Jump to content
The BMW 2002 Production Run

The BMW 2002 Production Run


BMW 02 series are like the original Volkswagen Beetles in one way (besides both being German classic cars)—throughout their long production, they all essentially look alike—at least to the uninitiated:  small, boxy, rear-wheel drive, two-door sedan.  Aficionados know better.   Not only were there three other body styles—none, unfortunately, exported to the US—but there were some significant visual and mechanical changes over their eleven-year production run.


BMW 1600 Cabriolet

I’ve extracted the information below from official BMW sources, unofficial sources, and the collective memories of many BMW 2002 fanatics.  Sources disagree on specific dates and equipment—even “official” BMW sources disagree among themselves.   BMW often did not wait until a model year end to introduce changes—many were made when the supply of old parts ran out during a production year.   Worse yet for the future automotive historian/ archivist, pictures in BMW’s sales literature were often of the previous year’s model, sometimes correctly touched up, sometimes not.  I’ve tried to make this as accurate as possible, but errors are inevitable due to incomplete documentation.   Anomalies exist on vehicles of known provenance.  Some beginning and end model year VINs are approximate and are so noted in italics.

And to further muck things up, BMW lists their VIN runs by calendar year, not model year.  In the US, the model year generally runs from Sept 1 to the following August 31.  Thus, the model year 1973 car that was built in December 1972 (or September, October, or November, for that matter) is a 1972 production car to BMW.  In the chronology below, I use model year VINs—some known, others extrapolated.  The latter are shown in italics.



May 1965 Design code TP114 finalized for production as the 1600-2.


Dec 1965 First pre-production prototypes hit the test track.


BMW 1600-2


March 1966 1600-2 introduced on BMW’s 50th anniversary and begins full production in April.  VIN begins at 1500001 and runs through 1533857 at the 1967 model year’s end.  No specific US model or separate VIN series; cars exported to the US have sealed beam headlights, and the gauges speak English.  These early cars differ in many details—large and small--from the 1968 and later cars:  six-volt electrical systems, exterior trim, hub caps vs. full wheel covers (with optional, square hole trim rings available), bright chrome trim on the dashboard, steering wheel, engine accessories. Approximately 4300 were sold in the US, mostly ‘67s.


Sept 1967 Specific US 1600 model production begins with VIN 1560001 and runs continuously through March 1971 to 1572930.   Recognition characteristics generally mirror those of the BMW 2002.  A US-specific version (with its own 156/157XXXX VIN series) was required to meet the new Federal safety requirements mandated for all cars sold in the US.

1968 BMW 1600 characteristics

-- not all were implemented at the beginning of production:

  • 12 volt electrical system replaces the previous 6 volt system, and an alternator replaces the generator

  • Mechanically activated clutch

  • 4 speed manual transmission

  • SOHC 8-valve, inline 4 cylinder engine with an iron block and aluminum head

  • No power brake booster

  • Non-reclining front seats

  • Standard OEM tires are bias ply 

  • The outside rearview mirror was moved aft on the door about three inches to clear the vent window.

  • Three-spoke “safety” steering wheel replaces the previous two-spoke wheel with a horn ring

  • The plastic surrounding the instrument faces is painted black, vs the previous chrome.


Sept 1967 – BMW 1600ti introduced—dual sidedraft Solex carburetors boosted 1600 horsepower from 85 to 100. Upcoming US emissions standards precluded importing the 1600ti to the US; this led to the development of the BMW 2002—a two-liter engine in the 1600 body.


Jan 1968 BMW 2002 (non USA) production begins with VIN 1650001. 


BMW 1600ti


Jan 1968 BMW 1600 Cabriolet production begins with VIN 1557001; production continues through Jun 1971 and VIN 1558682. None were exported to the US — save one “black swan” owned by Carl Nelson.


Feb 1968 US-specific BMW 2002 production begins with VIN 1660001. A few early production models were assembled the previous fall for emissions testing and as press pool cars.  Approximately 2850 were built by the end of the model year production in Sept 1968. These models complied with US DOT and EPA regulations in place as of 1 January 1968. 

