As I started down the road of my BMW 2002 restoration I wanted to document what I have done and will be doing. I want to start by expressing how impressed I am with this forum. Every time I post or need help I receive it, this truly a lesson in “ask and ye shall receive”. So a big thank you to one and all for the comments and feedback on various topics. Being new to the BMW world, but always wanting to have been part of it, makes this forum a truly invaluable tool.
I found my 1969 BMW 2002 locally here in the San Francisco Bay Area. The owner was the original purchaser who bought it new in the summer of 69’, queue the song. The car had been sitting under a cover for the past 12 years not running or started since. I knew I had my work cut out for me but owning an original California 1969 BMW, bought originally from a dealership in Palo Alto, was too much to pass up. The owner had 90% of the receipts to include the original purchasing agreement showing an AM/FM radio was an option back in 69’, and a $149 dollars one at that. For those younger folks reading this that was a lot of money back in the day. In addition, the custom paint code 058(Bristol), was also a special order but at a much cheaper cost of $50. Isn’t that amazing, a radio was more than the special order paint. The car was clearly showing its age sitting under that cover but one thing I noticed was the lack of any major rust. That alone in my mind was a good sign of things to come. The car having sat for so long would not start but another good sign was the ability to turn the engine fan, yep engine not seized, good sign. So I pulled the trigger, we settled on a fair price, and I called the towing company. Watching that car get dropped off in my driveway was a great feeling. My wife of course looked at me with the look of “does it run.” “Nope but look at her, she has great potential.”
As I started doing research on what shop could resurrect this beauty in the making, one name kept coming up in the Bay Area. Other shops even told me “oh we don’t work on something that has sat that long.” However a few were kind enough to at least drop a name, that being Bill Arnold. For those in the Bay Area they probably know this name. Bill has worked on BMW’s most of his career having also raced them. So I said to myself if anyone can do it, this guy definitely can get it done. I scheduled with Bill and made plans to have the car towed there. I was immediately impressed meeting Bill, seeing him take one look and telling me “this has potential, I think you did ok.” Of course for those buying a used car this is when you breathe a big sigh of relief.
My initial conversation with Bill went as follows, “this will be a daily driver or at least a few times a week so reliability is key.” Bill said “ok, then those dual side draft Weber’s are probably overkill unless it has a fairly large cam. Let’s put a simple Weber 38DGES on it.” I said, “As well I'm not looking to perform an engine swap since this is an original numbers matching 02.” “See if you can get it started so we know where we are as it pertains to the long block.” I also let Bill know “a Getrag 245 will be coming your way so expect the 5 speed conversion.” “Call me with whatever you find and let me know where we stand at least on the engine”
Within a week Bill calls me and says “good news, I got her turned over and started, even with the side drafts.” At that point Bill started going through all the usual maintenance suspects. He put the downdraft Weber on and checked compression. More good news, all cylinders above 150PSI, and another sigh of relief. So far so good. Oil pressure was not where it needed to be and of course the oil pump needed to be replaced. Once that was done and he had an operating engine, at least in its most basic form, he decided to take it out for a quick spin. Bill made it around the corner, and as he was pulling into his garage the water pump exploded. He recommended while we go through the cooling system we send out the radiator to have it re-cored to 3 row and drop to a 71 degree thermostat. Of course, I was like “totally agree.” At this point we had a solid engine at least from a starting and running perspective. However, the factory 4 speed, not so much, multiple gears in very bad shape according to Bill.
Meanwhile, I had already contacted Dave at Aardvarc Racing for a Getrag 245 and conversion kit. For those that have worked with Dave, he’s a great resource for many of the typical 02 upgrade parts. He’s an owner as well but more importantly has a lot of great advice about what he has found over 20 plus years of owning these cars. Dave shipped the transmission and all the hardware directly to Bill. Bill installed everything and confirmed we had a good functioning 5 speed overdrive. Oops, now the Brake Booster went out, better to occur on Bill than me driving down the freeway. I called the folks at 2002AD to order a rebuilt brake booster as these can no longer be had new. They were very helpful and have a ton of old parts by the way.
Now roughly 1 month in, he moved onto the undercarriage to examine the suspension, brake, bushings, etc. Of course he had to replace control arms and bushings. At this point I had more decisions to make as the struts and springs were collapsed. What do I do, call the guys at Blunt Tech. “Hey guys, send me that suspension kit, H&R springs, ST Sway Bars, and Bilstein HD’s.” I also ordered strut and shock mount replacements. While Bill had everything apart I called the folks at Ireland Engineering and ordered Fixed Camber plates for the front as well as their Shorty header, downpipe, and stage 1 exhaust system. I know as you read this you’re thinking this is turning into being a large project. Yeah, I agree, I’m thinking that as well. What I learned from this forum is all these items I have mentioned eventually need to be addressed one way or another. I’m just choosing to do them all at once over the course of a few months to ensure I have a road worthy vehicle to drive to work as needed. Owning a BMW 2002 is not for the faint of heart if daily driving is the goal. It’s a commitment but I do believe one that returns years of pleasure if you perform the standard upgrades and utilize the information so many have shared on this forum.
60 days in we’re making progress and getting close. I asked Bill while we are getting close to finishing what else could you see us doing to make this an even better running 02. Bill replied, “Well if you can get your hands on a 3.91 E21 LSD, jump on it if you are so inclined.” I get off the phone, call Aardvarc, “Hey Dave, got any 3.91 LSD’s laying around?” “Not right now he says, but I will in a week.” Fast forward two weeks, LSD on its way to Bill. Again can’t say enough about the following vendors/partners when you dealing with west coast 2002’s.
Bill Arnold BMW Repair
Between them you can almost fulfill all your needs in one fashion or another. Of course I had thought about Korman or TopEnd but since I wasn’t looking to get an engine rebuild performed I passed for now. However they too appear to be very solid resources. For now I’m finished with mechanical as I have a solid running car. Next chapter will be off to paint…….
Link to pictures - Jeff's 1969 BMW 2002