BMW 2002 FR

During a rally in the South-West of France, we fell under the spell of a BMW 323i Alpina. This one belonged to Matthieu Cormier, pilot and BMW dealer in La Rochelle. Our love for old BMWs led us to get back in touch, under the initiative of Victor Sellier (in charge of the marketing of the dealership). When he mentioned the BMW Classic label, recently acquired by BMW H.Cormier, and in particular a BMW 2002 Turbo, we couldn’t resist to find out more. Honestly, the color is properly matched with the Halloween period, isn’t? 

INTERVIEW – BILLY mechanic and former drift driver, owner of Motorsport Héritage

Deus Ex Machina: Tell us more about this orange 2002 BMW.

I found it in a garden while passing by. It was taking root. Here, I’m going to make a 2002, first because there was no one, all the guys started on the basis of E30 and more recent ones. There were a few nice 2002s, but not that many, often originals and not customized with a street look like this one. So I went to see the owner, he ended up selling it to me. I had my wife with me and she said: “Wait a minute, I buy it and it’s mine”. 

Didn’t you tell her that you wanted to put on a turbo ?

No, at first I just wanted to restore it and put nice little rims on it.

What was the model?

It was a normal 2002 with a carburetor, a 2.0L, but the body was rotten like manure. I remembered that a buddy had kept a 2002 body for at least 20 years. He bought it when he was a minor and took it apart. It was his first car and he never put it back together. The car was in a barn for years. I bought it from him once 15 years ago, I put a 3.0L M3 engine in it and I never finished it. Then, I needed the engine to make a track car, so I took it out  and he decided to take the body back. But, he didn’t touch it. When I finally bought the orange 2002, I bought him the 2002 body a second time to put the parts from the orange one on it. Total restoration, naked car body, we took care of it.

The case was clean, but the elements weren’t very beautiful; for example for the doors, I couldn’t find any. It is a little old man, Albert, who shaped the steel sheets by hand. He bought some sheets and made the doors, with: a petanque ball, a hammer, a tube and a cutting torch. Same for the hood and the trunk. Finally, the epoxy paint was redone.

Do you have pictures of the restoration?

To stay in the spirit of the 2002, we decided to put a 318iS four-cylinder, affordable and with a good power-to-price ratio. Then I put the E30’s rear-end and a big front-wheel axle unit and then, it was seriously beyond the fenders.

At what point did it flip over?

It flipped over with the rims, actually. I kept it for 10 years in my garage and one day I was at a friend’s house, there were these rims stacked in a corner and I said to him :

“They’re nice, are they for sale?” 

– Yes, here, 200 bucks and you take them away” my friend answered me.

So, I bought them and I put them on an E30 but it doesn’t match very well, it was horrible! Then, I put them on a 2002 body that had the front and rear axle and I thought “Wow!”. I started the restoration. We had to seek parts all over the world (some elements are coming from  Germany, China, Peru or the United States), the buddies and at the car dealership.

I decided to make an upgraded 2002. As the wheels exceed the fenders, we switched to a Turbo kit, I thought “I might as well give it the full Turbo look, with the stickers”, then I thought “It’s stupid to have a Turbo and not have a turbo”. So, we went on:

– a custom manifold (that we made)

– a turbo a “little bit” oversized

– programmable engine management (JACOB Sport set it on the bench)

– a six-speed gearbox

– a large flywheel

– reinforced clutch

– large dive axles

– self-locking differential

– big brakes, Ferrari brake callipers (from a 355)

I dug into everything that was cool in the garage. I wanted to keep the spirit of the Turbo with a Phase 1 rear end with round lights and a Phase 2 front end. The rear hood is also normally shorter. It has a lot of little details that, on the Turbo, are different when you know it. So it’s not a real Turbo, it’s a “fake one” but we’ll say it’s a “super Turbo”. there’s not a single cylinder block that’s not new.

What kind of shock absorbers did you put on?

They are threaded handsets: at the rear, it’s custom made, I did like the M3 group A and at the front, it’s E46 handsets.

You do everything, what did you study?

I studied mechanics but nothing to do with that. It’s mostly on the job that I learned. First swap and then it got out of control, I was 17 years old. I didn’t have a driver’s license yet and I had already swapped a Golf 1 GTI. 

And a big thanks to:

Billy Motorsport Héritage garage BMW H.CORMIER  

Deus photos : Alexandre Taube @taubalex Circuit Photo credits

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