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Following the journey of my 76

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Paint Progress


I may be out to sea, but my wife was kind enough to stop by the shop and send some progress photos. Things are coming along nicely. Still a lot of color sanding to do.























Pulled the sunroof panel out into the sun to check it out and I couldn't be happier with the paint choice. There are still many color/wet sandings to go and a few buff sessions, but the picture can't show how awesome it looks.



Taking Flight

With the engine out of the car and the panels off and prepped for paint - what remained went up on the lift to take care of the previously noted body issues.





The engine got partially disassembled for ceramic coating and paint





And all of the panels started getting some color





Things were coming along nicely


Growth Work



It wouldn't be a restoration without growth work. At the recommendation of the shop - I decided to drop out the engine and front subframe for painting. This allowed us to dive into the front body work and see their full state. Turns out the front valence wasn't attached in a few spots and there were some other questionable previous metal work spots, nothing some welding can't fix.












Not long after I dropped off the car, the shop went to work removing all trim, glass, rubber, and anything in the way of the paint and body. Paint was chemically stripped, mechanically where needed. Doors, hood, and trunk lid were sent off to a blaster.




Progress was being made.

And as a bonus - I found my trophy from the last auto show I sent to.



Trimming trim

The decision to remove all of the trim took me some time to make. When I say trim I'm talking about the waist trim, the mid door trim, and the lower door trim. The trim around the windows and lights is staying as they're a bit more integral to the car.






Bonus - theres the lighter passenger door that I had to live with.


In the end, give the amount of work that'd be going into the trim just to say it, combine with the cost needed to buy new bits - I decided to ditch it all in favor of a much more modern look.


I moved to San Diego in the summer of 2015 courtesy of the US Navy. I made the most of my time by driving the 2002 around as much as possible. In a car without air conditioning, near constant 75 degree weather is a godsend. I made the normal runs throughout the area - never venturing too far as I still had lingering questions on reliability in a 40 year old car. While there, I did take it to La Jolla Independent for a tune up and got some new tires as well. I tried to arrange for LJI to do some restoration work, but never could get their schedule and mine to line up. Sea duty assignments and loads of underway time will do that I suppose.



Three months ago, I got the word that it was time to head back to Virginia Beach. This time around I sent the car back ahead of time in an enclosed trailer as coming out I did it on an open and was worried the entire time.




While driving around one day, I came across a small restoration shop nearby to the breweries I like to frequent. A quick search online revealed very high rankings and a quick peak of their facebook page showed me a familiar sight - they were working on a 1976 2002 in the shop.



I knew I had found my shop.


I made an appointment and happily drove down to check everything out, see their work, and talk future direction with the car. The owner is also the lead fabricator and painter and is very personable. His attention to detail is flawless and the amount of preparation and execution he puts into paint is nothing short of staggering. He has a vision for seeing how things will play out that I wish I had. He would be able to accomplish everything I wanted:

  • full trim delete
  • full rust fix
  • black out of all remaining trim around windows
  • removing and filling turn signal locations
  • correcting all body work
  • Straightening all body lines
  • Refreshing engine bay
  • Painting engine
  • Replacing some mechanical items and bushings


At the end of the day, I was quoted a very reasonable amount for the work that I was about to have done. All it involved was a down payment and the keys.




Between the time that I purchased the 2002 and when I decided to start the restoration, I enjoyed making minor modifications and taking it to various car shows. One of the first things I did was get a custom license plate, which should be a requirement for all owners. I ended up choosing BTR 02 ("beater") as I wasn't sure I was ever going to embark on a full restoration job and while the car was far from falling apart, the term "beater" seemed appropriate.


Next up were window motors and switches and a new stereo and speakers all the way around. Coming from FL, I got tired of manual window cranks. A universal SPAL kit made easy work of that. An off the shelf head unit worked well enough and enabled all of the basic things I wanted in the car (mainly Bluetooth). Speakers went in and a quick and easy under dash speaker mount got them in place. During this time I also pulled the heater box and put all new foam in place along with a new fan motor. Somewhere along the line one of the retaining hooks came undone and there is a lot of noise coming from the fan when I use it as well as at high way speeds. One of these days I'll pull it back out and redo that.


In the fall of 2013, I managed to dent my passenger door backing out of my garage. Rather than drop the car off somewhere, I pulled the door and brought it to a shop to fix and paint. This turned out to be a mistake as they didn't exactly color match it and I ended up having a door that was a much lighter and brighter shade of gray on the car for a long time. Live and learn.


I took the car to countless cars and coffees in Virginia Beach and the greater Hampton Roads areas. I even managed to get it into some smaller car shows. My biggest achievement was when I was presented with the Organizer's Choice - Import award for the Air and Auto Classic show. I'll be honest, I was not expecting to win anything as there were Mercedes SL's, exotics, and other, much better, imports at this show. This was only a few months after the dented/now silver door incident.



Maybe there's hope for the Beater.



I can't remember how long I've wanted a NK. When I was in high school, I remember visiting my older sister outside of Asheville NC and her boyfriend at the time drove a sweet NK (roundie if I believe) but I do remember during my first tour (2007 or so) that I spent considerable time searching the web in a lazy search to find a car that spoke to me. Tons of restored race cars, including an awesome one with wide body flares and a roll cage out of Tampa, and loads of project cars, but nothing that would scratch the itch.


A few years, two deployments, and a move to VA later, I started my search again. Sometime around July of 2013, I came across a 2002 that called out. I met the owner (who is was TN) in Charlotte. Looked over the car, took it for a test drive, and from that moment - I was hooked. I can't remember what I paid for it, but I remember it being a good deal. Given the rise of the market recently, I feel it has been a great investment to have for the past 4 years.


About two year ago, I started toying with the idea of a restoration. I wanted to fix all of the minor rust, straighten the body panels, address some interior issues, and make it more driveable.


As this is just the start of the blog, I'll leave it there. More to come in the future as my schedule supports. I'm in the Navy (still) and my ship is currently tied up with Hurricane Harvey/Irma support operations.


Here is the car as I purchased it, picture follows. I've also got the info from the email sent to me by BMW about the build history and the email I sent myself two years ago with the direction I wanted to take everything.


Upgrades and Goodies
early bumper conversion
e21 Recaro seats and steering wheel
e21 3.91 LSD
5-speed conversion
Weber 32/36 DGAV (water choke)
Ireland Engineering shorty headers
IE stainless steel exhaust
IE urethane motor mounts
IE sway bars front and rear
IE springs and new Bilstein Sports
IE Big brakes w/ss brake lines (e21 rotors & hubs, Volvo calipers)
urethane subframe mounts
s14 starter
new differential hanger mounts
002 distributor with cap, rotor, and wires
Pertronix Ignitor
Bosch Blue coil
New tie rod ends and center drag link
new coolant hoses
new rear light assemblies, clear
MSW 14 basket weaves w/Sumitomo HTR200
Kosei K-1 15s w/Dunlop Direzza Sport Z1 Star
Top End Performance Rear Strut brace w/battery relo
BMW quick ratio steering box
Ron Davis aluminum radiator and electric pusher fan



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