When the BMW board in August 1967 approved a hot-rod version of the 1600 by installing a 2-liter M10 engine into the 114 models, that decision planted the seed for BMW’s success in North America. After all, BMW was just another foreign car maker without any significant impact on sales in the US car market. We all know what came next.
The concept of a 2-liter M10 was not new in 1967; the BMW factory racing team in Germany had already raced the Neu Klasse (type 121) with a competitive 2-liter version. Around the same time in Munich, pioneers of BMW engineering, Alex Von Falkenhausen and Helmut Bonsch, experimented with a 2-liter hot-rod version in their privately owned 1600’s.
After successfully introducing the 1600 in Europe, BMW met the need for more speed and horsepower with the 1600Ti. Unfortunately, the 1967 federal SMOG regulation deprived US car buyers of the sporty 1600Ti with dual Solex PHH40 carburetors and 15 additional horsepower. From 1967 to 1976, BMW in North America sold approximately 13,162 1600/1602 models and 93,357 2002 models. The buzz started with the first 3,234 BMW 2002s imported for the US market in 1968. According to BMW Archive, Munich only manufactured two US-bound 2002s in 1967. BMW produced the car with VIN 1660001 on November 29 and VIN 1660002 on December 12. Hoffman Motors Corp. took delivery of 1660001 on December 14, 1967, and 1660002 on January 10, 1968. European production of 2002 starts with VIN 1600001, with production of the first ten in December 1967. Based on the information provided by the BMW Archive, it is fair to assume that US-bound 2002 with VIN 1660001 was the first 114 model with a 2-liter M10 that rolled off the production line in Munch on November 29, 1967.
The resurgence of M10 with VIN 1660001 first appeared on 2002FAQ in March 2020 with a post from Kevin, who purchased two project 02s and discovered that his 1967 1600 with VIN 1525747 did not have a matching engine. After posting his findings with our enthusiastic community on 2002FAQ, the resurgence of the first production BMW 2002 with an M10 2-liter engine was a fact……it survived.
The 2-liter M10 engine, as rediscovered, was equipped with an early Pierburg fuel pump and dual Solex PHH 40 carburetors and had not been roadworthy for a significant time. Kevin, a professional airplane mechanic, carefully cleaned and inspected the engine, and to his surprise, it was able to turn over with black oil and green coolant. He even performed a satisfactory compression test. As per 02Les Cartwright’s comprehensive database, Kevin’s 1600 was sold in 2006 on eBay in Michigan, where it was described as a non-runner since 1997.
Kevin aimed to build a Hot Rod ‘02 from the two project cars, but his plans did not include fully restoring the first 2-liter M10. After several months of communication, a deal was made that served both 02 enthusiast goals.
To get engine 1660001 refreshed and roadworthy again with as many original and genuine BMW parts as possible, I consulted with two experienced engine builders within our ‘02 community. Terry Tinney in Livermore, California, and Terry Sayther in Austin, Texas, both offered their expertise and service to resurrect 1660001 to its former glory.
In April 2021, I hand-carried the early 121 Ti head with a casting mark from 67-1 for inspection at Terry Tinney’s shop. Initial observations revealed a straight head, enough height to resurface, usual valve wear, and a previous repair on the valve seat in the combustion chamber of cylinder one. Terry Tinney recommended redoing the previous repair and installing new genuine BMW valves, BMW rocker arms, BMW intake and exhaust axles, and custom bronze valve guides, precisely honed to accommodate new 38- and 44-mm valves with Viton stem seals.
You cannot rush perfection, and a year later, a completely restored 121Ti cylinder head passed QA/QC at Tinney Motorsports and was ready for delivery to Terry & Deb Sayther’s Vintage Shop in Austin.
Terry Sayther's reputation as an engine builder is well-known, and he has personally rebuilt more than a hundred M10 engines during his fascinating and, luckily, ongoing career. His expertise and knowledge are invaluable to resurrecting such a historic M10.
Initial disassembly and QA/QC process to evaluate condition revealed exciting observations. For example, there was no damage after crankshaft inspection and rod bearing removal. On the contrary, the rod bearings were in excellent condition with little to no wear. BMW part number 11503302013 is visible, which gives the impression that the engine must have been overhauled during the last 55 years. The crankshaft gear sprocket had some worn teeth and was replaced with a genuine BMW sprocket. Watching Terry heat and pull the chain sprocket from the crankshaft was an exciting process to observe. He made it look effortless.
Terry’s verdict was that the lower end was in good condition and appeared to have had regular oil changes because the internals were surprisingly clean. There was no damage on the cylinder walls or the bathtub pistons, with the 88.96 markings still visible. After 55 years in the USA, 1660001 still had its original pistons. After carefully inspecting each piston, they passed Terry’s QA/QC. A minor essential observation was that the oil lubricating hole on the piston in cylinder four was blocked and likely the culprit for why piston rings seized.
