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Ultimate Driving Machine: 1968 BMW 2002

The BMW 2002 was one of the world’s first driver’s cars, and a revelation on U.S. soil. It blended affordability and efficiency with a sporting personality, as noted by many automotive editors who praised the car’s handling and acceleration. Even today, the 2002 is celebrated by vintage racers and hobbyists alike for its mechanical simplicity and robust engineering. This 1968 example is the current owner’s daily driver in Portland and it looks ready to soldier on for its next owner. Find it here on eBay with bidding at $3,000 and only 12 hours left.

In his famous 1968 review, Car and Driver magazine’s prolific editor David E. Davis summed up the 2002’s in one sentence:

The BMW 2002 may be the first car in history to successfully bridge the gap between the diametrically-opposed automotive requirements of the wildly romantic car nut, on one hand, and the hyperpragmatic people at Consumer Reports, on the other.

Therein lies its charm – the ability to be fun in the twisties while never feeling like a foolish investment.

With increasing emissions regulations, BMW’s multi-carbureted 1600 couldn’t cut it anymore. They needed something to export so they shoved their single-carbed 2 liter from their 2000 sedan into the 1600 two-door body. The 2002 was born. The extra pep made things more exciting which helped BMW sell a ton. This could have been the only time in history where Government restrictions actually improved an automobile.

The first ones to hit U.S. shores looked much like the car here, distinguished by their trademark round tail lights. Known as “roundies” in enthusiast circles, the early cars tend to be more desirable. Featuring what the seller says is original paint, it is rust-free in the troublesome shock tower areas and has good glass and chrome. This ’68 also has a new exhaust, radiator and hoses, and features an upgraded Weber carb.

Along with all of that originality comes some battle scars. The car has rust in the trunk floor beneath the spare tire. While the seller notes it still holds the tire in place, we would want to repair any corrosion where pavement can be seen through the bodywork. At one point in the car’s life, a front end impact resulted in what sounds like a quick repair, with evidence of bondo, a misaligned hood and a damaged grill. The interior is original, but the seats could use a recover.

The seller is upfront about the car’s condition and hopes the next owner will preserve its originality. We can’t argue with that, as many 2002’s fall into the hands of restorers or wannabe racers, often losing their originality and charm in the process. Although the more desirable Tii models featured upgraded mechanicals and more power, the standard version featured here was plenty for C&D editor Davis, “It goes like bloody hell and handles like the original bear”. That’s more than enough reason for us to give this honest ’68 some serious consideration.


  1. alfakat

    David E. Davis had the carmance for BMW; Alfa Romeo was sooner with this concept with the Giulia Super, a 4 door that was the equal and more of the 2002 with twin cams, twin Weber 40 DCOEs, 4 discs, not 2, 5 speeds, not 4 and a better located rear axle even if it was solid and not IRS, which in BMWs case was a bit undeveloped here…and please, ALL cars from back then rusted, German, French, English or Italian…

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  2. Jesse

    Good points alfakat. I have owned a GTV and I must say that it was a very well developed car. The disc brakes and five speed made it feel much more modern than it really was. I am still not sure I would pick an Alfa sedan over a BMW though…

    Alfa just needed to stick their 2 liter in the Giulia and then the decision would be a lot easier.

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  3. 6point3

    Sorry, not worth the $3k
    Has rust, not bad, but whole car needs attention, now, same with interior and mechanics.
    Just about the right time to pass it along.
    They obviously were neat cars, but of the 2002 (as with most cars) you would want one from near the end of production run, not the beginning (what this one is), round taillight would be ’73 the square tl. would be ’74-’75, do avoid the ’76 unless you remove that dreadful ‘thermo-nuclear’ device for emissions, which you cannot in California.
    All in all , if ’68 BMW there were CSs and others more interesting….


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  4. alfakat

    66-68 Giulia Super has 1600 twin cam; peakier than BMW but could be quicker…drop 1750/1.8 Alfa motor in and contest over, Alfa will leave 2002 in dust. Tii different story, those and 2l Alfa would be close. Trivia time; Alfa and 2002 Tii both used mechanical FI for their cars and were among the very few to do so back then making power and drive-ability.

    Jesse, see, the years and years of BMW uber alles started by Davis have gotten to you..I drove a few 2002s back in the day and have driven Alfa sedans, on and off, for over 40 years…I will take the Alfa race-bred engineering over the BMW any day…2002 nice, Alfa just offered more good stuff on their cars

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  5. Cameron

    Could be a fun project, but I would like to see some underside photos. Depending upon things, $3,000.00 is at the top of the price spectrum, although on the east coast this is likely a gem. That being said, I wish I could find a few more like this one here in Minnesota.

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  6. Cameron

    Although on first read through I missed the damage to the front end. That makes it not worth the $3,000.00 to me.

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  7. Doug M Member

    I live near Portland. I have seen pics of this car from a friend. The current owner has owned it for a long time, and wants it to go to a dedicated owner. “Roundie” it is, but I agree with “6point3” that this one needs too much in all the areas! Nice to some extent, but needs help in ALL the major areas: paint, interior, rust, etc…and it just doesn’t have much curb appeal starting out! I like cars that build a little enthusiasm when you see them, even if they need some work…

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  8. Jesse

    Perhaps we should have featured this one instead?

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  9. Cameron

    @Jesse-roundies are still the best. Small bumpers as well.

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