By on August 29, 2014

12 - 1971 BMW 2002 Down on the Junkyard - Picture Courtesy of Murilee MartinFlawless examples of the BMW New Class are worth plenty, but ratty project cars are another story; the flow of 1602s and 2002s into self-service wrecking yards continues unabated. So far in this series, we’ve seen this ’73, this ’73, this ’74, and now today’s find, a no-rust California 1602. Now, before you Rust Belt BMW fanatics start emailing me about this car, be aware that I shot these photos last October, which means that this car got crushed, shredded, and melted down at least six months ago.
09 - 1971 BMW 2002 Down on the Junkyard - Picture Courtesy of Murilee MartinIt’s rough, and there’s probably hidden rust due to leaky weatherstripping and long, rainy California winters, but this car wouldn’t have been a terribly difficult restoration project. However, it would have cost $12,000 to make this into a $7,000 car, hence the junkyard trip.
14 - 1971 BMW 2002 Down on the Junkyard - Picture Courtesy of Murilee MartinHere’s a 2000 San Francisco residential parking permit, without which your car will be ticketed, towed, auctioned off, and (probably) crushed in the most ruthless parking environment I’ve ever experienced. This Area S permit worked in parts of the Mission District, Noe Valley, and the Castro, all areas in which my ’65 Impala spent a lot of time.
02 - 1971 BMW 2002 Down on the Junkyard - Picture Courtesy of Murilee MartinThe interior had been picked over pretty well at the time I photographed this car, and I’ll wager that the instrument cluster didn’t go to The Crusher.
04 - 1971 BMW 2002 Down on the Junkyard - Picture Courtesy of Murilee MartinI had one of these cool-looking hazard-light switches in my ’58 Beetle, way back in my earliest junkyard-crawling days.

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29 Comments on “Junkyard Find: 1971 BMW 1602...”


  • avatar
    Roberto Esponja

    1. Believe it or not, the designer of this car was inspired by the Chevy Corvair.

    2. Looking at an expanded version of the interior’s photo, I think those might have beeen leather seats, not vinyl. Odd that no one had snagged them yet.

    3. Loved those little round tail lights, I was disappointed by the ones they put on these around 1974.

    4. I’d love to install that red hazard switch on my car and tell people it’s a “passenger eject” button. :-P

    Nice find, Murilee. BTW, when are you posting more “brain-melting junkyard” stuff?

    • 0 avatar
      snakebit

      Again, asking out loud what is the intention of showing what cars are in Denver and California recycling yards months after they’re actually photographed. Is there just a backlog of photos to publish, and this is the inadvertent result, is Murilee just trying to save us from ourselves and from dragging stray project cars home, only to be yelled at by disapproving family members?

      Second, while some of the German-market merchandising lit for 1971 BMW does refer to this model as the 1602, as does the basic owners handbook, the sales literature printed for the US models for 1971 (October 1970) calls the two models the 1600 and 2002. Also, Roberto surmises that this car has leather front seats. While the color itself looks original to BMW that year, the seats in this car look to be either from another model car, or custom re-upholstered without much regard to the design of the standard ‘leatherette’ pattern. The seats shown in the US-market sales folder each have wide solid vinyl inserts bookending perforated vinyl as would be found on ’67 and ’68 VW Type 113 and 117 (Beetles). For customers wanting leather, the folder describing paint and trim asks customers to inquire at their local dealership. I take this to mean, maybe, the dealer might possibly know a local vender who is adept at fashioning leather interiors for models of cars which didn’t offer it from the factory. I remember this solution from working with Honda’s and Acura’s which came with cloth, but which buyers wanted to go the extra expense of installing leather.
      Again for Roberto, the round versus square tail lights have a number of fans who prefer the older design. I prefer the newer(1974-1976) lights mainly because they’re brighter, and so, safer at night and when stopping. The comment about the ’02′ designer being inspired by the Corvair(presumably version 1) is interesting. Famously, the Nissan executive responsible for initiating the concept of the 1968-1973 Datsun 510 got his inspiration from the BMW 1600. I wonder if he knew what car inspired the BMW.

      • 0 avatar
        CJinSD

        The Corvair inspired a large list of European cars. Just look at an NSU TT, FIAT 1500 introduced in 1961, Simca 1000, Renault R8, VW Karman-Ghia 1600L “Monza”, Panhard 24 TC, Sunbeam Imp, Peugeot 204, ZAZ 966, or Audi 100LS. The funny thing is that BMWs were usually awkward looking things with no design language of their own before the Corvair showed them the way for the Neue Klasse 1500. When BMW finally stopped evolving the Corvair’s cues in 2001, the era of attractive BMWs ended simultaneously. Time for a new Corvair.

        • 0 avatar
          VoGo

          Also inspired by the Corvair? The NHTSA, IIHS and NCAP.

