1957 BMW 507 RoadsterSOLD
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Estimate: 300,000£ - 400,000£
Estimate: €436,000 - €581,000
Estimate: $600,000 - $800,000

AUCTION RESULTS: Lot was Sold at a price of £430.238

160bhp, 3,168cc all alloy overhead valve V-8 engine, four-speed manual transmission, independent front suspension with torsion bars, live rear axle with torsion bars, and four-wheel drum brakes.
Wheelbase: 94.4in. (2,400mm).

In the early 1950s, BMW covered opposite ends of the automotive spectrum. On the one hand, the Bavarian company produced R24 motorcycles and Isetta bubble cars that provided inexpensive simple transportation for the average German citizen. Such mass-production projects created much-needed jobs and brought in additional revenue for BMW, which had been separated from its original factory in Eisenach by the Iron Curtain. On the other hand, the large and well-appointed 501, introduced in 1950 and built upon an all-new chassis, was intended primarily for the upper middle class and was powered by the pre-war hemi-head, inline six-cylinder engine used on the sporty 328. Despite being somewhat underpowered for its size, the 501 was well received once production began in 1952.

By 1954, however, BMW had finally solved its power problem with the introduction of the luxurious 502, which carried a 2.6-litre V-8 engine designed by Dr Fritz Fielder. Often credited as the world’s first all-aluminium V-8, Dr Fielder’s engine was a triumph of engineering and persistence in the face of daunting financial adversity. The block and heads were made of aluminium and featured pushrod-operated overhead valves. Producing 100hp at 4800rpm through a single Solex two-barrel carburettor, the 502 held its own against the competition from Mercedes-Benz and Opel. Shortly thereafter, it was enlarged to 3.2litres and made an additional 20 horsepower.

Finally, in an effort to counter offerings from Mercedes, BMW unveiled two new models at the 1955 Frankfurt show, alongside a sportier version of the 502. The first was the 503, offered as either a coupé or cabriolet, and carrying a 140 horsepower development of the original V-8, now enlarged to 3.2 litres. It was, however, the 507 that stole the show. Like the 503, it was designed by Count Albrecht Goertz, an established industrial engineer based in the United States. Fitted with the 3,168cc V-8 engine producing 160 horsepower, the 507 certainly held its own against the contemporary competition, while the BMW Schräglenker-Hinterachse semi-trailing arm independent rear suspension provided excellent traction and road holding.

Credit for its initial conception, however, goes to well-known post-war importer Max Hoffman who, as the eyes and ears of many European manufacturers in the United States, recognized the strength of the American economy as a lifeline for struggling German car manufacturers. Furthermore, as with the popular Porsche Speedster, he was acutely aware of American consumers’ passion for open cars with power and performance to match. Suburban families began buying multiple cars with enough disposable income for moderately priced, comfortable sports cars. BMW’s V-8 was ideally placed to meet the need, but it had to be priced to fill a specific niche and it had to be visually attractive and distinctive. Not satisfied with BMW’s own proposal for a 507 convertible, Hoffman called upon an acquaintance, Albrecht Goertz, to create an independent design.

Goertz designed every element of the 507, right down to the door handles and seats. The result was exceptional in every regard. Its clean lines were subtly embellished with a brilliant interpretation of BMW’s trademark kidney grilles, while its profile curved gracefully over the large tyres and wheel wells. A sporting touch was added with gill-shaped extractor vents in the front wings. Even the optional hardtop, usually an afterthought in designs of the era, was conceived and integrated into the 507’s initial design. In a 1966 Automobile Quarterly interview Goertz observed, ‘A car has a soul, which is the sum of all its attributes – the way it looks, the way it performs, the sound of its engine. And this soul is the result of the designer’s freedom to express himself…He must be able to say to himself, “I am satisfied because I know this is good. How do I know? Because I feel it is.”’ With the BMW 507 Goertz succeeded in creating a simple but elegant masterpiece.

The car was launched in1955 and entered production the following November as a 1957 model. While Hoffman had initially targeted an upper-middle class-friendly price range, production costs for the hand-built 507 escalated its price to over _4,200. The sporty little roadster from BMW now carried a supercar price tag – greater than that of the Mercedes-Benz 300SL and twice that of Jaguar’s XK140!

Despite the increase in price, however, BMW lost money on each example produced. Production began in November 1956 and was slightly revised in 1958 with the appearance of the Series II, which offered increased horsepower, standard disc brakes in front, and added space behind the seats. For many enthusiasts, however, the Series I is considered more attractive by virtue of its bodywork, which more completely envelops the driver and passenger, as it lacks the added luggage space. Production ceased two and a half years after it began with only 253 examples built, including two prototypes.

The example offered here is the fifteenth 507 assembled by BMW AG in 1956. It was purchased by its current owner from dealers Charles S. Crail of California and Charles Prince of Paradise Garage in London, who discovered the car in 2001 in Spain. Since its acquisition, the car has undergone a full and very professional restoration, which was just recently completed. Certain mechanical alterations have improved the car’s already outstanding drivability.

Restored with the intention of being driven in historical events, the car has been finished in black and appears to be in excellent overall condition. It is fitted with a new Haartz cloth top and proper Rudge-Whitworth alloy wheels. The interior was likewise restored and very professionally reupholstered with red Connolly leather.

A complete mechanical rebuild included the engine, gearbox, steering box, and radiator. The brakes were sleeved in stainless steel and the exhaust system is also of stainless steel. New pistons with proper inserts were fitted, as was a replacement petrol tank. Finally, an electric fan was added, and the generator was replaced with an alternator, greatly improving the car’s reliability and all-weather touring capabilities.

The BMW 507 was a brief, brilliant reinstatement of BMW’s sporting heritage that had flourished with the successful BMW 328 before World War II and would not truly reappear until the advent of the M-division years later. Notable owners such as Formula 1 great John Surtees and Elvis Presley further added to the 507’s already high profile. Although it is believed that approximately 80 per cent of all 507s have survived, the car was produced in very limited numbers and remains extraordinarily rare.

Its status as a thoroughbred sports car has survived to this day, as evidenced by a road test conducted by Malcolm McKay for Jaguar World Monthly Magazine in 2002. McKay praised the 507’s ‘prodigious’ overtaking ability, problem-free servo-assisted braking, and tight steering. Faster than the Jaguar XK 140, he recounts being thanked by fellow motorists who loved hearing the car’s ‘fabulous V8 burble’ as he sped by. The car offered here, lovingly and expertly restored to the highest standards, is an ideal candidate for the growing number of historic events worldwide

Reference Number 13143

as of 9/14/2007

Car 1957 BMW 507 Roadster
VIN 70015 
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