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2002 for 2003

A '73 BMW 2002 with the goods to upset some highly tuned late-model turbocars!

Words by Michael Knowling, Pix by Julian Edgar

Click on pics to view larger images

This article was first published in 2003.

While most lads around 21 years of age are entrenched in the Japanese import Silvia/180SX/Skyline scene, Eric Gattermeier - son of Herbert Gattermeier, owner of Sydney's Bavariacars - prefers to upset the applecart with his awesome '73 BMW 2002. In case you aren't much of an automotive historian, the 2002 was the car that saved BMW from financial collapse; it also proved itself as a circuit racer and rally car and its engine was so strong it formed the basis for the 1200hp+ turbo F1 BMW of the early '80s!

But there's no point remembering how good the 2002 used to be - Eric's beastie can still teach the modern performance cars a thing or two. Or three.

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Needless to say, building a 30-year-old vehicle into a full-house club racer requires more than just fitment of some go-fast hardware; a full restoration is required before you go getting carried away. Eric was very fortunate to pick up this car in pretty well its current configuration - the panels had been completely restored, taken back to bare metal and sprayed in the eye catching yellow paint seen here. Things like the rubbers and chrome had also been replaced with either new or reconditioned items and a tough looking BMW 2002 turbo replica front spoiler was bolted under the nose. The previous owner had certainly spent a lot of money and Eric managed to negotiate the asking price to the point where it was too good to pass up; the '74 BMW 2002 street/club car he'd been building during his apprenticeship got instantly shelved!

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It just so happens the guy that built the car - or, at least, paid to have the car built - was into circuit racing just like Eric. As such, the 2.0-litre engine had been comprehensively rebuilt with forged pistons (providing a compression ratio of around 8:1), Argo rods, a linished and balanced crank, large head studs and an extensively modified cylinder head with, interestingly, the standard camshaft. As you may have guessed from the comparatively low compression ratio, the engine was built to withstand forced induction - a Garrett GT25 ball-bearing "400 horsepower" turbocharger mounted on a custom fabricated tuned-length exhaust manifold. Compressed air is channelled through a Performance Metalcraft bar-and-plate front-mount air-to-air intercooler and arrives at the throttle after whizzing past a TurboMaster blow-off valve. The intake manifold and plenum is another custom jobbie using long runners, a log-style plenum chamber and a single large diameter throttle body.

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Controlling fuel and ignition is an Autronic SMC programmable management system taking a load input from a MAP sensor. A set of four large Bosch injectors are connected to a custom rail and are fed by a high-capacity Bosch pump; a Malpassi adjustable regulator maintains the appropriate fuel pressure. The ignition comprises four M&W coils and an Autronic CDI system.

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Power? Eric estimates in the region of 385 horses. And, take it from us, that figure is entirely believable; what's more, the GT25 turbocharger is also relatively quick to spool, which means good drivability on the street and circuit.

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The driveline now comprises a Getrag 260 5-speed gearbox (from a 6-cylinder 323i), which required Eric to modify the bell housing in order to fit. The trans tunnel has also been enlarged just in case a larger, heavier-duty 'box is later required - no problems with the ex-323i unit at this stage, however. A Sachs 5-puck clutch with a sprung centre is responsible for channelling the engine's grunt through the driveline.

From the rear of the 'box you'll find a custom tailshaft running to a 635 LSD, which is hung from a custom mount. E30 BMW hybrid axles are employed. The all-important contact patch is left to sticky 205/50 and 225/45 Dunlop Formula R tyres mounted on Performance 16 x 7 rims.

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Aside from revising the driveline Eric has spent about 12 months sorting out a few other things; the electrical system, for example, was "a little short-sighted." He's almost completely redone the wiring and upgraded to a 120 amp alternator - the stock alternator simply couldn't cope running the EFI system. There was also a problem with one of the earlier series rocker arms that were used in the build - one of them snapped! Eric has since replaced these with later model versions, which are reputedly stronger. Other changes made under Eric's direction are a revised pre-turbo air intake (now a K&N pod filter) and a cutout in the front spoiler, which aids airflow through a newly added oil cooler.

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The 2002 suspension arrangement is set-up for circuit work with adjustable front control arms (to allow additional camber) and the rear-end is adjustable for toe. Eibach springs and Bilstein dampers are used at each end, with the front being ride height adjustable. A front suspension tower bar keeps the front-end as tight as possible.

The brakes, too, have come in for a major upgrade. The front employs 11-inch discs clamped by Mazda 4-pot calipers, while the opposite end gets by with BMW discs and single pot calipers - rear drums come as standard. An adjustable front-to-rear brake bias system is also installed.

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The racing theme is evident the moment you open the door. There's a full 6-point roll cage, Recaro fibreglass race seats and Momo harnesses and steering wheel. Eric has also installed a full compliment of AutoMeter gauges - boost, rpm, speedo, oil temp and pressure, water temp, volts, fuel pressure and fuel level. There's no sound deadening or anything pansy like that - the bellow from the 3-inch exhaust fills the cabin as a constant reminder this is not your average car.

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This car's association with the word "average" was officially brought to an end when Eric made his first appearance at the local drags, where - running 22 psi boost and Optimax/octane booster in the tank - the car managed an easy 12.7-second ET at 114.8 mph. No sir - this is no slowpoke oldie!

Of course, straight-line performance is only one aspect of a vehicle built for club racing. Eric has also tackled the Wakefield race circuit and the car showed great potential - unfortunately, though, some engine problems prevented any giant killing times. The motor is now being pulled down and fitted with piston oil jets in order to cool the pistons. Longer-term ideas include the move to massive Porsche brakes (yeah, baby!), fibreglass bonnet and boot and a perhaps fuel cell.

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So if you race a Skysil180 at Wakefield and you think it's quick, consider this your early warning - the next time you're out, you may need to keep to the left to let a yellow '70s BMW blow past!


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