1959 BMW 507 Series II Roadster
Although intended by US importer Max Hoffmann to bridge the gap between the Porsche 356 Speedster and Mercedes-Benz 300 SL Roadster – both of which he sold – the BMW 507’s eventual price of around $10,000 was nearly double Hoffmann’s target, making it a car only affordable by the very wealthiest. First owners included Elvis Presley and Swiss screen goddess Ursula Andress.
Its perfectly proportioned, elegant lines were penned by industrial designer Count Albrecht Goertz and barely contained its inner aggression. Under the bonnet sat a tuned version of the company’s existing V8 good enough for around 140bhp. It was a 120mph+ car.
Launched in 1955, production proper started a year later, and after no more than 35 cars were built it was re-engineered for greater space in the cockpit and the boot (to allow a spare wheel to be carried). The engine was lightly tuned for another few horsepower (c. 150bhp) and late-model cars had Girling front disc brakes. Produced from 1957 to 1959, these are referred to as ‘Series IIs’ and numbered some 217 examples.
The BMW 507 was the Bavarian answer to Maranello’s Ferrari 250 GT California Spider and Stuttgart’s Mercedes-Benz 300 SL Roadster. Very few cars deserve the accolade of being called iconic, but this is one of them.
This Motor Car
Chassis ‘70216’ is a late-model 507, one of c. 210 desirable second-series cars and one fitted with front disc brakes. As confirmed by BMW Group Classic, it was first delivered on 11 March 1959 via BMW agent Fendler & Lüdemann, Hamburg, finished in striking and distinctive Federweiß (‘Feather White’) with red leather interior – the configuration it sports today. It also came with a hard top.
This car has spent most of its life in long term storage in the hands of one family, only changing hands within the past five years via Kidston SA. Largely untouched, it benefitted from a comprehensive mechanical check-up by BMW Group Classic, Munich, in December 2013 totalling €32,316. Works completed included a maintenance service, new clutch and flywheel, rear brake and differential overhaul and repairs to the front suspension. All door, bonnet and boot rubber seals were replaced.
Respected marque authority Italian Francesco Gandolfi, owner of a BMW 507 his father bought new, commented on photographs of the car in December 2016, declaring it: “Basically almost perfect”.
As one would expect, he notes minor discrepancies (non-original brake and clutch reservoirs, incorrect wing mirror, missing rubber mats) but that these very few defects “are absolutely marginal and easy to correct”. The fact that it has an impossible to find original hard top is hard to over-emphasise.
Still highly original, carefully stored and little driven, the car will benefit from a service at BMW Group Classic in Munich prior to delivery.
When we last drove this example we recorded that it “runs and drives beautifully, with a wonderful basso profondo soundtrack accompanying every prod of the driver’s right foot,” and that our “test drive was a revelation”. We look forward to another.
An interesting and seldom-seen alternative to a Mercedes-Benz 300 SL Roadster, BMW 507s are increasingly sought-after, valuable and difficult to find, particularly with factory hard top.
We recommend this very original example highly.