3-correct shade of Cardinal red as his colour scheme, he opted to imbue a little Porsche style into the cabin by making literally everything red. Everything.
“I had Charlie wrap the dashboard, headlining, pillars, rear deck, and the Evo steering wheel in either Cardinal red GAHH leather or Alcantara, along with installing the discontinued BMW Cardinal carpet,” he smiles, like a cheeky schoolboy who knows he’s done something a bit mischievous.
All-in-all, Ricardo’s restoration and programme of modification represents a hell of a lot of work, and every last minute of it shows. The car’s certainly come a long way from that first disheartening meeting, when he found himself with a tired car that had been partially rotted out by the harsh Florida sunshine. His commitment to crafting a sort of OEM++ vision is what sets this car apart from regular M3s; it took four years of hard graft, but he finally has the E30 that his 11-year-old self dreamed of. His own personal unicorn.
Sure, he may get grief from the purists about how he’s ‘ruined’ a classic, but who gives a tuppenny squat about that? When the mission is this personal – and the ultimate results this stunning – then it’s okay to relax the rules a bit. In European folklore, the unicorn is fabled as a creature of purity and grace, and we just love how Ricardo’s turned that on its head in a US context – old world values, new world thinking. It’s the American dream.
TECHNICAL DATA FILE #BMW-E30 / #BMW-M3 / #BMW-M3-E30 / #S14B23 / #BMW-S14 / #S14 / #BMW-3-Series / #BMW-3-Series-E30 / #BMW-3-Series-M3 / #BMW-3-Series-M3-E30 / #BMW /
ENGINE AND TRANSMISSION 2.3-litre four-cylinder S14B23 , fully rebuilt, new #CP-Pistons (stock compression ratio), polished throttle bodies, powdercoated valve cover and air plenum with polished script, shaved engine bay with wire tuck, #Miller-Performance-MAF conversion/chip, custom air intake for #Miller-MAF , Evo plug wires, Mishimoto aluminium radiator, #Samco silicone hoses, custom aluminium reservoirs for power steering and coolant, stainless steel braided lines with AN fittings, electric fan, custom stainless steel exhaust with V bands, Supersprint silencer, ceramic-coated headers, new OEM engine mounts, water pump, ignition coil, cap and rotor, five-speed manual gearbox, Sachs clutch
CHASSIS 9x18” (front) and 10x18” (rear) #BBS-RS three-piece split-rims with 215/35 (front) and 235/35 (rear) Continental ExtremeContact tyres, BC coilovers, #Ireland-Engineering 25mm anti-roll bars and links (front and rear), Ireland Engineering polished front strut brace, rear subframe and trailing arm urethane bushings, new control arms, cross-drilled #StopTech discs
EXTERIOR Full respray in original Diamond black, widened and rolled front arches and rear quarters, shaved boot and numberplate panel, shaved window cowl with #AC-Schnitzer single wiper, shaved rear bumper to delete USDM city lights, new Euro front bumper with shaved tow hook covers, Evo III front spoiler and splitter, Evo II and Evo III rear spoilers and ’92 carbon fibre DTM rear spoiler flap, Evo III brake ducts, AC Schnitzer power/ heated mirrors, conversion to pop-out quarter glass, new BMW roundels and M3 badges, powdercoated window trims in satin black, all rubber seals for windows, doors, bonnet, boot and sunroof replaced, Hella smoked E-code headlights, custom rear smoked/red tail-lights, smoked indicators, LED city lights, LED numberplate lights
INTERIOR Cardinal red leather retrimmed by Branch Brook Auto Top (complete dashboard, front and rear centre console and Evo steering wheel also trimmed in Cardinal red leather), headlining, pillars and rear shelf trimmed in Cardinal red Alcantara, Euro sunshade on rear shelf, OEM Cardinal Red carpet, E46 M3 floor mats, Evo door sills, Alpine head unit, Alpine front and rear component speakers
THANKS My parents who gave me the support to complete this project, my brothers for their support – Joao Oliveira and especially Pedro Oliveira, who made me fall in love with the E30 M3 since 1997, Wally the painter, Paul Ehrlich from Ehrlich Wheel Works, Charlie ‘Suede’ from Branch Brook Auto Top & Interiors, Ben Barron, Mike Chin, and Francois Rodrigues from BMW of Springfield, Don Fields of Mr. M Car, Rich the machinist, Sidney Almeida for assisting me in building the engine, and all the people who laughed at my plans…
“It was so bad, the house looked like a parts department!”
