- CUSTOM 2002 Metal wide-body with a 2.7 swap.
Bought in a state far beyond saving, the only way this #BMW-2002 could survive was to be transformed into something completely different.
SHOW, NO SHINE Custom, wide-body 2.7 2002 / Words: Elizabeth de Latour / Photos: Matt Richardson
It feels like we maybe we should be apologising, again, because for the second month running we’re featuring a 2002 that a lot of people are going to find upsetting. But we won’t be, because we like it too much to care what anyone else thinks. It’s unapologetically a personal project, built solely for the pleasure of its owner, Josh Parker, to hone his skills and then show them off. From top to bottom, inside and out, everything you see before you has been crafted by Josh’s own two hands, with a bit of help from dad along the way, which makes this already spectacular 2002 even more so.
Josh has always been into cars, he tells us, and it all began at the tender age of 12 when he was given a petrol-powered R/C car and building that set him on path he walks today. After passing his test he was chomping at the bit to get modding on something, though insurance restrictions meant he had to make do with an R56 MINI JCW, spiced up with some coilovers and other bits until he could make his dream of doing a full build come true. The fact that he had no mechanical or motorsport experience was not going to stop him and there was no practice run or warm up before getting this car, he went straight from 0-2002.
“I bought the car in Thame just over three years ago,” explains Josh, “and it was awful,” he adds, laughing. “It had been off the road since 1989 and was in terrible condition, completely rusty, but because of that I only paid £1200 for it. It took two years to put it together, though in its first form it had a different engine, Golf arches and different wheels. Starting out, I knew nothing about welding or anything like that,” he says, “so the first step was getting it on the road and then, having developed my skills, I knew I could do everything better the second time around so 18 months ago it went through a big change,” and the result of that is what you’re looking at here. “The fact that I wanted to do everything on the car myself was a big influence on how the car has come out, “ he explains, “as I went my own way with it. I spent a year making the chassis strong and replacing stuff. The car was a blank canvas, it was so bad I couldn’t make it any worse,” he laughs. “The whole car looked like Swiss cheese, but at least I got to practice welding. The whole project has been hard, though, it’s taken a long time as I was starting from nothing. I spent a lot of time doing individual things, weeks at a time, and sometimes I needed to take a break, step away, but I never gave up.
“My decision to change how the car looked came about when I realised that too many people were doing Golf arches, it wasn’t low enough and that I didn’t like the wheels. I decided to pick the wheels I wanted and then built the new, custom arches around them and doing that meant I could go for a really aggressive offset. I chose a set of 7Twenty Style44s in bronze, 9x15” ET0 all-round with 215/50 tyres; I didn’t want too much stretch but needed a bit to get the wheels to tuck under the arches.” The resulting fitment is absolutely perfect, but even with that zero offset Josh is still running 20mm spacers up front and 10mm at the rear, taking the final offset well into the negative. The wheels themselves are certainly handsome, single-piece items with stepped lips and plenty of dish, while the matt bronze finish looks great against the car’s patchwork quilt bodywork.
Where Josh felt the car wasn’t low enough before there’s no such concern now, with Gaz coilovers delivering a serious drop, but that wasn’t enough for him… “I’ve raised the front and rear strut towers by 40mm to lower it even further,” he grins and the end result is spectacular, the tyres disappearing up into those magnificent arches and the 2002’s belly sitting a hair’s breadth above the ground. The arches themselves are custom metal items measuring a monstrous 60mm wider per side up front and 50mm per side at the rear, giving this 2002 a stance far beyond its diminutive dimensions.
The brakes have also been comprehensively upgraded, with four-pot Wilwood calipers mounted on custom carriers up front with 260mm drilled and vented discs along with E21 323i hubs, while at the rear you’ll find Mk3 Golf rear calipers matched to Mk1 Golf front discs while Hel braided brake lines have been fitted throughout. You might think that all that brake work seems like overkill for a 2002 but you see it isn’t, because there’s something a bit special going on under the bonnet.
“I always knew I was going to do an engine swap,” Josh tells us, and what he’s done is taken a low-revving, M20B27 eta engine from BMW’s 325e and 525e models, designed for efficiency, and comprehensively reworked it to better suit his performance-driven needs. Sitting on custom engine mounts, the once-docile 2.7 has been transformed with a 325i top end, M21 forged crank, forged, reground stage one cam, Alpina B3 2.7 chip, a honed intake manifold, 185cc injectors and Magnecor ignition leads. He’s also fitted an M50B25 radiator and added a custom six-branch exhaust manifold that connects up to a custom 2.5” exhaust with twin pipes. It’s an impressive list of mods and it makes for some impressive numbers, with the 2.7 now pushing out 240hp thanks to Josh’s handiwork, which makes this 2002 a real road rocket. Naturally the transmission required a bit of work to make sure it was up to the task of dealing with the 2.7’s grunt and Josh was more than happy to get his hands dirty. “The gearbox itself is a Getrag 260 Sport five-speed on custom mounts with a stage one clutch and I’ve also fitted a 3.64 small case LSD from an E21 with custom-drilled output flanges.”
