Over a decade ago, I purchased a car that would spell the beginning of a gripping obsession with a quirky German car with a cult following. I’d been looking for something old, 2-door, rear wheel drive and affordable. I’d toyed with the idea of either an Alfa 1750 GTV, a Datsun 1600, or a Mk.I Cortina. And then someone showed me a picture of a BMW 2002, and I just had to have one. I obsessed over it. I bought all the books, read all the articles, I spoke to guys who raced them. It was a perfect fit. So I bought one. It was a Sahara beige 1974 square tail light 2002, that wasn’t running, and needed a lot of work. Immediately the car was stripped down to make the necessary repairs, and it sat in the same spot for 5 years, gathering dust while I slowly chipped away at various sub-assemblies in my spare time.
Then in 2012, I grew impatient with the whole project, and decided to go out and buy a complete running car. I’d never driven a 2002 at that point, so I was starting to wonder if it was all going to be worth it once I’d put all that effort in to finish the project I’d already started. And then I found it. An unmolested, matching numbers Chamonix white 1973 2002, manual, with a black interior. It was the combination that had got me hooked on these cars all those years ago. I negotiated with the seller. We both got a good deal. The car came with RWC and receipts for work done just prior to the sale.
I drove it home from his house. It drove like shit – the brakes didn’t work, the steering was vague, the engine was tired. I didn’t care, it was mine. Everyone smiled at it. Everywhere I went with it, people would give a thumbs up or have a chat at the traffic lights. I drove it every day for 4 years. I took it to track days and club meets. I didn’t have the luxury of a carport or a garage, so it sat outside. The already tired paint deteriorated quickly, until I finally took it off the road to give it some TLC. I rebuilt the engine with some improvements, the suspension received a complete overhaul, brakes, gearbox and steering were all completely rebuilt. It’s a completely different car to the one I bought 7 years ago. The paint is the last piece of the puzzle, and is currently in progress. Once the paint has been finished, it’ll be time to shift my attention back to that neglected Sahara 2002.
Throughout the whole process, I’ve had to learn to take what you read on the internet with a grain of salt, but I’ve also managed to pick up a huge amount of useful information. If, like me, you like to tinker, and pull things apart, you’d be surprised to find out that there’s almost nothing that you can’t buy for your 2002, and most of it is available locally. There’s a misconception that the only places to buy parts for your 2002 are overseas vendors like Walloth & Nesch, Ireland Engineering, and Pelican Parts, and this is just not true. While I’ve definitely sourced parts from these vendors, there are a huge number of Australian manufacturers, workshops, suppliers and fabricators who want to do business with you, you just need to find them. So if you’re in the process of buying a BMW 2002, restoring one, or you just want to have a bit more information before you start pulling things apart, let’s break down what you need to know. Keep in mind that this is by no means a comprehensive guide, but merely my observations over the years. If you’re in Melbourne, you’ll find this guide particularly useful, as most of our contacts are Melbourne-based.
TIME TO HIT THE BOOKS
Before you even pick up a spanner, you need to source some books. Yes, I know it’s not exciting, but there are a number of books that know more than you do about these cars, so do yourself a favour and take the advice. The most important book you need is a workshop manual. By far the most comprehensive is the factory BMW workshop manual with the blue binder. There have been various versions of this manual, and can be obtained as digital downloads, and if you͛re lucky they sometimes pop up on eBay. You don’t need the factory manual though, there are some good alternatives. Haynes produce a workshop manual that contains most of what you’ll need. There is also a little known workshop manual by Autobooks with a green cover that, in my opinion, is more comprehensive in the engine / gearbox area.