“I knew I wanted to do something no-one had done before…”Stream item published successfully. Item will now be visible on your stream.
- Post is under moderationTHE HERETIC
Sticking a supercharged Honda-S2000 engine under the bonnet of a 2002 might sound like heresy, but it makes for one hell of an awesome machine. Classic looks with a modern heart make Elliott Norris’ supercharged 2002 the ideal track day warrior to drive round the Alps… Words: Mike Renaut. Photos: Matt Richardson.
We heard Elliott Norris’ 2002 approaching before we saw it… and that’s quite a trick with a car this brightly painted. So, why a 2002? “I’ve always loved them,” replies Elliott. “I love the shark nose and the profile – it’s a perfect little car. It’s also the first car you drive in the Forza 4 Xbox game.” Curiously, that’s more or less the way this car developed. In the game you put in a different engine, add performance parts, make the car lighter, then paint it a bright colour. Elliott has turned that armchair build process into reality.
His garage contains immaculate, stock examples of a 1974 2002 Turbo, a 1988 M3 Evo II, a 1987 M635 CSi and a 1973 3.0 CSL. He’s also got an M2 on the way, so it’s a slight surprise to learn this BMW sports Honda power. “I spotted the car on eBay in 2012,” explains Elliott. “It’s been changed pretty dramatically since then though. I bought it for fun and I paid about £8000. It’s a genuine 2002 and it came with the Honda S2000 engine and gearbox in factory tune part-fitted.
“I wanted a car I could drive to the track, race, then drive home again,” explains Elliott. “It will never go anywhere on a trailer. It’s already been round Europe twice – that’s how I develop it. It’s a perfect size to drive around the Alps. But then I took it around the Spa circuit and it turned out a temperature sensor wasn’t working so the engine was detonating the whole time. Of course, being a Honda it didn’t break but it was obvious it would need a rebuild. I thought that, as we were stripping it, I might as well add a supercharger.” Well, it makes perfect sense to us… Although, on opening the bonnet, we have to question the presence of the Magic Tree air freshener in the engine bay. “I kept getting fumes leaking into the interior,” laughs Elliot. “I bought four different flavoured air fresheners to attempt to discover the source of the leak!”
But back to the serious business of power. “With the standard S2000 running gear it was putting out about 220hp,” Elliott continues. “Now we’ve added the Rotex S2000 supercharger on a full-race engine with a slightly smaller blower pulley it’s currently got 382hp and 306lb ft of torque. It would be nice to go to 400+ brake with a bigger pulley.
When it was mapped it had 388hp at the wheels but I’ve since fitted a more restrictive exhaust – the old one was basically like a bit of old drainpipe.”
A custom-made Hayward and Scott stainless steel exhaust now resides under the car, connected to a bespoke manifold. The change was to quieten the beast a little, since race tracks weren’t happy with decibel readings of 110 or more! “I had a Decibel Devil fitted to get on the Nürburgring but half way round it spat it out onto the track…”
In the nicest possible way, this car is an odd mix. It’s loud and raw with dizzying acceleration but there’s also a comfortable interior with a heated windscreen (it genuinely does get used all year round) and a USB port on the dashboard. It’s got quality carpets and custom-made doorcards. There’s also hand-made brushed aluminium inserts and a roll bar that’s mainly an anchor for the race harnesses. “I’d like a full cage but I think they’re dangerous for road driving if you’re not wearing a helmet,” Elliott says.
We suggest that the car reminds us of those limited edition, lightweight race versions that Porsche or Mercedes are always releasing, and Elliott agrees: “That’s part of the feel I was after.” To get the car like this he sought a lot of expert advice along the way, as he explains: “Hanger 111 managed a lot of the initial build, particularly the interior and suspension work. The suspension it came with was shot. The front dampers were so poor it constantly locked the front wheels. My research led me to Ireland Engineering in the US and we fitted its full race dampers and spring strut braces.
