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BMW 2002

BMW 2002 Published: 20th Oct 2015 - 0 Comments - Be the first, contribute now!

BMW 2002
BMW 2002
BMW 2002
BMW 2002
BMW 2002
BMW 2002
BMW 2002
BMW 2002
BMW 2002
BMW 2002
BMW 2002
BMW 2002
BMW 2002
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Are they coupés or sports saloons? Actually, the Alfa GTV and BMW 2002 are a bit of both and classics you need to buy now before prices really soar

Before the summer of 1973 fairly well heeled enthusiasts wanting what used to be termed as cultured ‘driver’s cars’ were a bit thin on the ground. Ford had yet to launch its Cortina-powered Escort RS2000 (there was the excellent Mexico and the road racer RS1600 admittedly, but both lacked refinement), Vauxhall had its rough and ready Firenza 2.3SL coupé and its sadly lacklustre VX4/90 saloon, Sunbeam its rapidly dating Rapier and Hunter GLS while Volvo was just about to kill off its solid if stolid P1800. About ‘our’ only GTs of note were Triumph’s Stag, the Scimitar GTE from Reliant and of course Ford’s 3-litre Capri.

Then the Dolomite Sprint came along for £1800 and the market it was aimed at – dominated by the BMW 2002 and Alfa GTV – suddenly looked overrated and certainly over priced. Just what made the German and Italian cars so revered wasn’t simply lack of decent competition – they really were a cut above the rest to drive and be seen in; real GTs and not simply rebadged and jazzed up repmobiles. Fast forward more than 40 years and they still are but what’s your favourite fast one?

WHICH MODEL TO BUY?

BIGGER CHOICE FROM BAVARIA

The one thing the BMW 2002 and Alfa’s GTV had in common was class. The 2002, (and its predecessor 1602) was for the purist who appreciated BMW build quality and engineering excellence long before the 3 Series turned the BMW badge into a fashion statement. Likewise the GTV was a real Alfa Romeo before they became rehashed Fiats.

While the 2002 looks like a saloon, it – along with the 1602 – was initially called a coupé by BMW. A smart but hardly striking looker that’s far too boxy to be considered one, there’s an air of modesty and functionality about the Bavarian. In contrast, the Alfa remains as one of the best looking coupés ever penned – has Alfa ever matched it since?

In terms of choice, the BMW offers more models with the 2002, the twin carb but LHD only 2002ti and the fuel injected tii, which is the one that excites the most. Other models include the lesser 85bhp 1600cc 1602 range and the 1502; a 75bhp entry economy model that was launched to clear out the range before the first generation 3 Series was introduced. No four-doors were made but there are cabriolets as well as the excellent sportshatch 2002 Touring but the latter is only available in regular 100bhp carb tune.

The great thing about GTVs is that all engines, from the 1300 right up to the 2-litre, sport twin overhead camshafts, twin choke carbs and five-speed transmissions – the only difference is their power. The 122bhp 1750 is regarded as the sweetest of the lot with the 2-litre the quickest, care of an additional 10bhp. And because the engines are so similar there’s a good chance lower-ranked GTVs have been up-gunned. That’s no bad thing in itself but it’s important that the brakes are uprated properly to suit (1300s used a different set up for example).

There was a convertible (GTC) but these are as rare as they are expensive. The cheapest way to gain GTV-style motoring is to go for the Giulia saloon which mechanically is essential and a lot roomier and more practical – shame about those boxy yet strangely quite aerodynamic looks?

WHAT’S THE BEST TO DRIVE?

EFFICIENCY AGAINST FLAIR

Not so much chalk and cheese but rather six of one half a dozen of the other! Both the Alfa and the BMW offer sports car thrills albeit in different ways.

Predictably, the Italian is all heart and soul. The engines are sweet sounding gems that like to rev and the five-speed transmissions are geared for acceleration, all of which means that the GTV begs to be driven hard even if they sound faster than they actually are against the clock. In contrast, the BMW unit is more subdued; smooth and flexible but lively when called upon.

