Given the propensity for each new version of our favorite cars to get bigger, heavier, more feature-laden, perhaps it''s time to look back for inspiration. This 1976 BMW 2002 should be the prototype, as it really is the car that created the BMW brand we have today. This car spent all its life in the warm, dry south, so no major surgery was required during the restoration, which was finished about two years ago. The 2002 is perhaps more iconic today than it was when it was new. Sure, it was popular, but today it has a massive cult following, and as a result when you get a good one, you don''t cut any corners. The body was straightened, the doors fit with typical Teutonic precision, and the paint has a bit of pearl in it that makes the car positively glow. It''s modern two-stage urethane, so it''ll look good practically forever and if you want to take it to the next level, a basic wet sand and buff will make it truly sparkle. The black trim remains black and not washed-out like so many other you''ll find, and the stainless trim has a soft shine that looks right on the German coupe. 2002 enthusiasts often identify these cars by their taillights, and the square lights on this one remain in very good shape, along with the chrome-clad bumpers that were part of the Feds'' contribution to safety in the mid-70s. Unlike many of its siblings, this 2002 carries a bright, airy tan interior that''s been completely restored to stock specs. The grippy bucket seats have cloth centers to really hold you in place during spirited driving and the brand new and very funky carpets are exactly right for a product of the ''70s. Basic black on the dash and console was what you got no matter what interior you chose and the driving position is almost perfect, with great sight lines. Big, clear gauges with white-on-black lettering and the pedals were pretty much made with heel-and-toe shifting in mind. And speaking of shifting, the 4-speed gearbox is a delight to row and you''ll probably find yourself slipping into a lower gear just for the sheer joy of it. A factory sunroof makes motoring all the more enjoyable and there''s an AM/FM/cassette stereo in the center of the dash. And it''s definitely practical, thanks to a reasonably-sized back seat and a big, usable trunk with a carpeted mat. The 2.0-liter inline-four is the heart and soul of the 2002, an over-achieving little powerplant that loves to sing. Both the engine and transmission were professionally rebuilt two years ago and with less than 2500 miles since, they''re just barely broken-in and ready to rock. A fresh Weber carburetor and Ansa exhaust system add a few horsepower and enhance the experience, and auxiliary systems like the radiator, clutch, front suspension, brakes, and even the heater fan were rebuilt. Turn the key and it starts reliable and loves to zing to redline in every gear, reminding you about the joy of driving a machine that loves its job. A life in the warm south means that the underside is quite tidy and with freshly restored BMW/Alpina alloy wheels and 185/70/13 tires, it''s got an authentic look. If you''ve owned one, you already know about the magic. And if you''re looking for one of motoring''s great experiences, you just haven''t lived until you''ve owned a 2002. Call today! This vehicle is located in our Atlanta showroom. For more information, please call (678) 279-1609 or toll free (877) 367-1835.