Excellent visibility offered by a very tall greenhouse was a hallmark of these BMWs as shown on this 2002ti.
BMW's new 1-Series in the U.S. has been called the successor to the legendary BMW 2002, the car that turned BMW from a niche brand to a major player in the U.S. In 1962, BMW brought out its "New Series" of four-door sedans, starting with the 1500. This was followed by a succession of better performing four-door sedans - the 1600, 1800 and 2000. The designation approximated the engine displacement in cubic centimeters. The "2" part of the designation in the 1602, 1802 and 2002 referred to the two-doors versions.
The legendary importer, Max Hoffman, deserves much of the credit for BMW's initial success in the U.S. The New Series made his job much easier. The 1602 followed by the 2002, redefined the term sports sedan. A now famous column in Car and Driver, "Turn Your Hymnals to 2002" by David E. Davis, Jr., summarized these BMWs' impact on the sports car world.
Even though it was a full four-seater, not a 2+2, and had classic three-box styling complete with a large trunk, these two-doors were equal to, actually better than, most affordable contemporary sports cars. It was superior to most of the British offerings, and quite equal to the four-cylinder Porsches and Alfa Romeo sports cars. In addition, the BMW was far better than all, except maybe the Porsche, when it came build quality, reliability and durability.
Compared to the New Series four-door sedans, the two-doors were smaller riding on a two-inch shorter wheelbase and was 400-500 pounds lighter. Like the four-doors, it used BMW's excellent Schraglenkerachse (semi-trailing arms) independent rear suspension. Up front, there were MacPherson struts and coil springs all around.
The 1602 was propelled by a 1.6 liter, four-cylinder engine that produced 96 horsepower at a high-revving 5800 rpm. The engine was coupled to a four-speed transmission. Excellent braking with discs up front and drums in the rear completed the package. Very shortly, the 1602 was joined by the TI version featuring a higher compression engine that pumped out 118 horsepower.
The 2002 was created in response to tightening U.S. federal regulations. In order to get back the performance lost to more stringent emission regulations, BMW used the 2000's two-liter engine in the two-door sedan to create the 2002. The two-liter engine produced 113 horsepower, but the 2002 also put on some weight, so the end result was performance on a par with the earlier 1602s. BMW also brought out the ti version for the 2002 series with 135 horsepower.
In 1971, Americans got the 2002Tii with a Kugelfischer mechanical fuel injection system--hence the second "i" .The bottom line was 147 horsepower and the most coveted car of the entire series. The 2002ti and the 2002tii also got a slightly increased wheel track, wider wheels, H-rated tires and larger brakes.
The series got significant changes in 1974, when U.S.-bound cars getting huge 5-mph bumpers that added almost 10 inches to the car's length and about 200 pounds more heft. At the rear there were new, rectangular tail lamps. Mechanical changes included a new cylinder head, which had debuted in 1973 featuring a hemispherical combustion chamber to keep up with the performance-robbing changes needed to reduce pollution. While a four-speed was standard fare, the TI, ti and tii models could also be ordered with 5-speeds. After 1969 there was the 2002A with an automatic transmission.
There are many models of the series that were not imported officially, but got here as gray market cars or by returning servicemen. Incidentally, the 1602 and 2002 was BMW's entry-level car in the Germany, where it competed with VWs and Opels. In fact, during the oi1 crisis days of the mid-1970s, BMW built a "stripper" 1.5-liter version called the 1502; the company sold tens of thousands of these cars between 1975 and 1977.
Other home market models included two cabriolets and the Touring models. The ragtops included a handsome, fully open version and a targa top convertible that, while a lot safer, was downright ugly. The Touring models were pioneering hatchbacks.
The final, and ultimate, 2002 was the 1973-1974 2002 Turbo. With the tii's Kugelfischer fuel injection and a KKK kompressor, the turbocharger eked out 170 horsepower. Turbos got extended fender flares, wide wheels, lowered suspension, front and rear spoilers, and distinctive graphics. Only 1672 of these 130 mph 2002s were produced.