“The body was shabby when I got it so I stripped it down. It had 2002 Turbo arches and front spoiler but we fitted a Group 2 body kit after we widened the wheel track.”
The paintwork was tackled by the man who Elliott trusts to do all of his car’s bodywork: Robin Middleton of RJM Body Repairs in Stowmarket. “Fitting the bonnet pins was tricky,” remembers Robin. “I only had one chance to drill them but I had to take account of the way the front-hinged bonnet opened. The wheels also took a lot of time as at first they were touching the arches with the steering on full lock. I bought two new front wings then cut them up to fit the wide arches. At once point I all but begged Elliott to let me raise the front by just two millimetres for extra clearance but he wouldn’t let me.
“I also blended in the rear valance around the exhaust pipe and cut the front spoiler to fit the intercooler. Elliott wanted the beltline trim removed so I filled the mounting holes. He gave me a tight deadline and I worked through a bank holiday to get it done on time. Elliott wanted Inca orange paint from the 1973 BMW palate so I scanned it to get the exact shade and then finished it in lacquer. The car came out really nicely. I’m still waiting for Elliott to give me a ride in it though!”
When Elliott first installed the supercharger he immediately noticed the original S2000 gearbox was crunching when shifting between first and second. “Basically it couldn’t handle the power of the supercharger,” he explains. So it was pulled out in favour of a quick-shift Quaife 69G sixspeed that was built to cope with 750hp and allows shifts without lifting off the accelerator – meaning you’re hurled forward without any break in momentum. “It changes gear in 0.3 of a second. However, it’s since been fitted with helical gears as, much as I love the sound of straight-cut gears, they’re difficult to use in traffic and I’m also keen to keep my hearing,” grins Elliott. “Thanks must go to Lee at Auto Shack who has a great mind for altering things. He fitted the Quaife gearbox and put up with my constant crazy schemes.”
The steering column from a Vauxhall Corsa mates to a Quaife quick rack originally intended for a Peugeot 205, but with an ECU kit from DC Electronics the electric power steering is now fully mappable and changes the amount of assistance offered according to torque input and output. It even has a super-light mode for parking in tight spaces – see what we mean about it being a roadfriendly race car?
The custom ‘Ketzer’ badge on the bootlid is the German for ‘heretic,’ while those Honda badges on the front wings came from a motorbike and are a relatively subtle hint that things are no longer standard underneath. More obvious are the BBS E50 wheels. “They were originally highly polished until I drove it round the Alps,” admits Elliott. The wheels were narrowed recently from eight-and-a-half inches on the front down to seven, and nine inches on the rear to eight-and-a-half, meaning the car now turns-in a lot better. “Since the BBSs are true split-rims we just moved the front inner barrels to the rear and replaced the front inner barrels with new ones. The main issue being the larger width was reducing the steering lock due to clearance. Running a narrower wheel has meant we now have the full lock back.” Although it’s cured a lot of the understeer Elliott mentions, it’s made the 2002 a lot harder to drift. However, surely Elliott hasn’t spent all this time building a fast road/track car only to now use it for drifting? “It was built to handle but not necessarily to grip,” he tells us. “It was designed to be a driver’s car. It’s purely about entertainment and having fun in any race event, but it was certainly never about setting lap times.”
An E30 325i rear axle with an E30 M3 differential puts down the power, although Elliott has to be careful, as he explains: “The rear squats massively under hard acceleration – it actually hits cat’s eyes in the road.” Wilwood disc brakes on all four corners haul the 2002 down from those supersonic speeds.
“A fully-mappable Emerald ECU means I can alter the engine map for regular fuel, race fuel, and ‘big flames from the exhaust on liftoff’ mode.” Of course, the upgrades meant the engine’s thirst for fuel has increased dramatically – so much so that a full race fuel system was required including a baffled tank with a swirl pot. The tank is now topped up via a cap in the boot. “I often get announcements over the tannoy at petrol stations because they think I’m pouring petrol straight onto the floor of the car,” grins Elliott. That means the original fuel filler in the rear wing is now redundant. “I was toying with putting a comedy springy snake in there in case anyone ever opens it…” he chuckles.
