BMW 2002 – Awesome Threesome

Test Drives | January 6th, 2016 by 15
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The 2002 creating stronger family tries…an uncle and his two nephews share a passion for the first Bavarian Compact Saloon. It’s the 8th July and …

The 2002 creating stronger family tries…an uncle and his two nephews share a passion for the first Bavarian Compact Saloon.

It’s the 8th July and we are in the heart of winter and yet there are no fur coats or thick windbreakers or bomber jackets in sight, instead a clear blue African sky, winter…………. what winter I hear you say. We’re standing outside the world-famous 2010 Soccer World Cup stadium known as the Calabash (hollowed-out plant used as a drinking utensil) where the opening and closing ceremonies and several matches were held during the 2010 World Cup. The guys are reminiscing about which team had the most vivacious supporters during the World Cup; there is a compelling argument for both the Dutch and Argentineans. But that is not what we are here for today – standing in front of us are three showroom- fresh 2002s in bright ‘60s colours.

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The idea to do this feature manifested at last year’s BMW Car Club Concours, while chatting to Yusuf Dinath. I suggested we do a feature on his Inca orange 2002. I had met Yusuf at Angela’s Picnic, (a very casual classic car gathering held on the first Sunday of April every year). I was admiring a Polaris silver square tail-light 2002 tii in right-hand drive. Only 1233 were ever produced and it happens to be my favourite BMW. I asked Yusuf if he was the owner and he replied “it used to be my car but I sold it.” I thought to myself what an idiot! But he redeemed himself somewhat by showing me his latest Inca orange 2002. I later found out that the new owner was Nick Coetzee’s brother in-law – I did a write-up on Nick’s 2002 tii Alpina A4 replica that was featured in BMW Car’s 2012 October edition.

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On the day Yusuf and I hatched the plan to do the feature, he introduces me to his nephew Nazir Sibda aka Kapi, a true BMW enthusiast and fellow 2002 owner. Earlier this year at a BMW Car Club race day I met Bilaal Mia while sheltering from a vicious hailstorm – as the wind drives the rain against my face it does not distract me from the attention I am showering on a Golf yellow 2002. Bilaal happens to be the owner and we start to chat and I soon find out that Yusuf is his uncle and that Kapi is his cousin and business partner, I feel like I’ve just solved a 2002 mystery. The plan to feature Yusuf’s 2002 now evolves into a threesome.

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We all meet at Mzansi Auto Finishers, a car cleaning and detailing outfit owned by Kapi and Bilaal. I elect to travel to the Calabash in Yusuf’s 1971 Inca orange 2002. After all he is the main instigation for us doing this feature so it seems most fitting. Getting into a 2002 never fails to excite me – all my senses are heightened. First thing I notice is that the seatbelt is not on the B-pillar; instead I need to reach over my left shoulder behind the seat slightly to reach the buckle. Once buckled up we pull away – pull away is smooth and so is the gear change. The Twin-Weber carbs that have been fitted make the motor feel more responsive and puts a spring in the step of this 2002, with exhaust note to boot.

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The ride is compliant, tight but not harsh, it soaks up the bumps and the undulations well and the brakes are sharp for a car of this age. It is a real testament to German engineering and even though it is over forty years old it is completely functional and feels very well put together. Yusuf however has had a great deal to do with the pristine condition the car is in.

Yusuf discovered the car in the Nelson Mandela Square parking lot, “I left my business card on the windscreen and a few weeks later saw it again, so I left another card”. He continues: “eventually the owner left his business card on the dash and to my surprise the door was unlocked so I took the card and contacted the owner.”

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Although Yusuf did not carry out a complete restoration he completely overhauled the running gear on the car, which included: new engine mounts, gearbox mounts and linkages, gear shift bushes, tie-rod-ends, centre-drag-link, ball joints, and a prop-shaft coupling. If that was not enough, the complete under-carriage was given a fresh coat of paint and a new stainless steel exhaust was fitted. In terms of the engine the cylinder head was redone, an electronic ignition installed and twin side-draught Weber 40 carbs fitted, a vast improvement on the original single Solex carb. On the exterior some of the chrome was replaced while the remaining bits were cleaned and polished, parts of the front bumper were re-chromed and a new grill fitted. The cabin was treated to period-correct carpets, and the seats were recovered in the original basket-weave vinyl: “I fabricated the centre console myself, recovered the boot board and had to find a special steering-boss so I could mount the walnut sports steering wheel, plus source new badges and stickers where necessary,” he smiles with a glint of satisfaction in his eye.

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As I chat to Yusuf on our way to the Calabash I find out that his passion for 2002s is actually an obsession. “I’ve wanted to own a 2002 since high school and managed to eventually get my first 2002 in 1985 for R5k. In those days there was no internet and parts were very difficult to come by, as you know the 2002 was never manufactured in South Africa and the Rosslyn plant only opened in 1973 as the production of the 2002 was coming to an end. So to improvise I used an imitation chrome beading that was sold on a roll, on my first red 2002,” he grins “How far we have come.” But his 2002 story is far from over. Later he sold his initial red 2002 and bought a white round tail-light tii which he completely restored over two years and sold to well-known 2002 enthusiast Clive Massel who eventually emigrated to Australia. His next find was purely by accident. “I was driving my normal route passing old Bob’s Scrap-yard when suddenly something caught my 2002 radar, a dust cover had just been blown off a Polaris silver 2002 and on closer inspection I discovered it was a square tail-light tii, “I just had to have it,” and even now I see the excitement in his face. These cars really have a hold over him. Yusuf persisted as he did with the Inca Orange 2002 and eventually it paid off. He wore the owner down and he took ownership of what is undoubtedly his favourite of all the 2002s he has had. He explains: “I only had to do a repair to one of the front seats and grease the electronic sunroof rail and that was it.”

