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Bargain Bavarian: 1976 BMW 2002

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?


  1. Eric

    Looks just like my ’74 2002tii. Granatrot. Love it!

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  2. Andy

    I bet with the exposure on Barn Finds, this one will be gone by noon on Wednesday. If anyone here buys it after seeing it here, please let the rest of us know.

    Great find!

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    • mark

      I purchased the BMW 2002 from the owner, in process of restore, nice shape to start

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      • Barn Finds

        Please keep us updated on your progress Mark!

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  3. Ned

    “Wood trim” ?? Where?

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    • russell

      Flat instrument panel; Not sure it was real wood. :)

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  4. Catfishphil

    Would love to own it…

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  5. alan

    Shoulder belts were standard equipment since at least 1972 on the 2002 and maybe longer as required by FMVSS.

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  6. mark

    after some odds and ends and lots of soap and water, a change of wheels and tires, new carpet set for the interior took her out for a spin for the first time this morning. Tight, sharp, and responsive throughout the range, transmission and rear end like new. Needless to say I am quite pleased with my toy.

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  7. mark

    new carpet set installed, no more problems under the carpet now all solid metal, Recaro seats in the original gobi tan, gauges in the console (4) and a clock for good measure, radio and speakers deleted, and lots of elbow grease to clean the back seats now she looks sharp inside, took a spin with the daughter last pm, she thought 45mph was a blast going around the curves, wait for the real ride!!!
    now on to the metal work to clean up some small areas time did not smile so much on.

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