Curbside Classic: 1973 BMW 2002tii – In Need Of Rescue

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This BMW 2002, which sits across the street from the Porsche I wrote about two weeks ago, needs no introduction as it’s possibly the company’s most famous model.  It’s been a few months since one has been featured on CC, though, and this example is in particularly sorry shape.  Lest you think its owners, who run the appliance repair shop where it’s parked, have only recently begun working on it, it’s been in this state since I first saw it twenty-two months ago.

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And as this license plate shows, it’s actually quite likely this car hasn’t been regularly driven for the past twenty-two years. Although the owners were clearly concerned enough to bend the plate down, it wouldn’t have taken much more effort to simply remove the plate–or at least, not in 1991 when the screws weren’t so rusty–so I’m not hopeful that they are motivated enough to sell, let alone restore, this unfortunate car.  But for any of our readers in the Bloomington, IN area with potential interest, it’s located almost directly southwest of Bryan Park.

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The legendary “bathtub” styling is fully apparent with the bumpers removed.  On display in this corner is an abandoned attempt to patch up a ding on the hood, now certainly not worth following through with, as rust is forming from the inside-out across its entire leading edge.  As this is a tii model with all the glass intact, it’s worth saving, but it will likely require a lot of work.

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That would include some meticulous and thorough welding.  If you enlarge the picture above, you’ll see holes beginning to appear in the frame rail.  Not good, and likely to spread.  A very well-judged, painstaking intervention is required.  As to how one would treat the inside of the boxed-section to prevent its further spread, I am unsure, but it might be a fun project to tackle (I always enjoy doing bodywork).

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For those who are unfamiliar, round taillights mark a pre ’74 model, but without bumpers, it’s hard to narrow down  the exact model year, making this either a ’72 (the tii’s first year in the US) or ’73.  Since this particular car has a plastic grille, I’m going to make a guess and say that it’s a late production 1973, but that may also be an indication of a prior repair.


Buyers guides indicate that halfway through 1972, aluminum intake runners replaced plastic ones and that the cylinder head was revised, slightly improving performance.  Incidentally, enthusiast forums report that the notoriously fragile Kugelfischer injection pump is actually quite stout and that issues with poor running often can be resolved by replacing the distributor or injectors themselves.

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Note the subtle ribbing at the top of the very solid door pull; it’d be nice to see such expensive touches today.  If anyone drove this car regularly, such a detail would give them a sense of reward before they even sat down.  This door appears to be fully latched, but the way it doesn’t quite sit flush with the body indicates a degree of stress put upon the structure, possibly from sitting up on only two jack stands–well inboard of the missing front suspension–for so long.

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With a decal like this, you can’t say that the last driver of this car didn’t have some intention of making it a more serious machine and the minilite wheels fitted to the rear also suggest SCCA racing ambitions, as does the deletion of its bumpers.  There’s nothing terribly complex about these light and simple machines, which were made to be flung through corners, so leaving it to sit like this is particularly tragic as it transforms a simple, rational machine into a basket case.  If it’s really been sitting for over twenty years, any restorer will have his or her hands full with frozen brake calipers, decaying rubber gaskets and hoses and a variety of other headaches.

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On the other hand, it’s nice to see that the interior is complete and, aside from some cracks on the dash, mostly intact.  Imagine yourself sitting in this airy space, driving down your favorite road and you might have an easier time understanding why the car’s current owners haven’t sold it or given it away.  Like that slim pair of pants you don’t want to throw out, a car like this is something that’s hard give up on.  I’m sure its owner promises himself that one day, he’ll be ready to take care of it again.  In the meantime, I hope it doesn’t sit around and rot for too much longer.

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Related Reading: 1964 BMW 1800 and 1976 BMW 2002