Here’s Why Frua May Have Designed The Prettiest BMW 2002
Photography by Jayson Fong & BMW Group Classic
During an eleven year production lifetime, the iconic BMW 2002 Series introduced some of the marque’s most memorable cars. From sporty coupes, convertibles, tourers, and turbo-powered rally monsters, the 2002 series provided what was truly a lineup that had something for everyone. However, on this year’s Hamburg to Berlin Klassik, I got a closer look at the 2002 GT4 Frua: the very car that could have changed the face of the 2002 series from the one we remember.
Designed by Pietro Frua in 1969 as a potential 2002 model, the GT4 was a fastback 2+2 coupe built on the underpinnings of a 2002ti. Although based on the 2002, it also brought together styling from multiple BMW products including an interior largely lifted from the 2500 sedan, with its instrument cluster dominated by two large dials, and both indicators and door handles from the 2800CS.
Two examples of the GT4 with slight variations were produced and unveiled by BMW at the Paris Motor Shows of 1969 and 1970. Unfortunately the GT4 would not make it to series production, BMW opting to proceed with a touring design which would enter the market in 1971. Today, the 1970 Paris Motor Show concept remains in original condition and under the care of BMW Group Classic. However, on the back roads from Hamburg to Berlin, we were given the opportunity to see the GT4 on the road where it can be truly appreciated.
With its angular front grille, strong hipline leading to its surprisingly steep rear tailgate and blended with elements of Italian styling, it’s a completely different perspective on the 2002 compare to the touring that ultimately took its place. From all angles, it projects forward, especially with its low and wide front facia, bearing resemblance to one of its donors, the 2800CS.
On the road, it fills the rear view mirrors of our Rolls Royce and as we round a long sweeping corner, an empty tree lined straight emerges. The GT4’s 120 horsepower 2.0-litre inline four roars to life to overtake. Passing us in the open top, we get the full experience. It sounds even better when it’s slowing down, too; with blips of the throttle between gears, it’s a remarkably suitable soundtrack.
Later, sandwiched between two other 2002s, the GT4 stands out. Lower and sharper, it looks worlds apart from its counterparts, so much so that it is a wonder that they share DNA. Although a shame that the GT4 was never destined for production, with such a contrast in aesthetic to the existing 2002, perhaps BMW were right in dedicating their focus on a design more in line with identity of the series.
Perhaps this is why my eyes kept drifting back to the cheeky 2002s on either side, happy that they never changed.