Exactly one year ago I had just “awoken” from a sleepless night. The previous day I was the high bidder on a Bring a Trailer auction for the most “Tripper” spec BMW 02 in existence. However, the auction did not meet the seller’s reserve. The way that this plays out on BaT is, the seller is connected with the highest bidder to try and hash out a deal. The seller contacted me right away and we began to negotiate.
After we exchanged a few messages it was clear that I wouldn’t be able to buy the car for my $13,650 high bid or even close to it. I talked to my wife about it, she didn’t have a problem with me buying it. So the seller and I worked out a deal, and on 11/8/2018 I sent him the deposit. Pretty standard up to this point, so now let me explain how this was a little different.
Since the car popped up on an online auction, I had no plans or real budget for this car. I didn’t even know of it’s existence until I got the notification email from BaT saying “A New BMW 2002" has been listed 8 days earlier.
Next, my first and thus far only child. Was born less than 5 months earlier. So super cool of my wife to not stress herself or me over it as it would prove to be stressful enough on it’s own. So while this does not directly affect the difficulty of the purchase, it does add another snafu to the situation overall as it’s one more car that she can’t ride in and I already had two others.
Finally this car was located in Beesd, NL. That’s just outside of Amsterdam, and I’m about the same distance from Philadelphia, PA. Even after I sent the deposit I had absolutely no idea how I was going to get the car or how much it would cost.
This is a review post, so I won’t rehash the entire story in this thread. However, if you would like to read about the absolute roller coaster ride of a story from purchase to delivery. I have linked those posts below.
High Bidder: Reserve Not Met
Happenings!!! - A Story In The Making
1502 Update - More Bad Dreams and More Good News
First Leg of the Journey
1502 Update - On a Boat - Anxiety Continues
Motion in the Ocean
1502 Update - Next Stop USA!
1502 Update - Whatthefuckingfuck!
1502 Update - Arrival
And last but not least:
I have lusted after a BMW 2002 since the first time I saw one. My father, who turned me on to BMW’s in the first place explained it as, “the original 3 series”. Like most boomers, my father was an American car guy. His first car was a 64 corvette etc... In college his roommate had a 2002, and he retells the story of his first drive in it all the time. “I couldn’t fucking believe how tight and solid this thing was.” Going on to explain how other cars of the time we’re rattle boxes that always had something wrong with them.
After I bought my first BMW in 2007 (The 2002 M3 that I still own) I decided that I must have a 2002. I wanted it to be as close as I could get to BRG and I wanted it setup to DRIVE. In addition to wanting a 2002, other things that have creeped onto my automotive bucket list (which is pretty much the same as my regular bucket list) include:
-Importing a car from another country
-Buying a car via auction (any format)
-Buying a car via BaT auction
-Buying a classic car
So I knocked out a huge chunk with just this one car! This was also a personal triumph. It was something I’ve wanted for forever, and it was very difficult to procure. At one point when things got heated between the customs broker and I, I said, “Look man, I’m sure that you’re used to dealing with big companies and people with more money than god. Dude, I had to ask my wife’s permission to get this car, I have a 5 month old. If anything goes wrong with this it will be life altering for me. I need you to be more detailed with your responses.”
This car and I are meant to be, when I first saw it I thought, “It’s like this car came into spontaneous existence straight from my brain. Like the device that detects what you’re craving and makes it for you in “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy” From that first moment in the back of my mind I almost knew it would work out.
Obviously it did! I got it over here it ran and drove right off the truck. Now all I had to do was deal with a few issues and wait a month for a plate... Once I got a plate I took it to one of my inde guys for a quick “once over”. $3600 later I couldn’t ask for a more perfect 02 for me. That is a LOT, however I told the guy that I was going to drive it every day so we did a lot of things I wouldn’t have if it was just going to be a weekend mobile. The original rubber fuel line (run INSIDE the car!) had to be retrofitted to a steel line and run outside the car down the tunnel. All of the brake lines needed replacing etc...
Before I get started, my 1975 BMW 1502 is only it’s official model designation. It is what as most would refer to as a “hot rod”. A standard 1502 is just a lower compression 1602 that can run on worse gas (at least to the best of my research). A 1602 is a 1.6 liter with a single down draft carburetor. (Weber 38 maybe?)
My car sports a 1.8 liter M10 from an 1802, a 292 degree camshaft paired with high comp pistons. All the bumpers and chrome trim have been removed, fender flares and a front air dam have been added. Attached to what appears to be a manifold from a 318 are two gorgeous Weber 40mm Side draft carburetors and I’m running the short velocity stacks. Aftermarket clutch, lightweight flywheel, SPAX adjustable shocks, all sitting on real MINILITEs. Inside are a pair of OMP buckets with improperly secured racing harnesses and not much else. Front door cards are covered aluminum, the dash is in surprisingly great shape although one of the previous owners jammed a vintage Snap On badge into it (which I don’t hate). The center stack houses only the switch for the hazard lights, the switch for the electronic fuel pump, and the ignition. The three switches to the right of the ignition are not hooked up. They were for lighting of some kind, but I yanked out all of that wiring when I cleaned up the under dash.
I believe there was an article on the FP that named the BMW 02 the least hated car in existence. Even people who hate BMWs often have a soft spot for the 02. The car is dorky gorgeous right out of the box. Remove the heinous USA spec bumpers for matching air dams, lose the chrome trim, and fasten some fender flares. Now it’s just plain gorgeous. The extra point is for the car being in Tripper spec pre-purchase. I’m unable to drive this car without getting showered with complements and thumbs up. It’s beautiful but imperfect which is exactly how I needed it to be.
