In 1974, the French racing driver Daniel Brillat visited BMW tuner Max Heidegger in Liechtenstein with the question to build a racecar. The Frenchman had the ambition to drive the 24 hours of Le Mans. Max and Daniel were aware that they would lose a fight against the big brands. The factory BMW CLS and dito Ford Capri were cars so good and especially not with a low budget. The idea of buying a BMW was quite normal as Max was already a BMW dealer for years. And, who wants to go against his own brand?
Heidegger was specialized in tuning BMW race cars and building F2 engines. According to Heidegger, it would be a combination of these two factors in a fast, lightweight, and reliable car finish. A forgotten 2002 F2 prototype was purchased at BMW Motorsport GMBH. The driver and tuner pooled, although both knew that the factory teams would fight each other, and the Heidegger Racing Team would be the underdog at the start in the single marque class in the 24 hours of Le Mans 1975. Before going to Le Mans the car needed the necessary conversion.
Once the car was delivered from Munich, it was completely dismantled and each part underwent a thorough inspection.
There were modifications made to the brakes, fuel system, steering and the dynamo. The engine was also granted to Heidegger specifications.
The car was built up again, after which the team went for France for a tire test. Daniel Brillat had his sponsor Cleber-Colombes, later taken over by Michelin, pitch in the tires and Esso took care of the gasoline. “The car drives like it’s a kart, but much faster,” said a satisfied Brillat. For the title in the single marque class there would be four cars fighting each other, two Ford Capris against two BMW 3.0 CLS. While at nightfall, a small BMW 2002 four cylinder ran at full speed and after 23 hours of racing the “herren” of BMW came back to their pit boxes. They couldn’t believe their eyes. The Heidegger car was still running and was leading the race. Champagne and beer was cool, because you never know.
The dream that no one dared to dream came true. Daniel Brillat and the Heidegger mechanics were so happy!
The “David” Heidegger 2002ti overwon not one but four “Goliaths.”
The first steps to make a replica
Internet is a perfect media. Photos of beautiful BMWs are many to find. One of them took my attention. This was the car to rebuild. But whose car was it? It was time for a big search. Few weeks later the answer came. I got an email from someone who thought the car might have belong to some car dealer named Heidegger in Liechtenstein.
Besides that, it was not so easy to get the all the polyester stuff. The first year I was constantly searching the Internet for all kinds of equipment. After a year, we were ready to start with the car.
In the meantime, I had contacted Jacob. He told me that indeed his father made the car for a French driver. At that time his father Max was in Ireland, but he promised that when he got back, Max will contact me. In the year 2002, the year I started with this project, many people promised everything, but many of them never kept their promises. How happy I was when a few weeks later my telephone rang and I spoke to Mr.Heidegger himself. Jacob kept his word.
“Sorry Tim,” he told me, “you have to come to Liechtenstein. I’ve got nothing on paper. Everything is in my head. If you want information about the car, I will tell you the story and help you.” This was a perfect deal. We made an appointment for April that year.
Alloy wheels were needed. I found a sponsor, GZG in The Hague. They bought 2 sets and also delivered 3 sets of tires. We were lucky that ATS still made the same wheels as they did in 1975. Only this time they were called ATS Classics. For painting, the car I came in contact with an old friend of mine, Maurice. He spend 10 month of his spare time to do a fantastic job.
When the car was at its first paint, it was time to contact Max Heidegger again. The reason why was that I needed a set of stickers that was mounted on the original car. And most of all I wanted the stickers covered by clear laquer. Max promised he would remake a set because the stickers were not used anymore. Few weeks later a box arrived in Holland, with a whole set of new stickers and a little white plastic bag.
Max had told me he had two parts from the original car. One thing was the alternator and the other was the rev counter. If I was serious and would do the job nice ans secure, he would have a surprise for me. And what a surprise it was!
The next step was to fix the brakes, lower the car, make an engine, like Max told me the last time I visited him, mounting the seats and, and, and … so much work but every step we made brought us further finishing the car. And what a car it was!
2006. After four years of work the job was finally done. It was time to contact Max again. The crown on the job was to present the car to Max and ask him if he wanted to sign the car. In April we went to Liechtenstein. Very carefully because there was still snow on the road and we didn’t want an accident after so much work.
And there he was, smiling as always, happy to see us. The whole factory stopped working to see the replica. Max called Heinz Lehmann, a former employee and chief mechanic for him at Le Mans in 1975. After that he invited the newspapers, Das Liechtersteiner Vaterland. I cannot tell who was more proud, Max or me. You had to see his eyes. It was if he was back in 1975. The job was done, now it was time for fun.
Rally driving and the circuit!
Story by Richard Stern at www.bmw2002.co.uk