Around the Corner – Bay Area 02 Swap and Show ’17

When you’re the car guy at work, coworkers often feel free to share their enthusiasm with you. Like that dude Jeremey who sits four cubicles down. One day you’ll be at the water cooler at the same time and he’ll give you the ‘sup homie’ nod.

Hey, I heard you like BMWs.
Yeah, they’re cool, I’ve had a couple.
Sweet, man. I love mine. I have this 2002, it’s so awesome.
They can be a real hoot, even stock they drive quite nicely.
For sures! I put mine in manual all the time, it’s so fast in manual mode!
Wait, what?

Jeremey proceeds to tell you how “driving manual” is so fun, and whips out his phone to share pictures of his Steptronic equipped 2002 325i. Internally, you curse yourself for forgetting there’s a world of folks who wouldn’t recognize an oh-two if it hit them.

But oh, how they’re missing out.

The Bay Area 02 Swap and Show is an event I’ve been meaning to make it to for the last few years. This year the stars finally aligned, finding me heading out to a slightly chilly Brisbane Marina to enjoy some old school Bimmers.

There are a lot of people around me that have some sort of connection to BMW’s 02 Series. One friend had a 1602 in college, another remembers one their uncle brought home after a tour of duty, and many just recall them running around the Bay Area. Back when I worked at a BMW dealership, the owner and the GM had a few nice examples in various states of tune and style. And even now there’s one in my neighborhood; someone’s daily driver with a deadhead sticker on the rear quarter glass.

There are so many you see running around that you almost forget how old they really are. These cars were and still are extremely popular, but in a similar vein to the long hood Porsche set, a big part of owning these cars is the ability and encouragement to customize them. Even in a field full of them, you were hard pressed to find two that were exactly the same.

Maybe it’s more the meets I go to than the cars themselves, but it always makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside when I see evidence that the cars get used. It’s all good and well to have a concours queen, but running up some roads with friends has way more value to me, something the owner of this car probably agrees with. It’s becoming a thing for me to seek out windows slapped up with road rally stickers, if only to help list the events I want to join some day.

And what better car to do it in than a Touring! If I recall correctly, these were never officially offered in the States, but more and more are being imported as of late. I just love what it does for the curves, especially the way the rear quarter panel still has a hint of the trunk shape before sloping up to the C pillar.

Speaking of aesthetics, whatever happened to badge design? There’s so much lovely detail here. From the old BMW font to the raised physical detail on the 1800 and the bevel on the TI, there’s so much to take in.

That goes for the whole of car design, though. For various reasons, this sort of design is never coming back. Short of the continuation services like Jaguar Classic or Aston Martin, the old cars from back in the day will stay that, old cars. Enthusiasts are known for being particular, and for not always putting their money where their mouths are, but it would still be cool to see a brand new 2002 or Bavaria like the one here. There aren’t many sedans today that can pull of a color like this!

Also never coming back are cool little oddballs like the 700. Seems crazy to think about nowadays, but once upon a time BMW was broke and on the verge of being bought by Daimler-Benz. The rear-engined, air-cooled, flat twin powered coupe and saloon debuted at the 1959 Frankfurt Motor Show, and generated just enough orders to give BMW the encouragement to continue alone. It was the relative sales success of this unique looking BMW that floated the company while the New Class sedans and all their variants were developed. As the phrase goes, the rest is history.

As always, if there are any other meets you think we should check out, post below or on social media!

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