TUNE YOU MY CHINA
In April 2002, Nick Coetzee stumbled across a classified advert in Car magazine. The very last item listed read: ‘1974 BMW 2002tii’, and although it didn’t say much else other than ‘one-owner car in need of some work’, it piqued the Port Elizabeth-based BMW fan’s interest. With the car in Johannesburg, Coetzee sent a relative’s mechanic to view it and was told, “If you don’t buy it, I will.” The princely sum of R10 000 crossed hands and the tii headed to the Eastern Cape a week later aboard a truck. Coetzee picked it up in Uitenhage and drove it home. While looking through the paperwork, he found the original purchase invoice from BMW Concessionaires in the UK – it cost £2 740 and there was an extra 10 pounds added for the km/h speedo.
The car wasn’t in bad shape, and best of all, was 100% original and untouched. Sure, the body showed a bit of age with a few nicks and scratches, but nothing major. Coetzee cruised in the 2002 for a few months and entered it in a track session at Aldo Scribante. It puffed a bit of smoke on overrun and the right rear re-tread gave up the ghost. It was then that the decision to completely strip and rebuild the car was made. In true enthusiast style he undertook the task with the ‘I mean how difficult could it be?’ attitude. And true to form, the stripping further emphasized the point that a rebuild is a walk in the park. But then work, moving houses and life slowed the progress. He never gave in though, slowly adding new bits and pieces to his collection and doing countless hours of research, fettling and pottering. To make moving to his third property a little easier, he sent the bare shell into the body shop.
Initially the plan was to race the car, so naturally it couldn’t be standard. Rather than hotrod the car, he liked the idea of doing an Alpina A4 tribute. This covered all the go-faster bits he wanted while keeping the car pure. Apart from all of the new parts sourced from the UK, Germany and the USA, he scoured the Internet looking for the hard-to-find Alpina bits. And bought a second 2002 that came with the original 235/5 Getrag close-ratio dog-leg box and limited-slip diff. He put his old parts into this second vehicle and sold it on. Still on the hunt for good bits he bought 2002 number three, a Gauteng-based Colorado Orange 2002ti, and took the original interior out of the car. This was a special cockpit with original Recaro bucket seats, which came out as options in BMW and Porsches of the era. In pristine condition, there was not even the need for an upholstery session.
All in all, the build took about eight years, eventually finished for the George Car Show in 2012. It was well worth it, with the only item still on the shopping list being a set of Alpina Throttle bodies, to complete the transition. As it stands, she is no different from an original – apart from the fact that Coetzee built the machine and Alpina didn’t. Every part on the car is either new or completely refurbished.