The body is all steel with the exception of the fibreglass bonnet, although Elliott says: “I might go back to a steel one. The fibreglass tends to vibrate at speed.” The latest addition to the car is a genuine new old stock Autoplas rear window louvre. “They’re super-rare. I found it in Latvia still in the original box.”
One of the few standard parts remaining is the handbrake mechanism. “I haven’t changed it but I should – it’s rubbish.”
Also not quite up to par is the speedometer, which decided to break on the way to the photoshoot meaning we couldn’t get any performance times. But Elliott knows 60mph comes up in under four seconds and, having experienced the car’s wall of acceleration, we completely agree. We hit 60mph in less time than it took to write this sentence (and I type with four fingers!). “It will outrun a new Porsche GT3 on a track,” says Elliott.
Generally the car has been very well received, although not by everyone. “I took it to a BMW Car Club meet and two guys told me it was the most horrible car they’d ever seen,” he laughs. However, given that Elliott already owns some quick cars including a Plymouth Superbird (go on, Google it), a Noble M12, and a 2011 Caterham he built himself (and in which he has recently won a race series), is he impressed with his 2002? “It’s an on-going labour of love, most of the modifications had to be done twice. I’m not sure I’d do it again – as I’ve spent well over ten times the original purchase price. If I was going to change it then I’d alter the look of the rear arches – there’s too much space between the tyre and the arch – but I’m not going to lower it since it sits just right. The suspension still requires some tweaking. I want the handling perfect for track use and it’s not quite there yet. With the supercharger fitted it needs more damping but currently they’re not adjustable and heat ingress is still a problem. But on the plus side it’s the most frightening car I’ve ever driven.”
Interior has been trimmed by Corbeau and fitted with a half cage and GT8 front seats with TRS harnesses.
DATA FILE Supercharged S2000 / #BMW-2002 / #BMW-2002-Supercharged / #BMW / #Rotrex / #Honda / #BBS / #BMW-2002-E10 / #BMW-E10 / #BMW-2002-Honda-S2000 /
ENGINE AND TRANSMISSION 1997cc #Honda-F20C engine from S2000, #Rotrex-C38-81 supercharger, #TTS mounting kit with eight-row poly vee pulleys, #CP-Carrillo 10:1 comp pistons, #Brian-Crowler steel con rods, #Deutsche-Werks 1000cc injectors, #Rotrex-supercharger oil system, reservoir, filter and radiator, #Emerald-ECU with dash switchable mapping, custom-made #Hayward-and-Scott stainless steel exhaust manifold and exhaust, pro-alloy baffled fuel tank with swirl pot and pumps, #Quaife-69G sequential ’box, E30 325i rear and M3 large case diff. 382hp, 306lb ft
CHASSIS 7x16” (front) and 8.5x16” (rear) #BBS-E50 three-piece magnesium wheels with 195/45 (front) and 215/40 (rear) Toyo Proxes TR1 tyres, #Ireland-Engineering race dampers, springs, strut braces and anti-roll bars, #Quaife Peugeot 205 quick rack with #DC-Electronics mappable electric #PAS
EXTERIOR Inca orange paint, Group 2 body kit, 2002 turbo front spoiler, Autoplas rear window louvre
INTERIOR Smiths gauges in custom dashboard, custom centre console, interior trimmed by Corbeau, GT8 front seats with TRS harnesses, BMW 635 rear seats, colour matched stitching and upholstered in Alcantara, half cage
THANKS Hanger 111 (www.hangar111.com), RJM Body Repairs (www.rjmbodyrepairs.co.uk / 01449 771962), Auto Shack (01394 548675)
Custom-made Hayward and Scott exhaust manifold connects to custom exhaust system; Magic Trees helped trace the source of fumes leaking into the interior.Stream item published successfully. Item will now be visible on your stream.
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Super-clean with devilishly delicious details, this gorgeous bagged E30 makes it look so easy. This super-clean bagged E30 keeps things deliciously clean, though the devil is in the detail. Words: Elizabeth de Latour. Photos: Courtney Cutchen.
We probably say this about every E30 we feature but it really is a car that requires next to no exterior addenda to make it look awesome. The older BMWs are definitely blessed with this natural elegance and irresistible appeal that means even a wellkept standard E24 or E34 will look fantastic. And, when enhanced with even just a subtle drop and the right wheels, the ‘cool’ and ‘want’ factors go through the roof! Drop it on a killer set of special wheels and, well, you’ve pretty much achieved automotive perfection right there.
