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Eat, Sleep, Think old BMWs - 2017



2017's theme: The more I learned the intricacies of the cars, the more I wanted to learn. The more parts I found, the more parts I wanted to find. 

Looking back on my phone at photos taken in 2017, I almost laugh at how naive and enthusiastic I was.  


My car was running and driving but it had almost no interior and everything rattled around like a spray can. I wanted to collect the parts I needed to make it complete, and a year in, I was already thinking about buying another 02 or 1600. I tend to struggle with moderation, generally and 2002s were in my sights.


I began to read about the difference between early and late cars and realized that most of what the PO had installed in the car after painting it were low quality items from later model cars. But, there were moldy early rear door panels in the trunk. After 30 mins of very satisfying scrubbing, they were clean but still so sad and saggy looking I planned on only keeping the chrome ashtrays and finding a full set of panels in better condition. 




So, I spent the year obsessively combing the marketplaces of the internet to build up my 2002 parts stash. Out of necessity, I was most attracted to interior and the shiny exterior trim parts correct for a 68-mid 71 car.

I was on the hunt, ready to run down 02 parts any day of the week, often before or after work. One of the ways I actually got to know SoCal was via Craigslist or Facebook ads. Covina, Redlands, Huntington Beach, Mission Viejo, all these names of suburbs and cities near LA became familiar to me. I drove everywhere to pick up parts. And almost every week I found something new to add to my stash. Craigslist was certifiably better for 2002 parts in 2018 and parts still felt cheapish. 




I remember being so proud of myself when I would chase after a CL ad offering a solitary rear roundel badge, and on a Saturday morning, drive down to Diamond Bar or Duarte or wherever to surprisingly come away with a whole haul of parts, accessories, literature or paraphernalia after asking the seller if they had anything else 2002 related to sell. This happened multiple times.


I would come home with my parts and lay them all down and take photos like fresh kills for a man on safari. Then I would put the parts directly on car, or get to work refurbishing them. 


One of my first experiences trying my hand at cleaning up an old part started with a beat up, early, Silver Dollar instrument cluster housing I wanted to use. My car had come with the faux woodgrain housing out of a squaretail car. People on the forum had inspired me to get into the details of my restoration, so I did my best to make the correct housing look good as new. 


I should say maybe: I studied as a designer at the end of the 20th century into the dawn of the 21st, when the curriculum was strictly by hand for the first 2 years of general 2D and 3d education. You couldn't touch computers for your assignments. Later, as I chose my focus, my teachers were haggard printing pressmen and German and Dutch typographers who drew letters perfectly by hand. So, I had some familiarity with handcrafts and the patience they take, but a 2002 restoration felt like new territory for me. 









I did the gauge bezels separately because I think I saw someone on the forum do it that way.





I actually had two housings. A good one and a chipped one. I used the chipped one as my dummy and got my technique down with each pass before doing it on the one I wanted to keep and use. First pass, I used SEM Trim Black vinyl dye in the center area, masking off the rest. Then I reversed the mask and did the silver around the edges in a Krylon Metallic paint I got from Home Depot. Probably not what I would do to restore it with what I know now, but it was a good step for me along the way. It came out presentable enough.


The DIY-ness of chasing the parts and then putting in the effort and elbow grease to make them feel new again really touched my soul. My outlook since moving to LA had changed and scrubbing dirty parts I'd scored off the classified ads was cathartic. 


Doing these menial tasks late at night form some of my favorite memories of our time in that first LA house. 




Sometime, in October 2017, I had planned to visit my parents in bay area for a long weekend.


I had met @CoastalCrush and @MOJOJOY at the Bay Area 2002 Swap & Show in San Francisco earlier that May and knew they lived near my folks in San Jose. We made plans to meet up at the Neue Klasse Cars and Coffee they held monthly. Today, I only have a couple of photos from the event I was having so much fun meeting people and hearing about their cars. Along with Dani, I met the two other members who make up the infamous 2002 Colombians, Alex and Jan. The three of them are hilarious together, always down to help someone out with their car, and generally made me feel very at home. At moments they remind me of the 02 expert older cousins I never had. 


Mr. BMW2002FAQ himself, @steve k., was also there that day with donuts. I remember talking to him about the SJ Sharks. The whole vibe of that Bay Area community felt right.  


A lot of vintage cars have groups of enthusiasts. Very few of them have real communities that hang out and build with each other.


I'm not the first to say this, but the 2002 scene was/is just that to me. I still enjoy seeing all those same Bay Area folks anytime we meet up. 







Max's celebrity Colorado 02, Crusty, and a very original '67 1600 he'd just bought. Both photos in front of the house he grew up in. Turns out the house is on the same street my parents lived on at the time. Dani lives around the corner from there. This super small world of 2002s was here in Bay the whole time, and I was just lucky enough to fall into a passion that many of these folks had been living for decades. 


(fun side note, the Sahara 1600 now belongs to another 02 friend here in LA I met at a C&C, @mccusername)




By the end of 2017, I was getting my stuff together.


In December, I would buy a rebuilt 245 Getrag 5 speed from the BMW CCA judge Paul Cain and fellow judge HBChris when I went to pick up the transmission at their secret lair in OC. These guys were very experienced. I was fortunate to be given the time of day by them and asked a lot of questions. I started to pay closer attention to the details and the quality of 2002s and be more particular after learning what Paul and Chris look for when judging. I was not near their level, but the awareness of the concourse 2002 game is something I still am interested in and respect.


The day after Christmas, @kbmb02 helped me install the 5 speed and a 3.91 LSD I'd also picked up and we'd had rebuilt.









There was some momentum and I was having fun. 


2018 would be the year I hot rod my engine, put together a presentable interior and maybe learn to drive the car harder with more control. 



Edited by hellayego

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