When John Rosenfeld decided to do something with his dad’s old 2002, he didn’t quite know what the scope of the undertaking would result in. But he’s ended up with one of the most stunning looking 2002s around, one that its builder- Marc Norris of Bavarian Workshop- calls an M2. Like factory BMW M cars, Rosenfeld’s 2002 is powered by a genuine BMW M-division engineered and built motor, in this case an S14. Any BMW nut will tell you the S14 was the motor that powered the legendary E30 M3. But it’s also just at home in a vintage BMW like a 2002.
Rosenfeld’s 2002 is rightly considered a family member. "My dad bought the car new in 1976,” recalls Rosenfeld. Up to that point his father had driven a 1963 VW Bug, but had his eye on a BMW 2002. “I remember coming back from college for the summer break and seeing it. I was psyched. I was 18 and I thought this is great!” The 2002 was relatively new to U.S. shores at the time, as was the BMW brand. The 2002 was a compact, rear-wheel-drive coupe that was as reliable as it was a blast to drive. The model would go on to contribute greatly to BMW’s enduring legacy in the U.S. His dad used his newly acquired Polaris Silver example as a daily driver and Rosenfeld grabbed the keys to it as often as he could.
In the early ‘90s Rosenfeld inherited the old 2002 from his dad, who didn’t feel like driving a manual anymore. “I used it as a second car and drove it whenever I needed to,” says Rosenfeld. “I’d lend it to people who needed a car.” A few years later the well-used 2002 was nearing 200,000 miles on the odometer and was suffering a bit from years of being driven around Southern California. Rosenfeld decided to park the car in the garage, where it sat for a nearly a decade, unused and collecting dust. In 2006, he decided that something had to be done with the 2002. He couldn’t bear to part with it, so the first step was simple getting it running again.
To this end, Rosenfeld approached Marc Norris at Bavarian Workshop to see what could be done with the vintage BMW. Once Norris had taken a look at the 2002, the two came up with a plan that would involve restoring the car with a few upgrades to make it more usable in modern traffic. That idea quickly snowballed into a far more extensive project though when Norris convinced Rosenthal to install an S14 4-cylinder from an E30-generation BMW M3. With a heritage rich in touring car race wins, the S14 is rightly one of BMW’s most well-known powerplants, prized for its reliability and high performance potential.
With the original engine removed and the chassis stripped down for a new paint job, it was sent to Brian Epstein at World Class Motoring. Epstein stripped the BMW to bare metal and then resprayed it in multiple coats of Polaris Silver, the color the car had left the factory with. It was around this time that during one of the field trips Rosenfeld was periodically taking to Bavarian Workshop in order to keep apprised of the project that a turning point occurred. Norris was doing some work on another well known and entirely custom 2002 owned by Paul Cain, a Southern California BMW enthusiast who has become well-known for the custom Bimmers he build for himself. Cain’s 2002 was unlike anything that Rosenfeld had ever seen, with its 2002 Turbo flares, custom interior, larger wheels and sundry and countless other bespoke touches, not least of which was the twin turbo motor from a 3 Series. Seeing that car pushed Rosenfeld’s 2002 project quickly down a slippery slope, one that may be familiar to those who have restored and built cars but for Rosenfeld was unknown territory. Heck, the guy drives a Prius most of the time. “I was really the perfect customer for someone like Marc,” he says. “I just told him what I wanted and he went to work.”
The 2002’s Polaris exterior sprouted a quintet of OEM 2002 Turbo flares and a Turbo front spoiler, both of which were sourced from BMW. At the rear, instead of the enormous rubber bumper that this 2002 originally came with is a chrome Euro-spec bumper. Keen eyes will also note the “M2” badge that adorns the rear of the 2002. Norris had the badge custom made for the car. The “5” from an E28 M5 badge was scanned into a computer and then turned upside down to form a “2”. After that the number was machined from aluminum using the EDM process (electrical discharge machining), polished and then fastened to the car along with a BMW “M” badge.
If the exterior of the 2002 impresses though, its mechanical specification is even more enticing. Here, Norris and Rosenfeld set out to make the BMW capable of running easily with a modified E30 M3 and maybe even an E36 M3. The performance centers of course around the four-cylinder S14 engine, which was left in near stock specification with the exception of a Dinan computer chip. In order to allow the motor to fit in the 2002’s engine bay, Norris modified the original air box. And though he could have simply jettisoned the stock airbox in place of a cone-filter setup, it was decided that the engine bay should stay looking relatively stock. Norris ended up fabricating a custom airbox by combining two E30 318i airboxes, which were cut, sectioned and then welded together. The intake snorkel from a BMW V8 completed the picture. “It lends to a factory stock look,” says Norris.
