Rare Turbo: 1974 BMW 2002 Turbo

In the automotive world, as with so many other aspects of life, timing is everything. Get it right, and you look like a champ. Get it wrong, and you can look like a chump. BMW could never have known when they developed their first turbocharged production car that circumstances were going to conspire against it. Today, the rare 2002 Turbo is a car that is highly sought, and this 1974 example looks like it is a really good one. It is located in Jackson, New Jersey, and is listed for sale here on eBay. Bidding has soared to $25,100, and at that price, the reserve has now been met. Indicative of just how desirable these cars are is the fact that there are currently 152 people who are watching the listing.

From an appearance perspective, the Turbo is essentially a normal 2002 with a bit of added attitude. The addition of fender flares and both front and rear spoilers give the car a purposeful look. Add into the equation some relatively subtle stripes in Pantone Process Blue, Purple Pantone 268, and Pantone Warm Red, and the appearance is one of subtle menace. One of the features that really stands out is the “mirror” Turbo and 2002 decals on the front spoiler. They leave other motorists in no doubt as to exactly what is closing on them in the rear-view mirror. The body of the BMW looks to be in really good condition. There are no signs of any rust issues anywhere on the vehicle, with the underside of the car appearing to be spotlessly clean. As well as the body being original, all of the original, etched factory glass appears to be faultless.

Lifting the hood reveals what made this model special when compared to the average 2002 in 1974. The engine is a 1,990cc 4-cylinder engine. Its compression ratio has been dropped to 6.9:1, and it has then been treated to fuel injection and a KKK turbocharger. The result is an engine that produces 170hp, endowing the 2002 with giant-killing levels of performance. A 0-60mph time of 6.2 seconds and a ½ mile ET of 14.9 seconds was all pretty impressive by any standard in 1974. More so when you consider the size of the engine doing the work. Backing that little powerhouse is a 4-speed manual transmission. The BMW is said to be in extremely good mechanical health, and has received a significant amount of work in the last decade or so to ensure that it is both healthy, and reliable. To aid this process, the car was placed on a rotisserie to improve access to all components, and to allow for the removal and reinstallation of components such as the entire suspension system. I earlier mentioned the poor timing involved in the release of the Turbo, and it was the public perception associated with this that did the car the most damage. The 2002 Turbo was very much a performance car, but its release coincided with the Arab Oil Embargo, and the associated energy crisis. Performance vehicles at that point were viewed with a level of disdain, and it was this environment into which the car was thrust. The vast majority of the population at that point didn’t understand the principles of turbocharging, and the car was shunned by the public as being wasteful. As a result, a truly great car simply didn’t sell in significant numbers. In fact, only 1,672 cars rolled off the production line. This number was far lower than BMW had anticipated, and the car represented a financial loss for the company.

The interior of the 2002 remains completely original, and it is in very nice condition. The upholstery on the seats and door trims looks really clean, with no signs of any rips or tears. The carpet looks spotlessly clean, while the dash is free of any cracks or problems. The originality of the interior is very obvious, right down to the factory Blaupunkt radio occupying its rightful spot in the console.

The BMW 2002 Turbo is one of the great classics of the 1970s because it really illuminated the path that many manufacturers would eventually follow with turbocharged, small-capacity engines. They showed what was possible with these engines, and today, they are a highly sought classic. This one appears to be a really nice example, and I’m sure that we would have plenty of readers who would love to climb behind this little car’s wheel.


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  1. Rex Kahrs Member

    Faster than mine I’m sure. Very cool turbo 2002.

    Like 10
  2. DayDreamBeliever Member

    Now, THIS gets the blood pumping!

    Major cool car, and it looks extraordinary from every angle. A funny read, the description. Written like a review in a car magazine, not really like information on a car for sale.

    Like 7
  3. Will Irby

    14.9 in the half mile? Sold!

    Like 4
  4. LARRY

    I love the way the decal on the front air dam is mirrored ( as per an ambulance) when you see it in your rear view get out the dam way!!! Gives me ideas for my beastang…

    Like 4
  5. PDXBryan

    I can’t believe the reserve is met at a little more than $25K. I’m sure bidding will go far beyond that! If not, then vintage car values are for sure going through some serious readjustment! Which wouldn’t be the worst thing, especially for us who love old cars but don’t have thick wallets.

    Like 6
  6. UK Paul 🇬🇧

    This is a stunning example. Lovely!

    Like 5
  7. Bob S

    I would be even crazier in love with it if it had a 5 speed, but I would love to have it just the way it is.
    I wish I would have known about the BMW 2002s in 1974. I didn’t buy my first 2002 until 1983, and was so impressed by the performance and the fact that it handled like a sports car. I went on to buy the 635 csi cars, but for handling, there was nothing like those little gems.
    Great looking car, and it looks like it’s worth every penny.

    Like 5
    • Leslie Martin Member

      I agree. I suppose it might risk originality value. But swapping a Getrag 245 5-speed in would be an easy mod for the new owner. It’s a very popular upgrade for 2002’s and really improves driveability. And if I owned this car, I’d want to drive it!

      Like 1
  8. Rex Kahrs Member

    It appears this very same car is for sale on Hemmings’ site out of Houston, asking $147,500. The VIN numbers are nearly identical…the last 3 digits of the Hemmings car are 164, and the ebay car is 194. Both cars manufactured on Feb. 2, 1974. The wording in both ads is almost the same as well.

    I’d want an explanation, this just seems kinda shaky to me.

    Like 4
    • UK Paul 🇬🇧

      That does sound dodgy. I ask for photos with a bottle of milk on the bonnet when it looks too good to be true.

      Like 4
  9. Greg Millard

    Fine idea UK Paul, Retrogreg

    Like 3
  10. pat gill

    not sure it is 100% original, Tii inner front panels did not have the air intake tube on the right side, I would expect a turbo to be the same as a Tii, i.e. no tube.

    Like 1
    • Leslie Martin Member

      There are actually a few different nose panels for the base, Tii and Turbo 2002 models. It’s correct that the difference between the Tii nose and the standard nose is the air snorkel to the right of the radiator as this car appears to have. The US noses also had different openings for the larger DOT spec bumpers from ’74 on. But the other difference between and Turbo nose and a Tii nose is the radiator opening is wider on the Turbo. The standard nose panels have always been available from BMW as replacement spares, and it’s not hard to find a good one in salvage. Not so for the Tii and Turbo panels that have been out of production for years. I’m betting that the panel on this car got macked at some time in it’s life and was replaced with a base model panel that they just cut wider to fit the radiator and oil cooler lines.

  11. Dougie Member

    This is a very cool car. One thing that I find interesting, is that with all of the performance bells and whistles, turbo etc., there are 2019 pickups with faster 0-60 times. Not that I would own a pickup in a million years, unless I was a farmer or under 5’8”. lol

  12. John

    Car has been pulled from eBay.

  13. Joey

    As expected and others sniffed out, the listing was fraudulent and removed by eBay. Agree the description was a bit dodgy and not as complete for a car of this caliber and reserve way too low. If its too good to be true it always is!

    Like 2
    • UK Paul 🇬🇧

      Incredible but not a surprise I guess. Sometimes I find as many as 10 fraudulent listings a day in eBay if I am on there much.

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