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Collectors Corner - BMW 507 Roadster - The Graf Goertz created Design Icon


BMW 507 Series I s/n 70045 - 1957 - Francesco Gandolfi, Milano "MI 349573" (I)

BMW 507 Series I s/n 70045 - 1957 - Francesco Gandolfi, Milano "MI 349573" (I)

BMW 507 s/n 70.155 & Albrecht Graf Goertz

BMW 507 s/n 70.155 & Albrecht Graf Goertz

BMW 507 Roadster participating in the Mille Miglia

BMW 507 Roadster participating in the Mille Miglia

BMW 507 Roadster participating in the Mille Miglia

BMW 507 Roadster participating in the Mille Miglia

BMW 507 Roadster with hardtop at Villa d'Este

BMW 507 Roadster with hardtop at Villa d'Este

BMW 507 Roadster with hardtop at Villa d'Este

BMW 507 Roadster with hardtop at Villa d'Este

BMW 507 Roadster with hardtop at Villa d'Este

BMW 507 Roadster with hardtop at Villa d'Este

BMW 507 Roadster at Villa d'Este

BMW 507 Roadster at Villa d'Este

BMW 507 & Z8 at Villa d'Este

BMW 507 & Z8 at Villa d'Este

BMW 507 & Z8 at Villa d'Este

BMW 507 & Z8 at Villa d'Este

BMW 507 at Villa d'Este

BMW 507 at Villa d'Este

BMW 507 at Villa d'Este

BMW 507 at Villa d'Este

BMW 507 at Villa d'Este

BMW 507 at Villa d'Este

BMW 507

BMW 507

BMW 507

BMW 507

BMW 507

BMW 507

BMW 507 Cabriolet at the Geneva Sportscar Auction

BMW 507 Cabriolet at the Geneva Sportscar Auction

BMW 507 Cabriolet at the Geneva Sportscar Auction

BMW 507 Cabriolet at the Geneva Sportscar Auction

BMW 507 Cabriolet at the Geneva Sportscar Auction

BMW 507 Cabriolet at the Geneva Sportscar Auction

BMW 507 s/n 70.001 Prototype designed by Ernst Loof

BMW 507 s/n 70.001 Prototype designed by Ernst Loof

BMW 507 s/n 70.001 Prototype designed by Ernst Loof

BMW 507 s/n 70.001 Prototype designed by Ernst Loof

BMW 507 Vignale designed by Michelotto s/n 70.184

BMW 507 Vignale designed by Michelotto s/n 70.184

BMW 507 Vignale designed by Michelotto s/n 70.184

BMW 507 Vignale designed by Michelotto s/n 70.184

 

BMW 507 Roadster Series 1 & 2

Introduction

The immortal BMW 507 Roadster definitely needs no introduction. It is simply the most beautiful car BMW has ever produced up to now and it will always remain as one of the most important design icons of the 50’s. Further more it is not only a fabulous sports roadster, but the better looking and more exclusive alternative to its contemporary rival, the mass-production Mercedes 300 SL Roadster.

BMW’s new roadster was hastily unveiled at the Frankfurt Motor Show in autumn 1955, where it was presented to an enthusiastic crowd. Rumours have it that the Frankfurt show car carried cement bags instead of a proper engine in the engine bay and that the first real car was shown at the later Paris Salon.

Anyway, the star from Frankfurt was designed by Count Albrecht Goertz, a young German designer then living in New York and later responsible for another beautiful car, the Datsun 240 Z-series. But that’s another story.

What began very promising, later turned over in a (financial) disaster for BMW. When launched new it had not only a hefty price tag ($11,000.-) due to BMW’s principles in built quality and strength but it was so expensive that even millionaires, a then rare species in Germany after WW II, considered not to waste so much money buying such a luxurious car.

Moreover, the BMW 507 Roadster did not reach the promised and expected performance. It was equally overweight and the 200 predicted horses were closer to 145, and because of the mixture of iron and aluminum alloys, the engines were prone to troublesome corrosion issues.

Had BMW been able to reduce production costs, there would undoubtedly have been more 507 sales. It has been said that BMW lost money on every 507 made! The cost of expensive production tooling, the unsold cars and the unfavorable publicity almost bankrupted BMW. At the end of 1959, the factory threw in the towel. A decade later, used 507s were worthless, and quite a few became scrap iron.

Model description:

The sleek BMW 507 Roadster was produced with a light alloy skin body over a metal frame and handsome pressed-steel wheels. Unlike the 503's column-mounted shift lever, the 507 had a floor-mounted lever to operate the four-speed gearbox. 

