Fun Stuff

AutoTrader Find of the Week: 1973 BMW 2002 is the Connoisseur’s Collectable

If you’re a true auto enthusiast – a connoisseur – then there are certain cars you just have to appreciate. These iconic models transcend brand or subculture affinity, and to actively not like them is to be purposefully obtuse and annoyingly contrarian.

In the same way that being a true music fan means appreciating everything from The White Album to The Chronic, being a true auto enthusiast means appreciating everything from, say, a humble ’62 Ford Falcon to a spare-no-expense Ferrari 458 Italia to something in between, like an original Acura Integra Type R.

A first-generation fastback Ford Mustang, the original Golf GTI, the Porsche 911, the Lancia Delta, the Lamborghini Miura, the Datsun 240Z, a HEMI Dodge, a Toyota Land Cruiser, a Ford Raptor, a Skyline GT-R. If these vehicles don’t give you the warm and fuzzies – if they don’t make you daydream of a driving experience that’s so vivid and fantastical that you swear you could feel the steering wheel in your hands right now – then maybe you’re not as into cars as you think.

And if any model deserves to be amongst the pantheon of preferential transcendence, it’s the BMW 2002.

BMW is far from the most universally loved badge. From its association with pretentious white collars to burble-tune vape enthusiasts, the brand can sometimes leave a bad taste in your mouth despite its reputation for building some of the all-time greatest performance machines.

However, no such stigma exists for a classic BMW 2002.

An evolution of the original New Class sedan, BMW introduced the 2002 in the mid-1960s to favourable reviews and reception. However, by 1968, American importers were pestering Munich for higher-performance versions.

Interestingly enough, two of BMWs own employees, director of product planning Helmut Werner Bönsch, and engineer Alex von Falkenhausen, had already modified their personal 2002s with a new 2.0-litre engine designed by Falkenhausen. The BMW board accepted their joint proposal, and American importers got their performance sedan.

By 1972, Car and Driver described the 2002 as “the essence of motoring truth: no strobe stripes, no phony teardrop racing mirrors, no triple turret tail lights. Just finely honed machinery in the simplest steel and glass case.”

So, yeah, they liked it a lot. If only you could have one now …

Enter this pristine, tastefully modified 1973 BMW 2002 being offered for sale through Manhattan Motorcars in Scarborough, Ont., via the AutoTrader marketplace.

Are you picturing it? Carving through leaf-swept back roads? The smell of gasoline and the song of that 2.0-litre inline-four as you jam through the gears of the four-speed manual? Sure, it only has a humble 125 horsepower, but hunkered into some modern Recaro racing seats, that means you’ll get to use 100 per cent of what the car is capable of on the streets. As the saying goes, it’s more fun to drive a slow car fast than it is to drive a fast car slow.

Originally purchased in California, the 2002 stayed on Pacific Standard Time and was originally imported to Canada by way of British Columbia, and then moved to Alberta for 15 years. The car has been registered in Ontario for the past 14 years.

Since then, it’s undergone some light restoration back to factory spec, maintaining its numbers-matching engine and being repainted to the original factory colour of Agave Green. Some modern amenities were added, such as a CD player and power trunk. No harm, no foul there.

Manhattan Motorcars has accumulated a mountain of documentation for the car, highlighting the various changing of hands as well as service records dating back 51 years.

So, yes, for roughly $50,000, there are a lot of BMWs you could buy. I’d personally be tempted to seek out a first-generation BMW M2.

Certainly, it’s difficult to fault an M2 as a modern driving machine. But if you do get an M2, you’ll inevitably catch a stink eye at a stoplight. You’ll feel death glares burning into the back of your head while waiting at a drive-through. Every failed use of your turn indicator will merit many vulgar gestures in your direction and conjure thoughts of your violent demise in the imagination of your fellow motorists. And even after enduring all of that, you still might not be the only one on your block with an M2.

However, if you buy a 1973 BMW 2002, things will be different. People will know you bought something for you to enjoy, not to show off in. They’ll acknowledge you bought an important car, a timeless car, and a small piece of automotive history – not just a trendy fashion statement. Nobody will think you leased your 1973 BMW 2002, and you can simply indulge in automotive driving bliss without constant mealy-mouthed commentary from your fellow “enthusiast” pals.

Why? Nobody will think you’ve been self-indulgent. They’ll see you as a connoisseur.