• BMW 2002 - A Car With Interesting History

The 2002 would go on to shape the future of BMW’s sports cars lineup for decades to come

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The 2002 is the sports car that helped BMW make a name for itself in the United States and at the same time, it sent BMW on the path of embracing the Ultimate Driving Machine philosophy. Here’s all you need to know about the BMW 2002.

The 2002 had modest origins

BMW 2002 - A Car With Interesting History Exterior
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BMW’s Neue Klasse (New Class) built between 1962 and 1977 included both sedans and coupes. The entry-level car was the 1500, a basic four-door model fitted with the company’s new M10 engine. The BMW 1600 was introduced to replace the 1500 in 1964. Power – about 96 horses – came from a 1.6-liter inline-four and it was enough to push the 2,010-pound car to a top speed of 100 mph.

BMW 2002 - A Car With Interesting History Drivetrain
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In building the 2002, BMW took the 1600’s chassis and fitted with a larger, 2.0-liter inline-four. Power was still low by American standards – 113 horsepower – for a 0-60 mph sprint time of 9.6 seconds. But the 2002 made up for the lack of oomph with supreme handling, superior assembly quality, and an affordable price (Car and Driver reports that a new 2002 was about as much as a Chevy Impala).

BMW 2002 specifications
Engine 2.0-liter inline-four
Horsepower 113 HP
0 to 60 mph 9.6 seconds

What’s in a name?

BMW 2002 - A Car With Interesting History Exterior
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The 2002’s nomenclature has a well-determined meaning. The first two numbers reflect the engine’s displacement (two liters) while the last two refer to the number of doors (two).

Max Hoffman persuaded BMW to bring the 2002 in the U.S.

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Max Hoffman, the famed New York-based car importer was instrumental in developing iconic cars such as the Mercedes-Benz 300SL Gullwing, Porsche 356 Speedster, and BMW’s own 507 roadster. He also encouraged BMW to create the 2002 and bring it on U.S. soil, according to Hagerty.

The 2002 received two performance versions

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The 2002ti (Touring International) received two carburetors for 120 horsepower. It was also fitted with larger front disc brakes, stiffer suspension, and wider wheels. A Getrag four-speed manual sent power to the rear wheels. Later on, BMW offered a three-speed automatic sourced from ZF, but it turned out to be way less popular than the manual.

Come 1972, BMW released the 2002tii (Touring International Injection). Like the name suggests, the engine was upgraded with Kugelfischer mechanical fuel-injection tech and in return, power went up to 130 horsepower. The engine also had larger exhaust valves and a larger-diameter exhaust setup, as well as a high-flow cast iron exhaust manifold. The 2002tii was only available with a manual transmission.

The 2002 in tii guise was quite successful in the US of A

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According to Hemmings, 7,447 tii models were sold in the U.S. between 1972 and 1974. Each car received larger bumpers required by the U.S. legislation and square taillights instead of round ones.

Yes, a 2002 Turbo did exist, but it was never offered in the U.S.

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BMW introduced the 2002 Turbo in 1974. The timing was bad, though, as it arrived simultaneously with the global fuel crisis, so production only lasted for one year. Just 1,672 2002 Turbos were ever built, but each one produced 170 horsepower and 181 pound-feet of torque thanks to the addition of a KKK turbocharger. In a 2002 Turbo, 0-60 mph took about seven seconds on the way to a top speed of 130 mph.

BMW 2002 Turbo specifications
Engine 2.0-liter inline-four
Horsepower 170 HP
Torque 181 LB-FT
0 to 60 mph 7 seconds
Top Speed 130 mph

Source: Image Credits: Bring A Trailer

Tudor Rus
Tudor Rus
Assistant Content Manager - Automotive Expert - tudor@topspeed.com
Tudor’s first encounter with cars took place when he was only a child. Back then, his father brought home a Trabant 601 Kombi and a few years later, a Wartburg 353. At that time, he was too young to know how they worked and way too young to drive them, but he could see one thing – each of them had a different ethos and their own unique personality. As time went on, he started seeing that in other cars as well, and his love for the automobile was born.  Read full bio
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