Spotter's Guide

Table of Contents

How to Identify a tii

The 2002tii is considered by many to be the most desirable '02 produced by BMW and imported to the United States. Compared to a standard 2002, a tii offers greater performance and overall value. Thus, a 2002tii is usually worth more, and therefore, more highly touted. Since the last U.S. tii's were made in 1974, finding one in good shape, without owner modifications has grown increasingly difficult. This is especially true considering the tii's mechanical uniqueness and cost of some of those unique parts. Furthermore, since the 2002 is a "tinkerer's car", many owners have upgraded their regular 2002's with tii hardware, to increase their performance. Likewise, tii owners sometimes strip their cars of original tii items such as the Kugelfischer mechanical fuel injection system, in favor of cheaper (but not necessarily better!) carburetors. These two factors can cause some confusion for a prospective tii buyer.

When shopping for a 2002, the question often arises as to how to identify a tii. This brief guide was written to highlight some of the differences between stock 2002's and stock 2002tii's. The term "stock" simply means original condition, or "as equipped" from the BMW factory back in the 1970's. When shopping for a tii, there are several "quick checks" which can be performed relatively easily, for simple verification. The following list details specific differences between a 2002tii and a regular 2002.

1. Check the chassis or VIN (Vehicle Identification Number)

This is found on the metal plate under the hood, on top of the inner fender, behind the upper shock mount on the right side. It is in plain view, and should be easy to spot. On this plate, it will identify the car as a 2002 TII for 1972-73 cars. 1974 cars share the same identification plate as the standard 2002, so the plate will read 2002/2002tii USA. The VIN number is the long number which is stamped into that plate. For 1972-1973 U.S. tii's, the VIN number will begin with 276, running from 2760001 (the first '72) to 2764522 (the last '73). 1974 tii's begin with 278, running from 2780001 to 2782929. This number should match the number stamped into the flange on the right front wheel housing itself, next to the fender, behind the hood lock bar, as well as the number stamped into the metal plate on top of the steering column. If the car still has its original engine block, the engine number on the block, above the starter mounting flange, will match the VIN.

2. Check in the engine compartment for the presence of the mechanical fuel injection system.

If you're specifically looking for a tii model, and prefer one in original condition, it behooves you to try and purchase a car with this system intact and functioning. The Kugelfischer injection system is what makes the tii special and gives it it's combination of midrange torque and top end power (of course, the higher compression helps here too). The lower front aluminum engine timing cover and alternator mounting location are different from a normal 2002, as well. tii's also have an extra fitting on the intake side of the engine block for an injection pump oil return line as well as an extra fitting on the oil filter head for the injection pump oil feed line. Finally, an original E12 2002tii cylinder head(late '72-'74 cars) will have no fuel pump mounting holes on it for a standard 2002 mechanical fuel pump. 121/121TI head equipped '72 tii's will have the mounting holes, but with the center pushrod hole plugged. The fuel pump mounting holes are used to mount the intake plenum on '72 cars.

This photo shows a disassembled intake manifold plenum, and runners. The actual throttle body bolts to that center hole. Also visible in this photo are fuel lines, and fuel injector nozzles. The inlet runners here are the later, more common cast aluminum variety.

Two comments from Ben Thongsai on tii's:

"The fabled, supposedly most desirable of all US tii's are the 121/121TI head equipped 1972 tii's. If you're looking for originality, these cars should still have the plastic intake pipes. Often times, these pipes will crack and leak, leading owners to replace the entire intake manifold with one off of a later E12 head equipped car, which has aluminum intake pipes. The aluminum pipes are actually better in terms of both reliability and performance, but keep in mind that they're not original on all but a handful of '72 tii's."
"Does the '72 tii deserve it's fabled status? Typically, not really. I don't think the average 1972 is any faster than the average 1973. However, the '72 we have is noticeably quicker than the '73's we have, sooo.... However, this may be a function of lower mileage on the '72 (only 70K or so) and lighter weight. Nevertheless, the '72 tii is the one that gets '02 buffs "ooohing and ahhing", and it took me forever to find the right '72, whereas the '73s and '74s seem to just come to us...

3. tii's received an upgraded braking system.

The first clue to this may also be found in the engine compartment. Under the hood, the tii has a larger diameter (23mm vs. 20mm) master cylinder, and a larger (actually longer) brake booster. The dimensions of this larger booster are: 6 inches length and 7 inches diameter.

Under the car, the tii has larger front brake discs, which measure 10.08 inches in diameter vs. 9.45 for the standard 2002. These are accompanied by larger calipers and pads, as well as larger hubs and spindles. The rear drums are the same size as a normal '02, but the wheel cylinders are larger (17mm vs. 15mm). In the rear, the trailing arms of tii are boxed, for increased stiffness (instead of the standard C-section).

4. Inside the car, a clock should be present.

It is located on the left most end of the parcel tray.

5. Outside the car, the only obvious clue is the 2002tii emblem on the rear trunk.

See the photo below. The red car is a tii, which can be seen by the identifying rear badge. For those that are really sharp, and this only works on original '72-'73 tii's, the wheels are 1/2in wider, and all of this width is added onto the outside of the wheel, resulting in wheel covers that appear to be set in further.

Summary of major 2002tii differences:

Hopefully, with this guide, and enough perseverance, you can go out and find that "perfect" tii that you've always wanted to own. There are still deals to be found. The grandmother who's garaged the car every day, the owner whose stored it for 10 years, or the fellow BMW enthusiast who wants to move up to a larger car. The list of possibilities for that "rare find" are endless. I could kick myself because two years ago, I passed on a deal to purchase a 1972 tii in original condition for less than $1000. It was rust free, and ran. All it needed was some paint and some TLC. Due to space limitations, I had to pass. Upon return several months later, the car was sold. The cars are still out there, but they are getting tougher to find. Happy hunting!

Ben Thongsai

Last updated 01/05/97 © Copyright 1997., Inc.