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Potential 1976 2002 Purchase - Potential First Time 02 Owner


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Hi all, I'm looking into this '76 2002 that's being sold by a family friend. The current owner has been the only owner of the car since 1976 and has kept it in a garage for most of it's life. I can tell from the pictures he sent that there is definitely some odd things going on with this one but they are selling well below market price so it might be worth it. I'm pretty new to classic cars but always wanted to pickup a classic beemer and am tempted to take the dive if this car doesn't have too many red flags. They said they put in a new engine a few years ago and have only put 15k miles on it since the engine swap. On paper, sounds like it has some good things going for it so far.


It didn't look like there was any obvious rust issues as is but looked like they patched up some spots on the floor. It also looks like they painted the rear shock towers black which worries me they are trying to hide possible rust spots there too (but it's hard to tell from pics). It also looks like they moved the battery to the trunk for some reason - my hunch was they did this to make more room in engine compartment or to try and accommodate that speaker back there. The fact the battery is held in place with a bungie chord worries me but am hoping we can relocate back to engine compartment to be more secure. Also worried about the battery terminals being so close to strut brace (that doesn't look like it's bolted or welded in???).


My thoughts are that if the car runs well and looks to be rust free it could be worth the dive if considering I have a trusted classic mechanic I'm planning to work with more to fix some of the weirdness on this one. I would definitely appreciate any insights from the community if there are any red flags with this one! Thanks!






























Edited by sodunn15
Converted image file type to Jpg
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From the images (double click and they download) it appears the shock towers have been replaced and POR-15'ed.  It looks like an adequate job, but it's an indication that there is rust.  Floors are the same story.  It's a NY car, so what do you expect?  A California person would run away (smog restraints, rust) but my Midwestern eye thinks it look pretty good for a driver. 


The repaint looks good from a distance, but it's hard to know how much bodywork was done prior to the spray, and how much is lurking.   I bet you could get that battery affixed pretty quick with a decent hold-down.   The rear battery thing is allegedly to balance the weight fore/aft.  I'd probably leave it back there and work on other things immediately.   Lots of debris in the engine bay, for example, and the front strut area looks peculiar to me.  Another rust repair?    Check that the rockers were done both outside and inside, because if the shock towers and floors were that rough, it's likely the rockers were also rusty.   Sunroof car means that the drain tubes exited there (or, rather, clogged up and rusted there). 


Seats are not original and look to have custom brackets welded in.  They don't look too bad from the outside, and the color combo looks good to me.   


My vote:  if you can get it for four-figure$$ and can put another five grand into it in repairs, seals, brakes, tires, etc, you might have a decent driver on your hands for ok money.   If you'd like one that is rust-free in fine original condition that you can show, this is not it -- and it would take too much $$ to get it there.  



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@2002iii For NY State I should be good on smog test since the car is older than 25 yrs. Thanks for the recommendation for switching to JPGs - just updated the post now.


@jb Thanks for the insights! I'm thinking the same thing, they are asking just over $10k on it so hoping I can get it for a bit less given the callouts you mentioned. Any idea if the battery is safe like that with the terminals so close to the brace above it 😬 

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Yeah all of those repairs look to be done by an amateur. I would want to see pictures of the underside of the car.


The rear strut brace battery holder should be bolted in and or welded. The bungee cord is not safe and the battery should be in the other way around. All of this is easily fixable or removed.


Hopefully they are flexible on the price and you might consider having a mechanic look over the car.

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Battery is an easy fix although I don't think I've ever seen one on the driver's side since the idea is weight balance. 10K is a very good price even with the potential unknowns. See if you can get some pictures of the underside; that's where all the rust evidence is seen.

engine small.jpg

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15 hours ago, sodunn15 said:

Any idea if the battery is safe like that with the terminals so close to the brace above it 😬 

Yeah, I'm going with no, IMHO its a fire waiting to happen.

One good thing about that rear brace battery tray not being secured is that it would be easy to remove that doesn't actually do anything piece of bling. 

Paint job looks pretty slap dash amateurish judging by the spotty metallic distribution in places and the silver painted sunroof rear seal.

Looks like the factory seat mounts have been removed, thats a major negative IMHO

Edited by tech71

76 2002 Survivor

71 2002 Franzi

85 318i  Doris

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Not to mention the battery is sitting on a upright bit of angle iron and not supported accross the flat botton as intended. If this was my car I'd ditch the brace and replace it with a marine battery box strapped to the floor and I would incorperate a battery shut off switch.

If everybody in the room is thinking the same thing, then someone is not thinking.


George S Patton 

Planning the Normandy Break out 1944

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For a car that's spent its life in Salt Country, it's not too bad.  

Places to look and things to consider that haven't been covered...

  • the visible repairs--especially on those critical inner rear wheel arches, look competent.  What wasn't done was the welds weren't ground down; that's why they show.  I think I'd scrape away a little of the paint/sealer that's covering the weld and see what it looks like naked.  It's easy then to tell competent welding from non-so-competent.
  • The rear driver's side footwell repair--same comment.  That's an unusual place for a rust-through, and usually the result of a leaking backlight gasket.  I'd look under the back seat cushion to see if there's more rust there, as the critical bracket that supports the rear subframe is welded to the floor beneath the back seat.
  • A rusted out driver's front floor isn't unusual, and the same comments apply to that repair as the others...and BTW those are (I think) E21 front seats.
  • The oval holes in the sides of the trunk lid opening lip should have grey plastic plugs in 'em.  They are where the flow through ventilation outlets go on non-sunroof cars.  They should be taped up, otherwise the spare tire well and around the gas tank will take on water every time it rains.
  • Those wheels are from an E21 (5.5 x 13) and will work but have the wrong offset for a 2002.  So long as they don't rub in front, they won't cause an immediate problem but over a long period, will contribute to front wheel bearing wear.
  • Places to inspect that you didn't picture: 
  1. spare tire well under the trunk floor, driver's side.  Pull the spare and look underneath for rust/repairs
  2. Gas tank:  around the perimeter for rust, and the tank itself for rust in the flange that joins the two halves together.
  3. Lower nose panel, below the grille
  4. rear wheel opening lips and trailing edge of the front fenders--use a magnet to look for bondo as both spots are about the first places a 2002 will rust

I won't go into things mechanical since you didn't comment on drivetrain, brakes, suspension etc.  Let us know what you find there and we'll try to help.


You can use the above plus whatever else you find as price negotiation ammunition...


Cheers and (potentially) welcome to the 02 fraternity/sorority



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'69 Nevada sunroof-Wolfgang-bought new
'73 Sahara sunroof-Ludwig-since '78
'91 Brillantrot 318is sunroof-Georg Friederich 
Fiat Topolini (Benito & Luigi), Renault 4CVs (Anatole, Lucky Pierre, Brigette) & Kermit, the Bugeye Sprite

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