The ’02 that started it all…

I’m blaming all this on my Father. He’s the one that got me hooked. It started in the 70s, when he brought home a brand-new Malaga red 2002. The only option it had was air conditioning. Fabulous little car. Mum still maintains that it was the most entertaining car she’s ever driven.

My favorite memory of this car was a day Mum took us shopping. The carb was slightly out of tune, and the car was having difficulty idling & starting. Mum, in a flash of desperation/inspiration, had 10-year-old me sit in the driver’s seat and make sure the motor didn’t stall. She was only in there for about ten minutes, but came back to me happily revving the car. I had been instructed not to redline the car, so I tried to keep it around 2500 RPM. We still giggle about that day.

The car also had three features that obsessed my brother and I. First was the ignition key, inscribed with “Fahrt.” Much merriment always ensued. Second, the seat belt warning light. It occupied a small dedicated binnacle perched prominently atop the dash. It would blink, annoyed, until the driver bucked up. We’ve always been sticklers for seats belts, but even we felt it was a bit over the top. Last (but certainly not least), there was the ‘fake’ dummy button. It was bright shiny green plastic, balancing out the bright red hazard button in the center console. Theories vary as to why it was included. I’ve been told it’s either an optional passenger ejection seat or rear foglights. My brother managed to insert a red-hot cigarette lighter directly into it, marring it for life. I still feel, to this day, that if a life choice had only two alternatives it’d look like a cosmic version of those dual buttons. Here’s a thread about it at BMW2002FAQ, and a picture I borrowed:

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2002 dash & console. Note green dummy button at the center right, above the gearshift.

Alas, there are no pictures of the car. The one you see was borrowed from an auction site here. It left our lives with terminal rust, traded in on a new E12.

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