BMW 2002 reminds us of brand's Golden Age: Time Machine Test Drive

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BMW used to tout the tagline The Ultimate Driving Machine, and it resonated with those who paid attention to such things. The people I'm talking about are the ones who love going for a drive just to engage in the act of driving. BMW cars were built to make you happy, feel good behind the wheel, and press on just a little bit harder and more confidently than the next guy or girl out enjoying that same sliver of road. I'm not so sure the brand wears the tagline as well today as it used to, but I recently got a chance to sample a machine that harkens back to when BMW built pure driving brilliance.

The car in question is a BMW 2002, part of the automaker's storied New Class built between 1962 and 1977. Vehicles that ended their model designation with a double zero were sedans, and the 02 designation referred to coupes. This specific BMW 2002 I get to drive is a 1974 example that's been perfectly restored and upgraded by the good folks at Clarion. This isn't simply a mildly cleaned up classic machine packing an overwrought and BASS-IN-YOUR-FACE audio package. Instead, this is the first in a series of cars that are part of a program called Clarion Builds.

Imagine you were given a BMW 2002 in decent shape. Now imagine how you'd want to restore and upgrade that car. You probably didn't imagine anything over the top, and your end result is a very clean yet lightly breathed upon 2002. That's what Clarion did. The body panels are fresh, the suspension is upgraded with coilovers and sway bars, the wheels are BBS basket weaves which fit the car perfectly, and there's been some work done to the engine. Under the hood sits the original M10 you'd expect to find, but it's been changed to a dual Weber carb setup with a beautiful custom K&N airbox. The original car packed a single carb and produced 101 horsepower at the crank. Clarion is hopeful that the car now makes around 170 hp at the rear wheels. It's not overkill by any means.

In fact, this car is damn near perfect.

For more in our Time Machine Test Drive series, click here.

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