Just look at this E30. It looks absolutely awesome, a visual treat that’s hard to beat but break it down and there’s been precious little done to the exterior, minimising the risk of ruining the whole thing. It kisses the Tarmac when parked up thanks to that front splitter and the copper centres on those polished Gottis (which are tucked to perfection) add a fantastic flash of colour, but that’s it. It’s just so super-clean, so simple and so damn good you’d never get tired of ogling this piece of petrolhead porn.
Abraham Cruz is the American modifier behind this delicious build and, amazingly, this is his first ever BMW and only his second modified car, having come from a trio of Civics. Considering he’s conjured up this magnificent E30, we can forgive him for that. “I’ve been interested in BMWs since I sold my RHD Civic in 2011, which was a full show build. What makes BMW’s special to me is that they are incredible machines, mechanically and aesthetically. They are really fun to drive as well,” he says. “I have always loved the E30 model. Everything about it is beautiful. I also wanted a car that was an ’89, like the year I was born. I found ‘Eve’ on Craigslist. The condition she was in was pretty horrible, with faded paint, a bunch of dings and dents, a cracked dash, a beat up interior etc. I saw the potential in her and that’s why I decided to purchase her. She was actually supposed to be a daily driver but that quickly changed once I sent her in for paint.”
With a fresh coat of black paint, the E30 was looking much better than when Abraham had purchased it and, presented with what was now an exceedingly clean car, the temptation to turn it into something even more special was too strong to resist. “I decided right from the beginning that I wanted to go with a simple but classy look,” he says, and that’s a philosophy he’s remained true to throughout the three years and numerous changes the car has been through during that time. The exterior perfectly captures this ethos, with minimal effort for maximum impact. Abraham turned his attention to the E30’s styling on our side of the Pond and opted for a Euro bumper trim, Euro rear plate filler and Euro grilles.
These additions are complemented by a set of Hella Smiley headlights and a set of #MHW smoked taillights. This smokey theme continues with some ZKW smoked repeaters and smoked foglights. The finishing touches, a flourish of OE additions, include an M Tech 1 rear spoiler, an iS front lip enhanced with a Ryan G splitter for optimum Tarmac interface, a BMW front plate filler and a set of Motorsport door handles.
The decidedly dark exterior theme looks fabulous, though Abraham clearly figured that a flash of colour would work wonders, retaining the amber indicators in the front bumpers and then adding those wheels. These were actually purchased in tandem with a set of BBS RSs but we’ve got to say the Gottis it’s currently wearing (8x16” ET11 G1001s allround) are a breath of fresh air, especially in that lush shade of copper. The custom colour is gorgeous but only covers the faces, including the faintest sliver between the edge of the lips and the centres; the sides of the spokes have been finished in gunmetal, along with the bolts, and then the lips have been polished to perfection. It’s a heady combination and the contrast against the allblack body really makes the wheels pop.
On the suspension front, Abraham was already an advocate of the low lifestyle but his dedication to the cause was causing frustration as the poor E30 was scraping everywhere. So, in order to keep things lovely and low whilst also making the car that little more practical he decided to head down the air-ride route – now a road very well-travelled by many BMW owners. He grabbed himself an Air Lift kit with BC damping adjustable dampers, Viair compressor and a four-gallon tank, all watched over by Air Lift V2 digital management. Of course, when it comes airride, the suspension is only half the story; just as important is how it looks when it goes in your boot. Well, pop open Abraham’s boot and you’ll find a very clean, unique build, with the single air tank proudly on display, sitting on a wood grain floor.
Under the bonnet you will notice two things: first, it’s very clean. Second, there be wood in here. Well, not actual wood, it’s a hydro-dipped wood grain valve cover that carries on the woody theme from the boot and interior. It’s certainly not something you see everyday, that’s for sure. The reason the bay looks so clean is because Abraham has carried out a mild wire tuck, just to make it all a little more presentable beneath the bonnet and he’s also added a few neat little touches like the E46 M3 oil filler cap, E30 M3 firewall harness covers, and the crackle black intake manifold. Dig a little deeper and you’ll also discover a chipped ECU and an Ireland Engineering cat-back exhaust.
