1974 BMW 2002 Restomod

1974 BMW 2002 Restomod

When a nostalgic enthusiast brought his ailing BMW into Yves Decan’s Belgian workshop, he wanted a 1970s street racer. Looks like he got it.



Last winter an older gentlemen entered our workshop and explained how he approached a local garage because he wanted to buy a 1974 BMW 2002.

1974 BMW 2002 Restomod

Back in the day, he bought three new ones and he wanted to relive some of the sensations he had with these cars. The workshop owner found him this original Golf Yellow 1974 example and a deal was made. Eddy, the new owner, had some specific wishes to modify the car into a somewhat period correct street racer, something typically 1970s style.


The engine was said to be overhauled already and equipped with a pair of Solex 40PHH’s but it ran badly, so this had to be sorted as well. Numerous months passed by and the car still wasn’t ready. Eddy started losing his patience, after having been told an endless list of excuses and promises.

The workshop guy obviously didn’t make any decent progression on the car, and the engine seemed to be the biggest obstacle to progress. It seemed he was in way over his head but didn’t want to admit that.

1974 BMW 2002 Restomod

So that is how the car ended up with us. We had to start from scratch, since most of the work done was just badly executed or outright wrong.

One of the first things we installed were a pair of brand new Weber DCOE40s and a 123Tune+ mappable distributor in order to get the engine running properly. We also found an original 2002 Ti spec airbox and fitted it.

The first signs of progress were looking good and the engine ran pretty well on a basic tune. Meanwhile we rewired the extra dash gauges and rebuilt the centre console insert with a main cutout switch, switches for the additional spot lights, and another three gauges.

A set of brand new Torino seats and Sparco harnesses also found their way into the interior, along with a Sparco three branch steering wheel with polished stainless spokes.

On the outside we fitted an original 2002 Turbo boot spoiler, and added some side striping in the same theme too. Things were looking good at this point and after handling a couple more issues and adding some small accessories, the car was now ready for dyno tuning.

1974 BMW 2002 Restomod

Unfortunately this didn’t give us the results we were hoping for.

Anything above 5000rpm was misfires and huge loss of power, at best we saw 104hp and huge clouds of blue smoke coming out the exhaust. The problem could be traced back to massive leak-down losses and bad compression, all of this on a so called rebuilt engine.

We see a lot of these badly built engines – a lot of people still believe that honing and new pistons rings equals an engine rebuild, but it really doesn’t. BMW engines are slant and hereby suffer from ovally worn out cylinders, no amount of honing can eliminate that.

After consulting the owner we decided to fully rebuild the engine the way it is supposed to be done, a costly decision but a necessary one.

We ordered a set of forged CP pistons, going straight to a 90mm bore instead of the standard 89mm, as this would be beneficial for the power hike we were after.

Literally everything else from that engine was either rebuilt or at least inspected and measured, as we didn’t want to leave anything to chance at this point. The head was rebuilt using 8 new valves, guides and seats, and we fitted a new Schrick 284 cam and all new followers.

The block received an equally thorough treatment, with new pistons, the crankshaft checked and polished, new bearings, rods checked for straightness and ovality, a new timing chain and very careful reassembly. Once finished the engine was as good as new, the icing on the cake being one of our valve covers finished in crackle black paint – a perfect match with the rest of the car.

After installing the engine, we also went for a stainless steel exhaust and sports manifold in order to get the most of the mildly tuned engine. Initial start-up went by the book, no surprises, a walk in the park.

At this point the owner is running in the engine on a safe tune, we don’t know any power figures just yet but somewhere around 150hp is pretty reasonable when taking into account the modification done.

In the end all worked out, albeit with a pretty hefty investment and a longer than normal wait.


New seats and steering wheel. Yeah – that works. If an engine looks right, it often is right. One way to combat older eyes. New 90mm pistons fitted… ...and new Weber DCOEs. Great to see the 2002 without huge modern alloys. Removing the engine after unsuccessful dyno run. Rebored block. Schrick 284 cam. Turbo style side stripes. Yves’ Munich Icons workshop. Schrick performance cam installed. Original engine build only made 104bhp.

Yves got the decimal point in the wrong place when he first ordered the pipe for the exhaust. Four cylinder 2002 block is essentially what went on to form the basis of BMW’s turbo’d F1 engines. Better than a plastic cover, huh? Period correct guages.

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