Interesting car to use for race or on the road. View car
The inspiration behind all the great BMW’s since the Seventies, the 2002 still retains an air of cool.
One of the most famous offerings ever to come out of the Bavarian Motor Works, the BMW 2002 has since gone down in history as an automotive icon. Wrapped in the pretty Michelotti-penned two-door body-shell that was debuted on the 1602, with an energetic 2-litre lump under the hood, the 2002 enhanced BMW's reputation for compact sporting saloons, particularly so when the later 2002tii and Turbo models arrived. The ‘02’s popularity endures to this day, but their numbers are dwindling, so good ones are now highly sought after.
The 2002 ’shell has plenty of places where rot can flourish if left unchecked. The box section below the radiator in particular can rust out from the inside, as can the boxed in sections behind the headlamps. Inside the front wings is another favourite rot-spot, as mud can collect on the inner-wing supports. Speaking more generally, the leading edges of the bonnet, boot and door bottoms are often also places where an ’02 will have become a little frilly.
At the rear, check inside the boot, paying particular attention to the rear spring mounting plates, inner wheel arches and spare wheel well. Sills are also prone to rust, especially where they protrude into the rear wheelarch, and where the rear subframe is attached. The rear subframe itself and chassis rails above the driveshafts need inspecting equally thoroughly. Chassis rails bear closer inspection too, as they are often damaged by poor jacking techniques, allowing rust to gain a foothold.
As long as they’ve been looked after, engines can easily last up to 100,000 miles and beyond before a rebuild is required. Regular oil and filter changes are crucial to achieving this though. Early cars used a paper element filter, before BMW switched to using a screw on canister type, which includes a return valve if this is faulty, oil can drain back into the sump, starving the bearings of oil when firing up.
The engines have an iron block and an aluminium head, the latter of which can be prone to corrosion. To address this, a quality antifreeze with corrosion inhibitor should be used, and changed at regular intervals. High-mileage engines can suffer from a topend rattle. Check the valve clearances first, but it’s more likely that the rocker shaft and rockers have worn. Distributor bearings can wear too, leading to timing inaccuracies, though an aftermarket electronic ignition module should alleviate the effects of this.
Two types of fuelling system are available – standard engines are fitted with one single-choke carburettor, Tii versions have Kugelfischer mechanical fuel injection, while Turbo models have a KKK turbo bolted on. Carburettor models have an in-line fuel filter that needs replacing every 24,000 miles, otherwise the main jets can become blocked. The Tii has an aluminium–bodied fuel filter fitted under the battery tray, which requires replacement at the same intervals.
2002 gearboxes and differentials remain trouble free as long as they receive regular sympathetic maintenance. Oil levels need checking frequently, before draining and refilling every 24,000 miles or so and refilling with good quality EP80/90 gear oil. Units on early cars were blighted by worn mainshafts, resulting in a tendency to jump out of gear, but by now they’re likely to have either been rebuilt or replaced with a much stronger ‘box from a later model. Differentials should be quiet, but a noisy item is still likely to be good for plenty more miles, so isn’t much cause for alarm.
Suspension and brake
Look for wear in the wheel bearings or suspension joints. The front wheel bearings are of the taper-roller variety and need regular greasing, so check if this has been the done. Take the wheels off and inspect the dampers for leakage, the springs for damage and the suspension joints for wear. Carefully inspect the front struts’ spring plates too, as they can rot right through, causing the suspension to collapse. At the rear, the box-section trailing arms are also prone to corrosion, so be sure to have a good poke around there, along with the differential mountings.
Brakes are generally good, though the front calipers and rear wheel-cylinders can seize up if the car isn’t used regularly. Check the handbrake cables for corrosion and ensure it is sufficiently lubricated. All UK cars came with a twin-servo brake setup, which can be difficult to source, so make sure you thoroughly investigate the setup. Brake fluid must be changed at least every two years, regardless of model.
Trim is generally hard wearing. Early cars had vinyl seats with wider headrests, while later examples had the option of cloth trim with narrower head restraints. Door cards are difficult to get hold of, although a good trimming company should be able to help; this won’t be cheap though, so joining a club may be the easiest way of sourcing new panels if required.
If you can find a good one, then a 2002 makes a great classic buy. The club scene is vibrant too, so if a 2002 is the thing for you, then get out there and get involved; your chances of finding a good car will certainly increase that way. A clean example will always be a worthwhile investment, and one that will only increase in value.
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