At first glance, you’d think this 2002 was just lowered with classy BBS wheels, but you’d be very wrong to assume that with Tony Adzhemyan’s 1972 BMW 2002.
It’s hard to not appreciate the classic style of the BMW E10 chassis and the history of the 2002. It’s a car that brings fond memories of classic racing of the late 1960s and early 1970s in Europe and the Trans Am’s “golden age” with the Under Two-Liter (U2) class. The E10 was even one of BMW’s early attempts at going electric with the 1602 Elektro, an EV concept that debuted at the 1972 Olympic Games in Munich, West Germany. However, it was the body style and looks that attracted Tony to it ten years ago.
Even so, there was much to be desired in the performance department. The idea was to keep it a sleeper with only hints to its hidden character. What you don’t see is the careful engineering and fabrication required to make this BMW 2002 into the vehicle Tony wanted. The only hint you see from the front is a pair of Cibie H4 conversion headlights.
From the side, you'll notice a set of BBS RS wheels in 16x7 front and rear. Wrapped around them are 165/45R16 Achilles Radial tires, once again in the front and the rear. While they are an aftermarket wheel and tire set, you probably wouldn’t guess what’s coming up and about to smack you sideways. First, to get that low stance, Tony made his own adjustable coilover front and adjustable perch rear suspension. He did this in the front by cutting the original BMW 2002 strut housings down three inches and welding them back together.
From there, he welded in an adjustable spring perch before installing a pair of Bilstein inserts that were re-valved for the 2002. The brakes were also upgraded using an Ireland Engineering 15-inch Wilwood kit made for the BMW 2002’s strut bodies and a 13-inch Wilwood disc in the rear. This also includes custom mounts for the Wilwood four-piston calipers up front and single piston calipers in the rear. Because the car is much lower than stock, a set of one-inch bump steer and roll center spacers were made by Massive Brakes in Canada, but roll control is done by a set of Ireland Engineering sway-bars front and rear.
The rear suspension is done with a set of adjustable perches and matching Bilstein shocks, but these are the stock length for the car. The springs are a set of Vogtlands with a rate of 350 lbs/inch in the front while the rear pair are 400 lbs/inch. This sounds odd until you remember that the BMW 2002 has a semi-trailing arm rear suspension, just like the BMW E30. The wheel rate in the rear allows for the 50-pound difference in the rear springs without it getting tail happy.
That similarity also leads to another revelation you can’t see until you’re under the car itself. The rear subframe has been modified to accept a BMW E30 3-series LSD differential. The 188mm diff came from Speed Garageworks and required the BMW 2002’s subframe be cut in the center with the center section from a BMW E30 being welded back in.
Tony also had to make a custom trunk mount to support the differential just like it’s done with the E30. Inside that diff, Speed Garageworks changed the gear ratio to a 3.23:1 with three new clutches added to the LSD pack to make it a 40-percent lockup. Because the differential case is much wider than the BMW 2002’s, a set of narrower half shafts were custom made to work with the differential and output shafts of the 2002. Finally, the driveshaft was shortened because of the case and the new transmission. We’ll get to that in a moment.
When you look inside, you’re greeted by a custom interior. The 330mm Nardi Classic wooden steering wheel, period correct looped carpet kit, and Coco Mats just match so well to this beautiful looking car.
Peek behind the steering wheel and you will notice a pair of Innovate Boost and Air/Fuel Ratio gauges that stick out from the steering column and, again, hint to the concealed charisma of this sleeper BMW E10.
When you peek at the dash gauges, you’ll see they are factory BMW 2002 units with well over 71,000 miles on the clock and counting.
Looking inside, you can't help but notice the classy looking seats. First, the front and rear seats are a sport set from a BMW E30 3-series but were redone in leather by Abdu in Hacienda Heights, California. Tony redid the door panels in leather himself to match the seats.
The custom-wrapped center console shows a modern Pioneer head unit and sound system. But, it’s that Individual Racing Parts V3 Short Shifter that's probably your final clue that this isn’t a BMW 2002 with a stock engine and transmission under the hood. That shifter is connected to a Getrag 260 transmission by way of a lightened OEM BMW flywheel and Spec Stage 3+ clutch. But what is that flywheel attached to, you ask?
Under the hood, one might expect the normal parts from a classic looking BMW 2002 this clean, but we’re now shown what makes this BMW E10 a sleeper. What you’re looking at is a turbocharged M20 engine from an E30 BMW. Built by Shant over at Bimmerheads, this engine isn’t even the same M20 that came out of the BMW factory when it was new as it now has a displacement of 2.9-liters.
