More often than not, the stories behind the owners of the cars we feature share a common passion, typically fueled by a long family affair with the automobile.
And here we are again, me debriefing you all on a tale about two brothers, whose common interest for vintage BMWs has brought them closer than anything has ever before.
When Jan Echeverri was about 15 years old and living back home in Bogota, Colombia, he would frequent cycling events with his father. His father belonged to a cycling club, and it just so happened that one of the members owned a Malaga 2002 Tii.
After setting his first sight on the car, Jan found himself obsessing over its odd shape and unique charm. And though his love for the 2002 existed for years on end, the reality of ownership remained dormant until 1998.
After moving to California’s Bay Area, Jan began visiting the local salvage yards for bits and pieces to fix up other cars he work on, but one day he stumbled across a complete 2002 on the selling lot.
Reminiscing about his childhood with his father, Jan decided to take the leap and purchase the car for himself to restore. Concurrently, his brother Alex moved to the Bay Area too, and began working alongside Jan in restoring said 2002 back to daily driving duties, which in turn resulted in Alex’s keen interest towards ownership of a 2002 as well.
And thus, the two brothers’ vintage BMW ownership premise began.
A few years of saving 2002 coupes from their death beds had come and passed, which eventually led the brothers across a listing for an oddball 2002 Tii Touring in the local classifieds. For those unaware, the Touring was one of the rarest models across the 02 range.
Eager to jump at the chance of owning such a desirable car, the brothers immediately contacted the seller, and soon found themselves making the trek to the neighboring city in hopes of becoming the Touring’s new caretakers.
What they weren’t expecting though, was the immense amount of work needed to get the car back up to shape. It was rusty, missing parts, hardly ran under its own power, and could’ve easily become a project to put the brothers in over their heads. Logical reasoning aside, they took the leap.
Hundreds of man hours in their home garage later, their first Touring was brought up to par and eventually made its way to a new home. But with the time invested in this car, the brothers developed an even stronger passion, specifically for Touring models, as they were without a doubt the more interesting variant of BMW’s Neue Klasse era family.
Jan and Alex Echeverri discovered their niche of expertise on the 2002 Touring, so much so that they imported 12 more to Bay Area, including the two that they now own.The Tourings
Jan came across the Einzig race car while on the hunt for another Touring in Germany. The unique turbo flares and Einzig livery immediately caught his eye, so he reached out to his connection to ask the owner on his thoughts about selling the car to Jan in the United States. The seller liked the idea of passing ownership to a part of the world where the Touring was far less common as he knew it would get the appreciation it deserved, so he agreed, and Jan became the lucky owner.
Jan’s 2002 Tii Touring is a track-prepped race car that served countless track days for the previous owner in Germany, but is now utilized as a street-going canyon carver. Power is derived from a Euro 2.3-liter S14 E30 M3 engine mated to a close-ratio 5-speed gearbox and 3:64 limited slip differential. Power upgrades include Evo headers and a full custom exhaust.
But what really gets it going is the weight reduction, as the entire car is pretty much gutted inside with the exception of period Scheel bucket seats and a full roll cage. Weight was further reduced by replacing the steel bonnet and fenders with fiberglass pieces, as well as fiberglass Turbo fender flares all around covering those gorgeous 3-piece BBS RS wheels. Lastly, the Einzig Touring is outfitted with a proper set of coilovers and chassis braces to keep things tamed and planted.
Alex watched on as his brother’s Touring came to life in the States, and as family competition typically has it, knew he couldn’t let his sibling be the only one enjoying a properly specced Touring on the iconic back roads of Northern California.
While selling his old 1987 E30 M3 in Germany, he too stumbled across a rather interesting Touring locked away in the buyer’s garage. He immediately grew interest in the car, and yet again had the connection in Germany ask the owners how they would feel about parting ways with the box-flared beauty. With a little persuasion, Alex became the proud new owner of the one-off kitted Tii Touring.
A few months after the car arrived, Alex decided to pull it apart and go through all of the mechanical aspects to ensure it was running correctly. Alex’s Tii Touring ended up having a S14/02 hybrid engine with twin 45mm Weber side draft carburetors fitted, and performance enhancements included a 304 Schrick cam, Alpina headers, and a custom exhaust, all backed up by a close-ratio 5-speed transmission.
Since it was a street car, the majority of the interior remained, including the period Recaro sport seats and dual-spoke Momo steering wheel. Perhaps the most notable and eye-catching characteristic of Alex’s Touring though is the one-off box flares that were custom-made for the car, which allow for 285-section tire in the rear.
My favorite aspect of the wide-body has to be how it blends into the rear deck lid. Whoever designed and made the kit had some seriously good taste.
As both brothers spent their years tinkering with their rare 2002s, buying and selling other Tourings in between became a norm. There are a few handfuls of Tourings floating around in the Bay Area now, and I think it’s safe to assume that the likelihood of the cars passing through the hands of Jan and Alex are pretty high. The Echeverris have successfully became known as the ‘2002 Touring Brothers.’Neue Klasse
I’ve always found it intriguing when people decide to throw all of their efforts into oddball cars, and this case was no different. After chatting with the brothers and trying to understand why they chose the Touring platforms specifically, it became clear that their reasoning’s fell deep into the roots of what made the 2002, the 2002.
You see, the 2002 is one of the most iconic BMWs to ever exist. The cars became the direct correlating symbol when hearing the German term Neue Klasse, which directly translates to ‘New Class.’ It was a term coined by BMW in 1960 after their financial crisis in the 1950s nearly bankrupted the company. The problem for BMW during the era was that their large luxury mobiles were quickly becoming outdated when compared against their competitors, so their strategy to pivot their market was found in smaller sized economy cars that drew power from tiny displacement engines. They called the project the Neue Klasse, and it was the first time the company had redesigned their entire fleet since 1933. And though the 2002 wasn’t the first introduction of the Neue Klasse, it arguably became the face of the brand, right alongside the E9 chassis.
Jan and Alex took a deep understanding of the 2002’s significance for BMW, and felt compelled towards saving these rare and iconic cars for not only themselves, but for others in the community to enjoy as well. It’s never been about turning a profit, but rather saving pieces of historic art that would otherwise be scrapped with due time. And for most, that’s a bit of a hard thing to swallow. But the brothers leverage these opportunities as quality time spent together, and I can’t help but be grateful that we still have people like this in the community.
The passion to save vintage cars is slowly dwindling away, but enthusiasts like the Echeverri brothers are here to give us just a tad bit more hope.