1968 BMW 2002 characteristics

  • The first 300 cars have mechanically actuated clutches
  • Early cars do not have sway bars
  • OEM tires are radials; Michelin XAS optional
  • Power brakes standard
  • No front seat headrests; front seat backs about 1½ inches wider than later cars
  • Shoulder harness seat belts (the infamous “spaghetti belts”) replaced lap belts used in pre-1968 1600s.
  • Separate clutch and brake fluid reservoirs; brake reservoirs mounted on the master cylinder rather than remotely; clutch reservoir mounted on the inner fender well
  • Two piston brake calipers
  • Red-center tail lights
  • Side grilles blacked out with paint; center grille bars black anodized
  • Matte silver painted one-piece wheel covers replace the 1600 hubcaps with separate trim rings—some early cars had two piece hubcap/trim ring assemblies that resembled the later one piece wheel covers
  • Tachometer, front and rear sway bars, reclining front seats, vinyl upholstery, bumper guards, and chrome exhaust tip were “non-optional” options per Hoffman Motors


VIN 1660001 - First BMW 2002 Produced


Sept 1968 US 1969 model production begins. BMW 1600 VINs begin at approximately 1565738; BMW 2002 at 1662859. '02s assembled before 1 Jan 1969 are known as “first series” 1969’s, and are essentially identical to the 1968s. The post-1 January cars meet new EPA/DOT regulations that took effect on that date. These “second series” cars begin with VIN 1664761.

1969 “second series” characteristics

  • Short neck differential replaces long neck
  • Rear axle shafts get CV joints inboard and outboard
  • Four piston front brake calipers
  • Single fluid reservoir mounted on left fender well serves brakes and clutch
  • Headrests added to front seats
  • Three-speed heater blower replaces two speed blower
  • Decorative ribs added to the previously plain valve cover


Mid-year changes (Mar/Apr 1969):

  • Ridges added to dashboard shelf
  • Diaphragm clutch replaces coil spring clutch at VIN 1665201
  • Clutch pedal/linkage was changed at VIN 1665201
  • 5 blade “tropical” fan replaces smaller 4 blade fan on US models at VIN 1668338



Sept 1968 BMW 2002ti production begins—similar to the BMW 1600ti, it has dual side draft Solex 40 PHH carburetors, similar engine to the 2000CS coupe. Not for US market as it wouldn’t pass US emission requirements. 16,448 produced. Replaced by the tii in April 1971.


BMW 2002ti


May 1969 US automatic production begins at VIN 2530001; about 1000 built in the 1969 model year. Automatics have clocks instead of tachometers.


Sept 1969 US 1970 BMW 2002 model production begins at approximately VIN 1668756 for stick, 2531023 for automatics, 1569647 for BMW 1600s. Again, not all the changes below were initiated at the quoted VINs.

  • Rear turn signal lenses changed to amber
  • Front turn signal lenses bulge outward and use a single two-filament bulb
  • Optional alloy wheels were introduced; they have five slots divided by radial ribs and are 5x13 inch versions of the 14 inch CS coupe alloys. Initially offered on the ti models, they were not readily available in the US until the tii was introduced to the US market for the 1972 model year
  • Silver paint was eliminated on the wheel covers, now polished stainless steel; the valve stem now has its own dedicated round hole vs the small cutout used on the painted wheel covers.
  • Front seatbacks narrowed
  • Windshield wiper blades lengthened to 15 inches; previously 13 inches
  • Outside rearview mirror enlarged at VIN 1671845 and 2532051 (automatics)—the “trapezoid” mirror
  • Side grilles have black anodized appliques glued over the grille bars vs. the black paint used on earlier BMW 2002s.


Sept 1970 US 1971 model production begins at approximately VIN 1676472 for stick, no automatics built for the US market in 1971. Those titled as ‘71s are most likely leftover 1970s. 1600 VINs begin at approximately 1571835

  • Rear side markers are now illuminated; rectangular reflectors have been added to the rear panel.
  • Tinted glass becomes available.
  • Heated rear windows become commonly available—switch incorporated into heater blower switch.
  • US BMW 2002s were all equipped with the leather-wrapped sport steering wheel—supposedly due to a fire or strike (take your pick) at the plant that supplied the standard “schoolbus” steering wheels.
  • “Metal loop” style front seat belts replace the “spaghetti belts” used on earlier cars.



Jan 1971 all 200 BMW 2002 cabriolets (convertibles) were produced; unfortunately, none for the US market. VINs were 2790001 to 2790200


BMW 2002 Cabriolet


April 1971 the “model 71” cars are introduced to the US market midway through the US model year. VINs begin at 2570001 for BMW 2002, and 1572931 for BMW 1600. The last US 1600 was VIN 1573162. Changes include the following, but not all were implemented at 2570001, the beginning of model 71 production.

