Magazine Cover - Classic Cars For Sale - 1000s of Classic Car Reviews, How To Service & Maintenance Guides

BMW 2002

Published: 28th Apr 2011 - 0 Comments - Be the first, contribute now!

Turbo badge spells 170bhp of turbo lagging fun…very expensive to buy now Turbo badge spells 170bhp of turbo lagging fun…very expensive to buy now
Interior trim and design was always plain and basic but hardy - later cars used cloth. Interior trim and design was always plain and basic but hardy - later cars used cloth.
Trim parts are scarce, door cards are available although only in black so far Trim parts are scarce, door cards are available although only in black so far
Convertible models are highly prized - later models were targa topped for strength Convertible models are highly prized - later models were targa topped for strength
Corrosion is a worry, especially inner wings, sills and wheel arches Corrosion is a worry, especially inner wings, sills and wheel arches
Magazine Subscription
The latest issue of Classic Cars For Sale is on sale now - Pick up your copy from all good newsagents including WHSmith or click here to subscribe now

Subscribe to Classic Motoring Magazine and save over 20%

Subscribe NOW

Available at all good newsagents including WHSmith

What is a BMW 02?

It’s the granddaddy of the yuppie icon - the 3 Series! But when the 02 series was in production it was bought and appreciated by a far more discerning driver, more interested in its pedigree and driving prowess rather than sheer image. Often overlooked, an 02 makes a great starter classic that’s surprisingly inexpensive to buy and own.


As early as 1963 there had been discussions about a new and smaller BMW. Thoughts began to focus on a short wheelbase two door version of the New Class saloon and two-door model did not take long to design. The New Class wheelbase was shortened from 100.4 inches to 98.4 inches, Most of the running gear came directly from the existing four-door saloons, although there was a narrow track rear axle, which made front and rear tracks equal on the two-door model. The decision was made to launch the car with the 1573cc engine and, decided to call it the 1600-2. The additional figure 2 standing for its two doors and distinguishing it from the four-door 1600 saloon. The 1600-2 was announced in March 1966 and was immediately acclaimed as a winner. The lighter body made the car nearly as fast as the 1800 saloon, while the handling added a sporting ingredient, which was lacking in the larger car. The motoring press was unable to resist comparisons with Alfa Romeo’s sports cars, which suited BMW’s needs perfectly.

At the Frankfurt Motor show in autumn 1967, BMW announced an even more sporting version - the 1600ti - with a 105bhp twin carb engine and logically the 100hp 2-litre engine as seen in the 2000 coupe was a natural fit. And so the 2002 was born. There were three distinct “generations” of the BMW 2002 range during its eight and a half year production life. The first generation cars were built between 1968 and 1971. The second generation, or model 71, cars were built between 1971 and 1973. And the third generation, or model 73, cars were built between 1973 and the end of production in 1976. Variations of the 02 were the cabriolet, made by specialist Baur. Initially as the 1600-2 it was a pure drophead although by the time that the 2002 version came on line it became a targa for much needed bodyshell rigidity.

In 1972 the three-door Touring semi estate was launched; a sort of Scimitar GTE but with better build quality. It only used the 100bhp single carb engine.At the other end of the scale, the scintillating 170bhp Turbo was announced. Left hand-drive only and luridly decaled, this was the first real performance saloon from BMW and a forerunner to the M3. In 1975 BMW brought the 1502 to the UK as the new entry model with a 75bhp 1.5-litre engine. In total, almost half a million 02s were made in its ten year run and the only model not to surface in the UK was an 1802.


Be under no pretence; the 02 is a ‘sports car’. The Tii and 2.0 litre cars are surprisingly fast, the 1502 less so, but they are very nimble. The Turbo is a real handful with monster power that’s either on or off, requiring a large degree of respect. Don’t take the other models for granted either, as they can become tail-happy in slipperyconditions, as you’d expect from an old rear-wheel drive car. But if the handling lacks any direction, the front suspension bushes are more than likely shot, characterised by the steering pulling to the left or right under braking. Replacing the rear subframe and differential bushes will improve handling no end. The 2002 are the best performers and the tii offers Gti pace but if the entire range has one drawback it is the relative low gearing for modern roads. Although five-speed transmissions were listed as options most UK 02s were manual four-speeders.