Again, perfect for me but far from actually perfect. It is my understanding that the seller bought it cosmetically restored but mechanically troubled. He did a fantastic build, but did only what was needed as far as the interior/details go. Being a details guy, I’m the perfect next owner. I actually love how raw it is now. However I have plans for a period correct set of Recaro’s, standard seat belts, and real door panels. The center stack/console will be completely custom and is already being fabricated by yours truly. It will house the ignition and fuel pump switch in the same style, but I’m also going to a period correct VDO analog clock.
I’d be surprised if this car is rated much over 100hp, but it also weighs 2000 pounds. It does not put you in your seat, but it’s quick enough that I can’t go flat out all the time. This is kind of a moot category on a car like this as it’s exciting just to pull out of my driveway. The sound and feel are where this car shines.
One of the neatest things about this particular car is that the fuel system/lungs are almost completely Italian. There’s this super cool Malpassi fuel filter/regulator that is huge and clear, after that there are the two 40mm Weber DCOE carburetors, and out the back sings an ANSA exhaust with a very small can and two stickety out angled tips
It’s a 45 year old car with rear drum brakes, they work perfectly for the time period, but I wouldn’t call them good. I have had one panic break scenario, they locked as expected. For the first time ever I used a tactic that I had only ever heard about in, and not since drivers ed in HS... Pump that pedal! I got it back and was able to use the gas to break the rear tires free to scoot around the fuckhead that pulled out in front of me.
I’m combining these categories because this car is hard and is meant to be, the “ride” just doesn’t relate to anything modern.
This car has all of the feels. It’s as if your fingertips and buttcheeks are actually touching the road. If you’re into board sports, when you get really comfortable you’ll find your self dragging your hand behind you through the water/snow/street. Driving this car is like that. If it had no doors it would feel like I could put my hand down during a drift to really style it out. Obviously that is an exaggeration, but this car puts you in complete control and lets you know exactly how it feels about how you’re driving. Mashing the gas in second gear with the wheels pointed in either direction give you the perfect amount of “step out” using a little Scandinavian flick will get you waaaaaaaaay out. Still it all feels perfectly controllable. The only other person who I have let behind the wheel is my wife. She says...”wow, this is really neat!”. Translated to Oppo speak that means “Whaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa this is the best fuckin thing ever!!!!!!!!!!!! Braaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaap”
This car is equipped with an upgraded clutch and lightweight flywheel both really add to the driving experience. The box itself however isn’t my favorite. First of all, it’s a 4 speed which makes any long highway trips a bit drony, particularly with the ANSA exhaust. Secondly 3rd gear is just far enough to have to “reach” when sitting comfortably. I can’t decide if I want to do the 5 speed swap or not. It’s a decision I’ll have to make soon as the clutch’s days are numbered.
There are no speakers or radio of any kind in this car, and it is very difficult to get a 4 cylinder to sound good. I’m going to go ahead and give the Italians a shout out here because even if you don’t love the lopey crackle of the cheap ANSA exhaust as you mash it through a tunnel,
you can’t call yourself an enthusiast, you WILL love the noise that comes from the front of the car when I lightly back my foot off of the throttle at 5k. Those two carbs make a mechanical wooshy air sound that is the automotive equivalent of your most satisfying “sigh” like “yeaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa dooooooood”. For you parents out there, it’s like the first time you launch your kid onto the sofa and he/she comes running back smiling and laughing like, “do it again, do it again!” That is how the car sounds and feels.
The car it self is both a toy and my fair weather dd. There are barely headlights in this car. I have my go pro in there most of the time, that is about it.
This car is soul food. When I drive it I feel amazing and I love sharing that feeling. My 16 month old daughter loves it, my dogs love it, and my wife loves that we all love it. I drive it to work often and I’ll just go out periodically have a look at it. Every time I see it I can’t believe I have it. When I think about it...I can’t believe I have it. I’ve had 3 professionals look at the car and just shower the build with complements. It has only made me feel better about a purchase that I was already sure of.
When I took it by to see my valet buddies their jaws were on the floor. This is a group of guys who have seen and driven every car there is. Even the guy who knows nothing about cars and is a crude idiot said, and this is a direct quote:
“What kind of whore’s car is this, unnnnnnnnnnnngh” as he made a jerking off/ejaculating gesture at the car... he continued with “yo mafucka, this car is CHRISTMAS!”
No it’s not JRoc from Trailer Park Boys, but he’s close.
That would net this car a B? I guess that’s a fair grade if you’re an 02 snob. If you’re just a car enthusiast this is an A+ car all day.
I went from my super modern Audi S3 on a three month hiatus DDing my Ranger/M3 to a BMW from 1975 and I couldn’t be happier about it. Ultimately it was the transmission that made me let go of the S3, but the way that modern cars “drive themselves” paired with numb electronic steering racks will have me out of the new car performance game until I can afford a brand new 911. In which case, I would probably still buy an old one!
Those of you with older vehicles know, the feels, the smells, and the ability to completely service the vehicle in your driveway is unparalleled. The expense and frustration can be the same, but most vintage vehicles have a gigantic, and generous following. I get more compliments from American hot rodders and motorcycle dudes than anyone else.
Anyway, that’s all I’ve got. I hope you enjoyed. I’m happy to answer any questions, and I hope everyone has a great Friday and a Great Weekend! Here are a few more pics: