Bay Area BMW, Rare Air 2002
The Bay Area BMW. We first laid eyes on this car at the Bay Area 02 meet – an annual gathering of BMW 2002 owners and enthusiasts. Throughout the show, we kept gravitating back to this loud, tiny car, even though there were tons of others to look at. There was no sight of the owner, but we eventually connected through social media and managed to set up some camera time.
Getting to see the Touring at a show and having private, one on one time to look at it were two completely different experiences. During our shoot, there were so many more details that stood out, some of which we had overlooked at Bay Area 02. Owner Hootan “Hootie” Rashidifard described to us the story of the car as we did a walk around.
“The car was imported in 2011 by a well-known 2002 importer in San Jose,” Hootie said. We asked him what influenced him to buy such a unique and irreplaceable vehicle. As a true enthusiast does, he said that he’s always looking for the next car, even if there’s no intention to purchase. Keeping a constant, scouring eye out for classics seems to be one of the most effective ways of finding one.
He mentioned that he lived in San Francisco. We can only imagine the stress of owning such a vehicle in the City. Luckily, Hootie has his own garage space, but that still doesn’t eliminate the stress of SF streets.
While it’s easy to talk about parts and power figures all day, what matters most is the feeling a car gives you.
His experiences summed up? “Dodge potholes! Slow down for large, raised construction plates. Avoid getting caught on Fillmore Street hill. Can’t park there because that car looks sketchy. You get the point.” He told me that many of his friends don’t understand why he would purchase the Touring, especially with it being his only car. However, Hootie insists that now is the perfect time to own the car. He came from driving an immaculate ’91 BMW M5 and wanted something very, very different. With no wife, no kids, and no commute, why not?
Our conversation went on to discuss the origin of the car, which is printed boldly in its livery. It was built and raced as a hill climb car in Germany, and then later imported to the US. Toward the end of our shoot, Hootie retrieved a white binder from inside the car. Across the front was a handwritten title: “TOURING S14, ’73 INKA.”
Scattered across the front cover folder were random notes, one of which read: “Choke knob operates the fan – car was set up this way.” Stuffed inside was a huge collection of pages, all containing material from import documents, hand-drawn wiring diagrams, and complete part lists, all articulated in German.
Hootie laughed, “When anything breaks, I have to either figure out a custom solution or track down the right parts. Fortunately, everything was pretty well documented… if you’re fluent in German.”
The parts list was extensive. It contained pages of neatly organized parts, some of which were translated or easily understood. The Touring is propelled by a 2.3 liter S14 power plant, which is mated to a five-speed gearbox. The motor looks completely at home in the Touring’s engine bay and gives the car a perfectly balanced power boost.
Additional part mentions include the fiberglass hood, front fenders, and Turbo 2 flares produced by Singer. There is a sort of Frankenstein mash up of other parts, such as E23 hubs and oil cooler, 2002 Turbo radiator, and brake combos between the E28 M5, X5, E34 535i, and E38 740i. As far as suspension goes, the Eibach Competition Springs provide a stiff but very drivable feel.
On the interior side, we find a Heigo roll cage, an ATI steering wheel out of an M1, vintage Schroth harnesses and Motometer gauges, and a Pirelli P Zero-wielding spare in the hatch.
After we had finished with our shoot, Hootie offered to take us for a ride in the Bay Area BMW. Our photo location proved the perfect venue for a spirited drive, so naturally, he didn’t have to ask twice. Let us start by saying that this car is incredible. Weighing in around 1,900 pounds with about 215 horsepower, this little car hauls the mail. The greatest part about the Touring is that it isn’t fast in a traditional, butt-dyno sense. It’s quick, it’s nimble, and it’s a true driver’s car.
We flew down the winding mountain roads and throwing the car into turns seemed effortless. For being caged and gutted, all of the noises seemed to work in perfect harmony. Nothing sounded questionable. The Bay Area BMW stayed almost perfectly flat around turns, and the S14 produced the most amazing sounds that echoed between the trees. Riding in that car, you could almost feel the history behind it.
While it’s easy to talk about parts and power figures all day, what matters most is the feeling a car gives you. For a major enthusiast, the relationship with the car is everything. Hootie reminisced on his childhood affliction with autos: “I’ve always been infatuated. I would memorize every make and model. I could tell cars apart based on their silhouette or lights at night. I loved everything about them – the shapes, the sounds, the feeling of the paint or leather…” His reply went on, but the general consensus was one of certainty that cars will always be vital to him.