Ask most BMW enthusiasts what the world’s first sport sedan was and they’ll say the BMW 2002. While Alfa Romeo might have something to say about that, as the first Giulia actually predated the 2002, it was the Bavarian that brought the sport sedan to the mainstream. But the 2002 was a superb car either way and was what put BMW on the map in America. It handled great, looked great, was practical and affordable. Now, it’s one of the most popular BMWs to modify, thanks to its relatively low cost and simplicity. This specific 1976 BMW 2002 that was recently featured on Jay Leno’s Garage has ben tastefully modified and done the right way.
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The owner of Bavarian Workshop in Massachusetts, Marc Norris, built this 2002 for a customer 10 years ago and it won Best in Show at Bimmerfest in 2010. Norris brought it by Leno’s Garage to show it off and it’s pretty awesome, to be blunt.
It started out life as a standard 1976 BMW 2002 but shares almost nothing with its original self outside of the body. The engine was swapped to an S14 four-cylinder engine from an E30 BMW M3, long considered one of the best engines BMW ever made. It makes around 230 hp, which is double what the original 2002’s engine made. Though, it’s completely stock from its E30 M3 spec, so no modifying the engine here. Mated to the S14 is a Getrag five-speed manual, the same one it was paired with in the M3. So it’s properly quick, especially considering the 2002 only weighs about 2,200 lbs.
Norris modified the 2002’s suspension by widening the track, fitting five-lug hubs, ALPINA wheels and Wilwood brakes. It’s also lower, stiffer and handles better than the original car. Fender flares from the BMW 2002 Turbo were fitted, covering the wider wheel track and giving it a more aggressive look.
Inside, the original dashboard was kept, keeping the interior looking period 1976, but the seats and steering wheel were upgraded. The seats are from an E21 320i but were modified to makes the side bolsters narrower and were covered in Nappa leather to be more comfortable and in keeping with modern BMWs. The steering wheel was pulled from an ALPINA but wrapped in new leather and given a BMW badge.
Overall, this is one of the cooler modified BMW 2002s we’ve seen. While it shares almost nothing with its original self, every modification was done tastefully and in keeping with the BMW’s history. So it’s a special car that’s worth a look.