Here's hoping David E. Davis's family gets residuals on every BMW 2002 sold. In the April 1968 road test titled "," he proclaimed it "one of modern civilization's all-time best ways to get somewhere sitting down." A shame he didn't live long enough to see the rise of the Hyperloop. Why buy anything else? he mused, while out-dragging a '65 GTO and an Austin-Healey. In a review so glowing it can be seen from space, so unabashed with praise that enthusiasts are still accusing it of veiled advertising, his only criticism of the BMW 2002 was the finicky radio.
Well, that's not a problem in the latest 2002 that , our metric in the collector-car world, sold this week! A rare DIN-sized in-dash radio and CD player resides in the square dashboard of , straight outta the Eighties, complete with JL Audio speakers in custom boxes, with four 6x9-inch rear speakers in a custom-fabricated rear shelf, perfect for cranking Katy Perry's "" It's no , but it's up there.
Is that not period-correct? No matter. It's still tasteful. At an eye-watering, finger-spasming $71,000, it has to be tasteful. That much money being thrown around for a car nerd's car has to mean something.
To be fair, this one is quite nice. It was fully restored starting in 2003, and over the past 13 years has racked up nearly $60,000 in receipts. Bilstein shocks, Suspension Techniques springs, new factory rubber bushings, adjustable sway bars front and rear, Hardy & Beck vintage 3-piece wheels. Period Recaro seats were retrimmed with a two-tone leather/corduroy combination, and a wood Nardi wheel. The aforementioned McIntosh. The M10 engine is original to the car, with 130 horsepower from Kugelfischer fuel injection, with receipts for tune-ups and modifications throughout. The undercarriage is clean enough to lick without fear of tetanus or embarrassment. The original Michelin spare tire is there. The car garnered $25,000 in receipts since 2010, and $30,000 before that, for a total of nearly $55,000. Even the clock was rebuilt.
Is it any surprise that it wound up selling for nearly the price of a Porsche Cayman GTS?
But hey, there's no price for style. And the BMW 2002 has it in spades! That elegant three-box profile. That bathtub shape. That forward-canted nose. That stubby wheelbase. Those chrome bumpers. The fact that it looks like a car a little grandmother would've driven to church every day, had she not been enamored with a 1974 Ford Elite, but no, this was your cool grandma, who provided you Kinder chocolate and your first glimpse of a European car, thereby turning you on to cool cars forever, and thereby allowing you to bid more than an average American's salary on a car that looks like your grandma drove. Everything works out for a reason.
Here's the problem. The BMW 2002 is a perfectly good car, but not the kind of car that looks like it should cost $71,000. It does not possess the iconic status of the Ford Mustang, or the fastback menace of the Dodge Charger, or the top-down romanticism of the very Austin-Healey that Mr. E. Davis blew into the weeds, or the humble everycar nostalgia that an Eighties Corolla inspires. It lacks the machismo of a muscle car, but imbued with modesty; it is small and European and therefore sophisticated. A decent classic. Once, it was an "entry-level" classic. Not too quirky. Not terribly unreliable. People will recognize the badge. It looks good in a clothing catalog; presumably next to a waifish girl in a sundress and a Jon Snow-looking chap in a tight henley shirt on a sand dune somewhere, or chasing the graffitied roll-up doors of Carroll Gardens or Red Hook.
It is a car whose significance can only be spotted by those in the know. It's the modern sports sedan, don't you know, but you try mentioning that to the significant other wondering why she's getting so many calls from the bank about a $71,000 charge. By today's pop-culture, car-ignorant rabble, it is hip: you've probably never heard of it. Like anything hip, it is grotesquely overpriced, enthusiastically celebrated. That's right: the BMW 2002 is the Hipster Lamborghini.
BMW built the 2002 for nine long years, building close to a million 2002s: . What made this one so special? It was perhaps in the right place at the right time. $71,000 on a car that Hagerty values at . Modifications have traditionally been thought of as devaluing, to a thoroughbred classic, but that's giving way to the "useable" classic. You can jump in this car and drive across the country, posing for gauzy sponsored Instagram shots along every beachfront and desert scape.
But hey, like that old advertisement says, "" And who are we to judge. If I had $71,000 at the click of a mouse, I'd spend it on gummy bears, , a waffle iron that makes , from the 1930s, complete with matching bookcase. (What is this, a Titus Andronicus for ants?)
Why are air-cooled Porsche so expensive? Why do Hemi Cudas sell for millions? The vagaries of the classic-car market extend far beyond mere supply and demand.
Yet rarely do we see an outlier that reaches so high. You know what that means—and so do Bring A Trailer's often-sage commenters: if you've got a vintage 2002, hold on to what you've got. Or bid now. If any classic car sale is an indication of future trends, as we tend to believe, even the square-light editions are going to pay for your grandkids' college tuitions.