The second thing you need to do is get yourself a copy of the factory parts manual. A parts manual is just as important as a workshop manual, as it not only gives you part numbers of every single part on your 2002, but also contains detailed drawings showing order of assembly, quantities, superceded part numbers, lengths and diameters of bolts for the entire car. If you’re lucky you can sometimes nab yourself an original parts manual on eBay, or you can just head to 2002tii.org and download a PDF copy. It’s a big file, contains over 1700 pages, and at first look it’s a bit daunting. So familiarise yourself with it, learn how to read it and what the symbols mean, because this book is going to be your friend if you’re serious about rebuilding a 2002. It covers every model from 1502-2002Tii, manual and automatic, plus 2002 Turbo.
Worth mentioning is the BMW ’02 Restoration Guide by Mike Macartney, which contains a lot of details on, as you’d expect, restoring your 02, and is a worthy addition to any ’02er’s library.
WHERE CAN I BUY THIS RANDOM PART?
Once you’ve got your reading material, you’ll no doubt be itching to make some progress on your project. But where do you start? You’re going to need some parts, and you’re going to need to know where to get them from. If it’s a genuine or OE part you’re after, this is an easy one, you just need the part number of what you need, and a phone. If you don’t know what I mean about ‘part number’, go back and read the previous section, you know, the boring one about books and reading.
For most genuine or OE parts, I use Peninsula BM. They’re both a wrecking yard and also a parts supplier. Pricing is competitive, and they’ll even courier parts to you. You can either email them through your order, or even easier, just call them and give them the part numbers of what you need. Please don’t say “Hi, I’m after the thing that goes through the hole with the widget on the other side”. They’re parts suppliers, not Rainman. Have your chassis & engine numbers handy too, sometimes they’ll ask for this.
If you can’t / don’t want to deal with Peninsula BM, any local BMW dealership with a spare parts division can also supply you the same parts. I’ve just personally found them to not really care about anything older than about 5 years old, so service can be a bit average.
For non-genuine parts, it gets a little more specific. You don’t need genuine BMW brake pads, brake hoses, master cylinder kits, oil filters, bearings, shims etc, but you do need to know where to get them.
- Brake hoses / fittings, brake pads, wheel cylinder kits, master cylinder kits, try your local ABS. They’ll make up brake hoses if you supply them your old one, and can supply you with any kind of brake flare fitting you may need. Brake pads and linings can also be sourced from BGT Brake Services. This is the same shop that was once in Camberwell and then in Dandenong.
- Service items / filters, brake pads, oil, plus engine bearings, hoses, gaskets etc, most of this is available from your local Burson. They have a pretty comprehensive parts lookup, and stores all over Australia, so don’t be surprised if they tell you they can supply what you need within a couple of days.
- Tyres can be sourced from Mick at Top Gear Wheels & Tyres. Pricing is competitive, and if you request some kind of older tread pattern in an obscure size, he’ll be able to source it for you.
- Bearings for your gearbox, diff, hubs, gasket material, bearing pullers, taps & dies can all be found at your local bearing shop. Preston Bearings is a personal favourite – not only are they right next to our shop, but the guys here will go above and beyond to source the hard to find, difficult parts that other shops would say is ‘unavailable’.
- Piston rings usually come supplied with new pistons, but often the quality is sub-standard, with sizings varying more than they should, and piston suppliers unable to tell you who supplied their piston rings. Every piston ring we use now is supplied by Trevor at Pacific Engine Parts. It’s not worth taking a risk with. Trevor knows his stuff, and will piece together a total ring package for you, at pricing that’s comparable to off-the-shelf offerings, but of a much higher quality.
- Gearbox and diff shims can be sourced from Chris at Precision Shims. He’ll make you any kind of bearing shim you need, to order, in whatever OD, ID and thickness you need. He’s quick, knows what he’s doing, and will happily post to you.
- Carburettor parts, fuel pumps and anything relating to fuel delivery can be sourced from Peter at Thornbury Carburettors. He’s been supplying and repairing carburettors for decades. His shop is a treasure trove of spare parts. If it’s old-school, he’ll know about it.
