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MODIFIED BMW 2002: OLD-SCHOOL RULES

Posted by Matt Bell on 19th July 2021

Effortlessly blending classic looks, Group 2-inspired styling, perfect stance and the small matter of a 2.5 S14 swap from an E30 M3, this full-on modified BMW 2002 is nothing short of a masterpiece.

Feature from Performance BMW. Words: Elizabeth de Latour. Photos: Mike Crawat.

If you’re talking about BMW legends, icons, then the ’02 family absolutely has to be on that list. It’s an incredibly important part of BMW’s history and whether you’re talking about the original 1600-02 or something like the 2002 tii, it’s a much-loved range that remains popular with both BMW aficionados and modding enthusiasts. And speaking of which, there have been some magnificent builds that we’ve come across over the years, but Georg Schuster’s (@the_bavarian_outlaw) magnificent creation is one of the best.

Regular readers might find Georg’s name familiar and that’s because we had the pleasure of featuring one of his other creations, an epic S38-powered Group 5 E9 replica, in our April 2020 issue. That alone made it clear that this proud Bavarian is a huge petrolhead but this ’02 is even more of a special machine and no component has been left untouched during the extensive journey of its build. As a brief recap, Georg is a car mechanic and he co-owns a petrol station with his dad so every part of his life revolves around cars and, being a born and bred Bavarian, you’d be very surprised if he wasn’t passionate about BMWs. But he’s also passionate about cars in general – his first was a Porsche 928 GTS, which is an amazing way to kick off your motoring career, and his passion for all things automotive is reflected in his current collection, which includes a Mk1 Ford Escort RS2000, a Chevrolet pickup and an Audi 8L S3 alongside his BMW duo. George says that spending time in his garage is his favourite hobby and we have no doubts about that.

The ’02, though, might just be the most important car for several reasons, the main one being that this was his first-ever BMW. George is 36 now and this car, which started out life as a 1502, was purchased when he was 18 back in 2002 (funnily enough). The entire project was undertaken over two years, which means this isn’t a recent creation, but, unsurprisingly, he’s kept the car for 18 years because a build on this scale is not something you’re ever likely to sell.

The ’02 itself was actually instrumental in igniting Georg’s passion for BMWs in the first place – when he was around 16 or 17 his dad told him that you could swap an E30 M3 engine into a 2002, which intrigued him and got him hooked and that’s exactly why this project came about. “We went to the BMW Group Classic (museum) and I saw the 2002 with the Group 2 body kit – it was just in red, but with these same wheels – and that is when I fell in love with that particular model,” he smiles and it served as the inspiration for this whole build.

Step one was to locate a suitable ’02 for the project and here lady luck, fate and the BMW gods all joined forces to give Georg and his dad, with whom he has built all of his projects, a helping hand. “We were lucky!” he grins, “We found this 2002 by chance, one where the motor I wanted (the S14 from an E30 M3) was already fitted. The car was situated in Bochum, Germany; it’s about a six-hour drive which my father and I did together. Since the car was a project it was in bits upon purchase so we took a Mercedes Sprinter and a trailer to pick it up. There’s a funny story to that, actually: the car was initially on eBay as an auction as the guy had started his project and couldn’t be bothered to continue with it. We called the seller regardless of the auction and negotiated the price over the phone; of course, we checked the condition etc. beforehand and, looking back, it might have been bold but it all worked out. We agreed on a price of €10,000 and he removed it from the auction on eBay,” he says and that sounds like an absolute bargain for a 2002 with an S14 already swapped in. Seeing as that was to be a major part of the project, finding a car for sale with the engine already taken care of was a major win. This was the perfect jumping-off point for the build and, over the next two years, the unfinished 2002 was totally transformed, with Georg and his dad bringing their perfect vision to life.

