Junkyard Find: 1971 BMW 1602

Murilee Martin
by Murilee Martin
junkyard find 1971 bmw 1602

Flawless 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.

It’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.

Here’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.

The 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.

I 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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  • Big Al from Oz Big Al from Oz on Aug 31, 2014

    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.

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    • Snakebit Snakebit on Sep 01, 2014

      @Big Al from Oz 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).

  • Msquare Msquare on Sep 02, 2014

    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.

  • Inside Looking Out "And safety was enhanced generally via new reversing lamps and turn signals fitted as standard equipment."Did not get it, turn signals were optional in 1954?
  • Lorenzo As long as Grenadier is just a name, and it doesn't actually grenade like Chrysler UltraDrive transmissions. Still, how big is the market for grossly overpriced vehicles? A name like INEOS doesn't have the snobbobile cachet yet. The bulk of the auto market is people who need a reliable, economical car to get to work, and they're not going to pay these prices.
  • Lorenzo They may as well put a conventional key ignition in a steel box with a padlock. Anything electronic is more likely to lock out the owner than someone trying to steal the car.
  • Lorenzo Another misleading article. If they're giving away Chargers, people can drive that when they need longer range, and leave the EV for grocery runs and zipping around town. But they're not giving away Chargers, thy're giving away chargers. What a letdown. What good are chargers in California or Nashville when the power goes out?
  • Luke42 I'm only buying EVs from here on out (when I have the option), so whoever backs off on their EV plans loses a shot at my business.