252 units built
|Assembly||Germany: Bavaria, Milbertshofen|
|Designer||Albrecht von Goertz|
|Body and chassis|
|Body style||2-door convertible / Detachable hardtop|
|Engine||3168 cc M507/1 V8|
|Transmission||4-speed ZF manual|
|Wheelbase||2,480 mm (97.6 in)|
|Length||4,380 mm (172.4 in)|
|Width||1,650 mm (65.0 in)|
|Height||1,257 mm (49.5 in)|
|Kerb weight||1,330 kg (2,932 lb)|
The BMW 507 is a roadster that was produced by BMW from 1956 until 1959. Initially intended to be exported to the United States at a rate of thousands per year, it ended up being too expensive, resulting in a total production figure of 252 cars and heavy financial losses for BMW.
The BMW 507 was conceived by U.S. automobile importer Max Hoffman who, in 1954, persuaded the BMW management to produce a roadster version of the BMW 501 and BMW 502 saloons to fill the gap between the expensive Mercedes-Benz 300SL and the cheap and underpowered Triumph and MG sports cars. BMW engineer Fritz Fiedler was assigned to design the rolling chassis, using existing components wherever possible. Early body designs by Ernst Loof were rejected by Hoffman, who found them to be unappealing. In November 1954, at Hoffman's insistence, BMW contracted designer Albrecht von Goertz to design the BMW 503 and the 507.
Thirty-four Series I 507s were built in 1956 and early 1957. These cars had welded aluminium fuel tanks of 110 litres (29.1 US gal) capacity behind the rear seats. These large tanks limited both boot space and passenger space, and gave off the smell of fuel inside the car when the soft top was up or the hardtop was in place. Series II and later 507s had fuel tanks of 66 litres (17.4 US gal) capacity under the boot, shaped around the space for the spare tyre.
The 507 frame was a shortened 503 frame, the wheelbase having been reduced from 2,835 millimetres (111.6 in) to 2,480 millimetres (98 in). Overall length was 4,385 millimetres (172.6 in), and overall height was 1,257 millimetres (49.5 in). Curb weight was about 1,330 kilograms (2,930 lb). The body was almost entirely hand-formed of aluminium, and no two models were exactly the same. 11 cars were sold with an optional hand-fabricated removable hardtop. Because of the car-to-car differences, each hardtop fits only the car for which it was made.
The front suspension had parallel double wishbones with torsion bar springs and an anti-roll bar. The rear suspension had a live axle, also sprung by torsion bars, and located by a Panhard rod and a central, transverse A-arm to control acceleration and braking forces. The brakes were Alfin drum brakes of 284.5 mm (11.2 in) diameter, and power brakes were optional. Late-model 507s had front Girling disc brakes. and Pirelli 185VR16 Cinturato radial tyres.
The engine was BMW's aluminium alloy OHV V8, of 3,168 cubic centimetres (193.3 cu in) displacement, with pushrod-operated overhead valves. It had two Zenith 32NDIX two-barrel carburetors, a chain-driven oil pump, high-lift cams, a different spark advance curve, polished combustion chamber surfaces, and a compression ratio of 7.8:1, yielding 150 metric horsepower (110 kW) DIN at 5,000 rpm. It was mated to a close ratio four-speed manual transmission. The standard rear-end ratio was 3.70:1, but ratios of 3.42:1 and 3.90:1 were optional. A contemporary road test of a 507 with the standard 3.70:1 final drive was reported in Motor Revue, stating a 0–100 km/h (0–62 mph) acceleration time of 11.1 seconds and a top speed of 122 mph.
Introduction and impact
The 507 made its debut at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in New York in the summer of 1955. Production began in November 1956. Hoffman intended the 507 to sell for about $5,000, which he believed would allow a production run of 5,000 units a year. Instead, high production costs pushed the price in Germany to DM 26,500 then DM 29,950.[note 1] This drove the U.S. price initially to $9,000 then ultimately $10,500 ($98,600 today). Some of the prominent buyers were John Derek, Elvis Presley who owned two, Hans Stuck, and Georg "Schorsch" Meier. Despite the celebrity owners, the 507 never reached more than 10% of the sales volume achieved by Mercedes-Benz 300SL.
BMW had intended for 507 to revive the company's sporting image, but the higher production cost led the company to the verge of bankruptcy. BMW lost money on each 507 built and resulted in the company's losses of DM 15 million for 1959. The company's losses led to the capital infusion from Herbert Quandt in order to prevent the bankruptcy. The launch of the new models, BMW 700 and 'New Class' 1500 helped the company recover financially.