“Since the car was already stripped, with the (original) body removed and the motor was in place, it made sense for us to work on the motor first. We ordered the body kit thereafter and while waiting made our way through the chassis and engine modifications,” explains Georg and the work undertaken at every stage of this build has never been anything less than incredibly extensive. The S14 needs no introduction and fitting one into an ’02, to create what the community likes to call an M2, results in a seriously potent little machine, but just running a stock S14 would not have sufficed for Georg and his dad and so this one has been treated to a selection of substantial upgrades.

First of all, this is not just a regular S14, this is the 2.5-litre unit from an M3 Sport Evo and beneath the surface, you will find a lighter DTM crankshaft, H-beam Pauter con rods, one-off Wössner pistons, BMW Motorsport DTM cams, a machined head with ported and polished intake and exhaust ports, increased compression, E34 M5 valves, Audi R8 coil packs, a custom larger sump, electric water pump and an MBE ECU to oversee everything. The engine’s crowning glory and what immediately gets all the attention when the bonnet is raised is that absolutely awesome original DTM carbon airbox and intake manifold, and a quick glance at Georg’s Insta videos confirms that it sounds every bit as good as it looks. The result of those seriously extensive mods is an extremely impressive 306hp, a hell of a lot of power in a car as small and light as the 2002, and that makes it insanely exciting to drive. The car runs an E30 M3 gearbox, which required the transmission tunnel to be enlarged for it to be able to fit, and there’s a 45% locking LSD at the rear. The whole package is just superb and the S14 looks like it was made for the ’02’s engine bay, fitting perfectly, and Georg has also gone the extra mile to make sure that presentation is on point by tidying up the engine bay, thus allowing you to enjoy that legendary four-pot in all its glory and it does look magnificent.

With the engine work taken care of, Georg and his dad now moved onto the next major part of the project, the bodywork. As the inspiration for the project was the Group 2 2002 that they had seen at BMW Group Classic, the plan was to create a road-going car with that awesome wide-arch Group 2 styling and so the next step was to order the body kit, which consists of that ultra-aggressive front bumper and the bolt-on arches. “It wasn’t all that easy to get the parts fitted in place as there were no pre-drilled holes to fit the body in place. Let’s just say, it paid for me to be a fully trained mechanic,” grins Georg and his talent and skills paid off in a big way as the end result is spectacular and while the kit may only be made up of the front bumper and arches, the visual drama they impart on the 2002’s body is insane. The front bumper is wide and wild, angular and aggressive with that central ‘V’ section, those air intakes and the lower splitter section, and it aligns with the front arches, which sweep up and over and then tuck down into the sills and not only do they endow the 2002 with an almost cartoonish muscularity, the bolts and the black gaskets add an element of contrast and give them even more definition. At the rear, meanwhile, Georg has removed the bumper and cleaned up the area to leave the ’02’s rump looking super smooth, with that exceedingly cool oval exhaust tip from the custom manifold-back exhaust system adding the finishing touch. With the Group 2 elements in place, the body needed a fresh coat of paint and while you might not think silver is an especially exciting choice of colour, this isn’t just any silver, oh no, this is Mercedes Brilliant Silver metallic, which Georg says gives a hint of golden glow in full sun, adding yet another element to the visual aspect of this build.

Of course, just adding wide arches to a 2002 would be a half-hearted job and that’s not how Georg and his dad do things. First off, the ’02 needed lowering, and it’s been fitted with Bilstein coilovers all-round with the rear having received some significant upgrades in the form of an E21 323i rear axle with welded strut domes and the setup has been modified for MacPherson struts with springs welded in. The drop that the suspension setup delivers is perfect and gets the car sitting low, with the arches perfectly placed over the wheels, and of course, the wheels count for so much here, because a) wide arches require some equally wide wheels to fill them out properly and b) sticking to the Group 2 vision meant that there was only one set that would suffice for Georg. “These are the wheels on the 2002 Group 2 racing car in the BMW Group Classic museum and it was those I wanted, I never considered any others,” he grins and while finding a set of BBS E50 magnesium splits couldn’t have been easy it was absolutely worth the effort as they make this build. These stout 17s measure 9.5”-wide up front and a hefty 11” at the rear, ensuring those arches are suitably stuffed, and the combo of those gold centres and polished stepped lips is a stunning one. The tight cross-spoke pattern makes it hard to see, but the BBSs are mounted over Porsche 993 911 Turbo 330mm discs with four-pot calipers up front while at the rear there are E21 323i single-piston calipers and 258mm discs, and this ensures he’s got more than enough braking power on tap when trying to tame 306hp.

