Daily Driver Roundie: 1973 BMW 2002 Automatic

There was a time when manual transmissions were the norm in almost all foreign cars sold in the USA. By contrast, imports with automatic transmissions were relatively rare, often with a badge on the rear to call out this usually high-cost option. This 1973 BMW 2002, available here on eBay in Sparks Glencoe, Maryland, has an “Automatic” script on the back which lets you know that the original buyer shelled out $334 for this option.

Being a ‘73, this 2002 is the final year of the “roundie” body with circular taillights, and the last time the 2002 was sold in the USA without giant federally mandated 5-mph impact absorbing bumpers that arrived in 1974. Said to be an original California car, this one has lived in Maryland since 2007 where it was used by the seller’s daughter as a daily driver from 2008 through 2016. Given the fact that there is some rust on the bottoms of the rocker panels and trunk area, it can be assumed that it was used year-round during this time, which is a shame as these cars will deteriorate quickly when exposed to road salt. The front fenders, hood, and apron were replaced in 2011 and it was repainted in Sahara Beige. A potential buyer will want to ask about that work as it could be a result of collision damage.

There are almost no photos of the interior, aside from some showing worn carpet and a cracked dash. The headliner is said to be in good condition, but is not pictured. The seller indicates that this 2002 was equipped with a dealer installed Frigiking air conditioning, though the compressor and condenser are missing. If so inclined, a buyer could try to revive this system using BMW “Hack Mechanic” Rob Siegel’s vintage air conditioning book as a guide.

Under the hood is the original 2.0 four which is said to run smoothly and idle well, though there is some smoke in the exhaust. A two-barrel Weber 32/36 sits in place of the original carburetor, and power is delivered through a three-speed ZF automatic transmission, which is said to have never given any trouble. No details are offered about the condition of the suspension or brakes aside from a mention of new brake pads.

With just two days left to go, the reserve has not been met with more than 30 bids currently topping out at $9,100. Hagerty values a #4 Fair condition 1973 2002 at $11,300 with a 15% penalty for automatic transmission, putting this one at just under $10,000. Hopefully the reserve is not much more than this. Would you drive this one as-is and let it shift for you, or use it as the basis for a restoration with some performance modifications and a manual transmission swap?


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  1. alphasud Member

    I’m surprised it has remained an automatic so long! What a way to kill the character of a car! I have driven both a 1600 and a 2002 and I can say they are one of the most pleasant cars to drive. It’s one of those car where everything mechanical comes together and works in harmony. The large greenhouse also adds to the enjoyment. It’s one of those cars where I understand they are expensive to purchase.

    Like 4
  2. leiniedude leiniedude Member

    I agree alphasud, I bet it gets a tranny swap soon.

    Like 2
  3. Luki

    Automatic 2002s are easier to do a manual trans swap on because the tunnel is bigger. More room to work.

    Like 4
  4. Rod

    I used to own a 2002 automatic. It didn’t hold the road at all. I skidded into a historic wall in a village and totaled it unfortunately. Drove well on the highway.

    • YourSoundMan


      As long as you were OK. Was your example well aligned, correct tire pressures, sufficient tread?

      I look above, at the feature car, and muse wistfully – a surviving example of a ‘real’ BMW!

      Like 1
      • Rod

        Well, this was years ago. I remember that the back wheels had a way of swerving and going their own way. I bought a 1602 manual after that that curiously had a much better handling.

  5. Will Owen Member

    As far as I’m concerned, its model year and general condition would outrank its autobox in importance. The massive baby-buggy bumpers on my wife’s ’75 2002 had a wretched effect on its handling, even more than the similar ones on my ’74 Alfa Berlina. Good rural 2-lane roads were still fun, but the limits came in a lot sooner.

    I got over my attitude problems with self-shifters after my second so-equipped vehicle, and now with a newish Alfa Giulia and a high-mileage ’03 Forester in the family I’ve come to enjoy two-footed driving around town and on fun roads. I know that’s a hard no-no in some quarters, but it has works well for me for over 50 years now.

    Like 2
  6. ChingaTrailer

    The actress Angela Cartwright had an automatic 2002 back then. I drove it a number of times.

    Like 2
  7. leiniedude leiniedude Member

    Ended:May 28, 2021 , 8:10PM
    Winning bid:
    US $10,101.00
    [ 39 bids ]

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