Our Cars

The 2002 adventure begins!

While being a guest on Alan Taylor’s The Drive podcast, he said, “Hey, if you’re really a dyed in the wool Bimmer guy, how come you don’t have a 2002?”

He had a point.

I mentioned I didn’t find the right car yet, the right color, they were too expensive. But they were all lies. No matter how hard I try to deny it, whenever I see a 2002 go by, I want one. A golf yellow or an Inka one. I’m on a mission to just say no to silver BMWs, but if you have one, I’m totally ok with it – silver is an easy color to take care of. Think I’m being patronizing? Ask your favorite car detailer what color car they drive. I’ll bet it’s silver.

Me, I’m going for the Skittles color scheme. I should never have sold that Dakar Yellow Z3! Thanks to the Laguna Green E30 convertible, the Zinnibar red E30, and now an Inka 2002, we are rocking the bright colors around this place. And I’m still debating painting the other E30 Laguna Seca blue, just because.

I’m getting ahead of myself. About halfway through the podcast, Alan tells me his son has a 1976 2002 that he was going to restore, but he and his wife had a baby, and they just don’t have the time. (and he’d like to get it out of his garage) “Yeah, it’s this goofy orange color…” Pictures are exchanged, and by the end of the podcast, the deal is done – I’m getting a 2002! Now for the bad news – I don’t think this car will make the almost 300-mile drive from Grants Pass, Oregon, to my neck of the woods in Vancouver, Washington.

A little help from my friends

Fellow BMW buddy, Steven Hendrickson lives about 75 miles outside of my neighborhood, in the direction of Grants Pass (as the crow flies a crooked path) and is willing to make the drive with his towing rig and pick it up. The deal can proceed, and funds are transferred.

Oddly enough, in the two weeks I wait for the car to arrive, I’m anxious like I can’t believe it. Way more anxious than I would be if I was waiting for a new M car or something like that. I’m finally going to get a 2002. I had figured that it wouldn’t happen. When I’m not looking at wheels and suspension components, I’m always checking out restored 2002s. While I appreciate the survivors, I prefer the more “outlaw” versions of the 2002, so a 74 – 76 was perfect, and a plain carbureted version (though a mint 74 Tii would have been fun too) would be just fine. The Inka car fits the bill, ok kind of.

The big day arrives, and Steven makes it down in record time. It’s a lovely sunny day in the neighborhood and being a Saturday, the neighbors stare with a mixed bag of emotions from curiosity to disgust, not another car. Do I care? Hell no, I’ve got an Inka 2002!

We manage to get the car off the tow rig under its own power, but this baby is rough. Always affable, Steven laughs – “dude, you would have never gotten this car home under its own power.” And he’s absolutely right.

Reality sets in

After Steven heads out, I survey the project. It’s rough. Rougher than I thought. The wheel well for the spare in the trunk needs to be replaced, and probably most of the floor as well – not just the passenger front seat area. I’m a little bummed, but undaunted.

The pics made it look like there was some trunk rust and a little rust in the passenger front seat floor. However, the shock towers are great, and the engine compartment starts to clean up. But this thing runs terrible, and the motor/trans assembly feels like it will fall out on the road. Driving it around the block, I can hear the fan rubbing against the radiator, so the first drive is cut very short. Last but not least, the nose is pretty wrinkled, this will not buff out.

The first step, over to Jason’s place for a set of new engine and transmission mounts from Ireland Engineering. I take their advice and get the green poly mount for the trans and the regular black rubber mounts for the motor. Fortunately, his shop is only a couple miles away, and the car manages to limp over. Now at least the engine won’t fall out (and take that $900 radiator with it), but it still feels like it’s running on three of its four cylinders.

Serious cleanup on the outside and the engine compartment yields some results, but the beige interior is still knackered. The dash is trashed, and the ancient Momo wood steering wheel (I was told the steering wheel was “really rare”) feels as if it will splinter off into my hands if I turn the wheel too hard. The front seats are entirely roached, and the carpet is beyond filthy. Little do I know, a month later, I will truly understand the meaning of beyond filthy.

The tach, temp, and fuel gauges work; speedo – no dice. The clutch and brakes don’t feel awful, and the car starts right back up.

The pilgrimage

After letting Austin at Autobahn Motorsport tease me mercilessly for buying the car, it’s time to head over there and drop it off to get it at least running nominally. Taking the back way to avoid freeway speeds helps, but about 4 miles from the shop, the temperature starts to head up the dial – turning on the heater full blast keeps it above the middle but under the danger zone. I make it to Austin’s in one piece. “You’re gonna keep this thing, aren’t you?”

A quick look on the lift confirms the rust and reveals a lot of leakage. A lot. Turns out the speedometer cable isn’t even plugged into the transmission, though the car came with a $900 invoice for sourcing a cable and speedo gears. This will be a future mystery.

For now, a major tuneup, valve adjustment, and compression test is in order, and a new side-draft Weber and manifold is on the way.

Tune in for the next episode, when another 2002 joins the project.