Finally, we come to the interior, and it’s no less spectacular than any other part of this build and an insane amount of work has gone into this ’02’s cabin. The first thing you will notice are those magnificent Porsche 993 911 GT2 seats, which look absolutely awesome and are equipped with silver Schroth harnesses. Then you’ve got that Stack digital racing display custom-mounted with a carbon surround and there’s also a custom centre console with a carbon panel. The headlining, rear bench and dashboard have all been completely retrimmed in either Porsche blue leather or blue Alcantara and it makes the interior look so upmarket and feel so special. The steering wheel is a dished Momo item with an Alcantara rim and a BMW centre badge and there’s also a BMW M gear knob with an Audi TT surround and it all combines to create an insanely nice cabin that just looks awesome.

When we say that Georg and his dad spent two years working on this car we really mean that – Georg says that they basically worked on the car almost continuously for that period, only taking breaks for holidays like Christmas and New year, and that’s an incredibly impressive commitment to the project, but hard work pays off and the result is something truly exceptional. The fact that this was Georg’s first BMW, that it was inspired by a Group 2 2002, that he and his dad stayed so close and true to their vision for the build and the fact that, 18 years on, the 2002 is still a part of his car collection, still a part of his family, is something truly special. “All the modifications that we did were carried out with the original use in mind, for this to be a racing car as you’d find it in the museum but fully legal and on the road. My preferred style is racing technology for the road and my aim is always to get to the limit of what the TÜV test in Germany will allow. I’ve done that with all the cars I still own, no exceptions,” grins Georg and this modified BMW 2002 is proof of that. It looks awesome, it sounds awesome and we can only imagine how much fun it is to drive. This 2002 is the result of what you can achieve when you follow your dreams, it’s inspirational, beautifully built and, above all else, an absolutely awesome road legal, race car-inspired machine and it’s a project that Georg and his dad can be truly proud of.

Tech Spec: Modified BMW 2002

Engine & Transmission:

2.5-litre four-cylinder S14B25 from E30 M3 Sport Evo, lighter DTM crankshaft, H-beam Pauter connecting rods, one-off Wössner pistons, BMW Motorsport DTM camshafts, mechanical bucket tappets, machined cylinder head, enlarged and polished intake and exhaust ports, increased compression ratio, E34 M5 valves, genuine DTM carbon air box and intake manifold, Audi R8 ignition coils, custom-made enlarged sump, electronic water pump, E30 M3 exhaust manifold, homemade manifold-back exhaust system, MBE ECU, engine bay tidied. Getrag 265 five-speed manual gearbox from E30 M3, enlarged transmission tunnel, 45% locking LSD

Chassis:

9.5×17” (front) and 11×17” (rear) BBS E50 magnesium wheels with gold centres and polished stepped lips, 225/35 (front) and 255/45 (rear) Yokohama Advan Fleva tyres, Bilstein coilovers, E21 323i rear axle and welded suspension turrets, modified to MacPherson suspension struts, springs welded in, Porsche 993 911 Turbo four-piston calipers and 330mm discs (front) and E21 323i single-piston calipers and 258mm drilled discs (rear)

Exterior:

Full respray in Mercedes Brilliant Silver metallic, Group 2-look GRP front bumper and wide arches, rear bumper delete

Interior:

Porsche 993 911 GT2 seats, silver Schroth harnesses, interior retrimmed in Porsche blue leather and blue Alcantara, custom-mounted Stack digital race display with carbon fibre surround, custom carbon fibre centre console, Momo Motorsport steering wheel with BMW centre badge, BMW M gear knob, Audi TT gear shift surround