It was by the water cooler at work that I first heard about this particular car. The conversation went something like this:
“You like classic BMW’s, don’t you Blake?”
“Yeah, love ’em. Why?”
“There’s a guy who runs a workshop with a really neat 2002 race car. I think it’s got a turbo Formula 2 engine in it. You should do a feature on it for your websi- ”
“Did you just say a turbo Formula 2 engine? In a 2002?!“
“Yeah. Widebody Sports Sedan.”
I’m sure Scott, my colleague, regretted ever telling me as I bugged him for more details on a daily basis. Eventually I got a name out of him – Herbert Gattermeier of Bavariacars in Gladesville. It was my intention to hunt down further information at the earliest opportunity. As fate would have it, the next weekend I was out at Sydney Motorsport Park to cover the Porsche v BMW Challenge and I spotted the Bavariacars 2002. I couldn’t grab my camera fast enough.
Thankfully for me, the owner/driver – Herbert’s son Erik – was accommodating to my poking around and endless questions. Today Erik was putting the 2002 up against the top runners from both the Porsche and BMW clubs of NSW but perhaps more importantly, getting in some practice before the final round of the NSW Sports Sedan Championship – of which Erik was points leader for his class at the time. (He’s since gone on to win – Congrats Erik!)
Now to the car. Despite being somewhat identifiable as a 2002 thanks to a few clues like the original taillights , it’s also instantly clear that this car shares very little in common with the 2002’s that rolled off the factory floor in Munich back in the early 70’s. Huge fiberglass flares flank the narrow body, and the rear is dominated by an aggressively angled wing. However what we’re really interested in lies beneath this shell…
Taking a peak under the bonnet, there obviously isn’t much resembling an original 2002 engine bay. For weight distribution the block has been placed behind where the original firewall would’ve existed, and Herbert and his son have more recently developed a custom inboard suspension setup. Obviously a powerplant like this requires significant cooling, so a huge aluminium intercooler setup dominates the bay.
And here lies the heart of the beast – a BMW M12/7 – a 2-litre 4-cylinder DOHC 16 valve engine. This unit shares its genealogy with the engine that powered Nelson Piquet to victory in the 1983 Formula 1 Championship in his Brabham-BMW! The advantage of the relatively small 4 cylinder block is that its entire mass could be shifted well aft of the front axle, thus significantly improving the handling characteristics of the car.
The interior, as expected, is all function – the driver being kept company by not much more than a steering wheel, digital dash and custom shifter. Here you can see just how far back the engine sits, almost riding shotgun to the driver. Describing the finish as rough might be accurate but such is the nature of a custom built race car that has been driven hard and developed for almost thirty years. Like a good leather jacket, the wear and tear adds character, and I don’t doubt Erik feels a kind of comfort slipping into the Sparco perch that even the most luxurious 7-series couldn’t match.
Erik was kind enough to not only answer my questions, but also send through a bunch of excellent photos documenting the car’s journey through its many iterations up until the present day. I’ll let him take over the helm here, as he tells the story much better than I could ever hope to!
The idea of building the 2002 race car was first put in place in 1987 as my father Herbert realised that tracking his turbocharged BMW 3.0 CSi road car was becoming pretty counter productive.
He’d previously raced in Germany and Austria before he immigrated to Australia in the 1970s so building up the 2002 was just a way to get back into some fun on the race track(club/track days) without getting too serious or spending silly amounts of money. A registered road car that had a hit up the back and was written off (it was even an automatic!) was purchased and then the task of building the car began. The car was built to comply with Sports Sedan regulations as this was the class with the most freedoms in regards to modifications which appealed to Herbert.
- Stripped BMW 2002 shell with excess weight removed
- 6 point bolt in aluminium roll cage (as was done back then, alloy cages are no longer allowed)
- Group 2 style BMW 3.0 CSL style fiberglass flares grafted onto the 2002 body panels
- Fiberglass bonnet and bootlid
- Lexan windows
- 15×10 inch 3 piece wheels with Dunlop slicks
- Vented brake discs all around, BMW 4 spot front brake calipers, BMW 2 spot rear calipers (all sourced from a 5 series)
- Dual master cylinder setup and modified pedal work
- Bilstein shock absorbers and updated springs
- 5 stud conversion (2002s are 4 stud stock)
- Rear axle and diff from a BMW 5 series with a factory LSD unit
- Getrag close ratio 5 speed gearbox from a BMW 635csi
- Modified naturally aspirated spec M10 2 litre SOHC 8 valve engine (the original 2002 engine) wet sump oil system & twin 48 mm Webers carburettors making about 190 bhp at the engine
The car made its racing debut running in NSW club level Sports Sedan races at Oran Park where it was quite competitive right from the start. It managed to beat all the 6 cylinder powered cars and some V8s too always finishing in the top 8. The car even won a race outright on one occasion which was a highlight. A funny incident that year was competing in a night race at Oran Park with ancient headlights (as old as the car!) that made as much light as tiny candle sticks!
