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BMW produced a lot of variations of its original 02, first introduced in 1966 as the 1600-2. And, there has been a lot of debate as to the best one. Each one has its advantages;

 

The original 1600 perhaps has the cleanest styling. It is also the smoothest running motor due to its short stroke-small piston combination.  But, it lacks in low end torque and that freeway on-ramp umph ! delivered by the later 2002.

 

The 2002 of 1968-70 still retains the early styling (in European trim) and the bullet proof reliability of the single barrel Solex. In addition, it received reclining seats with chrome trim.  The 1968 model stands out in still retaining the long-neck diff, but in a longer striding 3.64 ratio. It also has the driveshaft with grease nipples on the u-joints. And, I believe they continued using the smooth shifting Porsche synchros in the transmissions through some point in 1970. At some point in 69 they went to the 8 bolt crank as well.

 

The 72s -73s stared getting burdened add-ons, electronics and trim which looked more like an after- thought than part of the original design. This is more pertinent to the US cars. Why use 12 fuses when you can perform the same functions in a simpler design with 6 fuses ?

 

And then there are the square light cars 74-76 which are just a further evolution of the 72-73 cars to address cost of production costs and safety regulations, especially in the US. Sure, the cars received a 2 barrel Solex carb, but they were no faster than the 2002 of 1968. They are probably slower, given the added weight. BMW now standardized and downsized the clutch on all its 02s except for the 1600 ( I don’t know about the Tii) to the 215mm unit.

 

And, not to forget the “Ti” and “Tii” 02s, God forbid  ! Both of these drive trains were actually used in the earlier NK variations (The NK had a 1800Ti & TISA while the 02 had the 1600ti with respect to the smaller displacement Ti versions. Even the 2 liter Tii motor made its first debut in the NK  2000tii in 1969 ? ). I'll also include the Turbo into this category. These cars are more for the enthusiast who is willing to tinker and spend more time and resources on repairs for a slight gain in performance and that track car feel.  They are great cars, but just not as reliable and cost-effective.  And, that’s why they were produced in smaller numbers.

 

So, given all of this, which is the best all around 02, taking everything into consideration, not just brute power, but cost of maintenance-repairs, ergonomics, ease of performing repairs and accessing engine and mechanical components, fuel mileage, etc

 

My vote goes to the early 2002, preferably in European styling trim with the Euro spec three piece dash.  The car is stylish, clean, very reliable and easiest to maintain and keep on the road.  It delivers good power and torque and is fuel efficient (21-24mpg).

Edited by Slavs
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A Tii is not as reliable as a 2002, I beg to differ, they are also 30% more powerful than a standard 02, that’s more than a slight gain in performance, but I’m biased.

Don't think there is a best, just the ones we all favour personally.

Be interested to watch the opinions on this.... just going for beer and popcorn now?

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1973 2002Tii is the best 2002. Longer bumper brackets front & rear, metal intake runners, lighted heater controls and last year for round tail lights before the cars got heavier & slower in 1974.

 

I have owned 3 2002s over 30 years. A 1972 & 1973 in college, then purchase the 1973 Tii in 2010 which is the best 2002 I have owned. 

 

 

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I've owned a few.  My favorite was an earlier, somewhat ratty car

that I cared enough about to maintain and improve,

but not so much as to keep me from flogging the hell out of it.

Sideways from 50th up the hill onto southbound Aurora?  No problems!

 

Kind of like my current daily E46.  (which gets all blinky when I try the same thing)

 

That is now just about as old as that 2002 was when I bought it...

 

t

 

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The late Michel Poteau--one of the first CCA members, proprietor of Circle Tire (the place to go for 2002 parts in  the 70s and 80s) and the 2002 guru, more than once said the 73's were the best year for 2002s.  By then factory had worked all the bugs out of the design and had managed to meet the US safety and emission requirements much better than the earlier cars. The 73s still had the wear-like-iron upholstery, multi-piece carpets, stronger bumpers and real metal grilles.  And round tail lights.  Subsequent cars had cheapened trim, upholstery, more emission stuff and 200 extra pounds.  And strayed from the original design.  

