Take Two

Disappointed with the performance of the 2002 Turbo — and put off by its price — Mano Agulian decided to build a car that would be better and cheaper than the 1973 original.

November 26, 2011
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Released in 1973, the original 2002 Turbo was a groundbreaking car for BMW…and for the automotive world at large. Preceding the equally revolutionary Porsche 930 Turbo by some two years, the 2002 Turbo took a giant step toward legitimizing the use of forced induction on production car engines.

It may have taken BMW four more decades to fully embrace this technology, but it’s now the company’s preferred method for extracting the kind of high horsepower and optimal fuel economy that the market expects.

The newest BMWs, however, render their turbochargers scarcely detectable. There’s none of the “turbo lag” that plagued earlier cars like the old 2002 Turbo, whose power delivery was so peaky it resembled a two-stroke motorcycle engine. When the gas pedal was floored, the driver waited…and waited…then whoosh! As the tach reached 4,000 or so rpm, the KKK turbocharger spooled up with sudden vigor and wild acceleration followed.

Or so the legend has it. When new, the original 2002 Turbo made 170 horsepower at 5,800 rpm and 181 lb-ft of torque at 4,000 rpm—quite a lot on paper from a 2.0-liter four, but not enough to impress Southern California BMW enthusiast Mano Agulian when he finally got to drive one of these sought-after cars.

“I was very disappointed,” he says of his first experience with an ’02 Turbo. “It didn’t have the power that I was expecting.”

Agulian still liked the concept of a turbocharged ’02, however, so he decided to build a Turbo replica that would improve upon the original, updating nearly every aspect of the car for more performance and reliability. At the same time, he wanted to prove that he could do so without spending the huge amount of money that original 2002 Turbos are now commanding. (2002ad lists two for sale as this issue goes to press: one for $43,000 and another for $64,000.)

Manofied and turbofied

As the founder of Groma Race Fabrication of Duarte, California as well as a new venture, Manofied, which will specialize in tuning and maintaining classic BMWs, Agulian has the resources, knowledge and facilities to build the turbo of his dreams. His shop regularly turns out vintage and modern BMWs that have been improved—or “Manofied,” as he puts it—to impressive levels of performance.

Also from Issue 104

  • 3D Design, ESS tuned Z4 35is
  • First Drive in the 2012 F10 M5 sedan
  • First drive in the 1 Series-based ActiveE
  • AC Schnitzer MINI Eagle prototype
  • 535i Gran Turismo vs. Honda Accord Crosstour
  • Market Update: E39 5 Series
  • Cooling system preventive maintenance
  • Tuned 7 Series: Hartge H7S
  • Saratoga Automobile Museum BMW gathering
  • BMW racing glory and James Clay interview
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