Todd’s Garage: 1972 BMW 2002 tii Project

Before the birth of the iconic 3-series, BMW’s 2002 defined the now-popular class of two-door sports sedans. Parked since at least 2007, this 1972 BMW 2002 tii found a home in my garage after a friend decided it needed someone to give it a new lease on life. We arrived at a price and it’s been more or less where you see it ever since, in the “project bay” of my garage. It is not running and it is not for sale. I hope to share more pictures as progress continues. The plan is to return it to its original Colorado orange color, reversing a prior owner’s thorough color change to the current Verona red. There’s nothing wrong with Verona, but Colorado is more interesting, certainly more “’70s,” and it’s the car’s original hue. Records back to the original sale document a life in Maryland and Virginia, mostly normal maintenance, and one huge injection of cash in the late ’90s including a new BMW factory engine. That makeover gave the owner about 40,000 miles of service before a Porsche 911 kicked the little BMW out of the garage where it lingered as lawn art until I retrieved it in 2018.

If you’ve never worked on a mechanically fuel-injected vehicle, this picture may look a bit strange! Part of my fascination with this car is the “tii” sub-model, the abbreviation meaning touring international injection. Personally I prefer the German word for injection, “Kraftstoffeinspritzung.” Like most mechanical creations, the phrase is much cooler in German, but apparently “injection” was more international, so we still see the “i” on injected BMW cars today. Much like my 1989 Ford Mustang 5.0 and a billion other cars, the ’72 tii uses a rear-mounted fuel tank to push fuel to engine, and a return line that send extra fuel back to the tank. A modern injection system uses a computer to determine how long to hold the injectors open based on engine and air temperature, load, throttle position, etc. With no computer, the engine-driven Kugelfischer injector pump you see here must do all those things mechanically, so it’s got a little crankshaft of its own, and pistons that send bursts of fuel to each injector through those plastic hoses at around 400 PSI, enough to overpower a tiny spring in each injector, allowing one pulse of fuel into the combustion chamber. It’s quite glorious, very reliable, and yields about 25% more power than the carbureted version of the 2.0L inline four. All together now, “Kraftstoffeinspritzung!”

The first time I saw a vintage plenum intake was on another German car, the 1972 Mercedes-Benz 300 SEL 6.3, and I realized this was a ’90s-style intake from about ten years before some American automakers deployed a sort-of “Electronic Carburetor” thing called Throttle-Body-Injection. OK, I’m exaggerating slightly, and yes, the Rochester RamJet came out in 1957, etc. but I find the engineering in pre-computerized fuel injection systems rather captivating. I began this project thinking I would get it running more-or-less as-is then shake it down a bit before embarking on a complete-ish restoration. After several slow victories in that direction I realized it would be more practical to blow the thing apart and fix each subsystem properly before refitting them.

Much like a first-generation GM Camaro or Firebird, the front subframe can be disconnected and rolled out as a unit. This was as easy as pie considering many of the things I had to disconnect or coax into turning dated to the original assembly date, some 47 years ago. I got well into the the disassembly of objects including tiny phillips screws, 8mm nuts, and so-on without ruining ANY of them. The windshield was destined for replacement, so I decided to practice removing it before removing the rear window. I got three corners of the windshield out before CRACK; I busted the fourth. Lesson learned!

This shows the current state with both front and rear subframes out along with the interior and most of the glass and trim. You can see some of the original Colorado paint now. No heinous discoveries so far, and every day bring new adventures, photographs, videos, web searches, and knowledge. I’ll work the body down to bare metal and build everything back as if I were gifting it to a dear friend or family member. If all goes well, I’ll enjoy it for a year or so and sell it. I savor the journey more than the destination. I may do one more of these, probably a modified non-tii, while everything is fresh in my mind then move on to something completely different. What unfinished project lurks in your garage?

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Comments

  1. Scotty Gilbertson Staff

    Fantastisch! Thanks for sharing your very cool project, Todd. It looks like you’re well on your way to making it like new again. It’ll be fun to follow the updates over the next few weeks… I mean, months!

