Frankenstein’s Monster

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Alright, we’ve got a bit of a weird one today. This is a 1974 BMW 2002tii. But it’s also a BMW E30 M3. What? Has science gone too far? CAN WE PLAY GOD? Let me explain. 

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The guys at Classic Car Club, who are mostly known for the upkeep of classic and exotic cars from a wide variety of backgrounds, decided to let their hair down one day and build their own car. This is what they came up with, and they call it the M2. They started with perhaps BMW’s most iconic car, the 2002, and, to simplify, updated it. The 2002, despite its name, was introduced in 1968. This particular one’s from 1974, which is also incidentally the year they stopped production of the hatchback model of the car. But this is a sedan, the sporty “tii” model no less, so there’s no need to worry (I know you all were).

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So what do I mean when I say updated? Well, it’s a little complicated, but it ends up being very interesting, so bear with me for a moment. Effectively what the mechanics at CCC did was remove the standard, 2.0 liter, 120 horsepower four cylinder, and replace it with the maniac inline-4 from the original M3. We talked about that car a few days ago, but for those of you who missed that episode, here are the Sparknotes: 2.3 liters of displacement, 177 pound-feet of torque, 215 horsepower and a top speed of around 150. Though the 2002 predated (and some argue, grandfathered) the founding of BMW’s “M” line of performance cars, this little science project came to be known as the “M2.”

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But, as John Travolta discovered in Face Off, you can’t just change one thing about yourself and expect everything to work out. Which is why Classic Car Club Manhattan decided to adapt the rest of the car to accommodate its new heart. This meant a custom, stainless exhaust, Bilstein suspension and a 5-speed manual (again sourced from the E30 M3). There’s also a smattering of tasteful cosmetic changes as well, including flared fenders to fit the bigger, Alpina-style wheels, a 10 inch Momo steering wheel, and that stunning grey paint job, which allegedly comes from the Porsche 911 GT3 RS of a couple years ago.

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There are two other things I’d like to draw your attention to in terms of the M2’s visual modifications. First is the removal of the front bumper, which in my opinion vastly improves the look of the car. Most 2002’s you see now have these huge, ungainly rubber bumpers, which were put there to deal with American pedestrian safety and crash regulations. By removing it though, you get the sense that the car is leaning forward, itching to get a move on. It looks more like what I imagine the designers originally intended the 2002 to look like before the bean-counters got their hands on it. The M2 pulls off what so many cars try and fail to capture: a sense of going fast even when standing still.

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The second design element is that BMW emblem. There’s a little bit of a story here, actually. BMW, as a company, actually started in the 1910’s (nineteen-tens? nineteen-teens?) by producing airplane engines. This is where a good deal of people think the company’s logo, or “roundel,” came from, as it kind of looks like a plane’s propeller. That’s not actually the case though. The real inspiration for BMW’s emblem comes from the Bavarian flag, which, not coincidentally, is where the company was founded (hence the acronym “Bavarian Motor Works”). The roundel on the M2 is grayscale, instead of the traditional blue and white, and is trimmed in what looks like a carbon fiber pattern. It’s just the bees knees, this thing.

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The M2 develops a good 70 horsepower more than a normal 2002, for a power figure around 200 or so (there are conflicting reports as to the actual figure). That’s a decent amount of power, made more significant considering this whole car comes in a little under 2200 pounds. So, long story short, this car is sprightly. Like, British sports car levels of fun. And, given the E30’s 0 to 60 time of 6.9 seconds, I assume it’s quite quick as well.

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So this ended up being a pit of a longer post- sorry about that- but in my defense the M2 is a decidedly special car. Just look at that Hofmeister kink in the rear window. It has personality: it really is one of a kind. There’s something devilish you can sense from it even when it’s parked. And the coolest part is, from afar at least, this looks just like a normal 2002. But under the hood beats the heart of one of its most prolific successors. It’s power with handling and performance to back it up. And best of all, it makes use of the performance potential that the 2002 always had in a way that is respectful of the platform and BMW’s heritage. This Franken-car is modification done right. Monstrously good fun, in a nutshell.

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Additional Thoughts

  • The M2 also sounds terrific- really gritty and mechanical. Here’s a video of it in action. Be sure to turn up your speakers!
  • Some of the pictures of this car are inside and some are on the street- again, sorry about that. The club was closing up shop by the time I was taking these photos.
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One thought on “Frankenstein’s Monster

  1. Pingback: The Baader-Meinhof Phenomenon | Forgotten metal

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