The head features a port and polish job, but for more strength under boost, the coolant jackets have been welded. The valves have been oversized by 1mm and new valve seats installed. It’s all held together with ARP fasteners and bolts. The transmission and engine mounts are polyurethane for a balance of stiffness and compliance that makes it great to drive without rattling your teeth out. However, these aren’t off-the-shelf pieces; Tony had to make them.
Inside the Bimmerheads block, the bore and stroke have been worked with a set of 85mm Ross Forged Pistons, forged crankshaft, and Molnar Forged Connecting Rods. To keep compression, the block and head are further modified for O-rings around the cylinders. The camshaft is a custom grind with a 284-degree intake and 282-degree exhaust durations.
A custom-made radiator support by Tony’s friend, Jacob, allows the fitment of the custom three-core Champion radiator and Sheepeyrace custom intercooler. Not only did this provide more room, but it also features custom tabs that properly retain the intercooler, radiator, hood, and three electric fans.
From the Garrett dual ball bearing turbocharger compressor outlet all the way to the intake, the piping is made by Tony which includes the mounting of the Turbosmart Raceport Blow-Off Valve. A giant K&N filter keeps turbo and engine killing debris from getting in. The exhaust manifold is made by Rapid Spool Industries with a Turbosmart 45mm Hypergate wastegate, and it all exhausts out to a custom three-inch stainless-steel exhaust system.
The Deka 60 Fuel Injectors, MSD Wasted Spark Ignition System are controlled by a MegaSquirt II. This is the ultimate do-it-yourself motorsports ECU on the market as it requires you to solder and wire the ECU by hand, which Tony did before getting it tuned. Its heart is the Bowling and Grippo daughter board with its 68HC908 CPU.
While Bisimoto Engineering is well established in the AEM, Honda, Hyundai, and Porsche worlds for his tuning, Bisi Ezerioha is just talented in anything that has an engine and needs tuning. Bisi took this custom-made ECU and was able to work his magic. The result of which is 400-horsepower, 400-torque at 6000-RPM on a Dyno Jet dyno on 91-octane gas, which is pumped out of the stock fuel tank with a 255-liter/hr in-tank pump to an additional Bosch 044 fuel pump mounted in-line.
A close look under the hood will reveal that even the starter and bellhousing have been painted to satisfy Tony's attention to detail.
Finally, we’d be doing this car a disservice if we didn’t mention the beautiful paint and bodywork. The Chaminox was shot by Covina Collision while the re-chrome of the bumpers and trim pieces, as well as the plating on the wheels, were all done by Matt at Hi-Tech Plating in Santa Fe Springs, California.
In the photo above, Tony is smiling cause the policeman behind him can't ticket his engine swap. What’s great about owning any car built prior to 1974 in California is that you’re allowed to do this type of swap. Well, technically, anyway. Cars of that era don’t have to go through SMOG testing, but a police officer can still hassle you over it; though, not many do because, more than likely, this engine is cleaner than what came out of it even with the addition of the turbocharger. Modern fuel injection means it’s not running too rich and putting out too much carbon or running too lean and putting out too much nitrogen dioxide. Well, until you put your foot down and demand more fuel and boost, anyhow.
Regardless, Tony built this car to drive and enjoy it. That’s all he has planned for it for the moment. Many cars claim a sleeper title, but Tony’s 1972 BMW 2002 fits that bill as it was meant to. A car you look at from the outside that belies the beast under the hood. With the additional fabrication and engineering, it’s one that’s more than a straight liner, too. If you’re planning a sleeper build yourself, this BMW E10 is the formula to follow.
Story by Justin Banner
Photos by Antonio Alvendia
If you like Tony's turbocharged BMW 2002, you can find additional BMW-related content at bmw.fcpeuro.com, as well as more build features like this one, here. If there's anything specific you would like to see, or if you have any questions/comments, leave them in the comments section below.
Antonio Alvendia is an aficionado of cameras, rare wheels, hip hop, and obscure aftermarket car accessories. He bought his first E39 Touring after seeing M5 Estates on photo trips to Europe, and now has sights set on restoring a classic Mercedes. Antonio was a principal photographer on the limited edition hardcover book on Singer Vehicle Design's Porsche 911 builds, entitled One More Than Ten. Future goals include returning to the Nurburgring to shoot the N24 race and driving the Nordschleife again. ••• Instagram : @MOTORMAVENS