The BMW 02 is a range of compact executive cars produced between 1966 and 1977.
BMW 02 (E10) Design and Introduction
The first 02-series BMW was the 1600-2, later renamed 1602 in 1971. The “16" refers to the 1.6L engine size while the “-2” in the name (later “02”) was a reference to the 2-door characteristic of this vehicle. It was a shortened version of the 4-door BMW New Class sedan, which was available since 1962. Under the direction of Wilhelm Hofmeister, BMW’s design director of the time, Georg Bertram and Manfred Rennen designed the 02-series. Their work would later turn into a wide world of enthusiasts vehicles, one that still exists today. The New Class sedans helped BMW escape their financial difficulties from the 1950s and helped focus the company’s offerings toward sporty sedans. The 02-series was a drive toward an even more sporty look and drive, accomplished by an overall length that was 10 inches (25 cm) shorter, with a 2-inch (5 cm) reduction in wheelbase. By shortening the rear deck and only having 2 doors, the BMW 02 became a more suitable vehicle for spirited driving sessions and motorsports, and took over as BMW’s choice for racing. The 02 was also made less expensive than the New Class sedans due to the lesser amount of materials and was appointed with fewer luxury items compared to the New Class sedans.
Engine and Performance
The 1600-02 featured a 1.6L M10 engine with 84 horsepower and 96 lb ft of torque. In 1967, the 1600 TI performance version was released, increasing power up to 104 horsepower, which did not meet US emissions standards and could not be sold there. The TI was only available from 1967 to 1968. Two BMW employees, Helmut Werner Bönsch and Alex von Falkenhausen, had fitted their personal 1600-02s with a larger 2.0L engine to increased the performance. They felt so strongly about the improvements that they brought the idea to BMW’s board of directors, who went forward with the idea in 1968. As a result, the 2002 was born. A BMW with a 2.0L engine and 2 doors. It was available with two engine options, one with a single-carburetor that produced 99 horsepower and another with dual-carburetor and high compression that produced 118 horsepower. The 2002 was available from 1968 to 1975, selling more than 330,000 units and exemplifying BMW’s ability to find an ideal balance between luxury compact cars and high-performance racing capacity. Many 2002s still exist today and are part of an enthusiastic club of owners.
In 1971, a cabriolet version of the 2002 was released, switching the Baur cabriolet from the 1.6L engine it had used to the larger 2.0L engine of the 2002s. A Touring version was also available, using a fuel-injected performance version of the 2.0L engine that produced an impressive 128 horsepower and had a top speed of 115 mph, very respectable numbers for the era. At the 1973 Frankfurt Motor Show, a 2002 turbo (known as the E20) was released as BMW’s first turbocharged production car. This increased power production to 168 horsepower and 177 lb ft of torque. In 1971, those who wanted a bit more modest option could purchase an 1802, with a 1.8L engine producing 89 horsepower. And an even more economical package was released in 1975, the 1502 with the smallest 1.5L engine offered in the lineup. It had 74 horsepower and used lower compression.
The BMW 2002 was used in motorsport racing events from 1968 all the way to 1986, well past the end of its production run in 1975. Entered into approximately 600 events, the vehicle was able to win 50 events, 57 second-place spots, and 62 third-place finishes. It is now one of the most sought-after vintage cars in the world. Whether it’s the sporty drive, the unmistakable history, or the downright incredible design, it has won over the hearts of many collectors and enthusiasts worldwide. The 2002 was succeeded by the 3-series BMW, a still-iconic series of well-sized vehicles. But the 2002 will forever hold a special place in the history books for motor vehicles and especially for allowing BMW to be taken seriously as a racing vehicle.