All 02’s are grossly under valued; to build a concours winner from a Mot failure can cost tens of thousands of pounds and only the rare Turbo is remotely collectable - so far. Tatty 02s are easy £500 buys with average examples selling for around £1500 for the 1502 and 1600-2 cars with the far more desirable 2002 selling for £2300 - with the tii an easy three grand motor. Top tii kick off around the £7000 mark with the plainer 2002 worth around £4500 and the 1502 around £3500. Cabriolets are worth tii money while a top Turbo needs around £15,000 to relieve it from its current owner.

What To Look For

  • Starting from the front of the car, the box section right below the radiator can rot out from the inside, as can the boxed in sections behind the headlamps and indicator lamps, and inside the front wings where mud can collect on the inner-wing supports
  • .
  • Check around the wheel arch and adjacent to the A-post and where the front wing joins the sill along with the bulkhead and around the heater’s air box plus make sure that the drain holes are free running.
  • The sills are prone to rot, especially at the rear where they protrude into the rear wheelarch, and where the rear subframe is mounted. Be vigilant around the differential area, too. Peel back the floor carpets, especially on Cabrio and Targa models, which are more prone to water leaks, and check the floor pans, particularly where the inner sill meets the bulkhead.
  • Inspect the front chassis rails for rust and damage usually caused by poor jacking also check the rear subframe and ‘chassis’ rails above the driveshafts. Inside the boot, pay particular attention to the rear spring mounting plates, the inner wheelarches and the spare wheel well. The edges of the boot, bonnet and door bottoms are prone to dramatic rot too.
  • Standard engines have one single-choke carburettor, and ti models have twin carbs (Non UK). Tii versions feature Kugelfischer mechanical fuel injection and the Turbo models have an additional KKK turbocharger, plus beefed up brakes and suspension. An in-line fuel filter to the singlecarb system should be replaced every 24,000 miles. Failure to do this can lead to the carb’s main jet blocking.
  • The tii has an aluminium-bodied fuel filter fitted under the battery tray, and should be renewed at the same interval with a similar type, costing around £10.
  • Check the fuel tank for corrosion around its middle where the two halves meet. Carburettor models have a plastic pipe that threads its way through the offside of the car, which can become brittle and damaged, leading to a smell of petrol in the cabin. Injected models have a steel feed pipe that can corrode, and a plastic return pipe that’s also prone to damage.
  • If single-carburettor engines run poorly and resist successful tuning methods, inspect the throttle spindles for play. The throttle bodies have a tendency to wear badly, requiring removal, expert machining and a new throttle spindle.
  • The Kugelfischer injection system is pretty reliable as long as the car is regularly used. If it sits idle for long periods, one of the pump plungers can be likely to stick. The remedy is to drive the car more often! Tii’s can suffer from poor running and emit black smoke, but this is usually caused by wear in the ball-joint linkage between the pump and the throttle-butterfly. Ensure the pump is topped up with engine oil. High-mileage injection pumps can suffer from a worn metering cone, and while the components can be sourced in Germany, finding someone to strip and reassemble the pump is quite another matter. It’s certainly not a DIY job.
  • Engines (of which the 1.5 even formed the basis of the turbo engine in F1 racing cars) will last for at least 100,000 miles as long as they’re looked after although after 60,000 miles or so, ’02s are renowned for burning a little oil on the over run. The only remedy for this is to renew the valve stem oil seals, either by removing the head or by using a proprietary method of retaining the valves while the springs are removed.
  • Use a top quality anti-freeze with a corrosion inhibitor and change it regularly. If the car isn’t used very frequently, the water pump can leak but replacements only cost around £50. Check the oil isn’t milky - if so this means the head gasket has blown (check for ‘bubbling’ sounds in the system as well). The only remedy is to remove the head and perform a (probably well earned, too) decoke at the same time.
  • Here’s another tip: If an engine seems to run sweeter with the oil filler cap removed, it’s more than likely on its last legs!
  • High mileage engines are also prone to a top-end rattle. First check the valve clearances, but if the adjusting rollers have run out of travel, it’s more than likely that the rocker shaft and rockers have worn. After thousands of miles, the distributor bearings can wear, particularly on the tii models, causing timing inaccuracies. An electronic ignition module, costing around £150, should alleviate the effects of this wear, or budget around £120 for a replacement dizzy.
