So You Want To Restore A 2002?
There has always been a mystique about owning a BMW. There are a variety of factors such as prestige, performance, exclusivity and looks. Unfortunately, for us poor mortal souls, the differential between either the Canadian or U.S. dollar and the Deutch marke is such that the thought of owning a new BM W remains just that, a thought.
As with many others, I was looking for a second car as we had out grown being a single vehicle household . Searching for a used car can be an extremely frustrating experience given what is available either through the local used car lots or privately through the local papers. I had also considered buying a new car such as a bottom line Hyundai or Honda, but in all honesty , where can you actually find a new car for dealer list.
I had always had a desire for a 2002 stemming back to my teenage years in Toronto . I had been quite competitive with one of t he car clu bs at t hat time participating in rallys at all levels, driving skill tests and marshalling at the t rack at Mosportnort h of Toronto . I remember dragging a 2002 d own Yonge Street one summer Saturday, and having my doors blown off. One of my best friends had a 2002tii that he had brought back from Europe .
I had been pouring through a local publication k now n as t he “Au t o Trader” for several weeks when sud denly, there it was – a 1971 2002. I immediately called and made arrangements to see the car, and it was love at first sight. In retrospect, it is amaz ing how love can blind you when it comes d own to buying a car. We struck a deal and when I told my wife the good news, she chastised me for begin ning to take us d own the road to “Yuppidum.”
I thought that I was all set. I had the service records for the car back through to 1980 and I felt that I had finally acquired the car of my dreams that was in good condition . The work orders had indicated that the drive line includ ing the transmission and rear end had been completely rebuilt six months prior to my purchase. As I later found it, this was only the beginning .
I took delivery of the car on April 21, 1987 and by May 6, I was already in the shop. I had stopped to pick up some parts from a wrecked 2002 when upon returning to the car, it would not start. There was nothing but the radio, not even a click from the started motor. I remember seeing work orders for the starter and I immediately started to panic. A call to the local C.A.A. (or A.A.A.) outlet produced a tow truck. We push started the car, and off I ran to the garage expecting my first large repair order.
Fortunately , I was lucky in that the lead from the battery to the starter motor had come loose and it was a fairly simple matter to correct. I asked the mechanic if he would check out the brakes as a matter of course to see what life was left. It was just as well as the rear brake cylinders were seized and I had no rear brakes.
In June, I had to make a business trip across western Canada. Ifyou ever have to d o any travelling in this part of the world, you quickly discover that connections to smaller centres by the Canadian air carriers is a joke . I fig ured I would lose at least two days in airports waiting for connections. The car seemed to be running reasonably well, so off I went.
One of the great driving experiences across the North American Prairies is summer. Long summer days when the sun comes up at 4:00 a.m. and does not truly set until after midnight . Along with this comes a little bit of heat. I had to drive between Saskatoon and Reg ina Saskatchewan, a distance of apit until the next morning .
A word of warning . If you plan to travel across Manitoba , do not use or hide your radar detector. I found out the hard way that while owning a radar detector in Manitoba is legal, operat ing one in your vehicle is not . It was seized on the spot together with a
$60.00 fine. All subsequent attempts to have it returned through the courts failed, and I was out one Passport radar detector which I had borrowed from my brother-in-law .
Then to add insult to injury, I was 60 miles from home around dusk when I went to turn on my headlights and all I got was darkness. I had been on the road for over 12 hours at that point and I decided that I wasn’t going to stop for the night because of no lights . On went the fog lights, and I continued home . Back to the garage, and more repairs for bad electrical grounds.
On July 31, 1987, we had what was to become known as “Black Friday” when a tornad o ripped across the east ern portion of Ed monton leaving 27 people dead and billions of dollars in property damage. The hail was so intense that I ended up with over
$1,300.00 damage to my car, and $1,700.00 hail damage to my wife’s car. Well you must have heard of the expression that timing is everything , well it is. I had been contemplating having all of the rust taken out of the car and mother nature so graciously offered her assistance in advancing the timing of the repairs. I stripped as much chrome and non essentials off the car as I could , and sent it in to the local body shop. To clear up the rust around the rear wheel arches, rather than replace the whole quarter panel , I was able to buy new arches and have the old ones cut out. During this pro cess, it was determined that the rocker panel on the passenger side was completely rotted away , and t his was replaced as well.
Through no fault of my own, I had had occasion to use this body shop on several other occasions. Honestly, the accidents were not my fault. Anyway, they were extremely good to me and
$1,000.00 later together with the insu rance money, the car was looking extremely good.
Prior to the trip to the body shop, my mechanic had warned me about this bizarre carburetor that was on the car. The carburetor was a Weber manu factured under license by Holley. It had an automatic choke thatjust plain fell off one day. I was also warned that these particular carburetors tend to cause fires when they get old. So that was replaced.
Then just when I thought everything was going great, the muffler fell off. It must be Murphy’s law of warranties in effect when you check back in your service records to discover that the warranty on your muffler expired ten days ago.
Winter was arriving and I changed over to the four radial snows that also came with the car. Suddenly, the beasty decided that it had developed a sudden affection for the ditch (and I had only thought that it was a strong cross wind). So back to the shop for another estimate. Would you believe the tie rods, ball joints and the steering box were shot. And to top it off, the brake pedal had developed an urge to stay on the floor when applied.
You know that everyone wears off the polish on the heel of their right shoe from driving, while I was wearing the polish off the top of my shoe from having to pull the brake pedal off the floor whenever it was used. Then to add further insult to injury, the gas tank decided to spring a leak.
While this was all being repaired, the car was sent to the alignment shop for the front end. When it was put on the rack, they could not set the front end up. According to my records, the car had been in an accident in late 1979 or early 1980. The owner at that time
apparently did not have the car straightened properly at that time. I was lucky this time. The alignment shop only charged $75.00 to align and straighten the car.
Then, Mr. Murphy reared his ugly head once again. It was a balmy -20 Celsius one lovely winter day when I went to adjust the heat, and suddenly there was none. Let me assure you that there is nothing quite like a trip across town with no heat. It seems that the heater valve seized shut and the heater control cable broke together.
My mechanic was able to pry the heater valve wide open but then he gave me the good news. While you can see the heater core from the engine compartment, to service it you must tear most of the interior of the car apart to access it. By now, I had finally been able to come up with an appro priate name for my beasty – “The Sponge.”
Well, what the heck, it might as well be fixed too. As it turned out, the heater core had been in the car since new and the heater fan motor was also original.
Well, I think that I am now closer to completion than when I started. Con sidering I have spent almost as much on repairs as I did for the car, I still think that I am ahead of the game. After all, what else can you drive for $7,000.00 these days, have fun driving and get all sorts of compliments.
There is an old adage that goes along with all 2002’s – You’re never finished restoring. Let me think, what needs fixing next?
P.S. I must express my appreciation to Al at Aero Import Motors in Edmonton for all of his help and expertise without which “The Sponge” would not be on the road today.
This article was originally published in the September/October 1988 edition of Zundfolge