This 1972 BMW 2002 Restomod Hits Jay Leno’s Soft Spot

1972 BMW 2002 restomod in Jay Leno’s garage article highlights:

  • The BMW 2002 established a practical sports car recipe that virtually all subsequent BMWs have tried to live up to
  • Jay Leno recently featured a 1972 BMW 2002 restomod in his garage that demonstrates eye-grabbing quality and a sharper but still fun driving experience
  • Though the Turbo models are significantly more expensive, you can still buy one of these classic BMWs for $20,000-$30,000

There’s always a danger with classic car restomods: going too far. In other words, adding too much power, too much modernity, and making everything unrealistically idealized. The best restomods, though, bring out the car’s original character without making it into something it’s not. That’s the kind of care and craftsmanship Jay Leno likes to share. And he recently found it in a bright-orange 1972 BMW 2002 restomod.

The BMW 2002 still defines what the Bavarian brand’s cars should be about

An orange 1970 BMW 2002 at the 6th Ebreichsdorf-Classic Oldtimer Rally
1970 BMW 2002 | Manfred Schmid/Getty Images
1968-1976 BMW 2002, 2002ti, 2002tii, 2002 Turbo
Engine2.0-liter four-cylinder with one Solex carb (2002) or two Solex carbs (2002ti)
2.0-liter fuel-injected four-cylinder (2002tii)
2.0-liter turbocharged fuel-injected four-cylinder (2002 Turbo)
Horsepower2002: 100 hp
2002ti: 119 hp
2002tii: 130 hp
2002 Turbo: 170 hp
Torque2002: 106 lb-ft
2002ti: 123 lb-ft
2002tii: 130 lb-ft
2002 Turbo: 181 lb-ft
TransmissionFour- and five-speed manual
Three-speed automatic
Curb weight2282-2432 lbs
0-60 mph time2002: 9.6 seconds
2002ti: 8.9 seconds
2002tii: 8.5 seconds
2002 Turbo: 7.0 seconds

It technically didn’t inspire the slogan directly, but BMW couldn’t claim to have the ‘Ultimate Driving Machine’ without the 2002. Part of the company’s Neue Klasse line of practical sedans and coupes, the 2002 exists in part because BMW’s U.S. importer knew his customers wanted more power. So, BMW slotted a larger 2.0-liter engine into the two-door 1602 and created the 1968 2002. And in doing so, it created an icon.

Compared to the muscle cars prowling American streets in the 1960s and 1970s, the BMW 2002 seems underpowered. But its compact size, simple-yet-practical design, low curb weight, and most importantly, its handling blew people away. Furthermore, not only was the 2002 just as fast or faster than the MGs, Triumphs, and Austin-Healeys of the day, but it was far more practical. And yes, it, too could run circles around these roadsters.

BMW did augment the 2002’s performance over the years. In 1972 it introduced the fuel-injected 2002tii, which boasts bigger brakes, beefier suspension components, and an upgraded clutch, Hagerty reports. And for one year only, it released its first boosted road car, the 2002 Turbo.

Yet even as the 2002 gained power and interior upgrades, it never lost its honest, playful nature or handling balance. And flared-out, graphics-heavy Turbo aside, the 2002 was always a subtle corner-sweeping commuter. BMW fans still look for these qualities, which are sometimes hard to spot in the brand’s modern models. But if you ever want to experience a platonic BMW ideal, drive a 2002.

Once neglected, this 1972 BMW 2002 restomod grabbed Jay Leno’s eye

The side view of an orange 1972 BMW 2002 restomod in Jay Leno's garage
1972 BMW 2002 restomod side | Jay Leno’s Garage via YouTube

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As he once worked for an import-car dealership, Jay Leno has an appreciation for 1960s and 1970s European cars. And by his admission, he has “a soft spot” for the BMW 2002. So, when he found a well-restored example on the street, he had to bring it and the owner, Dorian Hicklin, on his show.

Hicklin’s 1972 BMW 2002 (note: the video title calls it a 1972, but Leno and Hicklin call it a 1973 in the video) originally belonged to a friend, but after it languished for years, he decided to buy it and make it into a back-date build. So, he treated it to a frame-off rotisserie restoration inspired by vintage B-sedan race cars.

Firstly, the four-cylinder engine has a larger bore, bigger Weber carbs, bigger valves, and a performance camshaft. It also has an upgraded but stock-size radiator, an oil cooler, and an Alpina exhaust. As of this writing, Hicklin hasn’t put it on a dyno, but he estimates his 2002 makes roughly 150 hp. In addition, that power now flows to the rear wheels via a five-speed manual and limited-slip differential from a later 320.

Furthermore, this 1972 BMW 2002 now rides on Koni shocks with new springs, adjustable camber plates, and a front strut-tower brace. And though he hasn’t raced it yet, Hicklin did put a roll cage, fuel cell, and two fire-suppression systems in this coupe. He also installed some Alpina-style plaid bucket seats with racing harnesses, drilled metal pedals, and a drilled metal shift knob. Plus, the custom fiberglass dash, inspired by the CSL, has some neat aluminum touches and a plaid-cloth-lined glovebox.

And on the street, it earned his respect

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But it’s not just the modifications themselves that impressed Jay Leno—it’s how well-crafted they are. The engine bay, for example, looks clean enough to eat on. Also, the roll cage doesn’t impede entry or exit. And everything fits and works together brilliantly, even the horn, which Jay notes often gets ignored in some restomods.

Something else that Jay Leno appreciates about Hicklin’s 1972 BMW 2002 is that it’s not overly stiff. “It’s just right,” he says, “it’s doing what it’s supposed to do.” You can still enjoy it on regular roads, roll cage included. And once you’re moving, it’s the same fun, light, communicative sports car it always was, just faster and more focused. Plus, as Jay says, “clean design still looks modern.”

How much is a BMW 2002 worth?

A white-with-red-and-blue-stripes 1974 BMW 2002 Turbo at an RM Sotheby's auction
1974 BMW 2002 Turbo | John Keeble/Getty Images

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Recreating Hicklin’s build won’t be cheap, and not just because of his car’s multiple custom parts. Like those ‘golden era’ models I mentioned earlier, the BMW 2002 has appreciated over the years. But compared to E30 M3s, these coupes are significantly more affordable.

These days, a good-to-excellent-condition 1972 2002 typically runs in the $16,000-$30,000 range, Hagerty says. Meanwhile, a 2002tii in similar condition usually costs $23,000-$40,000. Beware, though, as pristine examples brush into the $100K range. That’s also roughly where good-condition original 2002 Turbos start.

But then, you don’t need the Turbo to have a blast in this Bavarian B-sedan.

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