After a season under his belt Herbert wanted to raise the stakes and decided that to be a regular winning contender he needed more power. So the motor was rebuilt with low compression forged pistons, forged steel H beam conrods, different camshafts along with a Garrett T04 turbo, suitable turbo manifold, intercooler, upgraded fuel system etc were all fitted. A rear wing was also fitted up too.
The decision was made to address the short comings of the car by taking a big step and starting on the build up of a new tube frame chassis, essentially a whole new car was built. Given that the car had literally tore itself apart Herbert wanted to build a strong new car that featured better weight distribution and adjustable suspension control arms so that the settings could be changed to get the car handling properly.
After some testing the car made its race debut mid year at Oran Park GP circuit. It was right on the pace going head to head with the 6 litre Chev V8 powered cars in the NSW State Sports Sedan Championship. The car managed to win one race and placed second in a trophy race on its first outing. More races were run at Wakefield Park, Amaroo Park and Eastern Creek with some more 2nds and 3rd placings. Only downer for the year was a DNF from a race at Eastern Creek due to snapping the gearstick on the last lap while leading the race! All up was not a bad run for a new car that still needed the suspension/handling to be fully sorted. Lap times were in the 1m13s at Oran park and 1m39s at Eastern Creek at this stage.
The engine saw some developments with a new turbo exhaust manifold and suitable dyno tuning seeing power reach 502 rwhp (over 650-680 bhp at the engine). For a 4 cylinder turbo a power output like this was pretty much unheard of in Australia at the time, even the dyno tuner (a long time friend) was amazed. All this was done still with a fuel only ECU and aviation fuel, no E85 was available back then!
This rebuild basically entailed only keeping the existing outer section of the steel tube frame chassis (roll hoops, door bars, sill bars, pillar bars) with everything being reworked again, the following work being undertaken:
- New chassis frame work
- Engine moved back completely into passenger compartment
- New double A arm independent front suspension with steel uprights (modified VW) with inboard pull rod actuated Koni 2 way adjustable shock absorbers
- New Independent rear suspension and alloy rear uprights (modified Jaguar) with inboard push rod actuated Koni 2 way adjustable shock absorbers
- Revised body work (front guards, front spoiler, rear guards)
- Totally reworked electricals, plumbing for fuel and oil, etc
- Larger brakes
- Competition rack and pinion steering rack
- New interior panel work
- New rear wing
The build stretched over a few years as the car was only worked on after hours and funds were a bit limited at the time. Again some production car parts were modified to suit such as the uprights as the budget wasn’t there to have parts custom made e.g suspension uprights.
The car was raced on and off from 2000-2006 depending on the budget and time that was available.
- Replaced the 5 speed Getrag gearbox with a Holinger 6 speed sequential (better reliability and faster gear changes)
- Installing a stronger diff form a BMW 750i and a Drexler Motorsport LSD unit (better reliability)
- Stronger rear hubs, CV joints & axles (Better reliability)
- A change to direct fire ignition system (improved power)
- Upgrading the TO4 turbo to a ball bearing T04Z type (improved power & better reliability)
- Changes to the turbo manifold the wastegate arrangement
- Revisions to the intercooler and plenum
- Alloy radiator
- Changed fuel type from leaded Aviation fuel to VP unleaded racing fuel
- New fuel tank and pump arrangement
The 2002 was a sight to behold out on track, often shooting flames from the exhaust as Erik downshifted. Even from behind the barriers it was clear that the car required some muscle to get it working, a fact Erik attributes to the 290 wide front wheels and lack of power steering. Despite this, Erik says the car turns in well and does not understeer. And as for power delivery? “The way the power comes on is just fantastic. The Autronic boost control is excellent, how the engine pulls and turbo boosts between 5000-9000 RPM is great. The acceleration of the car makes some fast road cars I have driven (10 second 1/4 mile turbo BMW, turbocharged BMW M3 road cars, Porsche 996 Twin Turbo, E60 M5) seem pretty tame. When the speed gets over 240 km/h you surely know about it, 2002s were never really intended to go that fast!”
At its current restricted power output, Erik was still the 3rd fastest BMW in attendance on the day – lapping at a similar pace to the Group A E30 M3. Erik says that the car is being held back by its relatively heavy weight and poor drag coefficient as well as a slightly outdated brake setup.
