Illustration for article titled The BMW 2002 Was Built By People Who Cared
Screenshot: YouTube

The BMW 2002 is one of those cars that is almost universally appreciated by car enthusiasts. It’s sporty, looks great, has a powerful engine in a relatively small package, and is comfortable to drive. With all the advancements in automotive technology, you can sometimes feel like a directness and purity of driving has been lost. You also sometimes lose the appreciation for how good an old car was in its own time. Thankfully we have vintage car reviews on YouTube.

Back in 1973, the UK was about to join the European Economic Community. This would open up trade with other European countries and bring in more automotive competition. One of the competitors was the BMW 2002.

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‘Drive in’s’ John Anthony reviewed a 1973 2002 tii for the British TV viewing public, and immediately starts with “the bad news.” The heater is good, but ventilation is bad so the interior fogs up on wet days. Headlights are sub-par, and the £2500 price tag on the fuel-injected version is a bit steep, getting worse when you consider the high insurance cost.

While the complaints start early, Anthony notes that the good news is basically everything else about the car. Plenty of power, a smooth engine, and easy shifting complement the chassis’ excellent handling, making this an almost legendarily good driver’s car.

The 2002 was an evolution of the 1600-2. A 2-liter engine was added producing 100 horsepower, or 119 hp if you opted for the 2002 ti which came with a high compression engine with dual carburetors. Later, fuel injection was available, adding another 10 horsepower.

The car is also safe, comfortable, and gets a respectable 32 miles per British gallon at 70 mph. Driving is quiet and smooth. “Someone, somewhere must care,” Anthony says about the manufacturing.

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I suspect this is the real secret to the 2002: it was designed, engineered, and built by people who cared, who were all on the same page, and who all wanted to make something really good. It is surprising how often that is not the case.

Matt Brown is an automotive engineer, writer, and builder of unconventional things. Mostly vehicles.

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