The ’02 that started it all…

I’m blaming all this on my Father. He’s the one that got me hooked. It started when he brought home a brand-new ’74 2002 in Malaga red. 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. It led an eventful but rather short life…it survived a few fender benders but the resulting rust was pervasive. We traded it in on a brand-new 528i (E12) in late 1980.

My favorite memory of this car was a day Mum took us shopping. The carb was slightly out of tune, likely a stuck choke, so 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. I had been instructed to keep it around 1500 RPM. I was not to redline the car under any circumstances! She was only in there for about ten minutes, but came back to me happily revving the car. Success! It never stalled, but I didn’t keep it much under 2500 RPM either. We still giggle about that day.

The car also had three features that obsessed my brother and I. First off was the ignition key, inscribed with “Fahrt.” Much childish merriment always ensued, with frequent bonus Dad jokes. Secondly, 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:


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

This pic is not of the original car, I borrowed it from an auction site here.

I thought no pictures survived from this car, but recently rediscovered a few pics I’d taken for my 4th grade photo class! Feast your eyes upon the fishy-eyed distortion:


These awesome shots were taken with a home-made pinhole camera. I built in 5th grade after-school art classes, with the guidance of our legendary art teacher (thanks again, Mrs. M!). You can make one as well. You’ll need a large light-proof container (empty paper canisters of rolled oats are ideal for distortion), a small section of aluminum foil, some masking tape and a hefty dollop of black tempura paint.


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