Check out this video on the M3 by Federal Mogul
The S14 breathes out of a ceramic-coated header that was modified to clear the 2002’s steering linkage. From there, the exhaust goes into a stainless steel Y-pipe from Burns Stainless, then to a 2.5-inch exhaust (with dual Car Sound cats) and finally terminates in a Borla rear muffler. On the shifting side of things the 2002’s gearbox was replaced with a 320i 5-speed that is installed with a custom mount. The clutch is from an E30 M3 and uses a lighter M3 Evo flywheel to free up additional power and RPMs. The driveshaft from a later BMW was shortened for use in the 2002 and sends power to a 3.64:1 320i LSD with a 40-percent lockup. On the driver’s side is an E36 shift knob that actuates shortened 2002 shift linkage.
The original suspension at all four corners was replaced with coilovers from Ireland Engineering in Duarte, California. The setup utilizes Bilstein sport shocks housed in 2002tii strut housings. Eliminating excess body roll are 22-mm front and 22-mm rear Ireland Engineering adjustable anti-roll bars. Norris boxed the rear trailing arms and reinforced the sway bar mounting brackets for added strength. Where appropriate there are also urethane bushings for added rigidity. Spanning the engine is an Ireland Engineering strut brace that eliminates excess flex from the chassis during cornering. Massive Brakes provided a quartet of 4-piston Wilwood calipers that clamp 300-mm slotted rotors with Hawk brake pads. Norris made up a set of custom braided steel brake lines at his shop rather than go with an off-the-shelf kit. A custom Wilwood parking brake caliper was also installed in lieu of the original drum-style E-brake. “We kept the stock brake master cylinder, since it already has a great feel,” adds Norris.
When it came to wheels, Norris and Rosenfeld decided they wanted the option of being able to install five-lug wheels, mainly because of the greater number of sizes available. At the front of the 2002 a pair of E12 5 Series five lug hubs were installed. At the rear are a set of custom billet hubs in the same pattern as the front. A brand new set of Alpina alloys were sourced from KSK Wheels that measure 16x7-inches up front and a generous 16x8-inches at the rear and are shod with 205/45-16 and 225/40-16 Toyo T1R tires.
In person, Rosenfeld’s Polaris-hued 2002 is a pretty exquisite creation. It’s hard to imagine that at one point in its existence it sat abandoned in his garage covered by boxes and dust. Opening the door for a test drive, I find an interior just as nice the rest of the BMW. A pair of grippy Recaro buckets from an E21 320i have replaced the originals. The front seats and the original rear seats have been recovered in perforated Napa leather that matches the original door panels and dash, which were in good enough of shape to leave them as is. A great feeling, four-spoke Alpina steering wheel has also been sourced and underfoot is a rich looking, custom German square-weave carpet kit. Other than that, its business as usual for a 2002. The seating position is upright and commanding and there’s an abundance of outward visibility thanks to the generous greenhouse.
A twist of the ignition brings the S24 to life with a muted burble. Once underway, the suspension feels firm and nuggety but not uncomfortable. The 2002 retains its vintage feel, but now has performance in spades. Norris estimates that the S14 is putting out about 235 crank horsepower, so just over 200-hp to the wheels. Combine the power output with the relatively light car that it’s charged with powering and the result is eye-opening to say the least. Acceleration is strong throughout the power band, but really takes on a new dimension of urgency as the motor zings willingly past 5,000-rpm and happily launches itself toward the redline.
The rest of the 2002’s mechanical systems are all well matched to the powerful S14 motor. The shift action from the 320i gearbox feels precise thanks to the custom linkage and the limited slip differential adds another dimension of nimbleness to the chassis. And speaking of the chassis, the suspension exhibits a well-sorted feel, with little body roll and quick response as we chuck the BMW through a series of bends. All up, Rosenfeld has something to be extremely proud of in his reborne 2002. “There’s really no comparison,” he says when asked what the transformed 2002 is like compared to the way it was when hid dad brought it home all those years ago. We’d have to agree with that sentiment.
Bavarian Workshop • 2371 Vanowen St., West Hills CA, 91307•(818)-918-2433 • www.bavarianworkshop.com