In some aspects, BMW's 2002 Turbo lays claim as the first 'M' division car. Although not officially part of the M-lineage stable – devoid of the iconic M badge that we all know and respect – the sporty groundbreaker instead wore the motorsport flag upon its paintwork; a first for any production BMW.
Launched at the Frankfurt Motor Show in 1973, the 2002 Turbo was the first in a long line of Bavarian machines that would eventually culminate in the M-series family, amongst which some of the finest sporting coupes and saloons were born. E30 M3, E39 M5; it's a pretty exhaustive list.
BMW wanted to homologate the 2002 for participation in Group 7 rallying, initially beyond its means. Homologating the car was the only option to bring it back to where it belonged – atop the victor's podium. Thus, the exceptional 2002 Turbo was created.
The 2.0-liter inline-four from the 2002 tii was bolstered with a turbocharger, allowing power to rise from an already potent 130-horsepower, to a more respectable 170-hp. This changed the car's character overnight, making it quicker than the comparative Porsche 911 of the time.
The original press cars got into a bit of trouble with the law, too. BMW reversed the model name and applied vinyl to the front bumper. That way, if you were cruising on the Autobahn and found a 2002 Turbo behind you, the reversed lettering immediately informed other drivers of the vehicle's identity. Reportedly, the traffic police didn't take kindly to such behaviour. Quite why we aren't so sure...
Sadly for us, only 1672 of these automotive legends were produced, due largely to the Oil Crisis slowing market demand for fuel-burning sportscars. This does mean that examples today are particularly sought after and rare. The vehicle featured here is resplendent in Chamonix White with period vinyl on the front apron as described above. Correct steel wheels complete the look for what is evidently a very original example.
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