The BMW 507 was a brief, but brilliant reinstatement of BMW’s sporting heritage that flourished with the prewar 328 and enigmatic racing derivatives just prior to the outbreak of World War II. Launched in 1955, the 507 was envisioned for the American market by famed European-car importer Max Hoffman to fill the deep divide between the Mercedes-Benz 300SL and the far less expensive and powerful offerings from MG and Triumph. Mechanicals including the chassis and 3.2-liter V8 engine were sourced from the 503, with engineering led by Fritz Fiedler. Since Hoffman was dissatisfied with preliminary body designs, he eventually had Count Albrecht Goertz, designer of the 503, pen the sensuous lines of the 507. While Hoffman initially targeted a $5,000 price point for the hand-built 507, BMW lost money on each one built and despite a price increase to more than $11,000, the car nearly bankrupted the company. However, lofty pricing did not deter the elite target market envisioned for the 507, including Elvis Presley while he was stationed with the U.S. Army in Germany. Another famous owner was eventual Grand Prix world champion John Surtees, who was given a 507 by Count Agusta as a reward for winning the 1956 500cc World Motorcycle Championship. Depending on the source quoted, as few as 251 examples were built, plus a completely different prototype car and two “one-off” specials.
Our subject car is a truly rare find, possibly even more so with a sale listing by the car’s French seller on the Hemmings website. It is advertised as a 1957 model, which seems a bit early for it to be a Series II model, but nonetheless, this 507 should therefore feature front disc brakes, developed for Dunlop by none other than John Surtees. Other Series II revisions included output from the twin-carb V8 engine and additional space liberated behind the seats, yielding improved comfort. According to the seller’s details, this 507 is located in the south of France, an appropriate setting for such a glamorous postwar icon. As the product of a rotisserie restoration, it is reported to be a matching numbers example and looks amazing in Dark Grey paint over Red upholstery. Interestingly, it bears Chassis number/VIN 70080, precisely one digit after that of Elvis’ legendary BMW 507 roadster. It will surely be welcomed to virtually any show of concours d’Elegance the buyer should ever care to enter, quite likely including the modern reincarnation of Italy’s world-famous Mille Miglia historic rally.
While many 507 Roadsters were purchased by their original owners purely on the basis of their stunning aesthetics and sporting open bodywork, the cars were sophisticated performers to match their gorgeous styling. Today, they are rightly considered automotive royalty on both sides of the Atlantic and regardless of the era, with current market values to match. As reported in Hagerty’s current price guide, values for the 507 range from $1.6 million to $2.4 million depending on condition, with a premium for cars with Rudge aluminum knock-off wheels and/or an original removable hardtop. Series II 1958-1959 models also enjoy six-figure premiums across the board. Wisely, the seller of our subject car has cast their net to America and its traditionally robust market for big-ticket classic cars; however, the substantial and firm asking price may meet resistance in the current environment. Then again, only around 250 of these unqualified legends were produced, and this 507 seems to be a prime, collector-grade example and quite possibly worth the premium.
1956 BMW 507 Bruchure images via Geheugen Van Nederland