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Though, we have long been accustomed to seeing turbo-charged bimmers motoring along the highway, there did exist a time when the phrase “forced induction” was merely a clandestine utterance under the breaths of BMW’s Engineers. Born into an era of change – at the zenith of the decade’s international politics – the 2002 Turbo set out to match the radical energy of the time with its own individualism: striving to be, unapologetically, one of the most legendary displays of German engineering that the world had seen.

Today, the legacy left by the Munich monster is still palpable: from its motorsport successes to its hefty six-figure price tags incurred at the auction block. While its illustrious career (and retirement) has seen it become an intercontinental superstar, there are still some secrets that the Bavarian’s oldtimer has to tell – and it’s about time that we listen to our elders!

Ten unbelievable facts about the BMW 2002 Turbo

1. M series status

Though you would expect BMW’s pioneering vision to be officially listed among the ranks of its “M” stablemates, the 2002 Turbo was never technically designated as an M Series: since it was engineered and manufactured under the marque’s motorsport division before it was referred to as the M Division.

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2. The famous reversed “Turbo” decal

The front air dam decal on the 2002 Turbo has long been a popular topic for bimmer purists to discuss – due to its reversed orientation. The backward script was affixed on press models to emphasize the compact’s “boy-racer” persona: spelling out for race competitors which car was coming to overtake them in their rear-view mirror.

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3. Effect of the Oil Crisis

The 1970s tumultuous relationship with the transportation industry saw Germany plagued with heavily-regulated traffic laws; and the Middle East’s oil embargo saw a damper put on the Turbo’s fun. Sunday driving was prohibited, resource expenditure was monitored closely, and the 2002’s street-racer character was disparaged – leading to Munich brass unceremoniously removing the now-infamous decal from the front of their production cars in an effort to change the public’s opinion on the coupe’s perceived rowdiness.






4. Turbo-charged history

The 2002 Turbo was not only BMW’s first turbo-charged car, but also the first turbo-charged production car in Europe. Its production ran from 1973-1974 and only produced 1,672 examples.

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5. Stateside? Nein

While the 2002 Tii models were quite successful on American soil – thanks to American Car Importer Max Hoffman’s persuasive pitch to the Bavarians – the 2002 Turbo was never offered in the States.

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6. Turbo lag blues

The first turbo-charged bimmer, however revolutionary, was no stranger to turbo lag. The Kugelfischer fuel-injected and KKK turbo-charged M10 four-banger would not build boost until well over 4,000 revs per minute – affecting its drivability on winding roads.

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7. The Baader-Meinhof gang

Led by Andreas Baader and Ulrike Meinhof, the Baader-Meinhof gang – under the communist Red Army Faction – committed a slew of organized-crime atrocities throughout the 1970s. Unfortunately, for BMW, the terrorist’s getaway car of choice soon became the 2002 Turbo: A choice which was not highly revered by die Polizei and the German FBI (BKA). Police checkpoints became common and widespread, where even a regular BMW-driving commuter was deemed suspicious. Though, one would believe such negative press would have dethroned the brand, it ended up adding a bit of danger to the Turbo’s already-infamous reputation: that, in turn, made it more popular among Germany’s youth.

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8. Nomenclature

Like most of its modern-day relatives, the 2002 Turbo’s naming designation was practical: The “2” at the forefront of the name references the two-liter inline four-cylinder powerplant; the trailing “2” refers to the compact’s two-door body.

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9. Competition

At its height, the 170 horsepower 2002 Turbo’s only direct competitor was the 210 horsepower Porsche Carerra, that could beat the bimmer’s seven-second zero-to-60-miles-per-hour time.

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10. Color-me impressed

The 2002 Turbo only came in two neutral colors: Chamonix White and Polaris Silver Metallic.

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