  • The gearbox and differential give no problems as long as they’re maintained regularly. Frequently check the oil levels in both units, draining them every 24,000 miles and refilling with a good quality EP 80/90. Early gearboxes suffered from worn mainshafts, resulting in the units jumping out of gear, but by now they’ve been rebuilt or swapped for the later gearbox which was much stronger. The later E21 ’box also fits, and is a recognised upgrade. The differential should be silent, but a noisy one is likely to continue reliably for many more miles (but be dear to fix).
  • A worn centre prop bearing can produce a rumbling vibration from underneath, so don’t confuse it with a worn diff. While underneath, check the rubber prop shaft joint on the back of the gearbox, which is also prone to oil contamination and degradation. The gearlinkage is located on rubber mounting blocks, which can become oil-contaminated and weak.
  • Jack up each corner of the car and rock the wheels, looking for any excessive wear in the wheel bearings or suspension joints. The front wheel bearings are of the taper-roller variety, so there should be a little movement. These need regular greasing as well.
  • Carefully inspect the front struts’ spring plates, as they can rot right through, allowing the suspension to collapse. At the rear, the box-section trailing arms are also prone to corrosion, so be extra vigilant. At the rear, also check the condition of the subframe and differential mountings.
  • Replacing the rubber components with polyurethane ones will resist oil contamination and reduce play.
  • A small amount of play in the steering box can be very carefully adjusted out. Be careful, however, as you can easily damage the box or cause bad tight spots in parts of the lock. Also make sure that the steering idler isn’t seizing.
  • The suspension is more than adequate for hard driving, but it can be improved no end by fitting stiffer dampers and uprated coil springs. Fitting front and rear anti-roll bars to the 1502 and 1602 will improve the handling, as will swapping the standard bar for the Turbo’s bar on other cars.
  • The brakes are very good, as long as the pistons in the four-pot callipers, and the rear wheel cylinders, aren’t seized. Rear brakes can be upgraded to the bigger Tii and Turbo brakes without too much trouble, and again an aftermarket option of rear discs can be fitted. All UK cars had twin-servo set up, again these are expensive and difficult to source, so thoroughly check the braking system out of any potential car.
  • For hard driving or extra stopping power, it’s possible to swap the front legs for the tii units fitted with E21 hubs and vented discs, using 5-or 6-Series callipers but make sure your wheels have the required internal clearance first.
  • Generally trim is hard wearing but cars are now all approaching or over 30 years old and you’d be very lucky to find a mint original interior. Black door cards are available but no other colours at present. Early cars only had vinyl seats with wider headrests; later models had the option of cloth trim with the narrower head restraints..
  • Dashboard warning light stays on? Probably the switch at fault behind the handbrake lever. Flickering instruments indicates bad earth. Check the soundness of the following wiring earth points (brown wires). Tii’s have the additional injection wiring loom and relay box that can cause owners poor starting problems, but specialist Jaymic ( supplies an injection set-up guide that helps pinpoint any problems.


The 2002 tii is rightly considered by many to be the most desirable 02 produced by BMW but all make good, distinctive starter classics – the Touring is particularly practical - and all are currently good value for money. That said there are many tatty and bodged cars around so buy with care and don’t buy the first one you see unless it’s really top-notch.

Classic Motoring

Share This Article

Share with Facebook Share with Facebook

Share with Twitter Tweet this article

Share bookmark with Delicious Share bookmark with Delicious

Share with Digg Digg this article

Share with Email Share by email

User Comments

This review has 0 comments - Be the first!

Leave a comment

Keep it polite and on topic. Your email address will not be published. Please do not advertise products, all posts of this nature will be removed. We do not stock or supply any of these products, we independently review these products.

Subscribe Today
Latest Issue Cover - Click here to subscribe

Subscribe to Classic Motoring Magazine and save over 25%

Britians top classic cars bookazine