Thanks for looking in on this blog. I have been reading this site for a while and you guys have all imparted a great deal of knowledge. Your restoration, conversion, and upgrade blogs stoked a desire for me to purchase, restore, and upgrade a 2002 of my own.
My car is a 1969 2002 in Polaris silver.
I have been a huge fan of BMW’s for as long as I remember, not sure if it was mom’s E30 325i or dads K1100LT, both? The first car I ever purchased was an 83 633csi, and I’ve had 2 BMW motorcycles. I've wanted another BMW car for a while and as appealing as the older 3, 5, and 6 series cars are I wanted something that was smaller, lighter, easier to work on, and “cooler.” I remember a friend of mine seeing a 2002 tooling around and saying, “what does that guy know that I don’t.” That sentiment, my fathers incessant “those cars are so cool,” and another friend’s acquisition of a 1602 steered me to the 2002’s.
I have been looking at cars for the past few months across a number of sites, I was hoping to find a running, rust free, roundie for $7-ish-K, I figured this would be difficult but I had no money and plenty of time. I knew I wanted to so a S14 swap on the car but the cars that I had seen that had already been converted were not to my taste (budget be damned.) The biggest problem I had with my hunt was the location of cars for sale; there are not a ton of 2002’s in the Detroit area, and fewer for sale. I’ve maybe seen 5 different cars in 8 years. I would most likely have to rely on a ppi and an out of state purchase. Cars came and went; there was a salvage title, some too far away, and a couple I thought a few were overpriced. (I wasn’t prepared to put out a cash, low-ball, offer from 1800 miles away) so I kept searching…
I was forwarded my eventual car from my 1600 owner friend, it had been posted on Craigslist and Autotrader Classic, and it was a reasonable 380 miles away. If I remember correctly the car was posted sometime in July or August for $9000. The car showed really well but the price was just too high for me to justify the drive just for a look. I communicated with the seller and he gave me some of the info on the car. He was the third owner, the first owner kept it in an airplane hanger, his body repairman friend (owner #2) bought it from the first owner and he eventually sold it to the current owner/seller. I was told that there was some surface rust that was repaired by owner #2 before the car was repainted the current 2-tone color. The shock towers were original and in excellent condition. I was told that the car ran well although it had not been registered for an extended period of time. The pictures and description of the car seemed to be honest and I told the owner that I was interested and that I would be in touch although coming to see the car was not possible for the foreseeable future.
I kept looking for cars, all the while keeping an eye on the Autotrader ad for my eventual car. Prior to driving out east for vacation the price of the car dropped to $7500, this was all the motivation I needed to make a detour on the way home to check it out.
FINALLY it is in front of me. I must keep my wits about me... must check everything… don’t get nervous… remember all you’ve read… Great in theory, didn’t pan out so well. I looked the car over, got under the hood, checked that all the info he gave me was correct, went for an extremely short test drive (no tags.) I did the whole damn thing and didn’t get under the car… IDIOT! Well almost. I got under the rear and noticed that the spare tire well had rotted through in a dime size spot and after seeing this I got down under the passenger side but that looked really clean. I walked around a couple more times, checked the indicators, brake lights, driving lights, and looked for more evidence of disguised rust. The car was as described other than the spare tire well rust, doors that you had to slam, and some tire rub. I thanked the owner for sharing it, he told me of a couple calls he had on the car and one dealer who gave him a ridiculously low offer, and I told him I was still interested and that I would look into putting together some money for the car. He said he would take $7000.
I spent the drive home and the next week trying to make the numbers work. I had to have this car, pictured driving around town, working on it, making it my own… Even with all of those thoughts I still sat down and did the math and I knew I wasn’t going to be able to buy the car, I had a motorcycle that I couldn’t sell (November in Michigan, go figure) and I had just gotten home from back to back trips. I emailed the seller and told him that much to my dismay I wouldn’t be able to buy the car, not now, I just couldn’t afford it. He told me that he knew I wanted it and he would sit on it for a while. Three more weeks passed and I got an email asking if I was still interested, I replied that I just couldn’t buy the car. He asked if it was the price. I replied “Isn’t it always?” he asked me where I was at and doing some quick math I figured that I could swing $5500. He accepted!!!
Towing the car back the almost 400 miles proved uneventful despite it being my first time really towing and the first 100 miles driving out of the mountains of West Virginia. It is amazing all the things you notice wrong with a car after you’ve forked over the money and the title has your name!!! As I was loading the car the radiator overflowed a bit, making me think I had bought a POS. The now previous owner explained he just topped off the rad and the “leak” was traced to the overflow tank.
I got the car home unloaded it, got insurance, changed the title and got historical plates. I went with historical for now as I knew it was going to spend a fair bit of time over the next few months in the shop/storage and not out-and-about. As I was working on the car I noticed two areas of rust repair. The first was the passenger door; almost the entire bottom was replaced. The pop-rivets can be seen when the door card is removed. The other was behind the driver’s side front tire, not the fender, more the foot well area. Again pop rivets can be seen. The pop rivets concern me because if the “body guy, repaired for himself to keep, former owner” was any good he wouldn’t have used pop rivets. Right?
