The 2002 is a seminal car. It not only saved BMW from insolvency but put the BMW marque on par with top German manufacturers like Volkswagen. The world (and especially the US) was already primed for high-powered but nimble small sports saloons and BMW filled the niche to perfection with the 2002.
It was synonymous with modernity: a two-door economy car that fulfilled practical everyday requirements — space for four people to travel in comfort (independent suspension with MacPherson struts) with room for luggage too — but which drove like a racer — speedy, agile and quick off the mark, handling better than just about any other small car on the market.
The 2002 evolved out of BMW’s New Class sedans, first introduced in 1961. These were powered by BMW’s four-cylinder M10 engine designed by one of the company’s founding fathers, Baron Alex von Falkenhausen.
Although the M10 was a 1.5 litre engine, it was cunningly designed so that it could easily be expanded to 2 litres. Von Falkenhausen and BMW’s Planning Director Helmut Werner Bonsch discovered by chance that they had both independently put a 2 litre M10 into their own personal two-door New Class 1600s and been thrilled by the result. They decided to make a joint formal proposal for its production. And thus the BMW 2002 was born.
Based on BMW’s New Class 1600, the 2002 was a sound economic proposition. BMW also introduced a hatchbacked three-door model, the 2002Ti (Touring international) and finally its star model, the 2002Tii (Touring international injection) fitted with a Kugelfischer fuel injection pump. With the introduction of the 2002Tii, BMW firmly established itself as a reputable quality manufacturer and set the standard for the entire class of small, high-performance cars, paving the way for the models on the road today.
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN:
1,990 cc Straight Four
Top speed for the 2002 of 112 mph (181 km/h); top speed for the 2002Tii of 115 mph (185 km/h)
YOU SHOULD KNOW:
The 2002 and 2002Tii are classic cars for tinkerers. BMW are not unaware of the nostalgia value of their charismatic car and have made it extremely easy for legions of dedicated 2002 enthusiasts to obtain spare parts.