1972 BMW 2002 CUSTOM On loan from Roy Wicklund, Petersham, MA

Roy Wicklund’s orange BMW is obviously eye-catching and the center of attention, whether it’s parked on the street, at a concours or with similar vehicles at an exotic car show. But few of the enthusiasts who look it over appreciate what a truly unique vehicle they are seeing.

“It looks totally ‘factory’ but it is essentially my version of what a BMW ‘M2’ may have been like, had the Motorsports Division of BMW existed when the 2002 was in production,” says the proud owner. “It is, according to Klaus Schnitzer (writer and photographer for Roundel, Bimmer, Forza and Sports Car International magazines)…’the finest 2002 resto-mod in the world!’”

Wicklund purchased the “virtually rust-free” 1972 BMW 2002 tii body and chassis in New Jersey in 2004, beginning what would turn into a 4 ½ year frame-off restoration and radical but subtle customization process.

“I had the help and guidance of Vintage Sports and Restoration in Bow, NH, in completing the project initially,” recalls Wicklund. “But projects like this are never truly finished and I’ve made numerous improvements and refinements over the last five years. I consider it finished now, and all it requires is routine maintenance. I haven’t come up with any ideas to improve it lately and don’t want to go over the top with modifications that don’t look ‘factory,’ though I do love the new custom sound system that is nicely integrated and iPod ready, something nobody had even heard of in 2002.

“Since we started with only a body and chassis, I purchased two parts cars for sourcing parts that were unavailable new. I needed a lot of pieces, as the original car had no exterior trim, interior, engine, suspension or exhaust. The car was literally built from scratch and is a combination of the original body and chassis, the parts cars and many new parts.

“I already owned a complete driveline from a European A.C. Schnitzer built e30M3 – engine, transmission and differential – and that was used to power this car. The gearbox is a five-speed Getrag 265 close-ratio unit with a matching 3.25 differential. A substantial amount of fabrication was required to fit that driveline and we had to fabricate a custom driveshaft, half shafts, cooling system and exhaust system in order to make it all work and look like a ‘factory’ original.

“The car also has rack and pinion steering and disc brakes, features that were not offered on the factory produced 2002 models. The car uses all BMW parts, mostly 2002 tii, but some items came from different BMW models. The backseat is from an e24-6 series and the front seats are from an e21-3 series, for example. That’s why it looks like a BMW factory-built car, though I did stray a bit with the custom leather-covered two-piece dash with orange stitching that I had done to match the orange seat belts.”

To the seasoned observer, it does and doesn’t look like a factory unit, as the addition of Ireland Engineering springs and adjustable front camber plates yielded a lowered stance along with improved handling. Adding e21 323i trailing arms and related work took care of the rear suspension.

And since the engine had 65,000 miles on it when it was acquired, it was rebuilt as well, with additions including a new 48 mm throttle body, a lightweight flywheel, a large-volume carbon-fiber intake manifold, an Alpha-N fuel-management system and a custom two-piece oil pan. The 2.5 liter engine now produces about 260 hp, which Wicklund says “makes for awesome performance in a 2300 lb. car.”

Other obvious changes included the four-spoke Modular Revolution wheels with Bridgestone 205/50-15 rubber, Inka (orange) paint, Turbo wheel flares, rockers and front spoiler and the rear bumper and valance modifications to let the custom exhaust system’s twin pipes exit the car with panache.

That the result of all this work and parts sourcing is an outstanding “custom” is obvious. But the uniqueness of the Bimmer is also illustrated by the exposure it has gotten in various enthusiast publications, with the car featured in Hemmings Sports and Exotic, Bimmer, Performance BMW, Roundel and the Boston Bimmer.

It has also had great success in competition, winning “Best in Show,” “Best in Class” or “Peoples” Choice’ honors in a variety of venues, among them both the BMWCCA Northeast Region and National Concours, the Hemmings Sports and Exotic Show, the Hemmings Fall Show, the New England Exotic Car Show and the German Day Show at the Lars Anderson Auto Museum.

But best of all, sums up Wicklund, “It always puts a smile on people’s faces!”