BMW 2002 Tii Touring Review

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Hot Euros pt.2: We look at some of the finest drives ever to come out of Europe, including the BMW 2002 Tii Touring

 

BMW 2002 Tii Touring

According to legend, we really have the Americans to thank for the development of the 2002 BMW, one of the marque’s most iconic cars and one that’s seen a huge resurgence in popularity over the last decade.

The series started life as the 1600-2, an entry-level car based on the earlier ‘New Class’ platform. The inline four powerplant claimed a respectable enough 63kW when launched at the Geneva Show in 1966. Despite representing reasonable value for money in the States, it really didn’t cut the mustard in an era when pony cars were emerging from the doors of the US factories.

BMW-2002-front -side

Two senior BMW staff, Helmut Werner Bönsch and Alex von Falkenhausen are said to have independently fitted two-litre engines to their own 1600-2s. When they discovered the coincidence, they put in a joint submission to produce what was to become the 2002. On the other side of the Atlantic, US importer Max Hoffman was pushing for a higher performance car, playing nicely into the hands of the folk back at head office.

In the end there were four main variants of the 2002 engine: The single Solex carburetor standard, rated at 70kW; The twin-Solex Ti initially rated at 89kW (though they respond well to modification); The injected (by Kugelfischer) model rated at 88kW; And the Turbo, of which just over 1700 were made, rated at 119kW. Thanks to the change-over from gross to net horsepower standards over this period, there is some lasting confusion over the correct power figures.

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Transmissions options consisted of four or five-speed manuals, plus an auto. The five-speed doglegs could be had in three different ratio sets: road, rally and circuit.

Then there were the body styles: coupe, cabriolet and the rare Touring hatchback you see here. Initially this car had the Tii engine fitted, but that powerplant has been wrapped up and put aside and a hotted-up Ti engine fitted. Owner Clive Massel says he prefers the feel and sound of this engine, with its twin sidedraft Webers – it’s sharper with different cams and pistons.

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Why go to all this trouble? The original engine is priceless and Massel has a sentimental attachment to the Ti powerplant, having used one to win the 1988 South African Historic Production Touring Car Championship.

Though the inspiration for the bigger engines and performance of the 2002 series came from America, the cars struggled against the Porsches and Datsuns of the day. However it was much more successful in Europe, with a Ti winning the 1970 Nuburgring 24 Hours in the hands of a 19-year-old Hans Stuck, plus a host of local Euro events.

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"Historically the Tourings lagged in value," says Massel, "but of late, especially in the UK, they have skyrocketed.

"I’m the second owner of this car. I’ve taken out the Tii engine and wrapped it up and replaced it with the Ti version, which is noisier and makes the right sort of sounds, so it’s not strictly correct for the Touring.

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"It feels a very solid car on the road. You rarely get those cars to handle properly unless you have the limited slip diff. For me I felt comfortable in that car. I had the single biggest collection in South Africa, had every variant, so I know those cars reasonably well."

SPECIFICATIONS

BMW 2002 Tii

BODY Two-door hatchback
WEIGHT 1030kg
ENGINE 1991cc Inline OHC four
TRANSMISSION four or five-speed manual (auto optional)
SUSPENSION Independent Macpherson strut (f), Independent trailing arms (r)
BRAKES disc/drum f/r
POWER & TORQUE 88kW @ 5500rpm, 157Nm @ 3500rpm
PERFORMANCE 0-100km/h 10.3s

 

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See more of our Four Hot Euros feature:

- Part 1: 1971 Porsche 911T
- Part 3: Alfa Romeo Giulia Sprint GT
- Part 4: Ford Escort Lotus Mk1

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