With the introduction of the 1 Series coupe and convertible BMW has gone retro, at least in marketing. At releases they have mentioned comparisons to the 2002, had them present for the viewing public and have even named a concept with the suffix tii. So what is the reason for all this? Is it to feed the publics’ love of nostalgia in order to sell more cars? Is it simply BMW going back to their origins and what made people fall in love with the brand: a practical and sporty car?
That is for you to decide but here at Bimmerfile we thought we should give the 1972 2002tii an introduction to all those too young to have experienced the car in its hay-day or for those of you that wish you had never sold yours a trip down memory lane!
The 2002 model was introduced in 1968 to the US market after two years of sales within Europe. American car buyers viewed the car as roomy for a two-door, with a large trunk and that German engineered quality that we have come to love. Over 850,000 of the model were sold around the world until in 1977 the beloved 3er replaced it.
The original 2002 was carbureted and suffered from all the standard issues associated with them, a performance decrease being one of them. This all changed with the introduction of the tii in 1972. The tii featured a Kugelfischer mechanical fuel injection, a cast iron block and an aluminum head with a single overhead cam. Until 1974 enthusiasts could have purchased this version with its increased horsepower, drivability and efficiency for $4100.
With only 140 hp and 145 lbs. of torque (I say only because by today’s standards that is miniscule) the tii benefited from its superb handling and a lighter weight (2225 lbs). BMW accomplished this by designing a rigid monocoque chassis that was the base for all other aspects. Steering utilized a rack-and-pinion setup, the car featured an almost unheard of (for the time period) independent rear suspension and the front featured MacPherson struts along with coil springs. Power front discs along with rear drums provided the braking grip. There was one transmission option, so take it or leave it; a four-speed manual that even included a third floor mounted pedal for the clutch.
The January 1972 issue of Motor Trend describes the tii as the most fun anyone has ever built into a car. They recorded the 0-60 time for it at 9.9 seconds and also stated it was the best small sedan in its class.
In late 2005 BMW Mobile Tradition had completed a project that took over 11 months… the team was busy at work building the very car that created the buzz behind the brand. The car that was practical for everyday, sophisticated and more importantly showed the public that there was more to sporty than 0 to 60 in a straight line; handling. They had built a new (old) 2002 tii in Inka Orange! Over 90% of the car was build from new old stock parts, with the remainder of it being built by parts the team created from original plans. All this work was completed in a glass workshop outside the Four-Cylinder Munich headquarters so that passersby could see what was going on.
The restoration car shows what an overwhelming difference the BMW of today has in terms of interior amenities from it. The interior from 1972 featured a no frills approach with none of today’s comforts. Power steering, power door locks or windows were not available (not to mention any of the other technologies we take for granted). Just a black instrument cluster (tach, speedo fuel and TEMP), a deep three-spoke wheel and some manually adjustable weaved black vinyl seats. Oh, and by-the-way they only adjust four ways!
The tii that Mobile Traditions recreated is something to be marveled. The car was built to factory specifications by a passionate team. They did it because they could and because of the memories it invokes, the car is a throwback to what BMW was and what they are trying to become again. It was a cue to what BMW had up its sleeve in the 135i: a practical car with sporting intentions.
For further reading I recommend an article in the January 2007 Roundel by Mike Self. He wrote about his experiences with this car. He and a few privileged others have had the opportunity to drive this new/old car and one thing they all have stated in common is that it made each of the smile from ear to ear! Motor Trend was also able to spend time with the car and they took it through the paces as well.
Research for this article was conducted using information from magazines, BMW press releases and archives. Further information was obtained from the web including the BMWCCA and Motor Trend websites. Pictures were also obtained from these sources.