The styling of the 507 later influenced the Z3, the Z4, and, most noticeably, the Z8, with its chromed side vents and horizontal front grilles. The 507 remains a milestone model for its attractive styling. 202 507s are known to survive, a tribute to the car's appeal.
Elvis Presley, while stationed in Germany on duty with the US Army, bought his first 507, a 1957 model (chassis #70079 and colored feather white), which had been raced by Hans Stuck, used as a press demonstrator by BMW, and appeared in a German musical comedy entitled Hula-Hopp, Conny (released in March 1959). Because many of Presley's fans left lipstick marks on the car, mainly while parked outside his home at 14 Goethestrasse, in Bad Nauheim, he had it painted red. It was imported into the United States in 1960 and was bought by Alabama disc jockey Tommy Charles, who had it extensively modified, including having the engine replaced with a Chevrolet V8. In July 2014, BMW Group announced that Presley's car would be on display for a short period at the BMW Museum in Munich, before being entirely restored by its Classic department. This fully restored car, now back to its original white color, was displayed in the newly renovated BMW Zentrum museum at their US manufacturing center in Greer, South Carolina, and is now on display at the BMW Museum in Munich.
In 1963, Presley reportedly bought and gifted a 1958 model (chassis #70192) to Ursula Andress, who starred with him that year in Fun in Acapulco.[note 2] Andress's husband, John Derek, who had owned another 507 and just sold it to entertainer Fred Astaire, then had the 507 that Elvis gave his wife specially customized, which included changing its color from white to light blue, as well as having the engine replaced with a Ford 289 V8. Andress sold the car in 1997 to George Barris for US$300,000. The car was then again restored with a correct drivetrain by a later owner. When the car arrived at McDougall's Carrera Automotive it had also been repainted black. The original engine was lost to time but two 503 V8s were located along with the dual carburetor intake from a 507. Both engines were made into a running engine with BMW AG making a new engine gasket kit including head gaskets at a cost of US$25,000. It was also returned to its original white color and subsequently sold at auction for US$350,000 and at a later auction in 2011 for US$1,072,500.
John Surtees was given a 507 by Count Agusta for winning the 1956 500cc World Motorcycle Championship on an MV Agusta. Surtees worked with Dunlop to develop disc brakes for the front wheels of the 507, and his 507 eventually had disc brakes on all four wheels. Surtees owned his 507 until his death. Soon after, in July 2018, the Surtees car sold for £3,809,500 plus commission, the equivalent of US$5 million, the highest ever paid for a 507. On 1 December 2018, a 507 owned by BMW 507 and 503 designer Albrecht von Goertz was sold for £2,367,000 plus commission, also at Bonhams.
- Mercedes-Benz 300SL was DM 32,500.
- Andress told Bimmer magazine that Elvis gave her the car, while RM Auctions says there is no known documentation of Elvis giving Andress the car.
- Norbye, Jan P., BMW - Bavaria's Driving Machines, p. 88
- Norbye, p. 96
- Eicker, Helmut, "Die Grossten von Gestern: Auto Motor und Sport fuhr einen BMW 507 Jahrgang 1959", Auto, Motor und Sport 12 1977, 8 June 1977, pp. 54–58
- BMW Konzernarchiv: BMW 507 Roadster
- Lewin, Tony, The Complete Book of BMW: Every Model since 1950, p. 28
- Norbye, p. 116
- Norbye, pp. 113–114
- Jouret, Jackie, and Werb, Helmut, "507s star at Pebble Beach", Bimmer magazine, p. 6
- Norbye, Jan P. (1984). "Brief Specifications and Production". BMW - Bavaria's Driving Machines. Skokie, IL, USA: Publications International. p. 251. ISBN 0-517-42464-9. LCCN 84060309.
- Noakes, Andrew, The Ultimate History of BMW p. 52
- Norbye, p. 115
- Seeliger, Georg, BMW 503/507: Die V8-Sportmodelle, p. 83
- Oswald, Werner, Deutsche Autos 1945-1990, vol.4, p. 172
- Covello, Mike, Standard Catalog of Imported Cars 1946-2002, pp. 137–138
- Prince, Max (July 29, 2014). "Elvis Presley's BMW 507 set for full restoration". Road & Track.
