Courtesy of Bonhams
Glamorous and ultra-rare, this beautiful Series II example was delivered new on January 27, 1958, to the BMW agent Wolfgang Denzel in Vienna, Austria — as confirmed in a letter from BMW Group Classic. On February 10, 1958, the BMW was registered to Kommerzienrat Fritz Quester, Vienna. The original exterior color was silver-gray. No records exist for the succeeding decade or so. By mid-June 1971, the BMW was owned by no less a person than its designer, Count Albrecht Graf von Goertz, as recorded in documents issued by the Customs Office, Koblenz, on June 16, 1971. Not long after its acquisition (in August 1972) the car was fitted with a replacement engine at Autohaus Martini, as evidenced by their letter to one Klaus Schubert of Berlin, acting for Goertz. BMW’s guarantee for the new engine is on file also. The next owner (from May 15, 1985) is documented, the last licensing stamp in the relevant Fahrzeugbrief being dated October 1990. It is understood that the BMW was then extensively restored in the 1990s before passing on April 19, 2000, to a new owner. Described by the vendor as in good, restored condition, chassis 70100 represents a rare opportunity to own one of these exclusive BMW sports cars — rarer than a Mercedes-Benz 300SL.

SCM Analysis


Vehicle:1958 BMW 507 3.2 Series II Roadster
Years Produced:1956–59
Number Produced:253
Original List Price:About $11,000
SCM Valuation:$2,750,000
Tune Up Cost:$3,500
Chassis Number Location:Plate on the firewall, stamping on the chassis near right front suspension pickup point
Engine Number Location:On the right side of the block, about the middle
Club Info:BMW Car Club of America
Alternatives:1957–63 Mercedes-Benz 300SL Roadster, 1954–55 Lancia Aurelia B24 Spider America, 1956 Maserati A6G spider
Investment Grade:A

This car, Lot 28, sold for $3,018,678 (£2,367,000 at £1=$1.28) at Bonhams’ Bond Street Sale in London, U.K., on December 1, 2018.

“Schon gesehen” is German for “déjà vu.” I’ve got that feeling as I write this. Twice before, I have contributed profiles to SCM about sales of BMW 507s, in the February 2008 (p. 58) and June 2014 (p. 74) issues.

The latter was, in fact, a dual profile, comparing and contrasting the sale of two 507s at Amelia Island 2014, one at Gooding & Company and the other at RM Auctions.

I rambled on in both previous columns about the attributes of value that come together to make the 507 a desirable collecting object. I concentrated on the most important one up until recently, which is its beauty. That is directly tied to the prime mover in any purchase decision — emotion. In my most humble opinion, he or she who cannot be stirred by a beautiful object certainly shouldn’t own it.

Provenance is critical

Looking through the SCM Platinum Auction Database, it’s quickly apparent that the 507 has hovered around the million-dollar mark from the time RM Auctions broke the threshold with a rather tired — but original — example at their Villa Erba sale in Italy in May 2011. Prices escalated from there to the $2 million range by 2014, and we began to look for particular “breakout” examples to come to market.

So what constitutes the criteria for a breakout car in a batch of only 253? Condition alone is unlikely to be a determining factor. So many of these cars have been restored to a spectacular level, some beyond that of their original build.

The last two auction sales of this model have brought to the fore another attribute, one which carries considerable weight in any collectible market. That is provenance.

Far beyond a simple continuous history of ownership, noted or celebrity ownership of a car can often create its own market level. Just think of Steve McQueen. For the BMW 507, perhaps only the BMW Classic-owned Elvis Presley car might come close to the most prized example of all — that delivered new to John Surtees.

The car was a partial gift from Count Agusta, for whom Surtees had won the World Championship of Motorcycles, and the soon-to-be Formula One champion would keep his 1957 BMW until his death in 2017. Quite expectedly, it set an all-time record for a BMW at auction, selling for $5,012,433 (£3,809,500), nearly double the low estimate at Bonhams’ Goodwood sale in July 2018.

So we now know the market for the ultimate one-famous-owner-from-new 507.

Another famous owner

Where does it go from here? Our subject car sold for nearly $3 million, which is not much higher than the Surtees-inflated SCM Pocket Price Guide median value.

In the Bonhams catalog, the key selling point for chassis 70100 was Albrecht Graf Goertz’s past ownership — the extra “Count” in the catalog description is curious. Without a doubt, the 507 he designed for BMW at the urging of Max Hoffman not only became his calling card, but his masterpiece.

So what is the delta for owning Goertz’s own 507? Apparently a great deal more than I would have suspected.

Our subject car’s story

When we look at the details of this car, the following emerges:

It was a color change from the original — and rather attractive —silver gray to red. It has had an engine replacement when it was 16 years old, but it was a BMW factory-supplied unit.

Goertz seems to have waited until he was 57 years old to buy a 507, which seems curious. He kept the car for 14 years and sold it when he was 71, so it’s safe to say he must have enjoyed it. He did live until he was 92, however. There are apparently no records of ownership in the 13 years between the time it was sold new and Goertz’s purchase, and after it was sold on, the last restoration was done in the 1990s.

In the catalog photos, the car seems to present well, with the exception of the white interior upholstery, which appeared a bit worn, saggy and soiled.

So a sharp, concours-ready example it was not. It might be quite usable for tours and rallies, but it mostly seemed to be offered as a conversational piece. And by the conventional rules of collecting and value, a rather large premium may have been paid for those chatting rights.

In comparison, the buyer of the Surtees 507 got quite the bargain. ♦

(Introductory description courtesy of Bonhams.)

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