I will do a couple quick follow up posts to outline what I have already changed.
The short term needs for the car-
Tire rub: The car has 15” Konig wheels with 195/55/15 tires. It is rubbing the wheel well on full lock as well as the fender lip (front and rear.) I just purchased a set of the Rota R20, 15” Alpina replicas. I am not a huge fan of the Alpina 20 spoke wheels but I feel like these might look really great when the car changes color down the road. I would like to keep 15’s to accommodate larger brakes.
Brakes: The front passenger caliper was in-op when I took delivery of the car, the car pulled under breaking on the test drive but I didn’t realize that the caliper was completely worthless. I was able to replace the front calipers thanks to a faq-er who had a pair of take off single line calipers. I swapped both front calipers and I decided to test the rear brakes. Nothing on either one, one out of four brakes worked for the test drive. Good thing I hadn’t driven far! The car is currently parked with in-op rear brakes, I will most likely just install the Willwood kit in the spring.
Clutch slip/rear main seal: Taking the car out for a few short drives after getting the front brakes operable I noticed that there is quite a bit of clutch slip. Under the car there is evidence of an oil leak at the back of the engine (oil drip at bell housing.) I think that changing the rear main seal and the clutch should fix that. This might be one of the few basic jobs I pay to have done; I don’t have much more than jack stands and a few tools. I don’t want to lie on my back, drop a trans on my face and try to wrench off a flywheel just to save a few bucks. If anyone knows a guy in the metro Detroit area that has a garage and a lift for rent it really help me out!
Fuel flow: Below is a pic of the fuel filter at the carb; the car was running when the picture was taken. The first few times I drove the car the fuel filter was about half full of fuel, now it is less than a quarter full. I have filled up the car twice, could there be sediment in the tank that I stirred up? Could it be a clogged vent line? A bad fuel sender? I haven’t noticed any other filters, is there one in-tank? Related or not the car seems to studder pretty hard and bog down at the 1-2 shift. I am not sure if this is the cold weather, if it is bad carb tuning, or it is a fuel flow problem. Running half or full choke almost eliminates the studder.
Below is a quick outline of what I wish to do to the car over the next year or so, the plan for further down the road being a S14 swap. I would love feedback and insight, you all are a wealth of knowledge and I know you guys will be a huge help as this moves along.
Here it goes:
Wheels and tires- this needs to get done before I start driving too much, paying to have the fender lips repaired in the future because I don’t change the wheels now isn’t in my plan. (Between typing this up and posting it I have purchased Rota R20 wheels.)
Replace clutch and fix rear main leak.
I would like to get the underbody steamed, reading the Surf car resto, danco spoke pretty highly of it and if I can get the oil leak fixed and the underside clean it should make subsequent jobs much easer.
Brakes – IE Willwood conversion for 15” wheels, new lines. New master cylinder.
Suspension - IE kit. Shocks, springs, sway bar, strut brace, poly bushings. How is this kit working for those of you that have tried it? I have seen mention of other brands of shocks, is one better than the other? The car will be used on terrible Michigan roads, it might get one or two track outings. Is there a benefit with going to a coilover kit for a street car?
Get carb tuned, fix fuel flow problem
Door and window seals – I am getting a little water inside and wind noise; the gaskets on the front and rear are totally dry rotted.
Lights – These need work all around, the fog lights need to be wired up. The front drivers side turn lamp housing is cracked. The rear passenger side driving light is in-op. I would like to restore/brighten the rear lights. I am open to a LED conversion, and I am thinking about getting a third stop light (as much as I hate the look I’d kick myself if I got rear-ended because of too little lighting.)
Pedal box rebuild – There is going to be a ton of penetrant needed for this job, from what I can see now the threads of the bolts look terribly dirty.
Battery relocation – I think this will be my last spring/summer job. Everything else will wait until fall.
Fall/winter jobs are:
Getrag 265/5 CR swap – Along with all necessary trans tunnel mods. I am still not sure how much I need to blow the tunnel out, I’ve seen a couple articles on here from people that have done it. I would prefer not having to beat the crap out of the tunnel with a BFH, would an auto ’02 tunnel be large enough?How much "massaging" is necessary?
LSD diff with gearing to complement the CR trans
-Recaro front seats, 6 series rears
S14 swap in 2016
Thanks again for viewing/reading. I will keep future posts shorter. My goal with the build is to have a great street car. I know many things will need to be reworked as the car comes together but I desperately want to avoid replacing items because they aren’t robust enough for what the car will end up being (I’m looking at you struts.) With that, thank you for sharing your thoughts!
p.s. I didn’t take pics of the first few jobs I did, sorry.