Not many remember that BMW’s New Class success story started long before those 2002 coupés hit the streets, with equally nimble sports sedans launched in 1962. As BMW celebrates its 100th anniversary with tall kidneys, it’s time to revisit those forgotten gems.

A perfectly built BMW 02 is on many car nut’s bucket list, including mine. It’s a cliché, but who cares when you end up with an iconic BMW two-door that’s light as a feather, as easy to modify as any old tin can and also works as a daily driver if you manage to sort it out properly. With the earlier round tail lights and modern rustproofing, it’s just the car to have. That’s why it’s impossible to find a reasonable one here in Hungary by now.

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But long before the 02s could start kicking ass on race tracks, BMW sold the 1500, only to be followed by the 1600 in 1964. By 1972, BMW sold more than 350,000 New Class sedans with engines ranging up to two liters producing 130 hp with mechanical fuel injection, yet when you look around at a classic car meet, you rarely see the four-doors.

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But it’s worth taking a second look at Craigslist. Once you found one, with a 2.0 M10 and dual Solex carburetors, all else you need is an upgraded suspension and some beefier brakes to make your New Class sedan the ultimate driving machine.

In related news, my Autobianchi won’t be ready before May.


Contact the author at mate@jalopnik.com.