Our understanding of success has been mangled ‘AF’ by this digital generation. So has our understanding of quality of life. We’ve GOT to regroup on some of this. I mean – can you even enjoy life anymore if it doesn’t go viral? That’s a damn serious question. Metaphorically step back & stand on a mountain… look down, and start to realize how much of your life is triggered, influenced, & manipulated by a post or a comment. Internet/digital society is pulling the wool over our eyes. It’s blurring all sorts of lines between reality & fiction. And more & more everyday, you’re measuring your real life – up against newsfeed fantasy. 

V8 BMW 2002

A first step of advice, would be to watch who/what you follow. Digital ‘microphones’ are everywhere for the grabbing, but credibility is not. Neither are your best interests. So – follow wisely. Because project cars like this are wildfire for the digital car culture. They’re the gritty content everyone wants. The guaranteed ‘shares’. A custom car like this will out-shout a more common ST/GT/BRZ every time. But often times, the social media pages sharing these cars, know little-to-nothing of what’s behind it. They’re using a photo of a car, to share & build up their own page’s popularity. They’re selling you on ‘the dream’ that a custom build like this makes you a real enthusiast. Which it does. But the story they’re NOT telling (because they frankly don’t know)… is that Bill, the owner of this car, is a machinist by trade. See – Bill may only have 5,000 dollars in the car… but he’s also got about a THOUSAND HOURS in it. And decades worth of accumulated tools & know-how. You ready for that? Really?? Is that even what you want?? 

V8 BMW 2002

This is a gnarly project car, no doubt. But it’s not Bill’s ONLY car. And it DOESN’T have to get him to work tomorrow… in the rain. See – notice no one’s posting his daily – haha. What I’m saying is: The wild stuff has its place. But don’t let the wild stuff you see on the internet (or even in this mag) blur your reality and/or discourage you from your own build. We’re all enthusiasts. We’re all cut from the same cloth. And there is a real-world excitement/energy/LIFESTYLE in having a fun tuner that you can drive EVERYDAY… even if it’s not viral. In order for it to be a lifestyle, it has to be a regular part of your life. 

This BMW had been sitting in a shed since ’91. It was a buddy’s dad’s car, who had since passed. Bill’s not a BMW guy. He didn’t really know anything about 2002s, and had no interest in it. But when pushed… $200 brought it home. Bill was toying with the notion of sticking a V8 in the car. He stumbled on a BMW page to get some wisdom on such a swap… and you would’ve thought he was wanting to join up & abuse puppies. Horrified! 

…Their overly dramatic reactions basically solidified his plans to do the swap. 

rat rod BMW 2002

Bill had to keep the project within a reasonable, family-approved budget. So he basically stayed patient & sourced most of his parts from craigslist as things popped up… and then used his machining skills to make them work together. He found a Chevy 383 that was cheap, complete, and he was able to hear it run before purchase… so that was the motor he brought home. It makes 400hp. A good price came around on a manual Ford Mustang tranny, so he took it, and machined an adapter to get it on the 383. He also made the shifter. Bill was worried about the weight/balance of the larger V8 swap, and therefore took a lot of time to ensure that the engine would sit as far back as possible. He rebuilt/relocated the firewall, to move the engine further behind the axles. He also redesigned the trans tunnel, and built a roll cage to stiffen the cute little chassis. 

rat rod BMW 2002

The 8.8 rear end is from a Lincoln Mk7 with IRS & 3.55 gears. And Bill found a used limited slip separately. But – there was no way around ponying up the dough for some custom Driveshaft Shop axles. The car is lowered on Eibach springs. 

Steering-wise, Bill wanted to keep the BMW 2002 geometry. The front brakes surprisingly came with 4-piston calipers, so he kept them, but upgraded to EBC pads & Brembo rotors. On the rear, Bill did a drum-to-disc swap from a Jetta. He also went with Wilwood masters (brake + clutch) with a front/rear bias adjustment on the brake. Both masters are installed inside the cockpit under the dash. When it came down to the accessories like wheels/seats/etc, Bill basically scoured the clearance & scratch-n-dent stuff at his local Summit Racing until he scored what he needed. A lot of it came from dirt track applications, but hey, it works man. 

Text by Wooley   Photos by Ben Whiles

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