Abraham hasn’t done much to the interior but then again this is an interior that doesn’t really need much in the way of work to get the most from it, much like the rest of the car. While some of you out there might not be fans of light leather, we’re rather partial to it and the cream hide in here is the perfect contrast to the blacker-than-black exterior, with the front seats coming from an E30 Saloon. We mentioned more wood in the interior and it takes the shape of that gorgeous Nardi steering wheel and Nardi gear knob, which has also been treated to a leather gaiter. Another leather gaiter protects the E36 leather handbrake handle, while a set of Schnitzer pedals, an analogue Euro clock and a custom E30dad cluster finishes the whole lot off. We can’t think of many places that would be nicer in which to spend some quality time than this exceedingly clean, classic interior.
As gorgeous as Abraham’s car now is, having gone through numerous incarnations during its time with him already, it is in no way surprising to learn that he has more planned for the future. “I’m going to tackle the interior next,” he says. “I’m fitting a new custom black headliner and I have some Recaro LS seats that I’m going to get reupholstered. There’ll possibly be an interior colour change from tan to peanut butter. I’ll be swapping in an LS2 engine from a Corvette in the near future as well!” That sounds amazing; it sounds like this E30 will continue to be a breath of fresh air.
Ari Lift air-ride kit was chosen to allow this E30 to sit low but still remain practical to own and drive.
Lots of wood about the place on this E30, from the gorgeous Nardi steering wheel to eye-catching air-ride install and even the engine…
TECHNICAL DATA FILE #Air-Ride #BMW-325i-E30 / #BMW-325i / #BMW-E30 / #BMW /
ENGINE & TRANSMISSION 2.5-litre straight-six #M20B25 / #M20 / #BMW-M20 , #K&N drop-in air filter, chipped ECU, #Ireland-Engineering cat-back exhaust, Hydro-dipped wood grain valve cover, OEM E46 M3 oil cap, E30 M3 firewall harness covers, crackle black intake manifold, mild wire tuck, five-speed manual gearbox.
CHASSIS 8x16” ET11 (front and rear) #Gotti-G1001 wheels with custom copper faces and gunmetal windows and bolts, Yokohma S drive 195/40 (front and rear) tyres, #Adaptec 4x100 to 5x120 adapters with extended studs, #Air-Lift Performance air-ride, BC damping adjustable dampers, #Air-Lift-V2 digital management, #Viair compressor and four-gallon tank, drilled and slotted Brembo discs.
EXTERIOR Euro bumper trim, Euro rear plate filler, Euro grilles, Hella smiley headlights, #MHW smoked taillights, #ZKW smoked turn signals, smoked foglights, #BMW front plate filler, OEM #M-Tech 1 rear spoiler, OEM iS lip/Ryan G splitter, #BMW-Motorsport door handles.
INTERIOR Saloon front seats, #ACS Gen 1 pedals, Nardi Droopy Spoke wood grain steering wheel, Boss hub, Nardi Evo wood grain gear knob, leather gear and handbrake gaiters, E36 leather handbrake handle, Euro analogue clock, custom E30dad cluster, wood grain custom boot setup.Stream item published successfully. Item will now be visible on your stream.
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CLARION 2002 / Sound Decision Up close and personal with Clarion’s restored ‘02. / #BMW-2002-Clarion / #BMW-2002 / BMW /
Clarion in America is planning to create a series of upgraded classics to show off its abilities and this stunning 2002 is the first machine to get the full treatment. Words: Ryan Jurnecka. Photography: Jessica Walker.
I have a bucket list of cars I wish to realistically own at some stage before I die. This list includes a second-generation Alfa Spider, a ’60s Ford Mustang, maybe even an old ’50s Cadillac convertible to drive out into the desert en route to Las Vegas or Palm Springs. But there’s been a favourite at the top of this list for some time now. On top of the heap is the BMW 2002 – a car I’ve had a vehicular crush on for almost 20 years. The angled shark-like nose with bulging single headlights on either side of the twin-kidney BMW grilles was love at first sight for me. Then there’s the rest of the car – a small, boxy but sporty body culminating in a rounded rear with either round tail-lights (looking more like afterburners than safety equipment), or the more conventional square lamps. It’s gorgeous, cute, and sexy all at the same time.
