The BMW 2002 has become a cult classic due to its small stature, timeless good looks, and relatively affordable price. Not to mention it’s a classic BMW, who doesn’t want one of those. While a standard restored 2002 is good, Marc Norris wanted it to be even better.
Marc is now a Los Angeles native, building his reputation over the last 30-years. He originally moved to the west coast to work with another well-known German brand, and that is Porsche. Marc eventually transitioned to working with BMW and started what is now LA’s longest running BMW workshop, Bavarian Workshop. Established in 1978 Marc has been tediously repairing, customizing and romanticizing over BMW machines. So it is only fitting that they have built such a fantastic 2002, a car that was rolling off of showroom floors while Marc was getting his start.
What started as a simple restoration project shortly became much more. Because of Bavarian Workshops history Marc was approached to restore a customer’s 2002 that he had inherited from his father. When the customer saw a highly modified 2002 that Marc had done previously the direction he wanted his restoration to take changed drastically. Marc was happy to oblige, and the end product may be the greatest 2002 ever.
So what did Marc and his team do to make this 2002 so special? Most importantly it’s what he didn’t do. He didn’t destroy what makes the 2002 such a great car. He didn’t lose the essence that has made BMW what it is today. It’s not uncommon to see people swapping in big horsepower V8’s or crazy turbo straight 6’s, but those all add weight to the front of the car, throwing off the delicate balance that BMW painstakingly designed into their vehicles. Being the purist that he his Marc used possibly the purest drivetrain BMW has ever produced, the engine and transmission from an E30 M3.
BMW purists will argue tooth and nail over which generation of M3 is the best. The argument typically comes to a showdown between the E30 M3, which ran from 1986-1992, or the E46 M3 which ran from 2000-2006. The E30 M3 is quickly becoming one of the hottest collectors cars, winning the war of greatest Bimmer of all time. It was also much more suited for a transplant into the svelte 2002 chassis. While the more potent inline 6 is definitely tempting, Marc made the right move by choosing to use the E30 M3’s heart and soul.
The S14 engine from the M3 is a 2.3-liter inline 4 that produces roughly 197hp in stock trim. With a reworked ECU, Bavarian Workshop brought the power up to a crisp 230hp, doubling that of the original 2002 engine. The benefits of the S14 engine aren’t just power either. It’s a compact inline 4, allowing for an almost factory installation that aids in better weight distribution. Although 230hp doesn’t seem like much in today’s market it’s worth noting the 2002 truly is a tiny car, tipping the scales at just 2200lbs. That’s a recipe for some serious fun. The S14 is mated to the same transmission from the E30 M3, although it took some creative fabrication to make everything fit. The driveshaft also had to be shortened to accommodate the small nature of the 2002.
Now this isn’t just an engine swap and a fresh coat of paint. Bavarian Workshop went through each part of this 2002 to complete the full restoration. One area that received a lot of attention was the suspension. They custom fabricated the control arms and manufactured a set of 5 lug hubs to accommodate the 16inch wheels that came equipped on the E30 M3. This is a drastic jump from the stock 13inch wheels. The benefits of the bigger wheels goes a long way, with room to run an aftermarket set of Wilwood brakes being the most important. The track of the car was widened using molded fender flares, aiding in performance as well as improving on the already timeless looks. To top off the 2002’s newfound handling potential Bavarian Workshop used torsion bars to further stiffen the chassis.
The entire package is beautifully done, looking as close to factory a swap like this can. The wide fenders contrast beautifully with the square lines of the original body, and the larger wheels add the final touches to compliment the build. It would be a shame if they did all of this work and the interior didn’t follow the same pattern. Luckily Marc doesn’t seem to know how to screw things up, perfectly laying out the interior. Now the 2002 has a pair of modified 3-series seats, re-upholstered in a fine napa leather. The steering wheel is an Alpina style unit that hasn’t been buggered up by adding an airbag. Other than that the 2002’s interior is almost stock, obviously brought back to like new condition.
The 2002 that Bavarian Workshop has built is anything but ‘just a show car.’ The tedious details they spent hours analyzing have paid off because this 2002 drives as good, if not better than the E30 M3 that it is themed after. It has all the benefits of the E30 in a small, lighter, and more unique package. If BMW continued to build the 2002 it’s completely possible this would have been its ultimate form. Thanks to Marc and his Bavarian Workshop team we don’t have to wonder any longer.