Bimmer Bio – April ’89
Long Distance Dedication
With this issue of Zundfo/ge we complete our five part series on the 2002. It’s appropriate that Bimmer Bio features what is probably the most remarkable 2002 in the club. I say remarkable because Greg Mierz’s yel low 1969 2002ti has been a fixture at the club track events since about 1975, has been Greg’s daily driver for fifteen years and was second overall at last year’s concours d ‘elegance. But what is most remarkable is that this car has over 320,000 miles and is still going strong!
Greg was born in Tacoma in 1947. His father worked for Boeing on the Minuteman Missile project which re quired frequent relocations. The family spent Greg’s high school years living wherever there was a Minuteman base: Rapid City, South Dakota, Sedalia, Missouri and Santa Maria, California.
Greg considered going to college in St. Louis but his dad offered the family ’54 Chev if Greg would stay in South ern California. Greg couldn’t resist the offer of a car to call his own. He also could n’t resist the temptation to start tinkering with the car almost imme diately. He put a bored out 283 Chev engine in the 1954 Belair two-door hard top . The engine was set lower and further aft in the chassis. Between the extra power and the changed weight distribution the car was capable of “pulling wheelies.” You remember pull ing wheelies. That’s accelerating hard enough to lift the front tires off the ground.
Greg’s next car, and the only new car he has ever bought , was a 1966 Volks wagen. Appropriately for a new car, after ten d ays of ownership Greg rolled the car on the beach . But, the car was fixed and driven 100,000 miles .
In 1967 Greg joined the Army and after a few months in San Francisco he headed to Germany. His two years in
Germany were full of turning points in his life, although it was not apparent at the time. He met Linda, his wife to be. He attended the German Grand Prix at the N urburgring. And he was intro duced to the German idea of a car and driving.
Linda was born in Germany to a German mot her and an American father. She lived in Germany for her first twelve years, then lived in Amer ica before returning to Germany. She grew up bilingual.
After discharge from the Army, Greg returned to Southern California. Linda soon followed. They’ve been together since 197I .
Greg’s been with his 2002 almost as long. Greg was attending school to become a radiological technologist. While in school, in Orange County, an old Army buddy let Greg drive his 2002 d own Laguna Canyon Road. Once was enough and Greg fell in love. Greg bought his own ’69 2002ti in Jan uary of 1974 before leaving California to return to the Pacific Northwest.
It’s funny how occurrences in our lives sometimes weave together. Within a week of buying the car, Greg met Ray Goforth, an early member of the Los Angeles BMW ACA chapter. Ray later lived in Bremerton and was active in our chapter for a number of years. He remains a member of both the LA and Puget Sound BMW ACA clubs. Greg didn’t join the club in LA but did join our club in 1975. He attended a few board meetings, was Historian one year, President in ’79-’80 and then His torian again. Linda has served in var ious board positions as well, including membership chairperson and circulation manager. Greg started a new tra dition in that he stayed active in the club after his term as President, rather than fading away.
Almost from the beginning Greg took his car to the club track events. In fifteen years, he has missed only a handful of events at SIR. He attended the first Nurburgring West school at Laguna Seca in 1979. The event was ad ministered by the LA ACA chapter and was supported by BMW NA . He has a fond memory of watching Jim Busby throw a 7-Series through the corkscrew .
Greg got hooked on the G-forces of the track early and the thrill has never worn off. He figures he has over 2000 track miles on his car. He regularly teaches at club schools and is espe cially known for his love of the skid pad. Dr. Horsepower likes to drive sideways. And I’ve seen Greg drive in normal street traffic, when he did n’t know I was watching. He drives fast and hard. Those 320,000 miles haven’t been easy ones.
Greg purchased his car in Holly wood when it was five years old for $1900. It had about 68,000 miles on it at the time. Since then Greg has updated and improved components as they have worn out.
Let’s start with the engine. It has been rebuilt at about 100,000, 200,000 and 300,000 miles. It sports a Schrick cam, dual Weber sidedrafts, an E-12 head, 10.l compression pistons, a Stahl header and Allison breakerless igni tion. The transmission is a stock 4- speed rebuilt once at 150,000 miles. It is due to be replaced in 1989 with a 5-speed. Conveniently, all the post-’79 BMW 5-speeds will fit once the drive line is shortened . The differential is a 4.11, 75% limited-slip from a 1600. This rear end was in the car when Greg bought it, although he didn’t know it for years. The rear end is due for a rebuild this year. With the new tranny and the rebuilt diff the car will be virtually new from a mechanical standpoint.
The body has already been done. The car suffered the usual 2002 rust in all the usual places. In 1988 new fenders were put on, the remaining panels we”re stripped to bare metal and everything was refurbished. Greg did the sanding and farmed out the body work. The car was repainted in its stock yellow.
The suspension has Interpart springs, 19mm adjustable anti-sway bars, Bil stein street shocks in front and Carrara adjustable rear shocks. The interior has been completely redone with new stock headliner and carpet. The seats came out of a ’71 2002 except for the driver’s side Prinz seat.
The amazing thing about this is that Greg has d one almost all the work himself over the years. The beauty of the 2002 is that it performs like a sports gear and is simple enough to be owner maintained. In a quarter million miles of very hard driving, the car has stranded Greg only twice. And after being essentially remanufactured, bit by bit, the car continues to be driven daily. At last year’s concours, only Andy Barcheck’s stunning 2800 CS beat Greg’s car for total points. Of course, we give bonus points for age and mileage and Greg’s car set a record for bonus points.
The popularity of the 2002 is such that Greg reports no problems getting parts of any kind . He continues to put about 1500 miles a month on the car and has no intention of changing the way he drives or maintains the car. He estimates he has spent about $10,000 in ten years on maintenance, aside from gas, oil and tires. Offsetting that is about $5,000 of appreciation in value the car has enjoyed . Granted, the costs have been kept down by owner labor. Still, not bad for a car with about 175 horsepower, that gets 25 mpg and hits 125 mph before Turn 2 at SIR.
The 2002 is not the only constant in Greg’s life. He still works as an X-ray tech, although the technology has changed a bit. He now does computer ized, cross-sectional body images. And Linda is still there but the family has grown to four. Michelle is now seven and Sean came along just last October. ls a 2002 a family car? You bet. Michelle can’t wait to get her hands on this family heirloom with the license plate that reads “M Power.”
This article was originally published in the April 1989 edition of Zundfolge