Photography by: @2015 Toni Avery
Going into this, I was under the assumption that the owner of this 1973 2002tii wanted to meet me and let me look at his car before making a date for a short drive and photo shoot. That assumption was off by about two and a half hours. After just a short time of meeting and sharing car stories Mr. Jensen declared we were going on a drive out to Ojai, a small town outside of Ventura, CA.
Starting the car isn’t too far removed from other classics of its time. Placing it into second, then first gear helps ease driving from idle. The gearbox on this 2002 has been upgraded with a five-speed, which helps the car rev 500 RPMs lower in 5th gear. I found the gearing to be extremely notchy and a bit difficult to find the next highest or lowest gear. I’m sure with more than a few hours I could have mastered the gearbox but it’s extremely short handle also caused for a bit of difficulty with each and every shift. For the multiple series of perfect shifts I had, it produced a great sound.
The motor, also being completely original was fairly peppy thanks to all 135 horses. During some of the more twisty portions of the drive, the 2002 didn’t seem to have too much trouble getting up and going.
1973 2002tii specs:
Engine displacement – 1990cc
Horsepower – 135 BHP (SAE) 5800 RPM
Torque – 125 lb-ft (17 mkp) 3600 RPM
Transmission – upgraded Getrag 245/4 overdrive five-speed
The suspension has also been upgraded with a stiffer setup and Bilstein shocks all around. I was really impressed with its noticeable lack of body lean. If I had really driven the car hard I might have noticed a bit, but for my 50 MPH and under drive, I was impressed with the ride quality and handling. Every time I pointed the wheel in any direction the car responded by going there. And while the car isn’t a heavyweight (around 2400 lb.), it was obvious at lower speeds that it lacked power steering, as was standard for 2002s.
For some time, the BMW 2002tii has been a classic that I’ve had my eye on and have been dying to get behind the wheel of. It was a thrill to get that opportunity not just for a few miles, for two hours.
As with any classic, there are a few things that might need improving or a few upgrades that will enhance driving dynamics or the look of the car. In the case of this 2002tii, if it were my car, this would be my hit list:
- Install a longer shifter
- Upgrade to 320i Recaro seats from the same era
- Upgrade wheels to period correct BBS
- Down the road…upgrade to a more powerful later series BMW motor
After much anticipation, the BMW 2002tii isn’t exactly what I expected but I truly enjoyed experiencing this vintage gem. As comes with older technology it’s always refreshing to drive something unassisted, the opposite of today’s electronic everything.