    Like 4
  2. alphasud Member

    Todd, thanks for sharing your project with us. I have driven a 1600 and a 2002 but never the tii model. I worked on Alfa Romeo’s and the Spica injection works the same and really wakes up an engine. Properly tuned sidedrafts will also produce the same results. I purchased a Barn Finds published a while back and plan to send pictures of its progress when I get started.
    BTW good choice to change the color back to Colorado.

    Like 2
  3. Todd Fitch Staff

    Thanks Scotty and alphasud! Definitely share your progress in the comments for the car you bought. Good luck!

    Like 1
  4. Howard A Member

    Nice project, but not “truckish” enough for me, but fantastic cars. Set the “Wayback Machine” for that magical era, the 70’s. I had a friend that traded his ’72 Vega GT( don’t laugh, it was a fun car) for a ’73 Orange 2002 Tii. I had my Opel Kadette Rallye, which was the sportiest German sedan we knew of, that just didn’t cut it, and bought my MGB. We had a blast chasing each other around, naturally, the BMW handled better, and ate the poor MG for lunch, powerwise, but the BMW had transmission problems early on, BMW fixed it, but began using oil, a LOT of oil and he sold it. Meanwhile, the old, outdated, live axle, pushrod motor, SU carbed MGB chugged on and on to the tune of 1/4 million miles, until it broke in half,,,Good luck, I hear German cars have the best network for classic stuff.

    Like 3
    • Todd Fitch Staff

      Thanks Howard! I never fancied myself a BMW owner, and now I have three. They really do a great job of mixing ride and handling. The new ones are super, too, if you like the challenge of seeing how many colored symbols you can light up on the dashboard just by driving 10,000 miles. My first car was a German-made ’73 Mercury Capri, and this little 2002 gives me that flashback vibe.

      Like 3
      • Chris Layton

        Todd,
        Interesting story as I am also restoring a 72Tii that was Colorado and changed to Verona. Mine is a bare shell and I have painted the bottom and interior back to Colorado. The story on the car is long but the short version is I rebuilt wrecked a 72Tii in 1976 and sold it in 1980 and regretted selling it. Fast forward to about 2012 or so and I found my car in California (I had memorized the VIN). The owner is a very nice and an excellent fabricator. He repaired a massive amount of rust and then out of the blue 4 years ago he offered the car back to me. Best present I ever received. I am slowly making progress. I will get it done and I will never sell it. I can send you some photos of the car now and in 1978.

        Like 3
      • Todd Fitch Staff

        Hey Chris – Great story! My Capri went the way of most NW Pennsylvania cars – rusting into oblivion – or else I would surely love to have it back. Would love to see the pictures. Thanks and good luck with yours!

      • Howard A Member

        Ha! I forgot about the Capri as a sports sedan, for good reason. I too had a ’73 Crapi [sic]. I bought it on a whim, I actually liked the car, but a bunch of problems surfaced and was only 2 years old. It was no 2002, that’s for sure.

  5. bobhess bobhess Member

    Spent a year in an orange European version in the ’70s while in Norway working for NATO. Great car for rat racing around the mountains. As for projects, we started building a ’60 Sprite race car in ’15 from a stripped tub and was rolling along pretty good until getting clobbered by hurricane Irma in late ’17. After spending 9 months in our ’27 foot motorhome while cleaning out the the house and rebuilding everything on the property we finally got back to the build around June of this year. All the mechanical stuff is ready to install so as soon as we get the rest of the roll cage in the car and do paint we’ll be ready to put everything together. Based on your picture you have the same problem we do of having most of your car scattered all over your garage. Good luck to both of us on our planned completion dates.

    Like 1
    • Todd Fitch Staff

      Love the Sprite, bobhess! Sorry you had all that trouble. Are you fabricating all those panels? Also, uh, you have a planned completion date? lol You’re ahead of me there too. Good luck and keep us updated – would love to see more pictures as you tick off the milestones. Cheers!

  6. Kevin Costello Member

    I always regarded the 2002 as the classic Sport Sedan as the iconic one. My first was a ’70 that was Colorado – god, I loved that car! I spent the next 40 years trying to match the thrill of that original car. I had 5 more between then and 2015 including a ’73 Baur Targa and a ’74 tii. And you’re right, Colorado is THE color. Good Luck!