          • 0 avatar
            CJinSD

            GM is GM, but the second Corvair mostly addressed the worst handling characteristics of the first. Even if the first one handled like a Porsche 911, its styling changed the course of BMW and inspired many other cars that looked less ridiculous than the European norm. It would be nice if GM had it in itself to make a car as influential today.

        • 0 avatar

          Hey CJ! Wow, complete agreement! The Corvair, like other American cars from by gone eras were strong influences on European design. The Corvair was one of the latest example that had a wide influence and was a seed from which much of European design grew in the 70s. As such, the Corvair must be included among the list of most influential cars of all time.

          And like you CJ, most of BMWs before the New Class were forgetable and, in fact, were. Except the Isetta. The BMW version was valued, but it was not BMW’s idea.

          • 0 avatar
            CJinSD

            True. The 600 was BMW’s idea, and what an odd looking idea it was. It was practically the i3 of its day, which shows what happens when BMW doesn’t have a well-realized American car to copy from.

      • 0 avatar
        Roberto Esponja

        Thanks Snakebit, interesting info. Yeah, probably those seats are not stock; they look too good for such an otherwise aged car. And I’m only assuming they’re leather because of the wear creases apparent on the sides, but maybe they’re not. Also, I’m sure the newer tail lamps were indeed better, but I just find the older ones more attractive. It’s like with VW Beetles, when they went to a wider tail lamp design circa 1968, I liked the older ones better too. :-)

        CJinSD, interesting info too, thanks. And I agree about the end of that era, as well.

      • 0 avatar

        Some Junkyard Finds come out the day after I shoot the photos, some wait for years. I always have a reserve of a few dozen sets of junkyard car photographs, and I choose based on which cars I feel like writing about at a given moment. There is no system.

        • 0 avatar
          snakebit

          Thanks for explaining how you go about publishing junkyard finds, Murilee, emphasis on my genuine thanks. Speaking just for myself, it’s frustrating seeing cars in your column that look like they could use a good home, at the same time that while I’m lucky to have a nice long driveway, it couldn’t contain the numbers of stray cars that I’d like to adopt.

          On another point, you mentioned that you felt this 1600 would take $12,000 to put back on the road. You might be aware that prices have risen almost across all makes lately, and a very rare and virtually perfect BMW 1600 in Boston (rare only because at least 95 percent of ’02′ cars for sale are 2002′s or tii’s) was recently on sale for $11,000 from a private party.

  • avatar
    -Nate

    A nice parts car there .

    What kind of carby did these have ? some large bore Solex 2 venturi I imagine .

    -Nate

    • 0 avatar
      CJinSD

      Stock, they had a single barrel Solex. I’ve never seen one that hadn’t been changed over to a Weber 34 ICH or 32/36 DGV though. I’m pretty sure the one a friend and I bought in a farmer’s pasture in about 1981 already had been converted to a Weber before being sold as a non-runner.

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    Even the aftermarket radiator couldn’t save this one.

  • avatar
    CoreyDL

    I find these old Beemers very charming in their simplicity and solidity. There was a pristine old 2002 coupe in the “VIP parking” area of a concours couple months back. It smelled like old car.

  • avatar
    Windy

    I have exchanged email with a chap that retired to oz in the 80s and took his last company card a ford Granada with him he said that the hot dry climate has retarded the growth of tin worm on his 30 year old car but since he has no garage the sun has done a number on the plastic bits inside and out… What cars do you see with the worst plastic degradation?

    I volunteer at a museum and the worst conservation problems we have are in mid century plastics that go brittle or gooey or develop odd internal weakness that cause things like switches to fail internally.

    Just wondering what trends in this problem you may have seen…. Red taillight plastic crazing and fading to light pink internal switch gear failing… Weather stripping turning rock hard…

    I just wonder how well the plastic tech on newer cars will last I have about given up on the external “black” plastic on my 2004 all the mouse milk treatments do is make the light grey a bit darker grey for a few months. I about to take the step of sanding them smooth and painting them with a plastic paint to match the body color… For the fender flares anyway.

    On most cars they paint the plastic bumper covers to match the body paint from new why not all the “black” plastic that fades in such an ugly way

    • 0 avatar
      snakebit

      Yes, for those people who envy gearheads in hot and dry climates like Arizona and California, you trade one set of headaches for another. It’s true that the tinworm can’t make any inroads where salt, sand, and wild temperature swings don’t happen, but the effects of unrelenting, dry sun can bake the life out of paint and upholstery trim. My experience is that while taillight lens aren’t always affected by the sun, trim on American cars from the mid 1970′s through the 1980′s is especially susceptible. So it’s not always an upside, though you can work on your cars more of the year outside.

