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by Jay Traugott
The origins of the beloved 3 Series starts here.
There are few automakers today who can claim they've done so many things so well that it's hard to imagine a world without them in it. One of those companies is BMW and whether you're a fan or not, it's impossible to deny their massive influence on the industry as a whole. Originally an aircraft engine builder, they became involved in motorcycle production as a consequence of Germany's defeat in WWI. During WWII, they resumed aircraft engine production for the Luftwaffe. However, their Munich factory was destroyed by the end of the war.
As such, they struggled for much of the 1950s to properly rebuild. It wasn't until 1962 with the launch of the 1500 sedan did their fortunes begun to change. The 1500 eventually evolved into the 2002 coupe, which was launched in 1968. For those who don't know their BMW history, the 2002 is considered the direct ancestor to today's enormously successful 3 Series. It was an immediate hit and remains a classic to this day. So what exactly was the secret to its success? Basically, BMW found the ideal combination of power, driving characteristics and everyday usability in a single package.
Power came from a 2.0-liter 108-horsepower inline-four and had a respectable top speed of 115 mph. It was fun to drive and was simply different than what many American automakers were offering at the time, which were mostly large sedans and "personal luxury coupes." This was also the time in which BMW began an ambitious foray into motorsport. The basic story is that they wanted to surpass Daimler-Benz as the premiere German automaker, but their execs were smart enough to realize that their competitor was years ahead of them in terms of luxury and other areas of refinement.
Instead, BMW opted to put their engineering focus on the track and that expertise would soon trickle down into their road cars such as the 2002. It was so successful that it literally saved the company from bankruptcy as it continued to gain popularity in both Europe and the United States. So it made all the more sense for BMW to want to shake things up a bit by increasing the 2002's power. In 1972 they launched the 2002tii, a high-performance version which quickly became a fan favorite. Compared to the base 2002, the 2002tii had better performance thanks to a more powerful naturally aspirated 2.0-liter inline-four with 130hp and 130lb-ft of torque.
It could go from 0 to 60 mph in 9.8 seconds (remember, this was 1972) and had a top speed of 118 mph. Perhaps the 2002tii's most unique feature was its Kugelfischer fuel injection system that gave it a higher compression ratio along with improved midrange torque and top end power. It also had larger brakes and unique steel wheels. Production ended in 1974 when it was replaced by the 320i, the first in the long line of today's 3 Series. This 1973 2002tii, currently up for sale on eBay, is truly a piece of BMW history as well as something considered to be the original high-performance small two-door sports sedan.
According to the seller, the car is in overall very good condition, although there are a few minor paint chips and dents throughout the body. Besides from those, the body and paint are in solid shape and mechanically speaking everything is sound. It drives wonderfully and there haven't been any electrical issues or any other significant problems. The blue interior and leather seats also look good throughout and there aren't any dash cracks or gauge issues. The car has been well maintained throughout its life and the seller also has records going back over 12 years. A previous owner had the car restored and it's hardly been driven since.
With 73,963 miles on the odometer, the current bid as of this writing is $7,000 but this will more than likely go up. There's no reserve on it so this could be an excellent opportunity for a BMW collector or fan to get their hands on something special.