  • Transmission synchros changed from Porsche to Borg Warner type.
  • Rubber trim was added to the side sections of the front bumper and the entire rear bumper.
  • The rear bumper ends lengthened
  • Lower (“knee”) rubber side moldings added
  • Instrument cluster updated; dial faces all black; tenths reading added to the odometer.
  • The heater core, valve, and hoses were enlarged.
  • Console sides lengthened to surround shift lever; shift boot is now rectangular vs. round.
  • Emergency flasher switch moved to the console from the far-left side of the dash shelf; push-button vs. pull knob.
  • Black-painted front seat reclining mechanisms began to replace the earlier chrome versions, but chrome brackets have been observed as late as early 1972 tii’s.
  • The two-piece dashboard replaces the previous three-piece dash
  • The fuse box now has twelve fuses vs. previous models’ six
  • Short gas tank filler neck replaces long neck at 2572070
  • The wiper motor is given a plastic weather shield; the transistorized wash/wipe relay replaces the thermal relay.


April 1971 BMW 1802 (BMW 2002 pistons, BMW 1600 crankshaft) introduced—not for the US market. Production continues until April 1975. BMW 2002tii production begins with Kugelfischer mechanical fuel injection—130 hp DIN vs. 100 for the carbureted version. It would not appear on the US market until the 1972 model year.



April 1971 BMW 1600 touring (hatchback) body is introduced, followed shortly by two-liter versions, both carbureted and injected. The 1800 Touring model was introduced in September. Early two-liter engine displacement cars were badged as “2000 Touring” but later changed to “2002 Touring” to avoid confusion. Never imported to the US, supposedly because the importer, Max Hoffman, didn’t want to stock the additional body and trim parts. “Modell 73” tourings were built but retained the earlier cars’ round tail lights. Touring model production ended in May 1974; 30,206 were built.


BMW 1802 Touring


May 1971 BMW 2002 Targa cabriolet production begins and continues through Dec 1975. Cars built after August 1973 have the plastic grilles and square taillights of the Modell 73. As with the conventional convertibles, Baur built the bodies. The Targa body style had a removable steel panel over the front seat and a folding cloth top/plastic rear window for the rear. Between them was a fixed steel “hoop” to provide rollover protection. Not imported to the US. 1,963 LHD and 354 RHD cabrios built.


Sept 1971 US 1972 model year cars begin production. VINs begin at approx 2576500 for stick and 2532126 for automatics. The US tii is introduced with 120 DIN hp; VINs run 2760001 through 2762629. Early cars (to VIN 2762014) had plastic intake runners. US cars didn’t get the 3:45 final drives of the Euro tii’s.


Changes to all ‘72s include:

  • The windshield wiper switch was moved to the right side steering column stalk; the dash switch only controls the speed
  • Wheel width increases to five inches on the tii’s; carbureted cars continue with 4 ½ inch wide steel rims.  Five-inch-wide alloys are dealer-installed options.
  • Running production changes:
    • Inertia reel seat belts replace the “metal loop” style, and a seat belt warning light is added to the center dash top at VIN 2580042 (2532126 for automatics and 2760235 for tii’s.)
    • Side grilles had some modifications at VIN 2580165 (2532130 for automatics, 2760504 for tii’s.)  Headlight surrounds are shallower than previous grilles, and headlight retainers are symmetrical.
    • Carbureted cars get a new cylinder head (E-12), sealed fuel pump, and an intake manifold with a two-barrel automatic choke Solex carburetor, but not until late in the model year at VIN 2583405/3465 (2532752 for automatics.)  Tii’s switched to the E-12 head at VIN 2761944.
    • With the E-12 head, emission controls were greatly simplified:  the air pump was eliminated, EGR valve was the primary emission addition.


Sept 1972 US 1973 model year cars begin production at VIN 2585138 for carbureted cars (stick) and 2533173 for automatics.  The first ‘73 tii is 2762630.  The final VINs are 2593704, 2764521, and 2534861, respectively.  


Visual/mechanical changes include

  • The front bumper is moved further away from the body on much heavier brackets; front bumper guards are lower and pointed—the only year for these guards on US cars. 
  • The rear bumper is moved about 2 ½ inches from the body on oval brackets covered with rubber covers.
  • Suspension springs were lengthened to raise the bumpers approximately one inch, thus complying with DOT bumper height regulations.  
  • Plastic steering column surround replaces metal surround
  • The heater blower switch was moved to the dashboard above the temp control lever; all four heater control levers are now illuminated
  • The rear window defroster gets its own switch, not part of the heater blower switch  
  • Quarter window latches had some modifications at VIN 2587489—a black plastic knob replaces the chrome knob, and the C-pillar mounting screws have a white plastic cover over them.


Sept 1973 US model 73 (actually 1974 model year) cars begin production with 4220001 for carbureted cars (stick); 4280001 for automatics, and 2780001 for tii’s.  Ending VINs for the year are 4230601, 4283429, and 2782928, respectively.  Major facelifts fore and aft plus numerous interior changes make the ‘74-76 cars easily recognized from their earlier brethren. 