Talking to Erik about this car, it was clear how much it had transcended the object of a race car, and become an important presence in his life. He watched the initial build as a six year old boy, and would occasionally skip school to watch his father race. In his 20’s he supported his father in the pits and now in his 30’s has started to compete in the car. Does he feel like it took too long to get behind the wheel? “A bit of a late start to driving the car but my Dad still raced it in his 60s and it was his car so just had to be patient! That is probably not a bad thing as when I was younger I probably would of been more reckless and the car could of been damaged. Being around the car so long and seeing the development path it underwent I have learnt a fair bit about cars however I am still prepared to learn new things!”
And as for the future?
- Refine handling with setup adjustments, installation of Sachs 4 way adjustable shock absorbers and a revised rear suspension motion ratio.
- New merge collector arrangement for turbo manifold to make it more efficient.
- Run higher boost pressure, only running around 1.2 bar currently, the engine can run 2.2 bar comfortably
- Higher engine compression ratio with new pistons
- Finish season 2012 of the NSW sports sedan championship (one round to go and I am currently leading my points division) – UPDATE: Erik has since taken out the title for 2013 NSW Club Champion – Congratulations Erik!
- More testing and learning to drive the car faster
- Run in the NSW sports sedan championship in 2014
- Just have fun and enjoy racing it, that’s why I do it!
- BMW M12/7 4 cylinder DOHC 16 valve engine 1991 cc capacity
- Modified BMW M10 engine block
- BMW M12/7 crankshaft
- Carrilo H beam connecting rods
- Mahle forged pistons
- M12/7 16 valve cylinder head with gear driven camshafts
- Magnesium intake manifold and aluminium plenum chamber, BMW throttle body
- 3 stage dry sump oil system with Peterson oil tank
- Earls oil cooler, braided lines and fittings
- PWR aluminium radiator
- Custom made stainless steel tuned length turbo exhaust manifold
- Garrett TO4Z ball bearing turbocharger
- Turbosmart wastegate
- 4 inch exhaust system (no mufflers)
- Performance Metalcraft intercooler
- Aluminium intake piping
- Turbosmart blow off valve
- Custom made aluminium tank with integral surge tank
- Aeromotive fuel pump
- Custom fuel rail
- Bosch Injectors
- Turbosmart fuel pressure regulator
- Earls braided fuel lines and fittings
- Autronic SM4 engine management system
- Motec CDI ignition unit
- Motec Power Distribution Module
- AIM data system logging all engine data, exhaust temperatures and GPS speed
- Bosch ignition coils
- Bosch alternator
- Magnecore ignition leads
- Custom made steel flywheel
- Sachs twin plate clutch
- Holinger H6S 6 speed sequential gearbox
- Custom made tailshaft
- BMW 750i differential with Drexler Motorsport LSD centre
- Custom made axles and halfshafts
- Tube frame chassis made of cold drawn steel
- Double A arm (rose jointed) independent front suspension with inboard push rod actuated Koni 2 way adjustable shock absorbers
- Independent multi-arm (rose jointed) rear suspension with inboard push rod actuated Koni 2 way adjustable shock absorbers
- Steel front uprights
- Aluminium rear uprights
- Front and rear sway bars
- 4 spot Harrop front brake calipers
- 2 piece 328 mm front discs
- 4 spot Mazda RX7 rear calipers
- 1 piece 290 mm rear discs
- Pagid brake pads
- Dual master cylinder arrangement
- Adjustable brake bias
- Retains standard BMW 2002 steel roof, A, B , C pillars, door and window frames (body is bolted to chassis)
- Removable fiberglass body panels (doors, bonnet, bootlid, front spoiler, flared guards)
- Removable lexan windows
- Rear wing (aerodynamic effectiveness is questionable!)
- Sparco Seat
- Salbelt 5 point Harness
- Momo steering wheel with Lifeline quick release hub
- AIM digital dash display unit
- Removable aluminium interior panels to gain access to engine bay, drivetrain, fuel system
- Tilton pedal set with brake bias adjuster
- 2.1 bar boost 560 rwhp around (700 bhp at the engine, which I am not ready for yet!)
- 1.2 bar around 340 rwhp (the level I currently run)
- Wakefield 1.03 Erik driving at on 1.2 bar, more to come
- SMP GP 1.37 Herbert driving Eastern Creek in the year 2002.
Huge thanks to Erik at Bavariacars for supplying the photographs and sharing his story with us.
Words and Photography by Blake Jones.