Most enthusiasts are at least somewhat familiar with the ’02, but the abbreviated story of its development goes something like this: after financial struggles during the 1950s, BMW went back to smaller 1.5- to 2.0-litre-powered saloons, after predominately making luxury vehicles since the war ended. The ‘New Class’ started with the four-door saloon, the 1500, in 1962. It was the manufacturer’s first brand-new car and new engine since the early 1930s. The 1800, 1600, and 2000 came in the years to follow with various evolutions in the M10 fourcylinder engine through each variant.
In 1966, the 1600-2 was developed as a more affordable version of the 1600. It was shorter, with less luxuries, and had only two doors, hence the ‘2’ designation in the name. Following the path of the earlier New Class models, the 1600-2 (or 1602 as it came to be called later) was given the ‘ti’ (touring international) treatment by treating the 1.6-litre M10 to a 9.5:1 compression ratio and dual Solex side-draft carburettors, resulting in 105hp.
Then two simultaneous events occurred, giving birth to the 2002. First, BMW’s US importer, Max Hoffman, wanted a sportier version of the 1602, since the 1602ti could not pass US emission standards. At the same time, Helmut Werner Bönsch, the director of product planning for BMW, and Alex von Falkenhausen, designer of the M10 engine, discovered they both privately drove 1602s modified with the 2.0-litre from the 2000 saloon. The two executives pitched their idea to the board to create a 2.0-litre 1602 for the public. Thus the 2002 (20 for 2.02.0-litre, 02 for two-door), and the true beginning of a sport-saloon, was born. The 2002 came in two specs originally: the standard single carburettor version producing 100hp, and the dual-carburettor ti producing 120hp. In 1974, the car’s looks changed slightly by adding US safety regulated larger front and rear bumpers and eliminating the round tail-lights for more conventional rectangular ones.
Clarion, makers of high-end vehicle audio and electronics, decided to start its new Clarion Builds project division with the ’74 BMW 2002 you see here. After realising that everybody who works at Clarion has some level of car-fever, the company has decided to pick iconic cars to restore from the ground up, while adding subtle touches of modernity to show off the company’s wares. According to Clarion, the cars won’t be gaudy show cars without real roadgoing practicality but rather a tasteful tribute, ensuring any modifications blend right into the original architecture of the car. During the build, status updates were posted on bimmerfest.com, Facebook, Twitter, and other various online outlets for Clarion fans and automotive enthusiasts to follow.
When Clarion acquired the 2002 from a local seller, it appeared to be in fairly decent condition. The car had been a daily driver and it showed. The paint, original Fjord blue, was faded, the dashboard was cracked, and signs of rust were here and there. Like a frumpy housewife getting a makeover on daytime TV, this BMW was exactly what Clarion had in mind to restore and show off its brilliance.
The 2002 was sent to BMW classic restoration shop Coupe Kings to be stripped down piece by piece to the bare shell. Once stripped apart it was evident that rust was more of an issue than previously suspected. Many of the car’s panels had to be replaced, with new ones sent from the BMW warehouse in Germany to then be subjected to ‘hours of cutting, welding, hammering, fitting, and refitting’, according to the company’s detailed posts of the build on bimmerfest.com. The new rust-free body was then sent to Diamond Hills Collision Centre to be fine-tuned and painted its original Fjord Blue.
Back at Coupe Works, the engine was completely rebuilt with all internals replaced, combustion increased from 8:1 to 10:1, and a custom intake manifold by Ireland Engineering. In addition, the 2002 was given a quasi ti treatment by installing dual two-barrel side-draft Weber carburettors, increasing the M10’s output to the rear wheels by nearly 60hp. A custom-made oval air filter and housing from K&N sits next to the throaty Webers. Suspension and brakes were also upgraded with components from Koni and Wilwood.
