The ubiquitous BMW 2002: a game-changer for enthusiasts everywhere and the car that would eventually establish the modern 3-Series as the ultimate driving machine. Featuring lively acceleration, light-weight, and legendary handling, the 2002 captured the hearts of automotive editors everywhere and today is as desirable in one’s garage as it is on the racetrack. For the price of a late-model used hatchback, you could daily drive this clean ’76 featured here on craigslist for $3,200 in Connecticut.
We’ve featured the 2002 before, like this early model ’02 and a barn-find Tii. In both cases, those examples had unique features, such as the round tail lights of the ’68 or the warmed-over mill in the Tii. The ’76 is a bit more plain-jane, but therein lies a lot of its appeal: simple to work on, straight-forward reliability, and daily-driver friendliness. With 100 b.h.p. paired to a four-speed manual and an independent suspension front and rear, navigating city streets and country roads take on added meaning (and fun!) when behind the wheel of a 2002.
Though later cars featured square taillights and longer bumpers, the ’76 2002 was BMW’s most popular model that year. The same basic formula was still in place, and many experts feel that the final year of 2002 production represented the best generation of the celebrated corner carver. The last model year is noted for its flatter handling, a rock-solid chassis, and for being free from some of the performance-robbing emission control measures that hampered the ’75 2002. In addition, this example features the desirable sunroof instead of air conditioning, which was considered a power-robbing option that didn’t work particularly well.
Finding a cheap daily driver classic is hard enough; finding one that has had important maintenance performed recently is even more challenging. However, the owner of this 2002 is a foreign car mechanic and has installed a new motor with only 12,000 miles on it (though there are 150,000 on the body). The transmission is said to be in good order, as are the brakes. The tires are nearly new and all weather-stripping is said to be presentable and presumably keeping the water out. Although the interior isn’t perfect, the seller notes that it does have upgraded seats from a later 320i. Without pictures, it’s hard to judge. We would also be curious what shape the wood trim and steering wheel are in.
One of the biggest worry spots with these cars is rust, particularly in the shock towers. The seller says aside from a few spots popping through elsewhere on the body, this car doesn’t suffer from troublesome structural corrosion. Although we’re sure it’s not perfect, this is a very affordable entry into classic motoring. The seller mentions “just a few small details” that need attention, so we’d want to know up front what those are. Otherwise, this car is just a set of Panasports away from greatness, in our humble opinion. What’s your take?