 

Admittedly 73s were saddled with inch taller springs and that less-than-successful Solex 2 barrel carb (how could the same company that produced the bullet-proof 1 barrel Solex make that 2 barrel thing?).  However, springs are easily changed, and few of those Solexes actually still reside on cars; most are in basement parts boxes or the neighbor's pool.  

 

Since I own both a (Feb production) '69 and a (Dec 72 production) 73, I'll have to say they both have their charms.  As Slavs says, the early car is much simpler, slightly lighter and has cleaner lines on the outside. 

 

But that admittedly bulletproof 1 barrel Solex just isn't enough carb for a 2 liter performance engine, the original spaghetti seatbelts are a horror, the lower A arms are much more fragile than later cars, and it had (most are gone now, so folks don't remember) a terrible emissions control system.  Also those smooth Porsche-style synchros used up to sometime in 1970 are a lot more fragile than the notchier B-W style synchos used on later cars.  All those problems were gone by late 1972...

 

IMHO, of course.  Your thoughts may vary.  Professional driver, closed course.  Do not attempt ?

 

mike

 

Edited by mike
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As Mike said the early seatbelts that mounted under the rear window were dubbed the great paralyzer  by a club member who was a er doctor, he always said that the twisting motion in a head on and the downward pull of the low mount was a guaranteed spine injury waiting to happen.

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Got my intro to the marque in 1967 in West Germany. Was very impressed with the ease they slipped by my 62 Porsche S90 356 on the autubon, but on a 2Lt's salary I wasn't able to swing a purchase. When the Porsche no longer could serve as a family car that first impression led me to my first (and only new) 02, a 72. With 150k miles on it , selling it in 1979 for $600 more than the sticker price,  it having  provided such exceptional service and so many good memories,  it would be hard to declare any other year or model  superior.  I'd love to find it again.

Edited by Mike A
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Hey folks 

 

I am excited and glad to read this article with so much good info.

 

so I have found a 1600.  

It has an 02 engine.   It was a estate sale and my friend has it.  

it was a racer so interior is not original.  

Engine sounds strong.  

Glass looks good.   

Couple of rust spots here and there.  

Chrome is patina

original color was Bristol.  Whats your thoughts on paint Inca or Colorado ?

 

Looking for good advise.  

 

k man 

 

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3 minutes ago, Mike A said:

Got my intro to the marque in 1967 in West Germany. Was very impressed with the ease they slipped by my 62 Porsche S90 356 on the autubon, but on a 2Lt's salary I wasn't able to swing a purchase. When the Porsche no longer could serve as a family car that first impression led me to my first (and only new) 02, a 72. With 150k miles on it , selling it in 1979 for $600 more than the sticker price,  it having  provided such exceptional service and so many good memories,  it would be hard to declare any other year or model  superior.  I'd love to find it again.

And the super90!

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It's the one you own, and work on. That's the best 02.

Although, I tend to agree with Slavs about early, simple, easy to maintain cars as being the best, overall. I like simple and effective cars.

 

And, personal rant, I'm sick to death about hearing about how great round tail lights are. WTH? They're lights.

 

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NYNIck, I agree, unequivocally.  They're just...lights...lights that show the world our exquisite taste in transportation...lights that indicate we did not "settle" for an inferior ride.  

 

After owning, worshiping, and being one-with a '73 2002 for 34 years (as my only car during that time), a '70 for 1 year (so far) and a '74 2002tii for 5 years (will be buried in it), I have determined I am well qualified state in public (even if my '74 square was a much better car than my '73 round):  My favorite 2002 is whichever one is in my field of vision at any given time...be it mine or be it one owned by someone else.  All of them fill my loins with lust.

 

Larry  

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