Carsten Nitzsche 2002 Ti Alpina – COTM March 2022

Racer, rally car, daily-driver, family heirloom – this remarkable BMW has been all of these things at the same time. Its two family owners tells its tale


1969 – Gisbert Nitzsche orders a new BMW
‘I had a BMW 1800 Neue Klasse at the time, and I
wanted something more sporty, said Gisbert Nitzsche
of the car he ordered on 9 January 1969. “The ti was
the most powerful 2002 in 1969, with 120bhp and
less weight than the 1800, and I wanted to go on the
racetrack with it as well as on driving holidays with
the family, so I ordered it with the five-speed gearbox
and limited-slip differential.

‘It should have been delivered to my local BMW
dealer, Reichert, in Bad Cannstatt, Stuttgart, but in
March BMW AG wrote to me telling me it would not
be possible to deliver the car until May. It got to May,
and the car still wasn’t at the dealer – I was really
angry by now. BMW said it would not be possible to
supply cars with five-speed gearboxes and limited slip
differentials until September.

‘It was around this time that I started corresponding
with Alpina in Buchloe, which was offering this
specification among its catalogue options. So I
decided to take a four-speed 2002ti with a standard
differential from the factory in Munich on 12 June, and
have the gearbox and differential delivered to Reichert
by Alpina. The car was first registered on 16 June.
‘I had written to Alpina to request all the stuff
they did for ’02s, and after registration I brought it to
Buchloe, where the car was fitted with Scheel racing

seats, Alpina steering wheel and rack, and adjustable
anti-roll bars front and rear, but not Alpina wheels.
Alpina’s largest wheels were only six inches wide, and
my enemies’ on track with their Ford Capris and Opel
Kadetts already had wheels eight or nine inches wide.
So I ordered some seven-inch-wide, 13-inch wheels
from Ronal instead – the widest you could legally put
on an ’02 at the time. I ordered two sets – I thought it
could be good to have some more if one got broken on
the track. But they never did.

And of course, I ordered the best engine Alpina
built for the 2002 at that time – the A3, with 165bhp,
although in 1999 when the car was dyno-tested, it was
revealed to actually have 173bhp!
And so, the dual-role life of this BMW began. ‘I won
one cup after another at weekends, but for the first 15
years of its life I had no other car, explains Gisbert.
‘On all the other days of the week, I went to work in
it, and on holiday too. Gisbert also kept a logbook with
the car, writing down details of every trip and noting
the fuel consumption. ‘The car needs 14 litres of Super
for 100km, he wrote. ‘Except on the Nürburgring
Nordschleife, where it needs over 20 litres, of course!!
The BMW’s competition career met with immediate
success. Gisbert entered three BMW Club sprint races
in the remainder of 1969, and won the first two – at
Backnang and Böblingen. Most of Gisbert’s races were

local sprints and slaloms, but there was one place
he kept returning to on a much higher level
Internationaler Fahrerlehrgang (international driving
course) at the Nürburgring, where Gisbert would
attempt to set ever-faster laps of the Nordschleife.
Gisbert’s packed programme of sprints and
Stadtmeisterschaften (City Championships)
throughout 1969-1973 resulted in 72 podium finishes,
42 of which saw him on the top step.

However, from 1974 he concentrated his efforts on the annual
Internationaler Fahrerlehrgang Nürburgring.
‘My teachers at the ‘Ring were Hans Stuck and his
son Hans-Joachim. Those were my most memorable
drives in the ’02. I covered thousands of kilometres
there. Race on Sunday, work on Monday, all with the
same car. From 1974-77, Gisbert finished in either first
or second place at all his events at the Nürburgring.
But after 1980, he was lucky to drive the car again.
‘On 19 June 1980, I was at the Nordschleife for a
driving course, he explains. It was like this – you first
walk the track in groups of 10-12 people, while your
instructor explains where to brake and find the ideal
racing line, before the group goes back to their cars to
try and transpose what they’ve just learnt.

“Of course, when the track walk is in session, the
circuit is closed to all cars. However, at 11:25am – I’ll
never forget the time we were stood at the wall at
Breitscheid, the lowest part of the track, while our
instructor Winfried Voigt was talking us through the
corner. Suddenly, a BMW M1 driven by Hans-Georg
Bürger came down the hill at race speed, saw the
people, and panic-braked. He lost control, hit my right
leg right under the knee, and cut it off. No one else
was injured, and he missed my left leg entirely. An
army helicopter brought me to a military hospital, but
they couldn’t do anything for my leg. The first person
to visit me was a priest! I said “What do you want? I
am NOT here to die – go and get a doctor!” At the
scene, Bürger had promised to visit me in hospital, but
sadly he died four weeks later in a Formula 2 race.
“Giving up doesn’t exist for me. I got a prosthesis
– which was very heavy compared to those of
today – and tried to get back on the road first on my
motorbike, because you don’t need to use your right
leg on that. This was in September.

In October, my  BMW club held its last slalom race of the year. I drove
with my prosthesis and finished in second place.
‘In January 1981, I had a little frontal crash that
damaged the headlamps and radiator grille. I replaced
the whole front grille with a mask from Kittel
Autosport, which contains four headlamps from a
BMW E3 saloon. Unfortunately it was designed for the
later ’02s with their wider kidney grilles, so the look of
the car isn’t quite as it was originally.
‘But it was still my only car, until 1984, when I
bought an E28 528i. I kept the 2002 in the garage and
put the 528 outside. This was unusual at the time –
15-year-old cars either no longer existed, or were the

ones left outside to give garage space to new cars. But
decided early on, in 1969, to preserve this car forever.’
The car was pampered but only received limited
use, with Internationaler Fahrerlehrgangen at the
Österreichring in 1984 and the Salzburgring in 1985

being highlights.

