John Pham’s 1973 BMW 2002Tii

Introducing one of the cleanest and properly restored BMW 2002 Tii you may ever see.  Usually we write and go on about a car, but this time the owner wrote a good breakdown and background on how this turned into what you see here.  

PHOTOS BY: David New 

I first heard about this BMW when I received a text from my close friend saying that his uncle, an avid BMW collector, was selling his 1973 BMW 2002tii.  At this time, a bucket list item of mine was to own a unique classic sports car, something like a BMW 2002 or a Datsun 510.  I asked to see the car the very next day being that it was a “Roundie”, the iconic Inka orange color, a “Tii” mechanically fuel injected model, and with a drop-dead gorgeous wide-body and SSR wheels.  

We found the 2002tii had been stored in a trailer for several years.  The widebody was beautiful, however the engine had trouble starting and ran weak, gearbox was grinding, shifter had 6 inches of play in each direction, hand-brake was floppy and did not stop the car, and the engine bay and interior had seen much better days.

  The dashboard was a chopped-up dash from an e30.  There was no carpet and no headliner.  The turn signal stalk and lights as well as horn system were missing.  On the bright side, I had learned that the previous owner’s brother owned a body-shop. He and his brother had spent dozens of hours working on the wide-body and any rust repair metal work to bring it all together into what it looks like today.

I had acquired the car hoping to drive it as is and slowly make improvements throughout the years.  I soon found that the motor and gearbox needed a full overhaul.  At this point, I decided to paint the engine bay while the motor was out.  A fully-rebuilt head was installed along with JE forged pistons.  All plastic lines and rubber hoses were replaced along with a new Tii distributor and other wear parts that may have endured decades of use. Once the engine bay was reassembled and shiny, the rest of the interior looked shabby in comparison.  At this point, I decided to revamp the entire interior.  The headliner was replaced with original BMW white vinyl, a nice vinyl dash from a donor 2002, Recaro seats from a Nissan Z31 Shiro, grey carpet set from Only02, Nardi 380mm mahogany steering wheel, hand-made 2002 shift knob from Australia, new door seals, new windshield and lock-strips, new door brakes, refurbished door cards, rebuilt heater box, and a new horn system.

Regarding the drivetrain, three 4-speed gearboxes were installed before finding one which shifted smooth enough and worthy of this classic.  The guibo and leaky clutch slave cylinder were replaced and the gearbox seals refreshed.

The end goal of this beauty was to keep the clean wide-body work while restoring the original engine block, gearbox, and interior to a mostly stock but clean look throughout. Modifications such as the rear roll cage, center console delete, and rear seat deletes were thought to be tasteful modifications while keeping the original and simple 2002 feel that many of us are accustomed to.

The center grille was sent out for refurbishing via 2002AD.  New BMW grille slats were installed.  The dim halogen rear tail lights were upgraded by Mo Brighta for increased visibility.  New tail light lenses were installed. Both front and rear BMW roundel emblems were replaced with new.

The trunk interior was also completely gone over with a respray, powder coated spare wheel and new tire, as well as new trunk boards.  Both door locks and ignition were replaced and painstakingly rekeyed for a matching key.

The exhaust also required completely replacement shortly after finding a major crack in the exhaust manifold.  The catalytic converter was then removed and all piping and hangers replaced.  

The handling and steering response feel tight and spritely after the refreshed bushings, some polyurethane, upgraded Bilstein sport dampers, H&R lowering springs, and ST Suspensions front sway bar.

On race scales, this 2002tii weighs just over 2000 pounds without driver.  The same as my then 2006 Lotus Exige.

Of the dozens of sports cars I have owned and driven, this car grabs the most attention and so far has been nothing but smiles, thumbs ups, and dropped jaws.  As a car guy, I can die a happy man having owned this car.  This was one major item scratched off my bucket list.

Engine: 320i radiator, K&N intake cone filter, Crane Cams electronic ignition, relocated battery to trunk, forged JE pistons, decat

Suspension: Polyurethane bushings, Bilstein Sport dampers, H&R lowering springs, roll cage, 6-pt roll cage, ST Suspensions front sway-bar

Brakes: 320i front brake calipers, Stainless braided brake lines

Body: Molded Zender fiberglass widebody kit, Zender rear spoiler

Wheels: SSR Formula Mesh

Interior: Rear seat delete, Shiro Recaro seats, center console delete, vinyl sunroof

Audio: Kenwood 6.5” speakers, Pioneer MP3 head-unit




Joseph Dale

Joseph Dale SF Owner/Editor Born in Houston, Texas Lives in Atlanta, GA Mazda Lover