One of the D Class entrants at this year’s Concorso d’Eleganza Villa d’Este was none other than the iconic BMW 507 Roadster. Owned by a couple from Germany, the famous roadster features the silver grey finish and it is in pristine condition.
The history of the 507 is quite fascinating and it’s almost always related to Elvis Presley. One of the 252 BMW 507 units was driven by Elvis Presley, famous already at that time as the “King of Rock’n’Roll”, while he was doing his military service in Germany. His car was eventually recovered and restored by BMW Group Classic and of course, all the other 507 units benefited for the story.
The 507 couldn’t have been possible without the efforts of one key man: Max Hoffman. Back in the 1950s, the US market was completely different from what we know today. Not just in the landscape painted by the cars that would be sold but also when it came down to how the process would take place. Dealerships were rather scarce and that was especially true for European car makers. Trying to sell a European sports car was also a tricky business.
Seeing the success the 300 SL Gullwing recorded in the US, Hoffman decided to try and convince BMW to create a rival for it. The goal was simple: good looking, fun to drive and a price of around $5,000 to be easy to sell. BMW created the 507 and met almost all the criteria. The Germans, however, overshot the aimed asking price.
In order for the car to be profitable, BMW had to ask about $9,000 for it, instead of the $5,000 Hoffman recommended, so things went sour really fast. Hoffman dropped out of the deal, saying he couldn’t sell it at that price and BMW’s efforts to sell it through its own vendors were futile.
The BMW 507 Roadster 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. A production-ready 507 was also unveiled at New York’s Waldorf Astoria hotel in 1955 and its design has impressed everyone in the attendance.
Under the hood it featured a new 3.2 liter V8 engine with Zenith dual-barrel carburetors, producing 148 horsepower. A four speed transmission would send power to the rear wheels. The 0 to 60 mph sprint was recorded at around 10 seconds while the top speed was limited to 136 mph.
An impressive automobile for the 50s.