- Handbrake cables can be supplied by Auto Cables in Eltham. Just give them your old, worn out or seized handbrake cables and they’ll make you up a new set with the correct fittings on each end. Far cheaper than sourcing a genuine handbrake cable.
- Some fasteners on your car will be either rusty, missing, or too damaged to use. We source all our nuts, bolts and washers from Keables. They’ve been around since the hills were born and have an unbelievable amount of old stock. Need nice chamfered washers, wave washers, brass nuts, square nuts or anything oddball? They’ll have it. Their website contains PDFs with every line item they carry, so you can just search through their catalogs for the part numbers you require, then phone the order through.
BUT WHAT ABOUT AFTERMARKET / PERFORMANCE PARTS?
Again, this will be specific to what kind of part you’re after. There’s a huge amount of support for 2002s in Australia, and as more and more of these cars have money spent on them to keep them in circulation, the more parts seem to become available.
- Carburettors, electric fuel pumps, fuel pressure regulators. Thornbury Carburettors can supply you with any kind of upgrade carburettor, including manifolds, linkages, cables & mounting hardware. They’ll pre-jet the carbs for your particular application, and he carries a heap of spares.
- Suspension parts can be sourced from Centreline Suspension. They can supply you with Bilstein shocks, uprated swaybars, lowered springs, camber tops, and will also provide a modification service for your existing strut housings to gain extra camber. They’ll also perform proper camber / castor alignment of your front end.
- For big-name performance brands like Carillo, ISKY, Redline, JE Pistons etc, companies like Rocket Industries, Speed Pro Distributors and VPW can supply what you need. Pistons are usually a special order item, so order in advance.
WHERE CAN I GET MY THINGAMAJIG REPAIRED?
We’re in the business of building engines, chassis restorations and various other mechanical work, so if you need your engine, gearbox, diff, steering box or brakes repaired or restored, feel free to drop in for a chat any time to see what we do. We’ve built a number of stock and modified 2002 engines over the years, and we’d always love to add to that list. There are, however, a large number of repairs that we can’t do and need to outsource:
- Engine machining is something we outsource to Crankshaft Rebuilders. Boring, honing, surface grinding, valve work, hot-tanking, and any other kind of engine-related machining can all be performed by these guys.
- Need a brake master cylinder re-sleeved, or your boosters tested? Chances are, your local brake and clutch shop will just send your master cylinder to Power Brakes, so cut out the middle man and just send it there direct.
- No restoration is complete without the correct hardware. For all our zinc plating needs, we use a combination of Sterling Plating and Big Zinc, depending on the finish we require. Sterling Plating will turn out quite shiny, whereas the process Big Zinc uses results in a much duller finish that’s more correct for older cars. Quality of both platers is great, they’re just different for different applications.
- Rebuilding an engine and need rotating assemblies balanced? Go and see Murray at Balancing Services. He’s just a solo operator, WYSIWYG. Does a great job, is cheap and quick.
- Sandblasting is pretty nasty for delicate old car parts, but for good media blasting that won’t damage soft castings and will retain original surface textures, speak to Tim at Peninsula Aqua Blasting. His work is really impressive, and takes a lot of pride in his work. He’s an ’02er too, and comes highly recommended as a bayside 2002 expert.
- Cracked dashboard? Take it to The Dashboard Doctor. They won’t just put a skin over your damaged dashboard, they’ll take the old skin off, repair all cracks, then re-skin with the closest material they can find. There are a lot of bad re-skinned dashboards out there, spend a bit more and get it done properly.
- Gauges not working? Howard Instruments have been around for a long time, and they’ll get your gauges working again. They’re good to deal with. Gauge repairs can take some time, so get in early and be patient while they do their thing.
NOW GO AND WORK ON YOUR ’02!
That should keep you busy for a while. Do keep in mind that this is by no means a complete guide, but it’ll give you a good starting point if you’re not sure how to even start. As always, our door is always open, so feel free to come past for a chat any time.
Happy ’02ing everyone!