    • 0 avatar
      golden2husky

      Having a 22 year old Mercury Sable in the fleet, I can weigh in on the effects of sun and age on plastic with a car that spent its entire life outside. While the Northeast does not have the same intensity as a southwest environment, it still takes its toll. Biggest visible sign is the cracks in the dash cover, and some discoloration of hard plastic. But the biggest effect is the way the plastics become brittle. Left alone it does not really matter much, but when you have to start taking things apart you end up with broken tabs, cracks, and snapped off mounting studs. The interior plastics on second generation Taurus/Sables was not that great to begin with, though I think all cars will suffer from this kind of deterioration.

  • avatar
    davew833

    I’m surprised no one had pocketed the roundels and the script emblem

  • avatar

    Two 1971 cars recently. Looks like the year of my birth was home to a lot of simple design that just gets better with age. Sort of like me (not!). Take that post Bangle design world!

  • avatar
    Rich in Fla

    This find brings back memories of high school. A friend drove me home in a 1600 almost every day.Same color as this one.I had been in many foreign cars by then but this was the coolest. The way he worked the shift lever was liked magic compared to watching my brother fight with Sunbeams,Triumphs and MG’s.

  • avatar
    Big Al from Oz

    I do think this was the car that put BMW on the map.

    As great and fun as this car was to drive, there was one car so similar, yet better.

    The 510 Datsun 1600 a superior car that showed the Japanese can build cheap and fun vehicles, it even developed 96hp out of the L16, a great little engine.

    • 0 avatar
      snakebit

      Big Al…

      You’ll be interested to know that BMW, in their sales literature, rated the 1971 BMW 1600 at 96hp (SAE)at 5800rpm with the Solex 38 PDSI, 85hp(DIN) at 5700rpm.

      As for which is the superior car, They both were pretty good. The 510 was advertised for under $2,000 for the two door, the BMW 1600 in 1970 went for about $2,600 before options like a sliding roof, about what a Mustang coupe six cylinder started at. If you read the previous threads, you learned what the Nissan USA chief had in mind when he put together the specifications for the 1968-1973 510. You should be able to guess that both cars are two of my favorite early ’70s models.

      • 0 avatar
        Big Al from Oz

        The Dat’o 1600′s 96hp was in 69 and $600 might not sound like much now, but it’s like comparing a $20k to $40k or even a $40k to a $52k car.

        As for the Mustang, it’s not in the same league as these two. These vehicles had superior suspension and suspension tuning (IRS) in comparison to the trucklike Mustang.

        The Datsun 1600 was also an excellent Rallying platform.

        The only way a Mustang could keep one of these is in a straight line, like most Amercian cars of that era.

      • 0 avatar
        Big Al from Oz

        @Snakebit,
        I do think the 1600 was the best from Datsun, even better than the Z cars. The original Z car the 240 was really the end of the great Datsun era.

        Datsun attempted to replicate the 1600 with the Stanza, but failed in a way.

        BMW was the manufacturer that Datsun used as a benchmark as I can re-collect. I might be wrong there.

        • 0 avatar
          snakebit

          Let me clear up a few points.

          When I was comparing the BMW 1600 to the Mustang six cylinder, it was strictly to illustrate to folks of a younger generation that in the late 1960′s and early 1970′s BMW coupes were much more affordable relative to popular American small coupes, i.e. as cheap as a base Mustang. I was not considering performance or features, just relative pricing.

          Just as an aside, when you bring up Datsun 1600, would you please differentiate what you really mean. When I see the phrase’ Datsun 1600′ it could be the 1600 roadster or the Canadian version of the 510. If you meant ’510′, that alone should cut out confusion, all of them were 1600cc from 1968-1973 when sold in the US.

          Let me point out that I worked as a teen in a BMW dealer for a summer job in 1967, so I’m up to speed with the 1600, 1800, and 2000CS from that experience. I was probably one of very few teens to drive BMW 1600′s that early. Among other cars, I owned a 1600 and a ’70s 2002. I’ve owned two Datsun 510′s. FWIW, my avatar is a photo of a’73 510. I’m not an expert, but I’m not new to these cars.

          The Nissan USA executive, Yutaka Katayama, had not just any BMW in mind when he envisioned a less expensive interpretation to sell, but specifically the BMW 1600(this was about a year before the BMW 2002 came to the US), so you’re correct.

          Finally, we’ll have to disagree about the 510 and 240Z. To me, they were both great products, engineered for two different types of customers and for two different budgets($2000 roughly versus $3596 at first- and yes-we’ve discussed the dealer price gouging when the 240Z first came to dealers).

  • avatar
    msquare

    The low price of the 1971 BMW was a direct result of a very favorable exchange rate up until then. A dollar was worth 4 Deutsche Marks in 1969, about 3.6 in 1971, but declined to 2 by 1978. Compound that with double-digit inflation stateside and once-cheap Beetles became premium small cars. And forget about Rabbits and Sciroccos, not to mention Mercedes. It also meant that affordable 1600 was a $10,000-plus 320i yuppiemobile by the end of the decade. The dollar took a dip against the yen as well, but the decline was slower and really didn’t have as much effect until the 1980′s.


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