But it was at this point when Carsten
Nitzsche, Gisbert’s nephew, first encountered the car.
‘I was 12, and took a train to Stuttgart in the summer

holidays to visit my cousin’, he recalls.

‘Gisbert picked me up at the central station in that car, and it was
the first time in my life I saw, heard and felt such an
amazing car, with its sound, driving behaviour and
acceleration! Over the next few years, I saw Gisbert
about two or three times a year at family gatherings,
but he didn’t bring the ’02. It was a fun car for him by
that time, no longer a daily, and too loud for his wife
over long distances. But when I did see it, we’d go for a
drive in it, and I always said, “If you ever think about
selling it, please ask me first.””

1999 – Gisbert keeps his promise to Carsten
‘In September 1998, Gisbert called me up and asked
me whether I’d like the car, recalls Carsten. ‘He was
moving from Fellbach to Northern Germany, and
said he was buying a new Alpina B3 – well of course I
wanted it! We had to wait until after the winter, when
there was no more salt on the road, before I could
drive it the 450 kilometers back to my home. The first
day without salt was 13 March 1999, and the trip took all day.
‘I decided to change the ownership papers exactly on
the car’s 30th birthday – 16 June 1999. People in Germany
like to keep these special anniversaries. At German
classic car meetings you’ll find owners pointing out their paperwork, with dates
maintained throughout its ownership. It helped that
I needed to go to the government office to get the
car’s ‘H-plates’ (Historische – special numberplates
identifying the car as a classic), for which it became
eligible at 30 years old and not one day younger.

A second reason for waiting until the 16th!
‘I tried to learn as much as I could about the car’s
driving style on that first run home. Once it was
registered in my name, I took a road trip through
Germany with a friend of mine with a 100bhp
Volkswagen Beetle, stopping in a different town every
evening, gradually learning how the car steered, how
to use its brakes properly. It’s still amazing how well
it accelerates for a 1969 car. With 950kg and 173bhp,
it can do 0-Gomph in 6.5 seconds – I get a lot of funny
looks from drivers of modern cars. The 75 percent
limited-slip differential helps too – you can drive it
very hard into curves. The car talks to you.
“There wasn’t much I needed to do to it when I got it.
Gisbert had looked after it very well, so no paintwork
was needed, and the sills had been replaced in 1987.
The lower doors needed a rust repair, but that was it in
terms of bodywork. There was a slight oil leak from the
engine, so I dismantled it and rebuilt it with new seals.
They’re still fine, 20 years later.
‘When the weather was good, in the first few years
of my ownership, and with no children back then, I
used to drive it 20km to work – a bit of fun to start my
day. But not in winter, not with salt on the roads.

‘By 2001, I started to take it to Oldtimer regularity
rallies, and was surprised how good my wife and I
became at these – we got a lot of trophies too!’ Carsten
also contested rallies with it for the next ten years.
‘I also took it to big classic-car meetings’, Carsten
adds. ‘The car was unknown on the old BMW scene,
because Gisbert wasn’t a member of any classic BMW
or Alpina clubs – people had no idea it existed. Which
made for a surprise when I joined the Alpina Club and
realised mine was its oldest car! We were invited to
Alpina’s 40th birthday celebrations at Buchloe in 2005,
partly because Andreas Boevensiepen, son of founder
Burkhard, inted his photo taken with it. The Alpina
Club only accepts you as a member when you can
prove your car was originally owned by Alpina when it
was built. Because Alpina carried out its modifications
before the car was registered, my car’s paperwork
confirms it as an Alpina, rather than a BMW.

Every four years the 02 Club holds its five-day
Bavaria Tour. The first of these we did was in 2002, the
second in 2006 – the 40th anniversary of the 02-series.
By the time the next round of anniversary rallies came
around, we had children and were too busy. But before
the first decade of the new millennium drew to a close,
the 2002 set off on its most arduous adventures.
‘In 2007 and 2008, I contested the 2000km durch
Deutschland – an eight-day, Sunday-to-Sunday rally
that covers the whole of Germany,’ says Carsten. ‘In
2007, the starting point was in Dresden.

We took the car to the scrutineering bay ahead of the start, and the
left-side driveshaft broke. I went to the nearest BMW
dealership and said, “I’m in a rally and I need this part
so I can start tomorrow!” – BMW Classic sent the part
overnight, it arrived by 7:30am, and by 8am I was on the
start line. That dealership was owned by racing driver
and constructor Heinz Melkus, who showed me around
his collection while the driveshaft was being fitted.
‘In 2008 it happened again, at exactly the same
point in the rally, but it was the right-hand driveshaft
this time! This time, the rally started in Ingolstadt.
Once again, I went into the nearest BMW dealership,
explained the problem, and they said, “It’s not
possible.” I said, “Yes it is, and you’re in Audi’s
hometown – you have to show what BMW can do!” –
reluctantly, they called BMW Classic and sure enough,
I was on the start line for eight o’clock the next
morning. Carsten won his class on the 2008 2000km
durch Deutschland, and finished third overall.
‘I don’t really use it at the moment, Carsten admits.
‘I have two children, aged four and six. They like my
old cars – I also have a BMW 2500 E3 saloon – but their
child seats won’t fit in the back of the 2002. I don’t do
rallies in it any more either, just classic car shows. It’s
only covered 800km in the last two years.
‘In future though, I can see it being used much more
often, once the kids have grown up. They’re often
asking, “When can we have a go in the orange car?”-
hopefully it won’t be too long.

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