|1956 to 1959|
252 units built
|Assembly||Milbertshofen, Bavaria, Germany|
|Designer||Albrecht von Goertz|
|Body and chassis|
|Body style||2-door convertible|
|Engine||3168 cc BMW OHV V8|
|Transmission||4-speed ZF manual|
|Wheelbase||2,480 mm (98 in)|
|Length||4,380 mm (172.4 in)|
|Width||1,650 mm (65.0 in)|
|Height||1,257 mm (49.5 in)|
|Kerb weight||1,330 kg (2,930 lb)|
The BMW 507 is a roadster that was produced by BMW from 1956 to 1959. Initially intended to be exported to the United States at a rate of thousands per year, it ended up being too expensive, resulting in a total production figure of 252 cars and heavy losses for BMW.
The BMW 507 was conceived by U.S. automobile importer Max Hoffman who, in 1954, persuaded the BMW management to produce a roadster version of the BMW 501 and BMW 502 saloons to fill the gap between the expensive Mercedes-Benz 300SL and the cheap and underpowered Triumph and MG sports cars. BMW engineer Fritz Fiedler was assigned to design the rolling chassis, using existing components wherever possible. Early body designs by Ernst Loof were rejected by Hoffman, who found them to be unappealing. In November 1954, at Hoffman's insistence, BMW contracted designer Albrecht von Goertz to design the BMW 503 and the 507.
Thirty-four Series I 507s were built in 1956 and early 1957. These cars had welded aluminium fuel tanks of 110 litres (29.1 US gal) capacity behind the rear seats. These large tanks limited both boot space and passenger space, and gave off the smell of fuel inside the car when the hood was erected or the hardtop was in place. Series II and later 507s had fuel tanks of 66 litres (17.4 US gal) capacity under the boot, shaped around a space for the spare tyre to fit.
The 507 frame was a shortened 503 frame, the wheelbase having been reduced from 2,835 millimetres (111.6 in) to 2,480 millimetres (98 in). Overall length was 4,835 millimetres (190.4 in), and overall height was 1,257 millimetres (49.5 in). Curb weight was about 1,330 kilograms (2,930 lb) The body was almost entirely hand-formed of aluminium, and no two models were exactly the same. Many cars were sold with an optional hand-fabricated removable hardtop. Because of the car-to-car differences, each hardtop fits only the car for which it was made.
Front suspension was parallel double wishbones, with torsion bar springs and an anti-roll bar. Rear suspension had a live axle, also sprung by torsion bars, and located by a Panhard rod and a central, transverse A-arm to control acceleration and braking forces. Brakes were Alfin drum brakes of 284.5 mm (11.2 in) diameter, and power brakes were optional. Late-model 507s had front Girling disc brakes.
The engine was BMW's aluminium alloy OHV V8, of 3,168 cubic centimetres (193.3 cu in) displacement, with pushrod-operated overhead valves. It had two Zenith 32NDIX two-barrel carburetors, a chain-driven oil pump, high-lift cams, a different spark advance curve, polished combustion chamber surfaces, and a compression ratio of 7.8:1,yielding 150 metric horsepower (110 kW) DIN at 5,000 rpm. It was mated to a close ratio four-speed manual transmission. The standard rear-end ratio was 3.70:1, but ratios of 3.42:1 and 3.90:1 were optional. A contemporary road test of a 507 with the standard 3.70:1 final drive was reported in Motor Revue, stating a 0–100 km/h (0-62 mph) acceleration time of 11.1 seconds and a top speed of 122 mph.
Introduction and impact
The 507 made its debut at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in New York in the summer of 1955. Production began in November 1956. Max Hoffman intended the 507 to sell for about US$5,000, which he believed would allow a production run of 5,000 units a year. Instead, high production costs pushed the price in Germany to DM 26,500 (later 29,950), driving the U.S. price initially to $9,000 and ultimately $10,500 Despite attracting celebrity buyers including Hans Stuck and Georg "Schorsch" Meier, the car never once reached more than 10% of the sales volumes achieved by its Stuttgart rival, the Mercedes-Benz 300SL.
Intended to revive BMW's sporting image, the 507 instead took BMW to the edge of bankruptcy—the company's losses for 1959 were DM 15 million. The company lost money on each 507 built, and production was terminated in late 1959. Only 252 were built, plus two prototypes. Fortunately for the company, an infusion of capital from Herbert Quandt and the launch of new, cheaper models (the BMW 700 and later the 'New Class' 1500) helped the company recover.
The 507 remains a milestone model for its attractive styling. 202 507s are known to survive, a tribute to the car's appeal. Bernie Ecclestone's 507 fetched GB£430,238 (US$904,000) at an auction in London in October 2007. 2009 the prices for 507s have reached €900,000. At the Amelia Island Concours in March, 2014 a 507 sold at auction for $2.4 million.
The styling of the 507 later influenced the Z3, the Z4,and, most noticeably, the Z8, with its chromed side vents and horizontal front grilles.
Several notable personalities have owned 507s. In 1959, while stationed in Germany on duty with the US Army, legendary American entertainer Elvis Presley bought a white 507. Presley's car, no. 70079, had earlier been used as a press demonstrator by BMW and raced by Hans Stuck. It was imported into the United States in 1960 and was bought by Alabama disc jockey Tommy Charles, who had it extensively modified, including having the engine replaced with a Chevrolet V8. In July 2014, BMW Group announced that Presley's car will be on display for a short period at the BMW Museum in Munich, before being entirely restored by its Classic department.
Elvis reportedly gave another 507, no. 70192, to Ursula Andress, who starred in Fun in Acapulco with him in 1963. Andress's husband, John Derek, had the car customized, including having the engine replaced with a Ford 289 V8. Andress sold the car to George Barris. The car was restored with a correct drivetrain by a later owner. It was sold at auction in 1997 for US$350,000 and at another auction in 2011 for US$1,072,500.
John Surtees was given a 507 by Count Agusta for winning the 1956 500cc World Motorcycle Championship on a MV Agusta. Surtees worked with Dunlop to develop disc brakes for the front wheels of the 507, and his 507 eventually had disc brakes on all four wheels. Surtees still owns his 507.