July 2012

By Per Schroeder

Reassembling Our BMW Beauty


This project is finally in the homestretch Our BMW 2002tii is starting to look like a car again, as it now has, suspension and chrome. The Rota RB wheels and Vredestein rubber create the proper rally look, too.

An extensive restoration project follows a fairly predictable path. It starts with the euphoric phase-also known as the purchasing process.

Unfortunately, phase two quickly follows: a sinking Realization that you bit off more than you can chew. This feeling is exacerbated by the dreaded point of no return, when you’re forced to accept that you can’t just do a quickie respray and be done with the project if you want to restore the car properly, you’ve got a lot of work ahead of you.

In the previous installment of our BMW 2002tii project, we covered our car’s sentence in paint jail. That’s the seemingly endless stage where work can’t progress until you write a big check and bail out your car after its incarceration at the body shop.

Now we’re entering one of our favorite phases of any restoration, we call it rounding the Horn. It has nothing to do with installing a new car horn. It means we’ve reached the point where our project has figuratively sailed around the Horn of Africa and started the journey home. Instead of taking parts off our project, we’re now starting the long reassembly process-and that is a momentous occasion.


Charting Our Course

We began this leg of the project by deciding the order in which we’d complete our remaining tasks. First, we’d reinstall the interior and trimwork; then, we’d rebuild the engine and running gear. Since the trim pieces and glass windows are fragile, getting them back on the car would reduce our chances of breaking them and give us a much-needed morale boost at this daunting phase of the car’s restoration. Installing the bumpers would also give our fresh paint some measure of protection as we rolled the car around our shop.

Before we got started with the trim, we further hoisted our spirits by adding a fresh set of wheels and tires. When we purchased this BMW, it came with a set of pretty nice 15×6-inch Panasport alloy wheels. We decided that the larger-diameter wheels weren’t really in the classic spirit of this project, so we sold them off to fund the early portions of the work. We borrowed a crusty set of 13-inch wheels from a buddy to get the car through the bodywork phase, and we were now ready to put a proper set of wheels on our baby.

We chose a meary combination of 13×8-inch Rota RB wheels with 205/60RI3 Vredestrein Sprint Classic tires. The package has a great vintage rally- inspired look, and we’ve had great experiences with Vredestein’s rubber-it looks period-correct yet offers modern traction and performance. Rotas are quite inexpensive at just over $500 for the set of four, while the Vredesteins set us back $187 apiece.


Bow and Stern

BMW 2002s came with several different style of bumpers through the years. The really early cars wore thin chrome affairs with short, rounded corners and simple bent-steel brackets.

Our midyear car also has thin chrome bumpers. bur they’re supplemented with longer corner pieces and rubber impact strips. Lacer cars received much larger 5 mph bumpers with completely different mounting points.

Unfortunately, the long, thin bumpers on our car would not work with the period-correct Ireland Engineering fender flares we installed during the bodywork phase. The bumper’s longer corner pieces interfered with the curvature of the flare and needed to be trimmed back. We could have installed the earlier, shorter end pieces but we decided on a custom solution. We trimmed our corner pieces back a few inches and boxed them in using our Eastwood MIG welder. We also completely removed the rubber trim strips to save a little weight and clean up the lines of the bumpers. Our trusty MIG filled in the resulting holes.

Next, we sent the bumpers to Rod Graves at Graves Plating for a show-quality, chrome plated finish. They required some straightening and filling with solder before they were polished and placed, but the completed bumpers looked absolutely stunning-the finish was better than new.

We also had Rod take care of the taillight bezels and door handles. Chrome plating is a labor-intensive process, and there aren’t many shops that do it anymore. As a result, it’s not cheap: We spent around $1200 for the brightwork.


We had to reinstall our original wiring harness since replacements aren’t available. We cleaned the harness and rewrapped portions with high-quality 3M electrical tape.

ABOVE: Tracing out the wiring on a car is never easy but some new technology helped. A PDF file Viewed on an Apple iPad made the work a little easier.

ABOVE: We spent some serious coin-$1400-on a new dashpad from BMW on the inexpensive end of things, we paid just $40 for the Nardi steering wheel at the Carlisle Import & Kit Nationals.


The Rigging

When the BMW was originally built, the wiring harness was one of the first components the factory installed in the painted shell. We decided to follow suit. Since there are no new wiring harnesses available for the 2002, we cleaned up our intact, original wiring and laid it out on our driveway to gain our bearings.

