The acronym BMW is derived from Bayerische Motoren Werke and, as all of us know, the company is a leading German car manufacturer. But did you know that BMW had its beginnings in the aviation industry? The firm initially manufactured aircraft engines but in 1928 BMW took over Fahrzeugfabrik Eisenach AG, the manufacturer of the Dixi car, and thus became an automobile manufacturer. In 1932 the first “real" BMW was launched with the designation AM1 (for the German term “Automobilkonstruktion München Nr. 1“) and is also known as BMW 3/20 PS.
BMW has brought to light many stunning cars during its long history and is now one of the most famous car brands worldwide. In this post I would like to highlight what might be, at least for me, the most elegant BMW ever made – the BMW 507.
The 507 is a roadster that was produced by BMW from 1956 to 1959. Initially, it was intended to be exported to the United States at a rate of thousands per year and was priced at around USD 9,000 – 11,000 at the time (approximately USD 96’000 today). But because it ended up being too expensive, the total production figure was only 252 cars which resulted in heavy losses for BMW. But what was once a big failure became the most desired BMW for collectors all over the world. In July 2018, a BMW 507 was sold for USD 5,000,000 at a London auction.
The two-seater is powered by a 3.2 liter and 150 hp (110 kW) V8 engine with a 3,168 cm3 displacement, accelerating the car from 0-100 km/h in 11.1 seconds. The body was almost completely hand-formed of aluminum so that each car was unique. The car was available with soft-top (textile) or with an optional detachable hardtop and because of the of the uniqueness of each 507, each hardtop fits only the car for which it was made. The first 43 vehicles (built before March 1957) are designated as Series I and all subsequent ones as Series II. The difference of the two series is basically the capacity and the location of the fuel tank.
Without the persistence of Max Hoffman, the 507 probably wouldn’t exist. In 1954, the New York automobile importer persuaded BMW management to produce a roadster version of BMW’s 501/502 models in order to fill the gap between the expensive Mercedes-Benz 300SL and the cheap American two-seaters of brands like GM. He saw considerable sales opportunities in the USA.
We also have to thank Albrecht von Goertz, the German car designer for the lines of the 507. He was ahead of his time; nothing less than a genius when it comes to automotive design. And, thanks to his futuristic vision, the BMW 507 is one of the most icon designs the automotive industry has ever seen.
What a stunning car and what a lucky punch for those who were smart enough to buy one in the 1950’s! It’s not surprising that even the King of Rock and Roll, Elvis Presley, fell for its shape and bought a BMW 507 in 1958 after starting his military service in Germany.
Who would have ever thought in the ‘50’s that the BMW 507 would turn from a big failure to one of the most iconic BMW cars ever made?!
Initially sold for USD 9,000 – 11,000 but current market price is around USD 2.5 – 5 million depending on the condition of the car and the previous ownership.
I can’t imagine the 507 suiting anywhere better than in a classic car event on a sunny day with the soft-top down, enjoying both the weather and the glances of the audience.
The history of the car is just as breathtaking as the design of the car. After the big failure and only 252 units produced, no one could have ever imagined the value that the 507 would gain over time.
Photography: Keno Zache IG:@kenozache