1972 2002 tii: Bobby Rahal
1972 BMW 2002 tii #2761646
2.0-liter M10 four-cylinder, 130 hp/130 lb-ft
Bobby Rahal (since 2002)
Introduced to meet the stringent US emissions regulations taking effect for 1972, the fuel injected 2002 tii thrilled enthusiasts with the performance of its 130-hp engine. Zero to 60 fell from 11.3 seconds to 9.8, and top speed of increased from 106 mph to 118. The tii offered better handling, too, thanks to the 2002 TI’s boxed rear semi-trailing arms, larger front disc brakes larger brake booster, and wider 13-inch wheels with H-rated Michelin XAS tires, all for a very reasonable $4,000.
In the summer of 1972, Denison University sophomore Bobby Rahal bought a brand-new Inka orange 2002 tii. “It had room to carry all the stuff you’d take to school, like speakers, a turntable, clothes, you name it,” Rahal says. “And yet as practical as it was, it handled beautifully and was pretty quick for the day. I put 81,000 hard miles on that car and it never missed a beat.”
After graduating in 1976, Rahal sold the tii for a Lancia Beta. “Big mistake!” He tried to rectify that with a 1976 2002 Automatic—“Another mistake!” Finally, he traded the ’02 for a 1977 E21 320i, which he says was a much better car.
1977 also marked the beginning of Rahal’s professional racing career, which included a stint with BMW NA’s factory prototype program, an Indy 500 win in 1986, and three CART championships.
“After I retired from racing in 1998, I wanted a tii exactly like the one I had in college,” Rahal says. He enlisted Don Dethlefsen to find and restore one at The Werk Shop in Libertyville, Illinois.
A 1972 2002 tii, #2761646 was sold new in Riverside, California, and it remained with its original owner until his death in 2002. The Werk Shop went through it from stem to stern, repainting it in Inka orange and delivering it in 2003.
Despite a busy schedule running Rahal Letterman Lanigan racing in IndyCar and BMW Team RLL in IMSA, Rahal drives the tii regularly. “I get a lot of thumbs-up on the highway, and a lot of smiles,” he says. “I always told Don that I had the most expensive tii in history, but he did a fabulous job, and I’ve always been happy. The car is just as I remembered: taut, responsive engine, great handling, lots of room. It’s just a perfect car.”