1974 “third series” characteristics

  • Front body panel revised with black plastic side and center grilles, black headlight surrounds 
  • The rear body panel carries “square” tail lights with built-in reflectors, and license plate lights mounted on a separate bracket. 
  • Heavy rubber-faced forged aluminum bumpers mounted on shock-absorbing mounts front and rear add nine inches to the car’s length.
  • Wheels are now styled with slots and a small, stainless steel center cap; width is standardized at five inches for carbureted and injected cars.  
  • New optional alloy wheels are referred to as “soup plate" wheels due to their smooth, bowl-shaped centers. 
  • Electric sunroof an “official” US option—but rarely seen
  • Four spoke steering wheel with a large padded center hub replaces the three-spoke wheel
  • Dash is now a one-piece molding
  • Front seats have different shapes, upholstery, and reclining mechanisms
  • Instrument cluster surround covered with imitation wood panel; instrument faces changed
  • Door panel upholstery design simplified
  • Turn signal switch moved to the left side of the steering column; all windshield washer/wiper functions are now on the right column stalk.  An intermittent wiper control kit was a dealer-installed accessory.
  • The carpet now one-piece molded vs. eleven separate pieces
  • Wiper arms/blades are now black; previously silver 
  • Infamous seat belt interlocks were installed, which prevented the car from starting until front seat belts were fastened in occupied seats.  Since the system couldn’t distinguish passengers from grocery sacks, most were immediately disconnected.



Jan 1974 BMW 2002 Turbo production begins—again, not for the US—at VIN 4290001; approximately 1671 were built through June 1975.


BMW 2002 Turbo


April 1974 Luxus trim offered on non-US models—included some items that were standard on US models, plus rear seat armrest, velour upholstery, real wood trim on interior door panels, and instrument cluster.


Sept 1974 US model 75 cars begin production with 2360001 for carbureted cars (stick); 2380001 for automatics.  The tii was discontinued.  Ending VINs for the year are 2367750 and 2382692, respectively. 

  • Tailpipe exits at the center of the rear panel vs. the right side
  • The infamous thermal reactor was added to the exhaust manifold to help meet increasingly stringent emission standards.  The air pump also returned to the “smog” package.  
  • The radiator fan received a shroud to enhance engine cooling, stressed by the thermal reactor.     
  • The outside rearview mirror is enlarged again (the “flag” mirror)
  • Headrests have close-set mounting posts—rationalized with E21 seats
  • Heat shield added between muffler and gas tank



Jan 1975 BMW 1502 was introduced as an entry-level BMW to keep customers who couldn’t afford or didn’t want the new E21 316.  Not for the US market.  1573 cc, 75 hp DIN; 72,386 LHD and RHD versions built.  


BMW 1502


March 1975  BMW AG takes over distribution in North America from the Hoffman organization, creating BMW NA.  Some previously unavailable options (cloth interiors, electric sunroofs) become available.  


Sept 1975 US model 76 cars begin production.  Stick shift VINs run 2370001-2380000 and 2740001-2745584. Automatic cars’ VINs: 2390001 to 2393292.  With the new E21 3 series in production for non-US markets, only the US version of BMW 2002 and the base model BMW 1502 remained in production.

  • The final drive ratio was raised from 3.64 to 3.90 to regain performance lost by increasingly stringent emissions requirements.
  • California cars receive a different emission control package from the “49 state” cars to meet more stringent requirements.
  • E21 cylinder head replaces E12
  • Relay added to the ignition circuitry.
  • Wipers get a 5-second interval setting as standard; previously optional/accessory.


July 1976 the last US version of BMW 2002 leaves the production line.  Supposedly the last 200 US cars were painted Polaris Silver with red leather interiors, alloy wheels, and electric sunroofs.  


July 1977 the final 1502 left the assembly line—the last ’02 series car in production.


Was it helpful?

Mike Self

  • Like 7
  • Thanks 2

User Feedback

Recommended Comments

Mike, the "model 71" change started sometime AFTER the 2570000 point.  


I've been closing in on the actual vin, but it's sometime AFTER  2570588 (February 9th, 1971) which carried all pre-model-71 components, but BEFORE 2572237 (April 7th, 1971) which carried all model-71 changes.


Be interested in if we could get closer to the actual cross-over vin.



Link to comment
Share on other sites

would be very interested to see some examples of "Supposedly the last 200 US cars were painted Polaris Silver with red leather interiors, alloy wheels and electric sunroofs"

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.
Note: Your post will require moderator approval before it will be visible.

Add a comment...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

  • Create New...