Last week I announced, with a great deal of pride, that the BMW CCA Foundation had accepted Louie, my survivor ’72 2002tii and the subject of my book Ran When Parked, into their exhibit for “The Icon: 50 Years Of The 2002.” The catch was that I had to get the car down to the Foundation in Greer, South Carolina, during the winter—and soon, like between February 19 and March 2.
And on my own nickel.
After the novelty of the honor wore off, I remembered a credit card-ad from the 1980s. It showed a Type A salesman picking up the phone and saying, confidently, “Yeah, New York Monday, I can do that… London on Tuesday, I can do that… Hong Kong on Wednesday, I can do that.”
Then he hangs up the phone, pauses, looks at the camera, and says, “How am I going to do that?!”
That’s how I feel—but actually, it’s not that bad. Of course, the weather needs to cooperate, and if it doesn’t, I do have a problem large enough that I need to have a back-up plan (read: shipping). But assuming that there are a few days of rain to wash away the massive quantities of salt that’s been spread from Pensacola to Portland, Maine, and a few days where the temperature doesn’t turn the rain into black ice, I should be good.
Louie actually needs very little. I did a major sort-out to get him down to the Vintage and back last spring, including repairing the heat, sealing the windshield, and dozens of small things. Plus, just before Thanksgiving, when I gave a talk at the Coastal Virginia Auto Show, I planned to drive my 3.0CSi down (and did), but because of concerns about the weather, I prepped Louie as a backup, which consisted mainly of squelching a tiny coolant leak, replacing the tie rods and the center track rod, swapping the driveshaft, and installing a new center support bearing.
Of course, before Thanksgiving, “concerns about the weather” meant rain, not snow and ice.
The punch list for Louie is pretty short:
- Fix, or bypass, the cold-start mechanism. Tii’s have a cold-start injector connected to a temperature sensor and a timer/relay box. Together, the components conspire to squirt fuel into the throttle body for a specified amount of time to aid in cold starting. The timer/relay boxes typically fail, and mine’s no exception. They often fail open and never squirt fuel; this one appears to have failed closed, and never shuts the fuel off. I start the car by connecting the electrical plug to the cold-start injector, crank it, let it fire up, then disconnect the connector. On nearly every other tii I’ve owned, I’ve bypassed the box by installing a push-button switch mounted under the steering column, and simply cut off the connector to the cold-start valve and spliced new wires into it from the switch—but Louie is a survivor car, and I would like to treat the cold-start system with a bit more respect.
- The car has 20W50 oil in it. It needs something lighter for a winter drive.
- I’d like to give it a good through undercoating with some penetrating oil I bought from Kano Labs (the folks who make Silikroil and Kroil, The Oil That Creeps).
- I’d installed one of the Konig seats from my other tii into Louie for the trip home from Louisville last year, and for the run down to the Vintage and back. It’s very supportive and comfortable, but if the car is going to sit on display, I’d like it to have matching original seats in it.
- For the trip up from Louisville, I lived with the original radiator, which did funny things, temperature-wise. For the trip down to the Vintage and back, I threw in a $100 Spectra 320i radiator. It cooled just fine—but, like the cold-start issue, if the car is going to be sitting on display, the 320i radiator bothers me. I need to decide if it bothers me enough to find an original (or at least original-looking) radiator.
As you can see, this is a pretty short list. Really, for now, the thing to do is knock through the list and wait for the weather window. As tom Waits said, “There’s fifteen feet of snow in the East, and it’s colder than a well-digger’s ass.” Plus, after I deliver the car, I need to get back home, so unless I find something cool to buy when I’m down there to drive back home (and lord knows I’m trying!), it means flying.
The absolute bottom-dollar price flying one-way from Boston to Greenville-Spartanburg with a two-week advance purchase seems to be $116. The short-time-frame purchase (e.g., wait for the weather window for the drive, go, then purchase the round-trip ticket) is maybe twice that, about $244. So, surprisingly, there’s not that much incentive in buying the ticket in advance, particularly since it may mean eating the ticket if it’s snowing.
So I know “how I’m going to do that.” Maybe I should give lessons to stressed-out Type A salesmen. Or start hawking Hack Mechanic-brand credit cards.
Rob’s new book, Ran When Parked: How I Resurrected a Decade-Dead 1972 BMW 2002tii and Road-Tripped it a Thousand Miles Back Home, and How You Can, Too, is now available on Amazon. Or you can order personally inscribed copies through Rob’s website: www.robsiegel.com.