Chris Fletcher’s 2002 “Electric” Turbo – COTM Sept 2023

1973 BMW 2002 Electric Turbo

Engine : BMW M44B16 Electric Turbo

Turbo : Modified Aeristech / Valeo Electric Turbo

Gearbox : E30 5 speed

Power : 200bhp

Reg: NIL 2002

My brother bought the 2002 in 1997 as a standard M10 2002 but never put the car on the road and it was moved from pillar to post for about 2 years as it was always in the way. In 1999 I bought the car from him with the intension of putting it back on the road. This finally happened in 2006. I used the car for shows and different events for about 6 years and in 2013 I decided I wanted to use the car a lot more “even as a daily for the work commute”.  But got it in my head I wanted to upgrade to a 2002 Turbo.

After looking at the Turbo’s available and speaking to people about ownership I decided to build one that looked like a Turbo using genuine parts but had all the mod cons air con, sat nav, remote central locking, electric windows and started to buy the parts and form a plan to have my ultimate daily driver.

All I needed was a car to start with, so I started looking for a left-hand drive 2002 that would make a great conversion for a M10 Turbo, I even found a M10 Turbo engine in Germany ready to go in it.

But the cost of the car, engine and then all the parts I needed started to add up, the engine alone was 12000 euro and no gearbox or running gear, the total cost of the project was going to be over £60k. At this time in 2013 the original 2002 Turbo prices had started to rocket! so buying one was no longer an option for me.

Back to back 2017 G11 v 1973 E10

But I still had the fully refurbished 2002 in Chamonix white, but it was right hand drive. How could we fit a M10 Turbo into it? After lots of investigations into options I gave up with a traditional turbo and started to investigate the new electric turbo/supercharger units being developed. This was going to be my answer a right-hand drive electric turbo.

I had questions and lots of gaps with my plan, what Engine, Gearbox, differential how would it handle, how would it stop, what about Turbo look. they are just a few thoughts going through my head at the time. For the next 2 years I got to work building my network and talking to people in the BMW 2002 community, Jaymic , James at JFI Classic cars and the BMW owners club, Richard Stern in particular all helped me with options with how to create a right hand drive 2002 Turbo recreation that would do the original justice.

The answers over time became clear stick with BMW parts from later cars that would fit the 2002 with little or no modifications.

Engine came from the E36 318is known as the M44B16 this was the heart of the car with a new ecu that would also control the electric turbo, step up Enda Ward (EndTuning) who removed the immobilisers and rev limiters and got it all talking to each other, the wiring loom conversation came from the USA and the new ecu mapped into the old wiring loom OMG…what a job this was and took us two weeks just to get the engine to start and run.

The Gearbox and cultch came from the E30 and was a 5-speed driving a E21 Differential with a bespoke prop shaft. We now have movement back and forwards.

Engine and Gearbox all drops out in one on front subframe in less than 30 minutes.

Now for breaks, they are from the E21 323i and are much bigger than the standard 2002 breaks and vented so we needed E21 hubs to go with them, the suspension came from Bilstein and Eibach, all the rubbers changed to Powerflex Polyurethane, this stiffened the car up so we had to box in all the subframes and strengthen several steel components to cope the new power from the M44 Turbo, other bespoke parts include, stainless steel manifold and exhaust and a new front subframe to mount the engine and gearbox into the existing engine bay.

Brakes from 2002 v E21 323i

As for the Turbo look, this took me all over the world ! The wheels came from Spain, rear bumper came from Turkey and the end caps came from Italy other parts came from Germany, USA and Hong Kong and most of my old parts removed from the standard car went to Hong Kong and France so it was a very interesting few years, I don’t know what I would have done without the internet and social media, But I am so pleased I did this before Brexit.

By the time the car was finished it was now 2017, I gave up on all the mod con ideas and settled for an alarm and sat nav. Since 2017 the car has been great, very reliable a pleasure to drive and is often is now my daily in the summer. In 2017 when the car was finished, I got my new everyday driver a G11 7 Series, one day I parked them back to back and realised just how different cars are now to the 1970s in design and particularly size. Its fair to say my car is an hybrid of BMW’s but I like to think I have the best bits from the 70s 80s and 1990s all in one.

Webmaster: I have to say the finish and look of this replica Turbo is outstanding and a credit to Chris, Great job.

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