Identity. Forming your own is a big part of the teenage experience. For the 16-year-old Carter Kelly Kramer, expressing his own individuality required the right car. While his schoolmates gravitated toward the usual suspects – mainly Subarus and Mitsubishis – Carter knew an old-school European sport sedan would tell his story far better. Alfa GTVs were well beyond his budget, but BMW 2002s managed to squeeze in.
Carter found a blue ’76 on eBay, only to discover it not quite as advertised when it arrived on his driveway. It had a broken odometer which was stuck at 65,000 miles – the true condition of the little ’02 had clearly been lied about and was in need of some major TLC. Nevertheless, it ran, and Carter was on the road with an interesting car that looked like nothing else in the school parking lot.
A month into it, he stuffed the nose of the Bimmer while performing what he describes as “Colin McRae maneuvers” on a dirt road. Others may have written the car off, sold it for parts and simply settled for a different car, but Carter turned the unfortunate incident into an opportunity to build the car he had always envisioned it could be. He went to work taking it apart, burning the midnight oil for almost a year to get it ready. Enlisting the help of friends, he welded on a new nose and rebuilt the engine, brakes and suspension to near motorsport specification.
With a pair of downdraft Webers, forged pistons, custom cam and bigger valves, the little M10 engine screams. It’s not unheard of to see flames shooting from the custom side exhaust. Wide fender flares and a deep front spoiler give the 2002 a period-correct motorsports look, especially with the front bumper removed, while its matte-orange paint adds a slightly modern twist to the scheme. The finished project got Carter plenty of attention.
Enduring the year-long build offered him a new perspective on life, an experience he translated into a university entrance essay. Apparently it worked, as he was accepted for college, but in a twist of irony, he had to sell the BMW because he would have no place to store it at school and couldn’t bear the thought of leaving it parked on the street on a college campus. Realizing the mistake he had made, he saved his money once again and bought the car back a year later.
The 2002 managed to get him through high school and into college. Its next destination is the track, where it clearly belongs. Needless to say, the car won’t be leaving Carter’s sight anytime soon. After all, it’s now part of who he is.