The lightweight 90-degree V8 engine ticked over in sepulchral silence, but had an impressively roaring bark when revved to its maximum, producing 150 hp at 5,000 rpm. This was good enough for a top speed of more than 125 mph. Undoubtedly a driver's car, the 507 responds briskly to enthusiastic use of the gears, with any shortcomings in the braking of earlier production vehicles well rectified in the late examples.

The 507 was produced in two production runs, the Series 1 and Series 2. The Series 2 cars had an updated dashboard. Also, the rear bulkhead was moved back slightly to provide more luggage space behind the seats. 42 (40) Series 1 and 210 (209) Series 2 cars were built in the four years the 507 was in production.

The series 1 507 were built between November 1956 and June 1957 (70.045 is a Series I car still with its orginal owner Francesco Gandolfi "MI 349573" (I)) and the Series 2 507 between June 1957 and December 1959 while the chassis number range was from 70.001 to 70.254

70.015's chassis tag shows production year 1956 
70.075's chassis tag already shows production year 1958

Tech specs:

Engine

Front longitudinal 90° V8, light alloy cylinder block & head

Timing gear

2 valves per cylinder, single overhead camshaft per cylinder bank

Bore & Stroke

82 x 75 mm

Total displacement

3.168 ccm

Torque

24,0 mkg at 4.000 rpm

Compression ratio

Series 1: 7,5:1
Series 2: 7,8:1

Maximum power

Series 1: 140 bhp at 4,800 rpm
Series 2: 150 bhp at 5,000 rpm

Transmission

Dry, single-plate clutch, 4-speed ZF-gearbox + reverse ZF S4-17

Front suspension

Independent, double wishbones, coil springs

Rear suspension

Rigid axle

Length

4.380 mm

Width

1.650 mm

Height

1.300 mm

Wheelbase

2.400 mm

Front track

1.445 mm

Rear track

1.425 mm

Kerb weight

1.280 kg

Fuel tank

Series 1: 110 ltr
Series 2: 65 ltr

Desirable options:

A few desirable evolutionary changes to the 507 were made over the prodution run, like adding disc brakes and - in a few rare cases - a five-speed gearbox. You could also tune-up your 507 with rudge wheels and a wooden steering wheel.

A rare option today, too is the sometimes ordered Becker auto radio. The 507’s hardtop was not an option but standard to every 507 made.

Special 507’s:

Three special coachbuilt 507 Roadsters are known, two based on a Series 1 chassis (70.001 Loof prototype) (70.024) and one based on a Series 2 chassis (70.184).

French coachbuilder Pichon et Parat from Sens created the so called 507 “Loraymo-Coupé with glassfibre bodywork (70.024) and Michelotti (70.184) presented his own design on the 1959 Torino Salon, today a common sight at any official BMW 507 presentation.

Market overview today:

Today BMW 507’s are not often offered officially in the market. If so, they again have an hefty price tag, not only here in Germany, though this will remain a special market for BMW 507 Roadsters.

We have gathered two interesting examples for you, both offered at auction, one for a Series 1 car in May 2002 and another one for a late Series 2 car from May 2005.

1957 BMW 507 Roadster s/n 70018 was auctioned at Christie’s Rockefeller Center Auction 18th May, 2002 with an estimate between $250,000-350,000.-. It had the desirable rudge wheels and a rare Becker auto radio but nevertheless remained unsold.

1959 BMW 507 Roadster s/n 70.194 is a late production 507 built in November 1959, originally exported to the U.S. East coast in December 1959. Records confirm its original Graphite livery with red leather interior it still bears today. Since completion of a no-expense-spared restoration, this definitive German sports car has participated as the official BMW entry in the 1992 Mille Miglia and Winter Marathon. It is offered complete with original hard top, tool box, and a number of trophies won in both concours and road events.

At the Bonhams Monaco Auction on 16th May, 2005 it was sold for $416,159.-.

At the Geneva Sportscar Auction a 500.000 Euro highbid was not enough not buy the white BMW 507 Roadster s/n ????

Since then the prices went through the roof for 507 Roadsters and remarkably the market pays more for Series 2 then the rarer Series 1 cars. Today € 650.000.- or $885.000.- will buy you a very good and restored BMW 507 Roadster Series 2 and it seems that we have not seen the end of the flag pole, yet.

Lately (2008 Spring) 2 BMW 507 have been sold in Germany, one for 720,000 and the other one for 750,000 Euro both with Hardtop and Rudge wheels.

Beware of…

… BMW 507 Roadsters with 503 engines installed

… BMW 507 Roadsters with dummy rudge wheels

… completely rebodied BMW 507 Roadsters

Bjoern Schmidt