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Rust Free, Complete, and Cheap: 1976 BMW 2002

Most cars cycle through from the new car lot to the used car lot and the junkyard.  They are transportation, and nobody really cares about them other than a select few folks with a sentimental attachment of some sort.  Other cars develop a cult following.  These vehicles have legions of fans who usually own one or two examples of the car in various states of functionality, know everything about them, and will endlessly debate on the internet over minutia concerning them.  The BMW 2002 is one of those cult classics.  If you are looking for a rust-free example, then this 1976 BMW 2002 for sale on Craigslist in Lafayette, Louisiana may be the one you have been searching for.  While not currently road worthy, this beautiful blue Bimmer is complete, corrosion free, and priced right at just $1,500.  What would you do with it?  Thanks to Chuck F. for this fantastic find!

Before BMW became the weapon of choice for yuppies in the eighties, the company had to work hard to gain a foothold in the United States.  The cars sold in Europe at the time were light-years different than what clogged America’s highways at the time.  While BMW enjoyed modest sales success with previous models, the 2002 began to draw in enthusiasts almost from the start of production in 1968.  In contrast to American cars with solid rear axles, power everything, and honking big V-8 engines, the 2002 was more of a ballerina.  Independent rear suspension, manual steering, and brakes, and an overhead cam four-cylinder wrapped in a light body with a large greenhouse made for a car that liked to be driven hard.  Those who liked to go fast in corners and straightaways took notice.

Of course, America’s motoring press took notice.  While they can be faulted in hindsight for their thinly veiled pro-European leanings that bordered on pathological obsession, in the case of the BMW 2002 they were correct.  For the time, it was a very efficient vehicle for spirited driving that was like nothing else on the market.  Like all cars we see that still maintain a following decades later because of their inherent goodness, the 2002 enjoys a legion of fans that have kept the car alive and relevant.  Easy to modify, with incredible parts availability, and built before you had to have a NASA-level computer to work on your car, it is easy to see why the 2002 is such a special car for people who love to go fast and get their hands dirty.

The only issue is finding a good one.  Rust can become a real issue on these cars, as areas that are integral to the car’s structural integrity are the first to rust out.  Rear shock towers, frame rails, and rocker panels are the biggest concern, with the usual floor rust making its appearance as well.  Rust’s overwhelming hold on these cars makes finding a good one difficult.  The car you see here is an exception.  Advertised as rust-free, the good news is that, aside from little colonies of corrosion sprouting up here and there (see the chrome in the above picture), the areas that usually rust out are safe on this car.

The seller tells us that this 1976 model of the 2002 with the less desirable square taillights and the ridiculously protruding bumpers is complete minus the partial disassembly.  All of the parts you don’t see here are boxed up and safe.  The engine and transmission are functional, and all of their parts and pieces are there as well.  It would have been nice to hear about the engine’s condition or even have a picture of it.  Specifically, it would be good to know if it has gone through any valve guide replacement or if the carburetors were switched out with less troublesome models.  These are known areas of concern and will be inquired about by any serious buyers.

The emphasis that the seller is slathering the ad with is that this is a complete, rust-free car.  Those are big things in the eyes of 2002 lovers.  We are also told that the car needs a complete restoration.  Maybe.  A look at the pictures reveals a car that could be put back together if the drivetrain is functional.  While it needs work, this car may be a drivable steal at $1,500.  Restoration can come later.

Would you put this BMW back together and drive it, restore it, or modify it and drive the snot out of it?  Please let us know your thoughts in the comments.


  1. RayT Member

    I’d restore it and drive the snot out of it, Jeff. 2002s are plain wonderful, as long as they’re in shape.

    $1500 would be a heckuva deal. Someone must agree, since the posting is gone. Even if you had to spend a ton of money on it, as I bet you would, it would be worth it just for the fun you could wring out of it.

    I do see corrosion on the hood, which is a bit of a warning flag. I doubt it’s anywhere near “rust-free,” but you’d need a personal inspection to be sure, and could reasonably hope the rot is all minor and repairable.

    Like 5
  2. KC John Member

    A steal at that price. If I’d seen it first I know who owns it. Lol

    Like 4
  3. KC John Member

    A steal at that price. If I’d seen it first I would know who owns it. Lol

    Like 1
  4. angliagt angliagt

    He did……

    Like 14
  5. Terrry

    Rust free..except in places you can’t see. Check out the rust peeking from under the trim…if it’s there, it’s going to be just about everywhere.

    Like 3
  6. Stan Part

    Exactly. I am frequently amazed by some people’s definition of “rust-free”, especially when there is clearly rust visible in the photographs. It may be minor, it may only be surface corrosion, but rust is rust, and even a little bit means it’s not rust free.

    Like 5
    • Kevin

      In Gullwing parlance it means that the rust is free or in other words they will not charge you for it.

      Like 5
    • Slimm

      I agree. The term “rust free” is one of those car puffery terms that doesn’t mean what the words mean. I had a seller genuinely insult me when I questioned his usage of the term on a car that has a rust “patina” body very visible in his photos. His claim was that everyone in the car hobby knows that it means that it has no rust holes in it. I say, that rust is rust, don’t say there isn’t any when it is visible.

      Like 0
  7. Car Nut Tacoma

    Beautiful looking car. If only craigslist hasn’t removed the ad. I’d love to have seen more pics of the car. The more, the merrier. What I’d do with it depends on many things. If it runs under its own power and drives safely, I’d drive it and enjoy it!

    Like 2
  8. Solosolo UK Solosolo UK Member

    If indeed somebody hooked that 2002 for $1500 then it really was a steal. If you have ever owned one of these delightful little cars then you have been blessed at least once in your life. Good luck to the buyer.

    Like 4
  9. JCH841

    I remember the 2002 Tii models (fuel injected) spanking 350/300-250/350 Corvettes.

    Like 2
  10. Patrick M

    I’d rather have a Datsun 510.

    Like 2
    • Solosolo UK Solosolo UK Member

      I have owned both of them and although the Datsun was a fine car it was no comparison to the BMW 2002.

      Like 4
  11. Vibhic

    I owned a mint roundie. It was maroon with a tan interior with gold bbs wheels. It had a factory sunroof and air. That little car would fly. I let it go along with several others during a D-I-V-O-R-C-E. Sad day losing a favorite car.

    Like 2
  12. Ward William

    The buyer is literally stealing it at that price. I’d bet dollars to donuts it is already gone and someone is giggling like a mudcrab at the deal he got.

    Like 0

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