It would indeed have been a shame if BMW had confined the use of its first V8 engine range merely to its saloon cars of the 1950s. Had that been the case, the world would have been denied what is arguably the Bavarian marque's finest post-war sports car-the glamorous, high-performance 507. The V8, the work of BMW chief designer Dr. Fritz Fielder, had first appeared in 2.6-liter form in the 502 saloon of 1954, offering impressive performance and fine roadholding courtesy of all-independent torsion-bar suspension. The first BMW convertible to use the V8, however, was the large and rather conservatively styled 503, using the same chassis and running gear as the 502 saloon, and for which the V8's capacity was increased to 3.2 liters with a power output of 140 bhp. It was at the 1955 Frankfurt Show that BMW introduced the 507, a svelte and beautiful two-seater roadster styled by Count Albrecht Goertz. Again based on the 502 but employing a shortened chassis, and propelled by a higher compression ratio version of the 3168-cc V8, the body panels of the subtly aggressive machine were crafted in aluminium over a steel frame and notably, for the first time, BMW's traditional kidney-shaped radiator grille was dispensed with; a pretty hardtop, which in no way detracted from the 507's attractive lines, was optional. The smooth-running twin-carburetor V8 produced 150 bhp at 5,000 rpm, sufficient to provide a 124-mph maximum speed and 0 to 60 mph in a shade over 9.0 seconds, while roadholding was of a high order and the steering was praised for its responsiveness. Brakes were drums all round -with optional front discs-hidden by distinctive and attractive pressed steel wheels. Indeed, the 507's combination of looks and performance, plus the glamour of a V8 engine, had few rivals, only Ferrari and Pegaso offering similarly exotic packages. A Series II version appeared in 1958, the main difference being a power increase to 173 bhp, the standard fitment of front disc brakes and improved seating. Notably, the BMW 507 attracted many well-known drivers, among them former Formula One World Champion John Surtees, who still regularly uses his car today. When all production of the exclusive BMW 507 ended in 1963, just 253 examples of both Series had been built. The subject of a comprehensive restoration, this Series II car has just undergone a complete engine overhaul and covered under 14,000 miles in total. Fitted with Rudge wheels and the optional hardtop, and finished in white with its original black leather interior piped in white, it resided for a long period of time in the Hans Durst collection and has therefore been maintained regardless of cost.

SCM Analysis


The car described here sold for $202,145 (including commission) at Coys’ London sale held November 26, 1998. The BMW 507 is often compared with the Mercedes-Benz 300 SL. However, while both are high-end German sports cars, the similarity ends there. BMW’s production capability was quite low at the time, and in the pre-Max Hoffman era, sales levels in the U.S. were modest. As a result, the 507 was produced in very small numbers. By comparison, Mercedes built and sold 1,400 Gullwings and over 1,800 roadsters during the late ’50s and early ’60s. This makes the 507 a very exclusive car of great interest to the enthusiasts who can afford them. The car is especially scarce outside of the U.S. When a restored, fully optioned example with the ultra desirable Rudge wheels and hardtop appears at a major auction like this Coys event, it is bound to attract attention.

However, the gavel fell on this sale at a bit over $200,000. This number is around the middle of the SCM price range even before the knock-off wheels and hardtop are taken into account. Either the car was underpriced, there were some unmentioned flaws, or the auction audience that night didn’t have the two requisite 507 fanatics needed to take this car to the next price level. Even at $240,000, this car wouldn’t have been overpriced.-Michael Duffey

Comments are closed.