Market Watch BMW 2002tii Coupé
Market Watch Diminutive, but definitive, BMW’s seminal 2002tii Coupé is an appealingly affordable classic.
Words: Guy Baker Photography: Various 2002tii Coupé
Few classic cars are more recognizable than BMW’s ground-breaking 2002, and the 1971-1975 2002 tii Coupé is the best of the breed. Simple to look after and great fun to drive, the rear-wheel drive tii offers greater reliability than a 2002 Turbo – and far better value. With good examples guaranteed to appreciate. The majority are left-hand drive, but with over 3600 right-hand drive examples also built buyers can choose a 2002 to suit their own personal tastes.
One of the best small sports saloons ever built, the 2002 model saved BMW from the very real prospect of being taken over by a rival manufacturer – like Mercedes-Benz. At the time BMW didn’t really have a big-selling mid-range model, only larger more expensive luxury cars plus the budget Isetta model. But with some extra investment BMW decided that the future lay in a more compact, two-door equivalent of their bigger saloons – offering improved handling and performance plus a sportier image. And so, the 2002 was born.
Early two-door models came with a four-cylinder 1.6-litre engine, but this was subsequently switched to a 2.0-litre unit – offered in both single and double-carburettor Ti versions. The fuel-injected 130hp Tii Coupé followed in 1971 and continued in production until 1975 – when it was replaced by the first (E21) BMW 3 Series. BMW also manufactured a much more expensive 170hp 2002 Turbo, but only 1672 of these were ever produced.
Compared to the standard 2002, the 130hp tii came with enhancements that’s included a beefed-up suspension set-up, bigger brakes, larger exhaust valves and the mechanical Kugelfischer fuel injection system. Available in both round rear light and later square rear light models, BMW also built a three-door Touring hatchback and a convertible version. The 1991cc Coupé engine produced 131lb ft at 4500rpm, reached 60mph in 8.2-seconds (which was quick for the time) and topped out at 120mph. By 1975 over 27,000 left-hand drive versions had been manufactured, as well as 3678right-hand drive cars.
Most Tii Coupés fall into one of two camps: either poorly maintained, rusty and in need of some serious TLC, or mint restorations meticulously maintained and packing a pristine history. We’d recommend you only consider the latter. These start at £20,000, rising to £35,000-plus for very good examples, while concours low-mileage cars can fetch over £40,000. Just make sure you get any potential purchase properly inspected by an expert – serious rust problems can sometimes be hidden. Quite a few are sold at auction, but it’s safest to buy from a specialist classic dealer.
If you have sufficient funds then a Coupé like the Fjord Blue 1975 tii Lux you see here would be ideal. Advertised for £49,995 by The Hairpin Company (thehairpincompany.co.uk) in Wiltshire, it’s one of the last cars produced and has had just three owners – the first in Italy had the car until 2018. With 94,000km on the clock it’s original in all respects, with factory paint on both roof and bonnet.
The rest of the car was repainted to a very high standard 10-years ago, whilst the engine was overhauled at 81,000km and the car has been maintained regardless of cost. Boasting a matching dark blue interior this tii comeswith the original books and tools, original black Milan number plates, all original Italian registration documentation and a full service history with invoices and correspondence.
But you will find other restored examples advertised for quite a bit less, like the Chamonix White 1994 Belgian car for sale at House of Cars Belgium (houseofcars.be). Fully restored (pictures and invoices available) and in mint condition it has covered 68,350 kilometers and is up for £33,500.
It also comes with a full 177-page history file from 1998 onwards and was imported from Portugal by the latest owner to Belgium in 2015. With a black leather interior, this car’slast Belgian MoT was in November 2020 and the dealer can help with importation to the UK.
And some have very low mileages, like the Yellow 1975 tii we spotted at DK Classic Cars in Denmark (dkclassiccars.dk). With a black and grey interior and just 12,589 kilometres, this Danish car’s restoration was completed in August 2020. And the asking price is £26,000.
But wherever you source your 2002 tii Coupé, the better the car you buy, the less you’re likely to need to spend on it in the future. Restoration and repair costs can easily mount up, with rust being the biggest 2002 killer. An expert inspection is essential in our view, paying particular attention to innewheelarchhousings, outer arches, rear, inner and outer sills, jacking points, front inner wings, the inner front wing box sections and the boot floor. New panels however are readily available, but if the basic shell is rusty then we'd advise you to walk away. And as values were much lower in the 1990s keep in mind that some cars weren’t maintained properly during that period – with non-original parts and patched-up repairs so be wary in that regard with any potential purchase