IT’S BOXY, YET SPORTY AND STILL VERY CLASSY: NICO AND HIS BMW 1600-02
In Berlin, it’s really rare to find many cool locations in one specific district. The government district is the big exception. I remember that I saw Nico one day at a red light in this district. Immediately I wrote to him to finally meet and do a shooting. When I saw the 1600-2 with all these buildings in the background I thought that it’s the perfect location. It really matches with the car!
I feel always happy to share stories behind classic cars with young owners. For me, it is really important to show the world that classic cars are also handled by young people and share the experience they have with them.
Here is the story of Nico and his BMW 1600-2. I hope you enjoy it!
Tell me about you.
My name is Nico. Born in Freiburg, now living in Berlin since 2007. I run a service design studio (DAYONE) where we design and build digital products. I’m an interior design and vintage car enthusiast. Most of my favorite cars and design pieces are from the early to late 1960’s.
What was your first car?
Nothing to be too proud of — a Fiat Punto Typ 176. I was still in school at that time so 55hp and no power steering was the limit. The sound system was pretty dope though.
How did you first become interested in cars and BMW in particular?
I’ve always loved cars. My grandma always told me that I was 4 years standing at her living room window naming nearly every single car that would drive by. That habit never really stopped. BMW caught my attention when I saw the first BMW M3 (e30) driving in the DTM (German touring masters). I immediately fell in love with the shape and the unique colors of the M brand. One day (sometime in the late 90’s) I stopped by a used car dealer which had a couple 2002’s on the lot. Seeing the car in real life, I fell in love (again) and told myself I had to own and drive one of these someday.
How did you come across the BMW 1600?
When the day finally came, I bought a couple of books to get to know the car in detail and started online research. It took me almost 2,5 years to find one in original conditions that had the potential to be restored. I ended up finding it through mobile.de owned by a retired teacher.
What condition was the car in when you bought it?
One of the things that caught my attention was the fact that the car was imported from Portugal in 2012. Almost all parts were original — the chassis was in pretty good condition though it had a few rusty spots. However, the paint was in bad shape. It had bleached out a lot during all those years in the dry sun. Some of the chrome parts had suffered, too.
What’s your favorite detail or what do you love most about your car?
I love the compact shape and the fact that the design is so timeless. It’s boxy, yet sporty and still very classy. Driving the car, I do get a lot of positive feedback: people wave, people smile. Strangers come up to me at traffic lights and gas stations to tell me their personal story about the 2002. It’s great to see that the car creates so much positive energy — I enjoy driving it, but other people seem to enjoy it too.
You restored the car a few months after the photo shoot. How was it? Was it a full restoration?
Yeah, when we did the shoot I was still on the waiting list. By then, we had fixed and replaced some of the tech and engine parts. From February to July 2018, we stripped down the entire car, repaired the chassis, sealed and repainted it in the original color called „Bristol”. Most of the chrome parts were replaced (all original BMW parts) and some customization (e.g. extra gauges in the middle console) was done. I guess it was like any other restoration: it took longer than planned and was more expensive than expected. A friend once said, “These cars make you poor, but very happy.”.
I’m sure some will ask why the exhaust isn’t in “the correct place” for its period. What’s the story behind it and why isn’t it on the right side?
In the motorcycle world, they call them “cafe racers”. This is/was my idea for the car as well. I wanted to refine the car details and its overall look, making it special, but still keeping it time period correct. That said, I hunted down the original wood steering wheel and shift knob from back then. I basically kept to the period with original Lemmerz BMW alloy wheels adding a chromed finish on the edges to match the chrome moldings on the car. And I replaced the old (broken) muffler with a chrome Sebring sport exhaust system that sits in the middle to enhance the sporty look of the car — adding a deeper, more vibrant sound. This exhaust was first produced in 1969, offered as additional equipment. It’s period correct and doesn’t even have to be entered in the car’s records. The chassis placement on the right for the factory muffler was patched closed during the restoration process to make it look clean.
You recently took a lovely trip around Italy. How was the drive in a 49-year-old BMW? Any issues?
When I bought the car, I told my girlfriend we would do this trip once it’s finished. The little, curvy mountain roads of Northern Italy and South Tyrol set the perfect scenery for a road trip in a vintage ride. Apart from the heat, some issues with the carburetor at certain elevations and taking extra care so as not to burn out the brakes, the car handled the 2800km like it hasn’t been doing anything else the last 49 years. Very impressive!
Is there any other BMW or classic you would like to have?
Yes, way too many. I’m kind of looking for a BMW e30 cabriolet. And I do love the BMW M1, which (unfortunately) has become insanely expensive. Apart from that, the 02 really is my favorite BMW. Maybe the Renault Alpine A110 will be next, but not anytime soon.
A while ago during my time in Los Angeles, I woke up one day very early at almost 5 am to go with Kevin and his 912 around the city to have the streets of Downtown LA almost to ourselves.
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