1959 BMW 507 Roadster

  • 07 May 2023
  • 3 min read
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1959 BMW 507 Roadster image

BMW's history began in 1916 and its roots lie in the production of aircraft engines, an activity that filled the company’s order books in the early years and, thanks to its military connections, allowed it to expand. The technical know-how it gained during that period led first to the production of motorcycles, from 1923, and later to the assembly of cars. From the 1930s onwards, BMW passed through a very important period which included the launch of the 303, the first car equipped with the “double kidney” front grille that became a hallmark of the Bavarian brand, and with the first significant victories in international races with the 328, including the Mille Miglia in 1940. World War II inflicted a severe setback on BMW, which the Nazi’s first forced to stop production of cars and motorcycles in order to refocus on aircraft engines and, after the end of the conflict, when the Allies confiscated the Munich plant and three factories in the eastern part of Germany, which ended up in Soviet hands.

The opportunity to revive the brand came after a meeting between BMW’s top management and Max Hoffman, the largest importer of German cars into the United States, who had already played an important role in the overseas success of the Porsche 356 Speedster, the Mercedes-Benz 190 SL and the 300 SL “Gullwing”. BMW also wanted a distribution facility in America, and with these assumptions came the idea of producing a sports car that would be significantly more attractive than the small British roadsters yet cheaper than the cars offered by Mercedes. Hoffman suggested that the design of their car be followed by the Count and designer Albrecht von Goertz, who proposed a more convincing design than the one developed in-house. Consequently, in the summer of 1955 at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel in New York, the 507 was unveiled.

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The perfect shape of the car, built to the highest quality with a sinuous design and extraordinary appeal, attracted multiple famous people and celebrities overseas, above all Elvis Presley. One unforgettable fact about the 507 is the story between it and the “King of Rock'n'Roll”: when he was only 23 years old, during his military service at the U.S. Army base in Friedberg, Germany, he bought a white example that belonged to the driver, Hans Stuck. In order to hide the many love messages scrawled all over the bodywork of the car by his adoring fans, which of course the young recruit’s superiors could not tolerate, Elvis had the car repainted red.

However, not even the jet set effect succeeded in increasing sales: high production costs due to an organization that was still based on craftsmanship and a consequent sales price that was almost double what everyone expected led to a production run of only 252 units. A mistake that nearly threw BMW into bankruptcy. The role of the 507 today is completely transformed, its high quality and rarity making it one of the most exclusive and valuable cars in the long history of the Munich-based company and in the world of classic cars.

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Chassis #70163 was discovered in South America and brought back to Europe. Ironically, even here, the very high asking price meant it remained in the dealerships for a long time before it became part of the Kaiser Collection. A restoration that lasted several years brought the car to its current award-winning concours standard with the exact specifications of Elvis Presley’s 507. The car has matching numbers and has been presented and awarded at the Schloss Dyck Concours d’Elegance in Germany. Today it is used for tours and summer drives.