Loaded with lines and toting some serious turbo technology, the BMW 2002 Hommage seen here waits patiently for its big debut at this year’s Concorso d’Eleganza Villa d’Este. Built exclusively to celebrate “the extraordinary feats of engineering behind the BMW 2002 turbo,” this low-lying 50th anniversary sports coupe has to be one of the more intriguing looking turbo platforms that the German automaker has teased us with in recent years. But let’s talk about why the 2002 was so revolutionary when it first landed half a century ago.
“Exactly 50 years ago, the 02 range kick-started an era of success for BMW. This compact coupe is one of the vehicles which made the brand what it is today,” explains Adrian van Hooydonk, senior vice president BMW Group Design. “The 2002 sat at the top of the range and was the first series-produced car anywhere in Europe to come with turbo technology. That set the seal on the coupe as a genuine sports car.”
While details on the vehicle’s powertrain and handling upgrades are still withheld, the sharp silhouette of the 2002 Hommage discards any doubt that it may be slow or ungainly. What the automaker has done instead is release some information regarding the styling of the car, which is loaded with lightweight materials and purpose-built styling mods.
By taking a rather long wheelbase, and molding an extremely squat body to it with short overhangs and a handful of iconic classic touches, BMW says it promises a driving experience that “thrills with irresistible dynamics and agility.” So with super-sized spoilers at the ready and gaping air ducts on call, here’s what 50 years of engineering progress can create.
Originally chrome during the 1970s, the Hommage takes the horizontal band that crosses its shoulderline and uses carbon instead, which visually splits the body into separate sections. Upper body panels like the roof, hood, and trunk lid have all been sprayed in matte paint, and the car’s lines remain minimalistic and traditional. But once the eye moves to the lower portions, things suddenly get a little zany: All the paint is high-gloss, and every line and surface is aggressive, with BMW’s unique “Space Race Metal” paintwork bordering on appearing like liquid metal due to its ability to morph from a brightly fluorescent blue to a grey.
Wheel arches on the Hommage look wide and bullish, a styling cue taken from the original 2002 turbo, which required the addition of larger fender flares in order to accommodate its wider track. Beneath these rounded arches rests a set of 20-inch forged alloy wheels that are designed to honor the racing rollers of yorn, while a set of gargantuan gold brakes with the iconic M logo rest beneath, clamping onto some sizable rotors.
BMW refers to the nose of the 2002 Hommage as a “confident and extravagantly dynamic affair,” which blends old and new together as one. Based between bulging wheel arches, the wide track and low front fascia offer the classic “kidney grille” a place to rest, as well as a turbo badge and two single headlights that are equal parts purposeful and caliper matching in color. Another neat retro touch is the addition of turn signal repeaters, both of which are located above the headlights and are carved into full-width carbon strips.
Back in the 1970s, large, forward angled front aprons were all the rage, so being a total throwback build, BMW decided to resurrect this retro take on an air dam. As impractical as it may appear, this addition shortens the gap between the vehicle and the road, as a mirrored “TURBO” livery lays across the center of the front apron to honor the decals found on the first 2002 turbo. Additional accents along the lower portions of the air dam and the side skirts are made with exposed carbon, which adds a nice contrast to the rest of the body.
Jutting, scooped side sills aside, it’s worth pointing out that the taillights were actually inspired by the blueprints for the original 2002, and since the glass is smoked, seeing the LED tubing is only made possible when the lights illuminate. It gets a subtle but effective decklid spoiler as well.
Out back, spoiler lips add more modern flair, and below a carbon diffuser, BMW’s signature quad exhaust ties it all together. BMW claims that all of this has been done to showcase a “clear statement of how pure driving pleasure is defined in 2016,” and to push the boundaries by blending retro design with modern technology.
While it may not be to everyone’s taste, you have to give BMW credit for being creative and taking the time to re-envision what the evolution of the 2002 would look like today if it had never been put out to pasture. Jagged, layered, and extremely eager, the Hommage concept is equal parts modern ingenuity and classic 1970s nostalgia all wrapped up in one tight little package.
Unfortunately, our chances of seeing something like this go into production are slim, even though the wheels are turning and the brand is attempting to gauge buyer interest. Personally, we totally dig the idea of a 2002 Turbo throwback edition, especially if it retains a rear-wheel drive layout, comes with multiple color options, and is only available with a manual gearbox. From there, BMW could sculpt the interior to mimic that of its ancestor, throw on some period correct fog lights, and in the process prove that the ultimate driving machine revolution started decades ago, with a car that was equal parts petite and potent.