Years: 1966 – 1977
Price Range: $12,500 – $24,000
Take one look at a ’60s BMW 2002, with its shark nose, Hofmeister kink, perfect three-box proportions and you’ll realize the significance of this car to the Bavarian car company’s current range. The latest 3-series still has all the same sports saloon ingredients as the 2002 and the 1-series Coupe was marketed in the United States as its modern successor. The 2002 was arguably the car that made BMW what it is today.
With rear drive, a torquey 1,990cc engine and light weight, the original is still a deft and delicate machine today. They’re not the bargains they once were, but there are still a lot of 2002s around and a strong club scene means parts should be easy to get, albeit sometimes expensive.
Watch out for loose timing chains and worn valves, and check for rust especially in the floor and sills which can get out of control, but well-looked after examples will be reliable and solid. The biggest problem is the difference between a cheap four-figure runner and a concours example, with good 2002s selling for $30,000 and $40,000, which means a lot of them can be tarted up and new paint jobs will hide a lot of gremlins.
You’ll need balls as big as your wallet for the heart-attack-inducing Turbo models (complete with mirrored “2002 Turbo” on the front spoiler) with near lethal lag that threatens to put a $100,000 hole in the nearest hedge.
“The 2002 brought BMW ownership to the masses,” says Tom Wood, CEO and founder of Cazana.com, a used car database, as well as classic enthusiast. “They are well built and reliable. Finding a good one is worthwhile but can be costly.”