A few months ago, I was chatting with my uncle when he mentions that “Hey I have an old BMW that I have not touched in probably 15 years.” being the car crazed BMW enthusiast I am, I was immediately doomed to this story from that exact moment. “…What is it?” I asked. He said it was some little blue one from the 70s or something. I respond knowing its a 2002. Now very confused why, after years of being way into cars, he remembered a car he owns just now….
He lets me know the full story. You see he is a lawyer and a client of his way back couldn’t pay him directly so he accepted this 2002 in trade for services back in the year 2000 or so. At some point after driving it around for a year or two it needed work. He sent it to a friend who was a mechanic and it was never worked on….
So there is sat. OUTSIDE in New England for 15 years. Backlot of a dealership for Chrysler products. It is a wonder that it was not sent to the crusher by the owner of the place.
With very little idea of if it ran or even what it looked like me and a friend of mine set off to see if we could get it running and back to my place.
This is how we found it. Stuck in the weeds, wet carpet, covered in nasty. And oh yeah maggots in the fuel filter? Yeah….. It was rough. We cleaned it up a bit putting in a new fuel filter, battery, and some fresh gas. Being a carburetor car, and us having very little knowledge of them, it took some trial and error cleaning out parts that had not run gas in 15 years. But after a while the thing started!
It would start and run all day but would not like to be revved up. So it wouldn’t drive. It was getting dark so we decided to load it up on the trailer and bring it home to have a look another time.
Over the next few weeks I went through the car trying to revive it the best I could. Not a full restoration right now, just running and driving safely to have something to give back to my uncle and hopefully spark his interest in it again. Cars like this shouldn’t be forgotten and he could repair it at his leisure.
First order of business was a full carb rebuild. Again, my first time with something like this (damn millennials) but fortunately they are super simple, and after a bunch of trial and error the Webber aftermarket carb was all cleaned out. The main issue was that the fast jets were totally clogged with 15 years of decayed pine tree needles. That can happen.
Everything else on the car was remarkably good condition for being 42 years old. It is a 1976 after all. First drives found that the car overheats pretty quick and has a major stumble as you try to rev it out. More tuning and maintenance to go then! With many radiator flushes (and even flushing the block out later), the overheating was mostly cured. A new radiator would be best.
Sure enough it needed it!
At this point there was only one problem left…. The floors. Sitting for this long and being this old outside the rubber seals are gone. Because of this the floor must have been filled with water every time it rained. Because of this the front floors were uh how you say, gone.
Somehow this was just about the only rusty parts of the car…. Some bubbling on the lower part of the doors (as seen in some of the pictures). This made for a easy fix. Very square car made for easy patch panes to be made from Home Depot Motorsports. Real patch panels are available online, but I was trying to be very budget with this revival. And then….I got an idea. It didn’t seem like a good one but then again….it was a GREAT idea. More on that in Part 2. For now, the car was running and driving, and more or less structurally sound. It was a blast from the past, and registered for the road. A pretty drastic change from how it looked when I dragged it out of the weeds a few short months before.