Features

Nick Tabeta's E10 2002

Photography by Faraz Mughal @faraz_mughal

I first met Nick through e46fanatics.com when we both owned E46 sedans. This was around the time the stance "movement" was beginning to hit the BMW scene. The E46 was Nick's first BMW, although he has always been into cars, having owned an old school mini and a few Hondas. He decided that he would try out a European car. Through owning the E46, he made a lot of new friends, most who loved bimmers as well. After 3 years he decided to move on to something new. Since he fell in love with the style and comfort of BMW, he knew it had to be another.  3 days after he parted with his E46 he purchased an E90. Knowing beforehand that he didn't want to change the exterior parts on such a new car he made sure to get the M-Sport package. Being that it was the newest, most modern car he had owned to date, he felt that it deserved quality parts so it was done once and correctly. He did some subtle mods including wheels, coilovers, front lip and exhaust.  It was around this time that his friend picked up an E30 and they decided to twin, so Nick picked up an E30 as well. He freshened up the car with new suspension, Recaro interior, genuine BBS wheels, and a respray. His cars have always been well put together and his 2002 is no different.

Nick remembers seeing a photo of a 2002 when he was younger and never thought too much of it then. It wasn't until social media kicked into high gear that he started noticing them more. The little Bavarian coupe with timeless style that you can't help but love. I think it's safe to say that we all gain a greater appreciation for the older models as we get older ourselves. Nick never thought he'd actually get to own a 2002 due to their rarity in Australia. Crazy enough, a couple years ago a lady moved into a house down the road from him and actually owned one. Each day that he passed by he would take a second to stare at it. One morning he decided it was time to begin his search for his own. He looked on an online used car sales site and found this 1971 2002. He made a call to inspect it after school and that night he became the proud new owner.

After purchasing the car he started with maintenance work. It was running and road registered, but it wasn't up to his standards. He began with upgrading the carburetor to a Weber 32/36, re-did the clutch system, new brake lines, and other general service. Another downfall of the car was the paint job. So Nick did a bare metal respray in his own backyard. It took a total of three months since he was stripped the paint, prepped, and painted whenever he had free time from school work.

He then began working on the suspension. Initially he wanted to get coilovers, but couldn't find a set that were a direct fit. So then he thought that if he had to do a custom coilover setup, he might as well go with an air suspension setup instead.  He took some measurements and researched possible suspension candidates. Nick ended up installing a D2 Airbag suspension with upgraded Airlift shocks in a way that he can revert it back to stock easily. No cutting or modifications were needed to install it, which was one of his main requirements. This is his favorite mod to the car because it's practical and somewhat different. He loves the ability to drive low and park lower. It's also entertaining to see the look of people that walk past it and have a confused expression as to how it even moves. 

Nick then moved on to the wheels. He built a set of 15x7.5/8.5" BBS RS so that when the car aired out, it would sit guard on lip all around. This may not be everyone's cup of tea, but if you've ever dealt with fitting wheels or tires (meaty or stretched) you can probably imagine the time and work that it took to get this right where he wanted.

Another area that he wanted to improve was the car's old and outdated interior. He replaced all of the carpet, installed Recaro front seats and a classic wooden Nardi steering wheel. A custom center console was made to hold a modern headunit, gauges, and air suspension controls. Nick also added rear venetian blinds to top it off. All of the window and door seals were replaced with new OEM parts as well.

The final piece was a custom front airdam which Nick says transformed the car, and I have to agree. It is a perfectly subtle yet aggressive addition to the front end that demands your eye's attention.

Future plans for the E10 would possibly be an M42 engine swap from an E30 318is. Nick's putting that off for now since it's more difficult on right hand drive cars due to clearance issues with the steering box and sway bar.

Either way it's already perfect in our book. We're glad to add Nick's 2002 to our ongoing collection of elite BMW's. It reminds us to not cut corners or take shortcuts for instant gratification. Whether it takes one year or ten to "build" your car, be patient and do it right.