The tii is a different matter in terms of performance thanks to a racier camshaft and fuel injection raising the 2-litre engine’s game by 30bhp to 130bhp, plus having the sharpness that only the first 1600cc VW Golf GTi rekindled. The 1573cc engine especially is smooth and sweet but much more sedate but the twin carb 2002ti with its 120bhp is zippy and much cheaper than an injected tii to buy and maintain if you don’t mind LHD as they weren’t offered in the UK.

Five speeds were optional on the tii, the rest employ a slick four-speeder that in true 1970’s German fashion is slightly undergeared plus road tests criticised the wide spaced 2nd-3rd ratio gap but unlike the Alfa there is an automatic option, even if it stifles performance. The Alfa’s gearchange was described as “buttery” which is a good an observation as you’ll get while the close-stacked ratios means there’s a gear for every situation.

It’s probably in the handling department where the two cars differ the most. The Alfa was something else in its day, famed for its flair and responsiveness. The BMW may not be the Ultimate Driving Machine the ads used to proclaim thanks to its rear suspension design that – on the quicker 2002ti and tii – is all to easy to upset and cause tail slides, especially in the wet. We’re not talking Triumph Herald or VW Beetle fears here, and indeed the trait can be used to good effect in skilled hands. But certainly if you are more used to a modern 3 Series, this bygone Bavarian may shock you a bit… Both the Alfa and BMW feel a bit heavy compared to a modern, especially the steering while the GTV’s Porsche-like floor hinged pedals need getting used to.

OWNING AND MAINTAINING

PRETTY MUCH LEVEL PEGGING

Both are well supported by specialist but none are as easy to keep as an MG or Triumph. Panel supply for the GTV is pretty good and we hear that Cortina Mk3 boot floors are uncannily similar! The engines are bullet-proof and well known (indeed, you can even fit a later near identical Twin Spark if you wish), it’s the brakes and of course Italian electrics that can be bugbears during ownership although pretty easily sorted. Rust and poor repairs are normally no worse than many other classics of a similar vintage, but check if that restoration is more than skin deep as even the roofs rot. If you’re buying a 1300 upgraded to a larger engine see that the brakes (all other GTVs featured twin servos) are altered to suit. A Harvey Bailey suspension kit works wonders on all models.

Despite their Teutonic build these old Germans rot for England. Replacement panels are available but all structural areas are suspect. And as a decent tii is probably worth 15-20 grand and a 2002 perhaps two-thirds of this a resto isn’t economically viable, unless it’s a cabriolet or the terrific Turbo. GTVs start from £3000 for a basket case and around £20,000 for a concours model but an ultra rare GTA can sell for Aston prices!

WHAT THE EXPERTS SAY

Pat Gill has been running Cooks Ferry (0208 804 2002) for more than 40 years back when 02s were contemporary and still runs a 2002 Touring albeit fitted with an E30 four-speed automatic mod he has developed (the original three-speed is rubbish he says). You’re buying the bodyshell as everything else is available – even from main dealers and BMW Classic if you quote the part number (http://www.realoem.com) – although at a price, Gill adds. Peter Smart of Peter Smart Classic Alfas (01258 268130) says while interest has renewed in Spiders, the GTV is always the more popular pick and £30,000 restorations are now not uncommon. Body parts are no problem says Peter while Alfaholics offers a range of upgrades to make one more modern yet still retaining the essential character of the GTV.

AND THE WINNER IS…

The lucky prospective buyer of course! This pair of fine classic GTs will put a smile on anybody’s face and have them seeking out B roads for some good old rear-wheel drive fun. If space is important, perhaps for family outings, the 1602/2002 will be better suited (especially the Touring) and there’s also that wonderful carved from granite feel that today’s BMWs sadly lack. Overall, the Alfa edges it as a pure driver’s car as all GTVs share the same character if not power where as the German only shines in 2002 guises. So the result is as close as their 1970 World Cup semi final…



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