Not too many things remain static throughout our lives. Yet throughout mine one thing has remained a part of the landscape of my life: my dad’s 1968 BMW 2002. He has had this car since it rolled out of Munich in 1968. I have many childhood memories sitting in those Recaro bucket seats. The learning did not cease; if anything it picked up because as I became more interested in cars, this car become the embodiment of everything I look for in a great car: style, performance, fuel economy. Then my dad and I upgraded virtually every component of it and made it better.
This was my study hall where some of my fondest memories were with my dad installing the engine and soaking up the knowledge like a new sponge. Now as I sit in its seats, the recollections flood back. Yet when I turn the key, the engine rumble prompts me to go out into the world and make new memories.
Details on the 1968 BMW 2002 after the jump.
When BMW rolled out the 2002 in 1968, it was a very stylish alternative to the muscle cars of the era. Its somewhat square body exuded a kind of originality. The reason for this is if you look at the exterior, there are no trinkets. This simple look belays a certain confidence as if the car knows it doesn’t have to look pretty to be seen as valuable. As you inspect this piece of art you start to realize that the look ties in to this car’s legendary performance. For instance, you can notice the short wheel base (98.4 inches) and realize that will help you in the corners. My particular car has been fitted out with 14 inch wheels off a BMW E30 325 and as you peek behind them, you see that I have installed disc brakes (from an early E21 320 in front, an early VW Jetta in back). This car is the automotive equivalent of a chameleon; it looks good no matter where it is.
The interior, while being spartan, is comfortable. The reason for that is my dad took out the old seats and put in Recaro bucket seats. What I love about this interior is it takes back to a time before leather adorned everything and there more dials and buttons in the cabin than at Cheyenne Mountain. When I sit in this car, I focus on what makes this car great - the sensation that happens when you push the gas pedal. Another feature of the 2002 I love is the fact that it can seat 4 adults semi-comfortably, so your friends can share in the fun as well.
This car is constructed from bits and pieces from the recycle bin. We slotted in a new 5 speed gearbox from a BMW E21 320. The crown jewel of this car is the engine. The S14 4 cylinder engine out of an E30 M3 pumps out around 200 horsepower and 170 lbs/ft of torque. One of the most endearing features of this engine is the fact that the red line is positioned at above 7,000 rpm. This is also mated to a wider exhaust system ( 2.5 inches) that makes this little 4 cylinder sound like amplified rage. When you push the gas pedal you are immediately pinned in your seat and a smile emerges. This new engine didn’t weigh down the car either as it only added about 100 pounds for a total weight of around 2200 pounds. In addition to engine improvements and drive train upgrades we added higher rate springs and stiffer anti-roll bars were installed. We also attached a new limited slip differential (also from an E21 320). In addition, we bolted on new half shafts that were more reliable. This car was transformed because almost every piece was made a little bit better and all said, it fits the bill as the ultimate driving machine.
This car defines everything that is great about classic cars and BMW. It resides at the intersection of style, performance, and practicality. It also makes any drive, whether it be up the coast or to the supermarket, an occasion that isolates you from the stresses of the day and lets you focus on the road ahead of you. Another thing I love about this car is understated nature and yet it still sticks out in the crowd and gets the occasional thumbs up.