- Seeliger, pp. 138, 206
- Westrup, Klaus, "Not und Spiele: Die 50er Jahre...", Auto, Motor und Sport 13 1996, 14 June 1996, pp. 58–65
- Noakes, p. 152
- Noakes, pp. 164-165
- Birch, Stuart, From 507 to Z8, SAE International
- Jouret and Werb, "507s star at Pebble Beach", Bimmer magazine, p. 3
- Joseph, Noah (24 July 2014). "BMW begins restoring Elvis Presley's 507". AutoBlog. Retrieved 26 July 2014.
- Jouret and Werb, "507s star at Pebble Beach", Bimmer magazine, p. 4
- RM Auctions site for Ursula Andress's BMW 507, 19–20 August 2011
- Jouret and Werb, "507s star at Pebble Beach", Bimmer magazine, p. 5
- RM auctions' first London sale results, Classicrallies.com, 2007-11-02
- Jerry Garrett, In Florida, New Stars on Block, The New York Times
- Surtees - Clients and Past Projects - BMW, from Surtees Official Website Archived 2009-11-30 at the Wayback Machine, John Surtees Ltd.
- "John Surtees' 'very special' 1957 BMW sells for £4m". BBC News. 13 July 2018.
- Pope, Lizzie (3 December 2018). "£2.4m BMW is untouchable at Bonhams' Bond Street sale". Classic & Sports Car. Retrieved 27 October 2021.
- Books and journals
- Covello, Mike (2002). Standard Catalog of Imported Cars 1946-2002. Iola: Krause Publications. pp. 137–38. ISBN 0-87341-605-8.
- Eicker, Helmut (8 June 1977). "Die Grossten von Gestern: Auto Motor und Sport fuhr einen BMW 507 Jahrgang 1959" [Yesterday's greatest: Auto Motor und Sport drove a 1959 BMW 507]. Auto, Motor und Sport. Heft (in German). 12 1977: 54–58.
- Lewin, Tony (2004). "Faded glory". The Complete Book of BMW: Every Model since 1950. St. Paul, MN USA: Motorbooks International. pp. 23–37. ISBN 0-7603-1951-0. Retrieved 2013-11-24.
- Noakes, Andrew (2005). The Ultimate History of BMW. Bath, UK: Parragon Publishing. p. 52. ISBN 1-4054-5316-8.
- Norbye, Jan P. (1984). "Postwar Panache: Baroque Angels, Timeless Sports Cars". BMW - Bavaria's Driving Machines. Skokie, IL, USA: Publications International. pp. 84–116. ISBN 0-517-42464-9. LCCN 84060309.
- Oswald, Werner (2001). Deutsche Autos 1945-1990, vol.4 (in German). Stuttgart: Motorbuch Verlag. p. 172. ISBN 3-613-02131-5.
- Seeliger, Georg (1993). BMW 503/507: Die V8-Sportmodelle (in German). Stuttgart: Motorbuch Verlag. p. 83. ISBN 3-613-01563-3.
- Westrup, Klaus (14 June 1996). Ostmann, Bernd (ed.). "Not und Spiele: Die 50er Jahre...". Auto Motor u. Sport. Heft (in German). 13 1996: 58–65.
- Web sites
- Birch, Stuart (July 2000). "Global Viewpoints - From 507 to Z8". Automotive Engineering International Online (engineering magazine article). Warrendale, PA USA: SAE International. Archived from the original on 2009-06-14. Retrieved 2005-10-14.
- Jouret, Jackie; Werb, Helmut (October 25, 2013). "507s star at Pebble Beach". Bimmer (enthusiast magazine article). Bimmer, Ross Periodicals. p. 1. Archived from the original on 2013-11-23. Retrieved 2013-11-23.
- "BMW Konzernarchiv: BMW 507 Roadster" (in German). Bmw-konzernarchiv.de. Retrieved 2013-11-23.
- "RM auctions' first London sale results". Classicrallies.com. 2007-11-02. Archived from the original on 2007-11-03. Retrieved 2010-10-11.
- "Surtees - Clients and Past Projects - BMW". Surtees Official. Kent, UK: John Surtees Ltd. Archived from the original on 2012-02-27. Retrieved 2010-06-13.
- "Lot 238 1958 BMW 507 Roadster". RM Auctions (Auction description). August 2011. Archived from the original on 2013-11-23. Retrieved 2013-11-23.
- Jerry Garrett (14 March 2014). "In Florida, New Stars on Block". The New York Times. Retrieved 2014-03-19.