22 Countries In 8 Months: How To Properly Break In A BMW 2002 In 1971
Photography by Daniel Piker
If you’re not interested in old cars naturally and not faux-hip enough to pretend to be, the BMW 2002 is probably either a memory or a 16-year-old 7-Series that probably needs some work. Obviously they didn’t name a car after the year of its production—though one just needs to look up the Mitsubishi Lettuce to see an example of poor decision-making when it comes to naming cars—but it is a bit funny that the car’s name is partially derived from its two-liter engine which is in fact 10cc shy of such a designation.
Nitpicking aside, the car helped to establish BMW’s sporting identity on roads and race tracks and eventually spawned the 3-Series deserves the following that it’s been building since the sixties. It was a beautifully engineered coupe with a sprightly four-banger that could perform the dual functions of commuter and weekender, and while today many of them have been restored or modified in some way or another, sometimes we find survivors. And not just those that have been in storage for decades. For instance, the 1971 Colorado Orange example pictured here was put to good use almost immediately after it left the factory.
The original owners of this 2002, Brian and Linda Miller, decided that there was no better way to break in their new car than to take it on a journey across Europe. After all, they were recently married, so why not enjoy some time together touring the continent? They took delivery of their brand new 2002 in Munich, and then proceeded to set off on a nearly year-long international traipse that spun the odometer up to 31,475 miles as they passed through 22 different European countries in just 226 days.
After completing this journey, and as a part of the Alpine Motoring Contest, they were awarded a gold plaque to acknowledge this remarkable period of road tripping, if you can call still call it that at such an extreme. A little background might be necessary here: to qualify for this award, a car must travel through at least five out of the seven Alpine countries (France, Switzerland, Germany, Austria, Monaco, Italy, and at the time Yugoslavia). Clearly, they must have accomplished such a feat a few times over…
After completing their travels through Europe, the Millers and their 2002 were loaded onto a cruise ship to travel a bit more passively, taking a 28-day cruise from Europe across the Atlantic to head through the Panama Canal, eventually making their way to Vancouver, BC. The 2002 then spent the next 40+ years residing in Seattle, WA enjoying a great many car shows, BMW CCA drives, and providing many cherished memories for Brian and Linda along the way.
Then in August of 2017, it was finally time for the car to move to its second home. The current owners, Mackenzie Ebbers and Bryant Bredbenner, had unknowingly been taking photos of this exact 2002 for a few years before they purchased it, the pair having run into the car at local shows and events from time to time. They always admired it, but little did they know that the very same car in the photo hanging on their fridge was going to end up sitting in their driveway. One of Mackenzie’s dream cars had always been a Colorado Orange 2002 (with the early round tails, and, importantly, original paint), which would typically be a difficult car to find, for a fair price anyway. Mackenzie and Bryant met Brian at a BMW CCA Puget Sound Regional event, and the two learned about the one-owner 2002 he was looking to sell. He was ready to let it go, but also quite reluctant, wanting to ensure that if the car was going to leave it was going to end up in the right hands. The enthusiast couple checked all the right boxes for him though once he saw their obvious passion for automobiles and for this one in particular. After an afternoon of chatting and a memorable test drive, Brian told them he would hold the car for a week and all they had to do was give him a call if they wanted it. Soon enough some calls were made and the 2002 was on its way to a new garage.
The 2002 as it sits today is completely original except for the Nardi Steering wheel, the shift knob, and an upgraded suspension setup that includes some ’02 staples from Ireland Engineering and Bilstein (the car had only one original shock left when they got it, so they decided it was time for an upgrade, especially as they weren’t throwing out anything significant).
Worn engine and transmission mounts were refreshed as well, but besides that and the other typical consumables that get cycled over time, the car is pretty much just as it was when the Millers were bombing between borders almost five decades ago. Both Bryant and Mackenzie enjoy taking this wonderful 2002 on spirited drives to continue its legacy, and they can often be found with the car at local shows, where it’s typically drawing a crowd with its color and keeping it around with its wonderful story.