Solid Underneath: 1971 BMW 2002

When I purchased my 1981 HiAce, I did so knowing full well there were some rust issues. But the big thing for me – after going through several body shop projects on other cars – was knowing the rot was not structural. Sure, there will be some work ahead of me, but the areas needing repair are mostly cosmetic. This 1971 BMW 2002 here on eBay is similar in that way, with lots of surface areas on the body needing repair but surprisingly tight underneath. 

As you can see, this round taillight specimen has lots of issues on the body surfaces. Some of it is likely just a repaint away from looking better (such as below the chrome roof trim) while other areas (along the fenders and rear quarters) will likely need new metal cut and welded in. Those period alloy wheels are fairly desirable among the BMW crowd, and the early cars wear the preferred and better looking chrome bumpers.

Inside, the interior is surprisingly sound. I tend to judge cars by the way they’re kept up inside, as that to me at least indicates an owner who cared enough to keep the area where he or she spent the most time in good order. The seats are untorn front and rear, the dash only has a crack or two and the tan carpets are astoundingly clean – especially if you judge the car based on its outward appearance. Heck, the shift knob and steering wheel are even in good nick.

And underneath the 2002 is where you start to feel more confident that this is a project worth taking on. There are no major holes; just the typical surface rust, but even that isn’t the worst I’ve seen. It does look like the area around the driver’s side footwell could be getting soft sooner than later, but at the current time, you can live with it while the body is repaired. There are some more severe areas of body rot in the eBay gallery, so check it out and let us know if this is a 2002 worth saving.

Fast Finds


  1. Howard A Member

    As stated, certainly not the worst BMW. Before BMW’s got all complicated. That uneven tire wear could indicate an alignment issue, front and back, but all connection points seem intact. I can only assume, it’s not the purchase, but the parts that will kill you. Cool car, probably single handedly put BMW on the map ( in the states anyway). Relisted ( due to nonpayment) and not much interest now, doesn’t look good. Shame, they were the nicest ( affordable) sports sedans to come down the pike.

  2. Woodie Man

    Buy the best one you can afford….just saying

  3. rdc

    I had a new jaded green 76, the big bumpers and square taillights. My first BMW. Wish I… :)

  4. R Nathaniel Strode

    Depending on the reserve price, this could be a steal. Bone stock unmolested, very sound and complete, a modest restore or resto-mod project. Gotta change the color though. Look at the prices moving up on these.

  5. Boss351

    Agree on buying the best one you can afford. The rust may not look all that bad but what is hidden is usually even worse than you expect. If this one is from NC, it must have been near the coast because the roads typically were not salted in the 70’s or 80’s. They use a brine mixture now.

    If the reserve isn’t too high, this would be a good one to pick up if you aren’t afraid of all the sheet metal work required. The repair work around the windows will be difficult at best. At least the interior is nice!

    The prices are moving up on this iconic BMW so it needs to be saved.

  6. Dave Wright

    I built an identical car in 1985 from a clean straight chassis I bought from a junk yard. It was complete except for parts missing from the engine. 200.00. I put a 320 engine in and drove it for 2 years. Great little cars off course. The repair parts for this one are available today and with modern welding techniques wouldn’t be a bad project. Would be a nice car when done that will only appreciate with time.

  7. Jerry A

    this car was assembled in Belgium for that market initially (tax reasons i was told), then imported to the US. it is puzzling to see that it has all the US only standard parts like side markers, VIN above the steering wheel and decals. also, US cars with manual transmissions came standard with a tachometer, not a clock. i’m guessing that is a function of its Belgium origins. the molding on the doors was added later, does not belong on this car. no restomod needed on this car as it is a fun car to drive on the twisties. suspension work can be DIY with hand made press to pull bushings out and reinstall new ones. mechanical work is doable and cheap in comparison to rust. this car is straight and worth saving. i used to own 2570440, a couple hundred cars older than this one. this car was made just before the mid-year update.

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