The BMW 02 Series sedans were defining models for BMW. Smaller and lighter than the Neue Klasse sedans they were derived from, the 02 cemented its own legacy and set the stage for the legendary BMW 3 Series that followed. It was the lens through which a generation of Americans discovered BMW and passed down that enthusiasm to their children. Its simple, sporty three-box design has aged into an iconic form that is recognized far beyond the vestiges of the BMW enthusiast. The best 02 Series was the 2002, powered by the 2-liter version of the 4-cylinder M10 engine. That engine was mated to a chassis, suspension, and brakes that were unapologetically driver focused, yet all in a comfortable two-door sedan that you could drive you mother to church in. Rust, neglect, and age have taken their toll, but a loyal and fanatical following have ensured that a healthy population of 2002s remains compared to other cars of the period—a testament to how good the 2002 is. As time continues to march forward the 2002 has enjoyed notable appreciation.
This 1974 Malaga over Saddle and Beige Cloth square taillight hot-rod 2002 absolutely rips. I dare say it is the fastest 2002 we’ve ever had at Glen Shelly. And the sounds it makes while doing it—Mother of God they are good! The current owner (an old-school enthusiast in the Colorado BMW community), who we are selling it on consignment for, has owned it since 1992. In the mid-1990s, at approximately 114,000 miles, he decided that the M10 4-cylinder was simply not enough. Instead, he opted for the venerable M20 2.5-liter 6-cylinder from the recently out-of-production E30 3 Series. Old-school BMW head Mark Hutto of Bimmer Werks (which later became Autosport Werks) did the swap. The volume on the engine was turned up with a 272 Schrick camshaft, 9.6:1 compression pistons, long tube headers mated to a custom exhaust, and an Electromotive Standalone ECU that was tuned by Paul Burke. An E30 speedometer and 8,000 RPM tachometer were added with the odometer zero’d, which was 18,100 miles ago. The M20 is paired to a Getrag G260 5-speed gearbox and a 3:91 limited-slip differential. The suspension was upgraded with Dinan sway bars, H&R Sport springs and Bilstein Sport shocks. The brakes were upgraded with Volvo front calipers and BMW E30 rotors and Porsche 914 rear calipers.The body was completely refinished in the original Malaga color, and the front and rear U.S. bumpers were color matched, which lends a subtle late-model E30 plastic bumper theme. The valve cover, intake manifold, engine block, and steel wheels were also color matched. The look is completed with period correct Hella fog lights and a genuine Bimmer Werks badge on the grille. Inside are Recaro-style cloth seats, a 3-spoke Momo V35 steering wheel, wooden shift knob, and black carpet floor mats. In preparation for sale, Mark Hutto refreshed the coolant, fuel, brake fluid, engine oil, and differential fluid. He also replaced the water pump, timing belt, adjusted the valves, checked the spark plugs, replaced the differential seals, battery, and a few other housekeeping items. We replaced the tires with fresh Mastercraft MC-440 tires.
Overall, the Malaga Red paint is in excellent condition. This is easily one of the nicest examples of a 2002 that has come through our doors. The paint is glossy and presents very well with very few imperfections. The Hella H4 headlights are clear and have no cracks, only minor pitting. Likewise, underneath the covers the fog lights are in similar condition. The taillights are not faded like many are; the driver’s side has a thin crack. The front corner markers are clear and crack-free. The “2002” designation on the trunk is a new-old-stock piece that came out of an unopened BMW dealer bag before it was installed. The Malaga Red finish on the bumpers is nearly perfect, and the bumper trim and surrounds are likewise in very nice shape. The lower beltline trim is very clean. The steelies are perfectly matched to the body paint, all four are nearly perfect with no curb rash. They are wrapped in fresh Mastercraft MC-440 tires with 95% tread remaining.
The Saddle Brown interior is in excellent shape. Open the door and you are greeted with that lovely 2002 smell; there are no odors. The carpet is in great condition with no tears or glaring stains. The headliner does not sag, but the sun visors are a little puffy. The door cards are very nice. The dashboard is very clean for a 2002 but does have some small cracks that are outside of the driver’s field of view. The Momo steering wheel is in decent shape, but the leather has some wear. It has a lovely patina that we would leave alone. The horn is also INOP. All instruments function correctly. The wipers, wiper speed, turn signals and blower motor work correctly. The heat blows warm. The wooden shift knob is a nice accent and in good condition. The front Recaro style seats are cloth and in very nice shape. The Saddle brown rear seats and door cards are in excellent shape. The trunk carpet is present above the removable panels and is in great shape; underneath it the spare tire is present.
The M20 fires up on command. The idle is lumpy when it is cold due to the bigger cam but smooths out nicely as it warms up. It pulls very strongly to redline, especially above 4,000 RPM. The power is lightyears ahead of the factory M10 and most stock E30s. Some say it might even be faster than a 2.5-liter E30 M3 (email me for the video)! The clutch does not slip, the take up is correct, and the 5-speed transmission shifts smoothly. The Electromotive ECU does not have any quirks and is well-tuned. The suspension is firm, but compliant and the brakes are more than up to the task of handling the power thanks to the 2002’s light weight. It is a true sleeper that can outrun many unsuspecting “faster” cars! It has always been well-maintained after the initial build and has only seen a hair over 18,000 miles since. We did the list of maintenance outlined in the summary paragraph to bring it out of hibernation. Everything else is as good as the day it was built. It does not drip or spot. As it sits, it is a fantastic example of a resto-mod 2002; most enthusiasts would be hard-pressed to find anything they would change. We are excited to find a new owner who will enjoy and care for it as it has been and begin its next chapter!