A vintage-era-appropriate set of BBS RS001 wheels was sourced and restored, adding an appropriate performance touch to the vehicle’s looks. To improve on the 2002’s classic good looks, the unattractive, larger impact bumpers were replaced with the smaller, sleeker bumpers from a pre-’74 2002. Inside, the car features seats also from the first generation 2002. The older seats, door panels and consoles have been given a gorgeous leather treatment in the vein of the European exclusive deluxe versions offered at the time. The dash is now sans crack and is faultless. The headliner is velvet-soft Alcantara. The steering wheel, shift knob, and hand brake handle have been replaced with Nardi components, offering yet another level of sophistication to the car.
And let us not forget the major Clarion touch given to it. Inside the rear of the car, BP Autosound installed a custom liner in the trunk housing two ten-inch subwoofers capable of handling 1000 watts, an exhibition clear case displaying the amplifier, LED trim lights to show off the hardware, as well as an array of speakers inside the car. The trunk is still nearly as functional as stock, since everything is embedded. The sound is predictably impressive. In addition, a navigation screen has been integrated into the centre console displaying the cutting-edge tech you’d want or expect in a modern car.
All of this is very impressive, of course, but it’s only a laundry list without saying how it actually drives. The canyon roads that carve their way through the famed Malibu Hills seemed like an appropriate place to experience the 2002’s legendary dynamics. It flings itself through the canyons like it’s homesick, not having seen them in years. Which brings us back to those seats. BMW didn’t bother much with side bolsters back in the ’70s, it appears. During heavy cornering, I was clutching the wheel while my shoulders seemed to alternate touching the driver and passenger doors.
Also everything is heavy in this car; the non-power steering is like twisting a giant steam valve, the brakes wreaked hell on my leg with the amount of energy required to push it down. The shifting was vague – I kept hoping I was shifting into third and not fifth. Oh, and forget about air conditioning to provide relief in the 100-degree heat.
But I’ll be damned if I couldn’t stop smiling the entire time. The engine has a fantastic amount of grunt (though not ‘modern fast’), the exhaust note coming from the Magnaflow exhaust is a gravely and growly tenor to accentuate the experience. It’s also incredibly fun watching the car dive into the corners, the angled hood in front of you like an arrow pointing its way through the apices. It was a perfect California car on a perfect California day; the smell of eucalyptus and pine in the mountains leading to the salty ocean breeze dropping down onto the Pacific Coast Highway. At speed, the open windows channel enough fresh air and nostalgia over me to substitute for air conditioning, and never once did the car threaten to overheat.
The Nardi 390 wooden steering wheel adds even more of a classic feel to the car than the stock plastic wheel could. The clutch was also impressively easy. The turning radius was exceptional. Hell, even the fuel economy was great. There were plenty of turned heads and thumbs upturned throughout the day, and I couldn’t agree with them more.
There’s no wonder this car is still seen so often, especially here in Southern California. At BMW meets, they are nearly as common as an E30. After a #BMW-2002 experience in a car as immaculate and lovingly retro-modified as this, the 2002’s place as number one on my ‘must own’ list is now cemented. Even if it is ‘common’. Now, to see how much they’re going for on Craigslist.
The engine in the 2002 has been treated to some sensible modifications such as higher compression pistons, an intake manifold and a pair of Weber carbs.
The original design might be 50 years old now but the ’02 still looks perfectly proportioned and looks superb sitting on lowered suspension and BBS rims.
ENGINE: 2.0-litre in-line four-cylinder #M10 / #M10B20
MAX POWER: 140hp
MAX TORQUE: 150lb ft
MODIFICATIONS: Dual #Weber-DCOE40 carburettors, #K&N Custom air filter, BMW E30 in-tank custom modified fuel pump, #CP-Racing 89mm 10:1 CR custom pistons, Ireland Engineering intake manifold, #Coupe-King stainless steel exhaust with #Magnaflow resonator.
GEARBOX: Five-speed manual, #BMW #Getrag-245 / #Getrag overdrive transmission, 320iS limited-slip differential conversion.
SUSPENSION: #Koni adjustable front and rear struts, #Eibach 2.5-inch ID front springs, Ireland Engineering five-inch rear race springs, #Ireland-Engineering 22mm sway bar, Ireland Engineering urethane bushings, boxed rear control arms.
WHEELS & TYRES: #BBS-RS001 / #BBS wheels 7x15-inch; Toyo Extensa HP tyres 195/50R15.
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