Poor Man’s BMW #2 – 1975 BMW 2002 Automatic

Much has been written about the BMW 2002, calling it an icon, a cult classic, and lavishing praise on its handling and light weight. Predictably, many of these cars succumbed to attrition when their owners probed the limits of the handling, and many more to structural rust. In 1975, their 9th year of production, the 2002 had sprouted giant bumpers, a thermal reactor, and retarded timing to comply with new emissions regulations. However, they are also said to be better built and handling, and this 1975 BMW 2002 Automatic is available for $2995 in San Jose, CA.

1975 BMW 2002 automatic left front

Unlike our earlier 320i’s seller, this seller clearly believes in being concise. He feels only one word is needed to describe the car, and that word is CLASSIC. In 1969, a 3-speed ZF automatic transmission was introduced for the 2002, and this car is so equipped. Wait! Before you stop reading, realize this is a way to acquire a less-desirable version of one of the most desirable cars. And for people who have physical problems that keep them from operating a manual shift car, this is a great choice. Retrofitting chrome bumpers is more and more common, so you can immediately improve the performance and aesthetics by doing this. As you can see, the car’s had a light bump to the nose, so that’s another place where you can add value.

1975 BMW 2002 automatic right rear

Okay, so the last owner of this car was not so careful – notice the damaged right tail light and string seemingly holding the trunk closed. However, the car doesn’t seem to have the common gas trail running down out of the fuel filler, so maybe that’s a more positive indication as to the car’s condition. The Sahara tan paint would also show up any major rust perforation, but this car doesn’t seem to have any. There is no shot of the shock towers, but in a California car, rust there would be surprising.

1975 BMW 2002 automatic interior

The interior is another place where this car falls down a little. The sun has had its way with the seats, and likely with the dash as well. Fortunately, upholstery kits and E21 Recaro seats are readily available, so this is a relatively easy fix. The dash is likely cracked as well. Those improvements aside, this seems to be a solid little car. Which begs the question – how about a mashup of this car and the previous poor man’s BMW? Picture a chrome bumper, square tail light 2002 that doesn’t need to pass smog, but will run more cleanly, and faster, with its 110hp K-Jetronic M10 engine. Good idea? Bad idea? Discuss…

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