1974 BMW 2002 Barn Find

After waiting 30 years for a restoration that never came, this 1974 BMW 2002 in Mount Vernon, Ohio seeks a new owner here on Craigslist. The seller invites no delusions of a quick return, wisely suggesting a complete restoration. After covering 162,000 miles, this classic deserves a thorough reboot. At $3000 “or best offer,” this classic example of the ultimate driving machine makes a tempting entry point for someone with a budget, some skills, and time on their hands. Thanks to reader T.J. for spotting this popular predecessor to BMW’s famous 3-series sport sedan.

You could spend all day reading about the history of BMW’s wonderful M10 engine. Few stock motors relish sustained operation at autobahn speeds, blissfully spinning 4000 to 5000 RPM for hours, lapping a track, or helping best your personal low E.T. on a twisty two-lane byway more than the M10. Feed the M10 regular maintenance and you’ll enjoy years of reliable operation from its hero soul. This version makes about 100 HP, and you’ll never enjoy that number more in a four-passenger motor vehicle.

Multiple vendors supply nearly everything imaginable for the little 2002. Holes in the passenger and trunk floor (at least) demand immediate attention. The four-speed manual gearbox includes no overdrive, encouraging drivers to switch off the radio and enjoy the sweet song of the M10 symphony. Original dashboards often show multiple deep fissures, but this one looks passable. Dashboard cracks are so common on this model that buyers will forgive minor damage in otherwise perfect specimens.

A RWD, two-door, four-passenger, four-cylinder sport sedan may seem completely normal today, but when the 2002 hit the U.S. market in 1969 no one would expect that formula in a road car you could thrash on the track. Efficient and practical, the 2002’s tall greenhouse and reasonable trunk easily accommodate two couples or a family of four on holiday.

Burdened with the “diving platform” bumpers that plagued all cars in America then, the little ’02, as they’re known, still manages a sporty playful expression. The 2002’s four-wheel fully independent suspension and typically excellent BMW suspension deliver balanced ride and handling, even on bumpy roads, at a level that American cars rarely achieved in the 20th Century. I remarked upon this during my first ride in a similarly rusty 1974 2002 back in the ’90s. My friend Kevin invited me to ride shotgun on his test drive. Approaching railroad tracks, I cringed, waiting for the played-out suspension to crash and rattle like any American car of this vintage would, but instead the little 2002 blithely absorbed the impact with only the sound of the tires varying. Sold! Kevin bought the 2002 and never regretted it. If you’re looking to reconnect with the driving experience, the simple pleasure of man and machine working together in harmony, it’s hard to beat BMW’s splendid 2002. How would you refurbish this four-speed sport sedan?


  1. Scotty Gilbertson Staff

    I see a garage filled with two BMW 2002 nut-and-bolt restoration projects in your future, Todd.

    Like 2
    • Todd Fitch Staff

      Scotty… and bachelorhood, too! I’ll probably do one more 2002 after the ’72 tii, but, in the words of the immortal sage, Harry Callahan, “A man’s got to know his limitations.”

      Like 9
  2. bull

    The CHEAPEST part of this restoration project may be BUYING THE CAR!

    Like 9
  3. Glenn Reynolds Member

    The big Achilles heel on these cars is RUST, particularly the pillars supporting the coil springs in the rear. They are easily visable in the trunk, but better to get under and check thoroughly.

    Like 4
    • Pat Gill

      not that hard to replace the rear spring towers, worth taking a good look at the front door pillars and inner front wing braces,

      Like 2
  4. Leslie Martin Member

    Okay, maybe not a roundie or a tii. But the market is finally starting to be kind to the 74 and later ’02s. Yes, restoring one is a project, but as Todd points out, almost every piece that needs replacing or may be missing is generally available. This could be a great candidate to restore, drive, love, and eventually break even on. I’d do a 5-speed swap, put on US style ’73 chrome bumpers, clean up the interior and respray it in Chamonix white. Then drive it like I stole it!

    Like 1
  5. JudoJohn

    Wow! There’s even corrosion on the corrosion! It looks like they left the driver’s window open and raccoons clawed the seats. I hope someone restores this, but it will take a metal magician.

    Like 1

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