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New to the forum - looking for some suggestions/advice


Buy a field car or running & driving?  

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  1. 1. Buy a field car or running & driving?

    • Field Car
    • Running & Driving

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First off, let me say this forum is an awesome resource for all things old BMW.. in particular the 2002 obviously. I am hoping for some good feedback and recommendations.

I've always loved the look of the 70s 2002 and now I've got some extra money to spend towards getting one, I've budgeted 10k towards doing so.

The problem I'm having is choosing to spend 4-5k on a car that is up and running but just needs work, or to spend $900 on a car my friend is offering to sell.

It's a 75-76, been in TX its whole life, so it has some surface rust, none of the seals leaked and I have been able to open the car, there was 0 mold and the seats were actually in great condition. The dash has a few cracks, but everything is there! We were not able to open the hood for some reason but the engine is present along with the original 4spd. The biggest unknown is if the engine is sized or not.

I hope to do as much of the work myself as possible, with the exception of machining or rebuilding the engine head.

I would like to use this an occasional driver but also have some attitude by lowering it. If the engine isn't seized, I would likely send it off for a rebuild or rebuild/upgrade the head, and a few other upgrades for alittle more power, and one of the things on the list is upgrade the rears to disc brakes.

So.. should I spend half the budget on a running & driving car, or DIY a car waiting in a TX field?

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Buy the best car you can then you have something you can drive and enjoy while you do the small things to make it the car you really want! If you drag a non running hulk home it will be months before you get any enjoyment out of it. PLUS anything that is working on the runner will have cost you about 25 cents on the dollar. Believe me a dash, engine rebuild and complete brake system rebuild will burn up $5000 and you still have a nasty looking body to deal with. Even if the main reason you want a 2002 is to have a garage project you DON'T want to start with a non running car out of a field, especially if it is your 1st 2002.

1970 1602 (purchased 12/1974)

1974 2002 Turbo

1988 M5

1986 Euro 325iC

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We've fielded this kind of question before. The real question is what *you* want. Consider a spectrum from (a) buy a turn key car for $10K, (B) buy a $3-$5K solid platform and do some restoration, and © buy a $500-$1K "project car" and restore it. The answer depends on both your abilities and what you want to get of of this along the way. If you want to have minimum hassle do (a). If you want to learn all about car restoration and have time to spend on this, do ©. It also depends on what you want to end up with--a show car, a nice daily driver, a track car, or something else.

If you are going route ©, you'll have to post plenty of pics and details about the car in question. None of us here have a crystal ball. I can tell you from experience that building a car from ground up is a rewarding experience, takes at least 3x as long as you think it will, and is an investment in time and money that will never be recouped if you sell it.

If your friend's car does not have terminal rust then it may be a good start. You need to decide your end point and add up your budget before you start, then multiply by at least 2. Remember, good paint is $3-$5K alone, depending on how much prep you do. As said above, engine and mechanicals is easily another $5K. If you want it nice then figure in all new chrome, interior, headliner, fresh windshield, etc. Do you have 3-4 years to do this, or do you want something in 6 months? Be realistic about what you want, provide many more details, and we will work to provide useful information/insight.

Best of luck,

Fred '74tii (ground up build) & '69GT3 (race car resto project)


'74tii (Colorado) track car

'69ti (Black/Red/Yellow) rolling resto track car

'73tii (Fjord....RIP)

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And there are options between a "field" car and a running and driving car. Compared to a "pig in a poke" approach in which you don't know if an engine is seized, being able to turn an engine over tells you something (generally positive) about the engine. Being able to hear an engine run tells you lots more. Being able to put the car in gear tells you something more. And being able to move the car under its own power tells you even more.

You're looking for a "project car" but that term embraces a wide array of conditions, from amazing and intact survivors to boxes of parts. If you're not particularly familiar with a given model, however, it really helps if you can dissemble the car yourself, rather than trying to build a car from boxes of parts. It may also help to reduce the number of unknown conditions -- a "field" car, like the one you've mentioned, has unknown engine, clutch, transmission, differential, suspension, etc. You get the picture. As said previously, you don't need to simply pass on the Texas "field" car -- a car with the least rust you can afford should be your goal -- but you do need to understand how many complete unknowns lie before you before you purchase a field car!

Good luck, and welcome to the fold,


1976 2002 Polaris, 2742541 (original owner)

1973 2002tii Inka, 2762757 (not-the-original owner)

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You could always take the bulk of the money and buy the best car you can find. This sometimes takes a little time if you don't have much of a local market so pateints is needed. In the mean time you could get the car in the field and understand it will take many moons to get it on the road but you can work on it as time and money allow. You get the best of both worlds - one to drive and one to rebuild and learn about the car's. Just have to continue with budgeting for the rebuild. I bought one running and one in a box (bad choice) but having fun with both.......but have been working on these cars for over 35 years so have some experience. Just make sure you've got a good place to work on the project car if you get it. Good luck!

I've survived damn near everything.

1974 - 2002, Mild - sold to son
1976 - 2002, lil' Wild

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Amost WELCOME to the CLub

Keep your friend a friend

his $900 car is really a $150 car as it sits now. Really.

as already suggested above - given the size of your bag-0-money,

you should find a car with ZERO RUST, you could drive home 3,000

miles, and all it needs is an oil change - nothing else.

happy hunting -


come back with photos and detailed history, Chassis & Motor

numbers of the next car before you buy

'86 R65 650cc #6128390 22,000m
'64 R27 250cc #383851 18,000m
'11 FORD Transit #T058971 28,000m "Truckette"
'13 500 ABARTH #DT600282 6,666m "TAZIO"

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As usual, I find myself almost agreeing with CD. You may not be able to find a great car for $4-5K these days, but it should at least be a runner. What you don't want is any car that has structural rust. The mechanicals are easy, even replacing the motor, when compared to the effort and $$ to required to restore a rust bucket.

Chris B.

'73 ex-Malaga

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Thanks for the information, after reading your responses I'm leaning towards buying a running & driving at this point.

What places other than here and ebay can you recommend for searching? I've already checked my local craigslist and found nothing..

If you lean toward a project car, I have one I need to let go.

1976 Sienabraun just south of San Antonio.

If interested contact me though my email button above.


'74 '02 - Jade Touring (RHD)

'76 '02 - Delk's "Da Beater"

FAQ Member #17

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Yeah, tough decision. Two years ago I decided to buy a barely running, CA rust free 1600 and do a resto on it myself to help keep costs down. I will tell you, it is unbelievable how fast the costs add up when you are making it brand new again. Unbe-freakin-lievable... If you do a rolling resto, you can spread the costs out over years, but still won't have a real restored car...but it could be really nice. If you take one down and rebuild, be prepared for well over $10k in PARTS alone. Yes. If you have to pay someone to do anything, costs increase exponentially.

I'm glad I did a ground up on mine, but it was very taxing on me. I don't mean physically, of course it was tough that way, too, I mean finding time, late nights, early mornings, not working on it because you want to spend time with your family, the amount of mental time it took up was unexpected...

I've only put 400 miles on my car since finishing it, too...(and no, it'll never be 'finished') and I have a hard time enjoying it because I'm constantly thinking about every little piece of the car and remembering all the pain along the way! Ha! I've even thought about just selling it to get it out of my head!! Maybe I need to take a step back and give it some time...

Sorry to unload all that, I think I had to at some point and hoped it might help another...;-)

Feel free to contact off the board if you want more details about my journey



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