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.