David Philipsen is 20-year old car fanatic from Alberta, Canada. While he was growing up on a small farm he realised his deep interest of tinkering with old cars, motorcycles and snowmobiles. Coming from a European family settled in Canada, David’s inclination towards cars too, from the start was something European. Starting off with a Volkswagen Beetle which he completely rebuild himself as his first project car, David moved to better European cars, finally finding himself around this BMW 2002 which he has been building all winter to take on a long summer adventure.
Bhuvan Chowdhary. Tell us a little about yourself David.
David Philipsen: My name is David Philipsen. I am 20 years old. From my child hood days when I was growing up on a small farm in Alberta, Canada, I always been interested in tinkered with old cars, bikes, snowmobiles.
BC: How did you develop a relation with cars?
DP: I grew up around dirt bikes as a kid and really loved the thrill of speed they provided. I knew that cars were the next step and I had already started becoming eager about them. My Dad is into antique tractors and the mechanics fascinated me to build things and figuring out problems. So I bought a 1971 Beetle when I was thirteen as my first project car, where I would actually myself weld panels and paint the car. Although I wouldn’t like to see the quality of work now, I am certainly proud of myself.
BC: Are you in particularly fond of BMWs or do you like other cars too?
DP: Growing up with European parents led me to grow a certain infatuation around European cars. BMW is definitely one of my favourite brands but it isn’t the only one that I like. Although, I have to say that my favourite era of cars is the 60’s & 70’s when cars were very powerful, yet rudimentary when it came to safety and technology… Basically pure design.
BC: What excites you about classic cars?
DP: Mostly the design and the aesthetics of a classic. The presence almost any classic has is huge. New cars just don’t have it. The fact that you can go on an adventure in a piece of art is exciting. To see a classic parked and then to witness that same classic moving is an disproportionate experience.
BC: What’s there in your current car collection, and what do you want to add in the future?
DP: Currently the 2002, a 1966 Austin Mini and a 1962 Austin Mini wood wagon. There is so many cars I want or rather need, however my most wanted list includes an Alfa 1750 GTV, Longhood Porsche 911, BMW E9, and a MK1 Mini Cooper S.
BC: What’s the BMW 2002‘s backstory?
DP: I have two brothers who share the same passion for old cars. My oldest in particular is fond of 2002’s. He had been on a hunting spree for his “dream” 2002. Searching mainly for a European imported square tail light example and during his hunting he stumbled across this particular example. He wasn’t interested due to the amount of rust and the round tail lights, so he turned the car over to me instead.
I on the other hand, wasn’t so picky as my interests lay more in finding cool classics. So I drove up to the city to have a look at the car. The BMW 2002 was lying there inside a super small garage covered in dust. It had clearly not been started in sometime. We pushed the car out of the garage, and that’s when the owner told me that this was the first time the car had been brought out into the open after 16-years!
The story was that the owners uncle had bought it new. From there, the BMW 2002 went on to his brother and then came back to him after a few years. The car was used exclusively as a mode of transportation to go from one place to the other. So when the family decided to upgrade to something new, the 2002 was assigned to the garage indefinitely. While the car was in quite bad condition externally, I saw hope in rebuilding, as the previous owners hadn’t done any modifications to the car other than paint, meaning that everything inside was 100% original.
The BMW 2002 came with all the original keys, manuals and date stamped wheels. When I first picked the car up my priorities were to get the car running and driving as is. After cleaning the carb and ignition system I tried firing her up. It started almost immediately and ran with a clean note. The 2002 was ready for driving in the condition it was, but I soon realised that I needed more power for it to be a bit of a fun driving experience.
Over the past winter, I went through the entire car. I fixed the strut and rocker rust, painted and powder coated all the suspensions, had all nuts and bolts plated. Then I ordered new bushings, 22mm sway bars, Bilstein sport shocks, Ireland Engineering stage one springs and brakes. I even got a 3.91 limited slip differential that’s made an incredible difference in how the 2002 turns. Aesthetically, I have tried to keep it as sock as possible only adding turn signals and headlights that came with the European BMW 2002 models. Keeping the best for last, I stuck an 1.8-litre BMW M42 engine and Getrag five-speed transmission out of a 1991 BMW 318is to address the original engine’s power deficit. All the work was accomplished over the next five months as I wanted to car to be ready before summer.
Today, the car is mechanically perfect from every angle. It is such that I can get in, drop my luggage, turn the key and head out anywhere for an epic road trip in my classic BMW 2002.
BC: How does the car drive now?
DP: The car is awesome to absolutely stunning to drive. The visibility is great as the top half of the car is just glass. It just cruises comfortably at 120-130kmph and handles like a charm when the tight corners come around. I’ve added Recaro seats and a Momo Prototipo wheel which make the drive even more precise, yet keeping it comfy. It’s not the fastest 2002 around but with 140hp it goes alright!
BC: Now that the 2002 is ready, what are your travel plans with it?
DP: I have a few plans in mind. It depends on my work schedule, although I am most certainly heading down to California for car week and plan on going through Washington and spending lots of time there. I built this car for driving. It’s not crazy low and there aren’t any major engine modifications that would make the car unreliable.
BC: What would you like the readers to know about the BMW 2002?
I would like the readers to know just how fun this car is. When it was new it was simply a baseline car, nothing special, and somehow driving a 2002 is a riot. This is a car that you hop in not to get from one place to another, but to drive it.