|Engine||In-line 4-cylinder, 1990cc|
|Wheels||Cast Alloy (see text)|
Although BMW’s first generation (often referred to as the New Class) 1500, 1600 and 1800 sedans had proven successful in Europe, it wasn’t until the Munich company launched the two-door 1600-2 on a shortened platform that sales really took off, particularly in North America where the combination of typically Germanic engineering and lively performance proved a winner. When the 2002 was added to the mix in 1968, the motoring press went crazy, raving about the handling, with Car & Driver magazine describing it as “most certainly the best $2,850 sedan in the whole cotton-picking world.” The 2002 was available with three versions of the 2-litre four pot engine, all using a chain-driven overhead camshaft: the standard model utilized a single Solex carburetor and developed 100 horsepower at 5500rpm (plus a healthy torque output of 157 lb/ft at 3500 rpm), while the more powerful 2002Ti adopted twin carburetors and the 2002Tii added Kugelfischer fuel injection for even more grunt. A slick four-speed manual gearbox was standard, while a five-speed or ZF automatic were optional. Combining light weight, sharp steering and excellent road holding courtesy of the independent rear end, with its semi-trailing arm set-up, the 2002 was the first in a whole new generation of sports sedans that brought the fun back into motoring. Launched in January 1968, the 2002 outsold every other variant in the model range, totaling some 325,917 units before production ceased in 1976. Offshoots included the forward thinking Touring hatchback and, for one year only, the limited production Turbo replete with bolt-on flares, spoilers and lairy M-Sport graphics. BMW developed the 2002 into a serious race car, continuing a tradition dating back to the mid Sixties when the 1800Ti factory team competed with arch rival Alfa Romeo in touring car events across Europe. The 2002 enjoys a cult following around the world today, particularly in America, and is widely seen as one of BMW’s most pivotal models, crucial to the future success of the company.