Home Brew ’02

When he found it languishing in a trailer park, Hamik Hartounian thought this old 2002 would make a cheap daily driver. One year later, he’d built it into an S14-powered garage queen.

April 1, 2011
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Along with a monumentally effective way to waste time and avoid working, the internet has given us Craigslist, the largest flea market/yard sale/used car lot ever created and brought to your computer screen. Among enthusiasts, Craigslist has become one of the most popular venues for buying and selling vehicles of every description, from vintage America muscle cars to—as in Hamik Hartounian’s case—budget classic BMWs.

When Hartounian’s daily-driver E30 325e expired in a cloud of coolant and oil, having fallen victim to overheating after one too many miles on busy L.A. freeways, he needed a replacement immediately. Being a devoted Bimmerhead, Hartounian naturally leaned towards replacing the E30 with a similar classic. After all, that 325e had served him well for seven years, and his brother Rubik for many years prior.

“He took really good care of it and handed it down to me in 1998,” explains Hartounian, who rebuilt the M20 engine himself during the course of his ownership. “More importantly, this car was what started it all for me.”

“It” being an ongoing fascination with BMW cars, of course. While using his hand-me-down 325e as a daily driver, Hartounian had also acquired a pristine and original E30 M3, but no way was that little prize going to be pressed into service as a commuter.

“I needed another car to take to work,” he says, explaining how he found himself browsing Craigslist.

Sure enough, a scan of local BMWs turned up a potential candidate in the form of a 2002 being offered for $1,000 in nearby Culver City. A 1973 model, it had the desirable round taillights and chrome bumpers rather than the square lights and diving board protuberances that adorned later U.S.-spec 2002s, but it had clearly seen better days.

Stashed in a trailer park, it wouldn’t even start when Hartounian arrived to see it. Turning the key produced nothing but the jangle of a starter valiantly but futilely trying to bring the old engine to life. On the plus side, the 2002 exhibited little rust, which is rare indeed on a BMW that’s pushing 40.

Also from Issue 99

  • Vision ConnectedDrive: A mobile info hub
  • Driving the sportiest Z4: the 35is
  • Fast and floaty: the F10 550i
  • The all-weather, AWD MINI Countryman
  • Got $10k to spend? Here's your BMW
  • Check out Will Turner's Frozen Gray M3
  • Sleek and elegant Pillarless 327 Coupe
  • Interview: 6 designer Nader Faghizedegh
  • The latest BMW books and how to buy ’em
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