HHCIB – BMW 2002. Sort Of.


BMW has a long and storied history filled with automotive conveyances ranging from the merely attractive to the genuinely lovely. At the very least most of them could be dubbed handsome. To the unwashed masses, those that don’t understand the subtleties of heel-toe and late-apex, a BMW is a BMW because it’s a good looking rig. However, even an ugly (aesthetically-challenged) BMW can be a superb performer. Real gearheads will look at a BMW with a tired paint job but an aggressive stance and know the potential.

Now and then a BMW comes along that has not only been beaten with the Ugly Pipe, but also shows absolutely no sporting pretension whatsoever. Welcome back to How Hard Can It Be?

BMW built the iconic 2002 from 1968 to 1976. While the previous Neue Klasse sedans are credited with saving the company, the ’02s can be given a pat on the back for establishing BMW in the North American market. The really interesting ones, the hatchback Touring and the full- and half-convertibles made by Baur, never officially made it over here. Regardless, the handsome two-door sedan won many hearts, one 6200 RPM shift at a time.

To this day, the rabid following these cars engender is rivaled only by certain satanic cults found in the bowels of dark cities in southeast Asia. Homages have been paid. Volumes have been written. Sacrifices have been slain.

I had a 1974 2002 for a short time. It was originally a carbureted car that had been converted to fuel-injected “tii” spec. It had all kinds of aftermarket suspension, 14-inch BBS wheels, and Recaro seats. I bought it for US$300.00, installed a good used distributor and header, and sold it for US$3000.00. In the interim, I probably drove it three times. Given the ROI, I probably never need to own another 2002.

I liked that car. It had good chi. Then there is… this. This… this thing. On the surface it is merely a 2002 shell grafted onto a Chevy Malibu chassis with some Group 5 320i flares thrown in for effect. But the psychological impact is so much greater. It spits in the face of all that is healed sacred by both Bowtie Boys and Propeller Heads. This car hurts the body as well as the soul, and not in a good way.

There is no reason for this car. One assumes the seller had a 2002 with rusty floorpans and a blown engine and a wrecked Malibu sitting somewhat near each other, and there was alcohol involved. Crazy, warped, rust-laced alcohol. Later that same life… this.But maybe reason doesn’t enter the equation. Maybe this car exists just because it had not before. Nature abhors a vacuum, and apparently Duluth, MN, abhors good taste and reasonable judgment.

The funny thing, if any humor can be garnered here, is that the front corner lamps appear to be the early flush-mounted units. Those are probably worth $30 if their condition mimics the rest of the car.

A friend remarked, “It wouldn’t be so bad if it wasn’t on a Malibu frame.”

Yeah. That’s the fail point here.