This title sounds like I am getting ready to describe an old locomotive, but I am going to relate the history and sale of the first Tii certified by the EPA for sale in the U.S, “Ol’ 177.”
BMW began building the 02 version of the Tii in April 1971 and promptly made efforts to produce a U.S. certified version. In order to obtain U.S. EPA approval, some fairly minimal testing and changes were necessary, but a test vehicle had to be supplied to the EPA labs in Ann Arbor Michigan for testing. In late April, BMW pulled a European model off the line to be the certification vehicle. This Tii was VIN 2700177, a very basic Chamonix white version with minimum equipment, built April 20,1971. The minor compliance changes were made and the car underwent some minimum road testing and was then flown to the U.S. for delivery to the Ann Arbor labs. The test were completed promptly at the EPA labs and BMW started building US models only 20 days after pulling 177 off the line.
After the tests were run, the car sat at Erhard BMW in Ann Arbor for a year and BMW AG basically forgot about it. One of the EPA Engineers (Peter Hutchins decided he wanted to buy it and BMW AG sold it to him on June 29, 1972. It is noted in the archives that the car was sold directly without going through Hoffman, the official importer. In the years that followed, Peter put a radio in 177, did some rallying and drove it on a random basis. In 1981, with some encouragement from BMWCCA, Peter started the The Register and asked for volunteers in the Roundel to join help create the new special interest group. I still have a copy of the original organization letter from Peter, with assignments and declaring that the register was open for business. I was a member of the original crew and was in charge of technical questions and “fixes”.
Now let’s run the calendar ahead to September, 2000. I received a call from Peter saying that he wanted to sell 177 and asked for my assistance in doing so. At that time, 177 had been stored for several years and had run up about 49k miles. Everything was still original, but it needed some brake work and general maintenance. It had minor dings and only minor rusting, despite spending many years in a rust prone climate. I started marketing the car for him and made an initial approach to Mobile Tradition, the Zentrum at Spartanburg and BMW NA, but they were not interested.
When we started talking with private buyers, Peter made a decision that made a sale more difficult. He had another Tii that was partially dismantled, so he decided to sell both cars as a package for $15k. He had a couple of lookers but the package deal turned them off. A fellow here in Houston inspected the car and made an offer on 177 only, but estimated it would take about $1,000 to do a general fix-up & clean up plus freight to Houston so he passed. Peter finally sold 177 (only) to a collector in Livonia Michigan for $10k, which is the estimate I had given him at the start.
The first production Tii, VIN 2760001 is still in existence and is located in California.
This story was originally published in Vol. 8, No. 1 (August 2001) of the TII Register Newsletter by Bob Murphy.