    Like 1
    • Todd Fitch Staff

      Hi Kevin Costello. You all are starting to make me want to keep this one, or keep one around anyway. Thanks for your comments!

      • ken tilly UK

        Hi Todd. You are one very lucky fellow. My 2002 was a 1969 Roundie and of all the over 200 cars that I have owned from Austin Sevens to Cadillac Series 62, the BMW is the only one that I REALLY regret selling. Once yours is finished to your satisfaction then I don’t think you will want to sell it either. By the way, mine was also Colorado, a great colour.

        Like 1
  7. leiniedude leiniedude Member

    Great project Todd! Looks like you have a good start. Looking forward to your updates, enjoy!

    Like 1
  8. tompdx

    What a fantastic project! I’ve owned two Euro mechanical fuel injected cars: a ’74 2002tii – like this – and a ’68 Triumph TR250 with a Euro spec TR5 PI (Petrol Inj.) engine. It had a very similar mechanical injection system, collaboratively designed/constructed by Bosch and Lucas that added 50% more power!

  9. Dennis J Brooks

    In 1972, when I got my first job after graduating from college, I purchased a new 1972 BMW 2002tii in yellow with a sunroof and steel wheels. Had the dealer add a Momo Prototipo steering wheel and a Super Sprint exhaust. I paid less than $4,500 for it. I put 60,000 incredibly fantastic miles on it in 3 years. At that time my wife and I were buying a new home. I was nervous about money before the closing and decided that selling my beloved BMW was the only way. I went back to the dealer in Chelsea, MA. Guido was the owner and he said he’d take it on consignment. I was so nervous about money, that I told him I couldn’t wait for him to sell it. Guido offered me $4,300 for it. I took the money. We successfully closed on the house. Turned out that I didn’t need the money Unfortunately, Guido had sold the tii already. Off all the cars I’ve owned, this is the one at the top of the regrets that I sold it list. It’s been 45 years since I sold it for a house and wife I no longer have. What was I thinking?

    Like 1
  10. Super Glide

    Great car getting a caring new lease on life. I had a 1969 Opel Rallye Kadett 1.9 and a 97 BMW Z3 2.8. Both of those cars were just as fun as Big Block muscle cars, which I have owned.

    All vehicles are designed to answer a need and the issue is whether that is the need you have. With a BMW 2002 tii, the need is fun.

    Like 1
  11. Todd Fitch Staff

    Thanks everyone! I’ve never even driven this one, so definitely eager to do so. I piloted a friend’s ’74 2002 (non tii) back in the ’90s, a brilliant introduction to BMW that stuck in my memory. Reading the comments I will need to do some soul-searching before selling this one, but I think I’ll have too much into it NOT to sell. Time will tell!

    Like 1
  12. ken tilly UK

    Howard. I have had them all from the 1.6L, 2.0L to the 3.0L V6. and none of them ever got near to being as much fun as my BMW 2002. The only Capri that I think may have been the answer would be the Basil Green V8 Perana.

  13. bobhess bobhess Member

    Todd. This car is a vintage build so we have to keep all the basic steel body panels, but anywhere internal we can save weight we use aluminum. Hard to see but bolted to the driver’s footwell is a 1/4″ thick aluminum scatter shield and the upper part of the firewall is aluminum. Our primary race car is as much aluminum and fiberglass as metal. As for our completion date… it’s firmly implanted in jello.

    Like 1
  14. SHirley

    FUN PROJECT! I have a 2002 Touring that needs a rehab!

  15. Kevin Costello Member

    Tod: Depending on where you are, I have an odd assortment of parts left over from forty odd years of these cars. For instance, I have an OEM Radiator sourced from Germany. I need to root around in the attic to see what else… I know, I have a Blaupunkt Frankfurt thats in a somewhat disassembled state, but if nothing else the fascia is beautiful…

  16. Puhnto

    I think you’ll love it!
    I test drove a brand new orange 1973 Tii in Monterey, CA (in 1973). What a fun, exciting little car it was. The salesman had me do things I wouldn’t even do in my Mini Cooper, and it did them all, with flying colors. I’ve never test driven a car with a more enthused salesman who insisted you do crazy things with a car just because it would! (Just between you and me, I don’t think you’re going to want to sell it!)

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