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For the return journey I decide to sample Bilaal’s tasty 1968 yellow 2002 which sits on Yokohama rubber (195/45/15 all round) with rather fitting Equip 03 rims, 7×15-inch in the front and 8.5×15-inch at the rear. There is about a 2km straight before the road snakes onto the freeway and Bilaal manages to time the throttle and the lights perfectly leaving the others behind to contend with unwanted stoppage time. This Golf yellow 2002 has a deeper exhaust note that comes with the extra performance, and although the car is lowered it is not skittish, instead rather well planted and agile. As with all 2002s that I’ve been in – there are certain distinguishing traits that never fail to appear even if they are less flattering like the wind noise that one gets even if the windows are completely shut, but this is a very small price to pay for owning one of the truly great Bavarian legends. As we dance our way through peak hour traffic Bilaal finds a gap and takes a sweeping right hander planting the accelerator to the floor, we hit 140km/h in no time, but the burst of glory is short-lived as our off-ramp soon appears.

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Earlier in the day Bilaal relates the story of how the Golf yellow 2002 came to be, “Kapi saw an ad in the Auto Trader for a 2002 in Port Elizabeth. When he inquired he was told about a guy named Swen in Durban selling his. He got in touch with Swen and he told Kapi that he had recently moved to the coast and was afraid the car would rust. We drove down to Durban with the intention of driving the car back to Jo’burg.” But it was not to be as they discovered that the brakes were shot so they trailered the car home. So initially Kapi owned the car? “That’s right until he found the orange one in 2009, but plenty has been done over the last eleven years,” he continues. Besides the brakes not working what condition was the car in when you got it home? “Not bad actually, Swen had the motor rebuilt by Evolution 2 Motorsport who fitted twin side-draught Dellorto 40 carbs,” sounds like a good place to start. “It also came with an E12 five-speed gearbox with a limited slip-diff, we replaced the clutch and the gearbox mountings and linkages,” good old Swen not a bad fella by the sounds of it.

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“We wanted to keep the car as original as possible, so we reconditioned the brake booster, brake calipers and drums, steering box, radiator, starter and alternator.” The stare in his eye tells of many hours, plenty of loot and effort invested into this 2002. But it does not end there, “We replaced every bush on the running gear and initially fitted Gabriel shocks which were okay but the Bilsteins are much more up to the job, coupled with the 35mm lowering kit from Jaymic that was fitted.” I take it there is more: “Yes, of course, we stripped the sub-frame, removed the rust and powder-coated it, plus we had a custom stainless steel performance exhaust made by TNT, we rebuilt and jetted the Dellorto carbs and fitted a Pierburg high pressure fuel-pump,” really sounds like one well put together 2002. As for the body, the bumpers have been electroplated, inside original carpeting has been relayed, but the biggest surprise of all is that the VIN shows that this is in fact a 1600 ti, no one can blame Swen for the metamorphosis, and it just seems like the right thing to have been done.

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There is no denying that Colorado orange is the poster boy colour for the 2002s and that is exactly what Kapi has with the highly desirable original Alpina 5.5×13-inch rims, running on a set of Michelins. As I get in Kapi immediately explains, “She misses while running below 3000rpm and there is a hole in the rear silencer,” he explains. So Kapi tries to keep the motor on the boil, he accelerates hitting 80km/h through a right hander, the 2002 firms up feeling more planted and sure-footed. We’re in a built-up area and with the amount of traffic on the road there is not much space to stretch its legs, so we head back to the shop, avoiding potholes and bumps on the uneven road surface – I start to get that shaken not stirred feeling.

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So I pose the question to Kapi why a 2002? “Well, BMWs have been in our family for many years but my biggest influence must be my uncle Fazel, he owned a tii and that created the desire – that was not his only BMW though. He also owned amongst others a E30 M3 Cecotto edition, as you know the E30 M3s were never produced or sold in South Africa as they were left-hand drive only, which makes it very desirable,” that’s right I know of only one other E30 M3 in SA that is owned by Jack Kaplan who also happens to be the owner of the only 2002 Turbo on the African continent. So where did you find this fine orange example? “I saw the car on Corlett Drive in Illovo in 2009 so I approached Sue Carvalho, the owner, the bodywork was straight and it was the right colour, Colorado orange. Sue had owned this 1969 2002 for fifteen years, it had been imported from the UK.” You obviously were happy with the car as you still own it, “The car has matching numbers, it is completely original, it still has the single Solex down-draught carb, a dog-leg, close-ratio, five-speed ‘box and a limited-slip differential.” So what have you done to it? “I fitted a set of Bilstein shocks and springs, how do you think we managed to hook that corner at the speed we were doing? The big head conversion has been done, the Alpina rims I got from Clive Massel and I had the boot and bonnet re-sprayed and believe it or not the grill has been painted black, it is not a plastic grill.” I see a theme developing here, shall we call it Alpina? “Exactly, I intend to get it to an A4 spec, but I want to enjoy the process and take pleasure in each new part or component fitted and do it properly, next will be the original Alpina front shovel-spoiler, I also have the three-spoke Alpina steering wheel and gear-knob, Alpina tappet cover as well as the air-box.”

The more time you spend with this family the more you realise their passion/obsession for BMW 2002s, a true 2002 family affair. In closing the trio tell me that their restorations would not have been possible without the expert advice and service received from Fay at Jaymic and Alex from Walloth & Nesch.

Special thanks to: Ron Silke

Photography: Mahomed Abdulla (SA Beemer), Oliver Hirtenfelder

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