The exterior might, at first glance, appear to be a mess to some but there’s a lot more going on here than first meets the eye. The arches steal the show but there’s also a custom front lip and a custom drag spoiler, custom bash bars and a back-dated rear panel that allowed Josh to fit the arguably much cooler round rear lights. One of our favourite parts of the exterior work, though, is the quick-release front clip, that allows for the entire front end to be removed in a matter of minutes. While it’s designed to allow easy access to the engine for mods and maintenance, seeing a car driving around with no front end is pretty cool. With a race car-inspired exterior you’d expect the theme to carry on inside the car, and you’re not going to be disappointed here. “This car was originally a Lux model,” explains Josh, “so it had a nice, powder blue interior though when I bought the car it was smelly and had started to rot, but I always knew that I was going to strip the interior, I just wanted to have the bare essentials to have the car running,” and he’s certainly stuck to that philosophy. About the only part of the interior that is still recognisable is the ’02 dashboard and instrument cluster but beyond that it’s all change. There’s a big convex Longacre rear-view mirror, single Cobra Sebring Pro seat with a TRS four-point harness, a Momo Model 69 suede steering wheel and a custom switch panel, custom pedal box and there’s also a hydraulic handbrake and a custom dual fulcrum short shifter. “I wanted to feel like I was in a Touring car,” explains Josh, “so I wanted the wheel high and close and a tall gearlever close to the wheel. The cage is actually a historic-spec one for the ’02 that I bought and then modified to make it stronger,” explains Josh. “It just bolts in but I want to make a new cage for it, eight-to-ten point, fully welded-in, which is one of my next big plans.” Meanwhile, in the boot you’ll find a 30-litre aluminium fuel tank with a surge tank, which is fed by one of the two Bosch 044 fuel pumps, the other feeding the engine.
As much work as has gone into this car over the past three years, it’s only the beginning of what is going to be a much longer journey and Josh’s plans for the car are numerous and substantial. “I want to do a front-mid-engine conversion,” he says matter-of-factly, “I’ve come this far so I might as well keep going,” he laughs, but that’s just scratching the surface. “I’m currently working on a secret E30 project and that’s going to pave the way for the 2002. I want to make the car more useable and more reliable, but no less crazy,” he grins. “I want to iron out the bugs, modernise the underpinnings to make it more enjoyable; for example, currently if I’m taking it to a show and it’s too far, I will trailer it, which takes away from the experience and I want to be able to drive it everywhere.” All this work isn’t just for Josh’s amusement, though, it’s for the benefit of his company, Under Development Motorsport, and some of what he’s made will be for sale there, like his short shift kit. “It’s billet and should fit everything from E21s to E9x models,” he says.
This 2002 is really an automotive expression of sheer joy and you can feel how much love and enthusiasm Josh has for this car when you talk to him about it. “It’s great to drive something that gets so much attention and that you genuinely built yourself, it’s just a great feeling,” he says with a smile. We can’t wait to see where he takes the ’02 and judging by what he’s achieved here so far, that E30 is going to be something really special too…
TECHNICAL DATA FILE #Wide-body 2.7 #BMW-2002 / #Alpina-B3 / #Alpina / #BMW-2002-Wide-body / #BMW-2002-Alpina / #BMW-2002-Alpina-2.7 / #7Twenty / #BMW-2002-E10 / #BMW-E10 / #BMW / #BMW-2002-Alpina-E10
ENGINE 2.7-litre straight-six #M20B27 eta / #BMW-M20 / #M20 / #M20B27ETA , M21 forged crankshaft, stage one cam, #Alpina-B3-2.7-chip , #K&N cone filter, honed intake manifold, #Magnecor ignition leads, custom engine mounts, 185cc injectors, custom stainless six-branch exhaust manifold, custom 2.5” exhaust with twin blast pipes, fully silicone-hosed cooling system, M50B25 radiator
TRANSMISSION #Getrag-260 / #Getrag five-speed manual gearbox, stage one clutch, custom gearbox mounts, E21 3.64 small case #LSD with custom-drilled output flanges
CHASSIS 9x15” ET0 (front and rear) #7Twenty-Style44 wheels in matt bronze with 215/45 (front and rear) Toyo TR1 tyres, #GAZ-GHA coilovers with adjustable top mounts, #GAZ front camber plates, front and rear strut towers raised 40mm, custom front anti-roll bar relocation and drop links, fully poly bushed and reinforced front and rear subframes, custom rear subframe camber and toe adjustment plates, custom gearbox and exhaust tunnels, reinforced sills and various other chassis bracing throughout, rear strut tower brace, Wilwood four-pot calipers and custom carriers with 260mm drilled and vented discs and E21 323i hubs (front), Mk1 Golf front discs with Mk3 Golf rear calipers and custom caliper carriers (rear), Hel braided brake lines (front and rear)
EXTERIOR Custom metal wide arches, custom front lip, bash bars, custom drag spoiler, custom racing livery, back-dated rear panel work to allow for round rear lights and fuel filler cap delete, custom quick release front clip for fast removal of front-end
INTERIOR #Cobra-Sebring-Pro seat, TRS four-point harness, #Driftworks quick release hub, #Momo model 69 suede steering wheel, custom dual fulcrum short shift, hydraulic handbrake, custom pedal box, sixpoint bolt-in cage, custom switch panel, 30-litre aluminium race tank in boot with surge tank and twin #Bosch-044 fuel pumps
THANKS Graham, Nicola and Hannah for all the support! All the @76build Instagram followers, all the other people showing love for the 02 and last but not least Thierry and Lewis at www.7twenty.co.uk. Cheers guys.
“From top to bottom, inside and out, everything you see before you has been crafted by Josh’s own two hands”