1660001 revealed two interesting clues for a very early M10 that Terry had not seen before an oil pump with an unusual intake and chain sprocket. In addition, it has a six-bolt crankshaft with much heavier counterweights compared to the 1600 six-bolt from the same period.
Luckily, all four-cylinder bores were free of scoring marks nor evidence of damage due to the seized piston ring from the blocked oil lubrication hole on cylinder four. Nevertheless, to smooth cylinder walls, each bore was honed for factory finish. Each piston underwent a vapor honing process for ultra-clean condition before reassembly.
Unfortunately, new old stock and period-correct M10 Goetze piston rings sourced from Germany did not fit. That raised an interesting question because the BMW spec sheet for the early 2-liter M10 states flat top pistons with an 8.5:1 compression ratio. Luckily, there is a unique collection of parts for classic BMWs inside Terry's shop. It was only a short time before a set of M10 Hasting piston rings was located and masterly customized by Terry. There were no surprises during the assembly of the 88.96 size pistons with new standard size Kolbenschmidt rod bearings and standard Glyco crankshaft bearings. Each piston could now reunite with the 6-bolt crankshaft. All bearings were subject to and passed a detailed Plastigauge quality test to measure tolerances against factory quality indicators.
1660001 piston selection remains a mystery because 2002s sold in 1968 were equipped with flat-top pistons. Bathtub pistons inside 1660001 have a 5.3mm dome height, indicating a 9.3:1 compression ratio. Could it be that BMW and Hoffman Imports had a card in their sleeve and configured these first two press 2002s with higher compression ratios to impress the readers of Car and Driver and Road & Track ……so future hymnals could be set for 2002? We will never know.
We know that two BMW specialists finally reassembled the M10 with 1660001, which will soon be ready for installation in early 2002. The whereabouts of the actual 2002 with VIN 1660001 that was Hofmann’s press release car for the West Coast is unknown. On the 2002 FAQ, it is reported that the second press car for the East Coast with VIN 1660002 is still somewhere in the USA.
Besides the stamped VIN, the most significant indicator for this early 2-liter M10 is the block’s casting date from Eisenwerk Breuhl (EB) foundry. The casting mark “3J67” is visible below the freeze plugs between cylinders two and three. It has been reported that BMW opted not to use the letter “I” due to its close similarity with the number “1”. Therefore, it skipped to “J,” which is the next letter of the alphabet and represents the 9th month of the year. As a result, this block was cast on the third of September of 1967. To better understand the time frame of this historic engine, I found interesting details in Jackie Jouret’s epic book “The Real Story Behind the Legend.” Jackie writes that the Board of BMW officially approved a 2-liter version of the M10 for the 114 model on August 22, 1967, and only six days after that Board decision, the 2-liter two-door version of the 1600 was confirmed for production. The first time the name 2002 was officially mentioned in the BMW archive was on October 24, 1967. The EB “3J67” casting date and VIN stamp 1660001 fit this timeframe.
What story did the other casting marks reveal during the tear-down process? These bolt-on components were indeed all manufactured before the September 3 manufacturing date. The following dates were found on timing cover 67-4, valve cover 67-3, and 121Ti head casting 67-1, similar to the distributor housing.
The condition and thickness of the friction plate were still acceptable, with some wear noticeable on the three fingers. Since the M10 came without a transmission, sourcing a period-correct throw-out bearing was a daunting task. For proper operation, the three fingers engage with the throw-out bearing and coil springs to provide sufficient clamping pressure to hold the pressure plate and flywheel in a critical grasp. After consulting my dilemma with Mike Self, he kindly offered help and verified the part numbers of the three-finger Borg & Beck pressure and friction plate. Based on information from one of his period correct parts books, Fichtel & Sachs throw-out bearing with BMW part number 3151142202 was used up to VIN 1665200. Via connections in the Netherlands and Germany, not one but two throw-out bearings were located and shipped to Texas.
Fitting the bulky three-finger pressure plate on the 6-bolt flywheel was an interesting process to watch and precise alignment that required the attention of all specialists at Terry Saythers Vintage Bimmer shop.
The story from discovery to the resurrection of M10 with VIN 1660001 was a rewarding experience. From the moment Kevin allowed me to become the next caretaker of this historic M10, the objective was to resurrect it as close to original standards as it rolled off the production line on November 29, 1967. Many 02 friends provided advice with research, and I would like to thank Steve (Conserv), 02Les (Cartwright), and Mike Self. Special thanks to Terry Sayther and Terry Tinney for providing their knowledge and expertise to recondition and refresh VIN1660001.
Soon, this resurrected M10 will be back on the road inside a fully restored early 2002. It will not become a museum piece to collect dust but instead be enjoyed again after 56 years when David E. Davis Jr famously wrote, “BMW buyers will—I suspect—have to be pretty well-adjusted enthusiasts who want a good car, people with the sense of humor to enjoy its giant-killing performance and the taste to appreciate its mechanical excellence.”