First, we determined the front-to-back and side-to-side orientations. Next, we started the installation by moving the harness into the driver-side interior, then feeding the engine and other forward wires through the holes in the firewall. To seal out fumes and moisture, we added new rubber grommets. The remaining wires were routed back through the trunk area to take care of the fuel pump, fuel level sender and taillights.

Once the wiring was in place, we could reinstall the dashboard. Our car came with a pretty beat-up dashpad that was hidden by a plastic dash cap. That wouldn’t do for our desired level of restoration, so we hunted down a new, original pad from BMW. At $1400, this was the single most expensive part of the restoration. We would be staring at it a great deal while behind the wheel, so we figured it was worth eliminating flaws and imperfection that could spoil the driving experience.

ABOVE: Using a cut-and-sewn carpet kit from Bavarian autosport was a quick and simple way to rejuvenate the interior. We chose a charcoal color that contrasts well with the metallic green paint.

ABOVE: We placed some Design Engineering BoomMat beneath that carpet to replace the factory sound-deadening sheets BoomMat also features a layer of aluminum to reflect heat away from the interior.

ABOVE: Our original blue seats clashed with the green paint, so we replaced them with some black seats found in a parts car.

Deck, Deckhead and Cabin

Speaking of a spoiled driving experience, we needed a solution for keeping our ride quiet. During the rust repair process, we scraped and chiseled the original tar mats off the floorboards. Tar sheets do a great job of deadening noise from the drivetrain and the road, but they can also trap moisture that can quickly lead to rust.

We replaced the original tar board with a modern alternative: DEI’S BoomMat sheets. How do these materials differ? The DEI’s product has a higher rubber content as well as a heat-reflective backing to keep exhaust and engine heat from soaking through the floorboards. BoomMat kits containing 10 of the 12×23-inch sheets we used cost about $105.

To cover these sheets, we installed a charcoal-hued, cut- and-sewn carpet from Bavarian Autosport that contrasted well with our newly green sheet metal. The carpet fit nicely, although we had to make a few extra cuts in the firewall section to get it to lie flat. These slices are hidden under the dashboard, and they aren’t visible unless you seek them out.

As nice as the new carpet was, we didn’t want our car’s occupants to have to sit on it. We needed to replace the nasty, original blue seats with something a bit nicer. As luck would have it, a good friend of ours, Al Taylor, had a complete 2002tii parts car on his property in North Carolina. That Riviera Blue example had a nicely restored black interior that would look great in our green car. Al cut us a good deal: $400 for the front and rear seats, the rear inner quarter panels, and a few other trim bits that would help us complete our blue-co-black interior conversion.

Next, it was time to look up. The original headliner was torn and stained, and it really didn’t take well to being removed for the painting process. Our only solution was to order a new BMW Classic Parts headliner from Bavarian Autosport.

We started off the installation by stringing up the headliner by its steel bows and stretching it into shape, working on the rearmost portions first, we used medium- sized binder clips from Office Depot to keep the fabric in place as we wrangled it back and forth.

Once we were satisfied with its positioning, we trimmed the excess material and started the gluing process. We used 3M’s Super77 adhesive to attach the headliner to the edges of the roof, and kept the binder clips on while the glue dried.

The front and rear glass was reinstalled by Lee & Cates Glass here in Daytona beach, Florida. We sourced most of the window seals and necessary trim pieces from BMW Classic Parts through Bavarian Autosport. Our 2002tii came to us with a reproduction from windshield seal from URO. While it didn’t quite fit as well as the OEM rear seal, it only took a few extra minutes for the glass technician to install.

Turning Into the Wind

While we kept most of the car’s suspension installed while performing the bodywork, but we removed the brake system so we could properly paint the engine bay. You simply can’t paint a car when all of the original steel lines are still running throughout the chassis.

Instead of reusing the steel lines, we chose to replace them with Classic Tube’s stainless hard line kit. The nine-piece kit is very reasonably priced at $S98 and is a simple way to run new lines. It comes pre-bent, crimped and flared, with stainless steel fittings that will most likely outlast the rest of the car. We also replaced the Factory rubber brake lines with Classic Tube’s Stopflex braided stainless lines.

Forging Ahead

We’re at the point where we essentially have a restored car that’s missing the engine and transmission. Our next installment will follow the process of rebuilding our BMW’s four-cylinder engine-including some work on the mechanical fuel-injection system. Check out our latest project car updates on this and other cars at classicmotorsports.net.

ABOVE: Our original head-liner wasn’t a keeper, so we replaced it with new material. We used binder clips to keep it properly stretched while the glue dried.

ABOVE: We replaced all of the hard brake lines with a new complete kit from Classic Tube. All the fittings and flares are manufactured from stainless steel-even the threads look beautiful.