1958 BMW 507 Roadster Series II
1958 BMW 507 Roadster Series II
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After finding notable success as aircraft engine manufacturers, in the late 1920s BMW shifted their attention to the growing automobile industry. Initially operating under license manufacturing a variant of the Austin Seven, early BMWs were merely a faint glimpse of what would evolve to become a premier luxury-performance brand. And while many remarkable sports cars like the Mille Miglia winning 328 would soon follow, none would capture the imagination more than the incomparable BMW 507.
Enticed by Austrian importer and consummate salesman Max Hoffman, BMW became convinced they could offer a sports car to wealthy North American clientele. Though competition was stiff, Hoffman could see the growing market of affluent sports car enthusiasts building in the states. Though initially conceived with a $5,000 price, 254 units were sold at a staggering $10,000.00 price tag, finding ownership among celebrities, aristocrats, and wealthy sportsmen, including legendary figures like racecar driver John Surtees and icon Elvis Presley, who purchased two 507s.
Handcrafted at enormous internal expense from 1957-1959, the 507 offered features and performance that competed admirably with premier sports cars of the time. But the costly 507 was constructed to such exacting standards it nearly forced BMW into bankruptcy. Ultimately the 507 would generate important brand equity among elite clientele, but it never achieved the anticipated sales goals lauded by Hoffman. A result, while daunting at the time, has since become an integral part of the rarity of these cars. Built with the finest mechanical components derived from the 502 and 503 series production, the overhead valve 3.2 liter V8 aluminum block engine, outfitted with twin carburetors, delivered 150 hp in a light and nimble package. And while performance was impressive for the time, it would ultimately be the stunning roadster body lines penned by Count Albrecht von Goertz, also at Hoffman’s urging, that would deliver the 507 into iconic status immediately after its release.
Divided into two production sequences (Series I and Series II), the Series II cars are favored by enthusiasts as they offer more passenger room due to the relocation of the fuel tank, also resulting in more convenient fuel filling, a revised dashboard, and a more streamlined convertible top stowage area. The most desirable mechanical and safety improvement in Series II cars is the addition of Girling front disc brakes.
This Series II example, serial # 70110, is the 110th 507 built. According to the BMW Classic Zertifikat accompanying this car, #70110 was completed on January 14, 1958, and is documented to have been delivered with a removable hardtop and factory exhaust tips. Considering the rarity of any 507, this sultry example is further distinguished by the factory color “Silbergrau” metallic silver, one of just 21 examples finished in this elegant color. Upon completion, this example is believed to have been displayed at the BMW Munich Pavillion before being sold to the first owner in May 1958, when the car was dispatched to Caracas, Venezuela. The first owner, Gustavo Zingg, was a German businessman who also served as the official representative for Mercedes-Benz in Venezuela. According to research obtained from the BMW Classic Car Club of America, this 507 is believed to have spent time in South America, eventually returning to Germany around 1960 where it remained for the next five decades. During the 1960s the car is known to have been owned by Ludwig Hahn, who passed the car on to Nicholas Hahn. In 2005, this 507 was offered for sale by Erich Benz and subsequently restored to a high standard from 2006-2008 and then purchased by Jan Onne, followed by Phil White in 2016. During the restoration, a comprehensive mechanical overhaul was performed by the BMW Classic department.
In May 2014, under the ownership of Hamburg, Germany resident Jan Onne, this beautifully restored 507 returned to BMW Classic for an extensive inspection and BMW Factory Expertise report covering all aspects of originality, quality of finish, and component authenticity. Regarded by many premier collectors as the definitive narrative document verifying all aspects of these cars, the BMW “Black Book” accompanying the car serves as confirmation on all features and cosmetic aspects of these cars, issued only by BMW through an exhaustive in-person expert visual inspection performed in Munich.
Summary conclusions from the BMW Classic Black Book include verification that the car retains the original chassis, original suspension components, the original braking system (including the Series II Girling disc brakes), and original body panels. Of key importance, the car also wears a complete set of impossibly rare date stamped Rudge knock off wheels, which are identified in the BMW Expertise report to be original and correct. As is well known by experts in these cars, the ten-bolt engine design of earlier iteration was prone to heat failure. As a remedy, BMW offered factory replacement engines delivered to authorized dealerships at no cost to the owners. The replacement engine, a 140 series with eleven-bolt cylinder head castings, was more robust than the failed original ten-bolt design which caused catastrophic cylinder head warping especially in warmer climates like Italy and Venezuela. This example is fitted with the desirable eleven-bolt engine and a correct ZF four-speed gearbox. Summary conclusions when under mechanical inspection and road testing for the Black Book include an engine compression test returning 8.4:1 – 8.7:1 across all cylinders. The conclusion to the inspection and certification resulted in a 900 point score out of 1000, placing it in Category 1, the highest rated category achievable. Under American ownership for the past five years, this extraordinary 507 has only been displayed at just one premier concours event, The Quail Motorsports Gathering in 2016.
TODAY THIS BMW 507 PRESENTS AS A STUNNING EXAMPLE OF THE DESIRABLE SERIES II CONFIGURATION, FINISHED IN SILVER WITH ELEGANT RED LEATHER INTERIOR. The paint is glossy and smooth, flowing over the original body panels. The fine body details, delicate creases, and exquisite surface transitions are expertly finished and polished to perfection. The doors, hood, and trunk gaps are excellent, opening and closing smoothly, with jambs and underside surfaces showing excellent finish and structural integrity. The delicately tailored front and rear bumpers, headlight bezels, and other chrome features offer beautiful reflections and glints of jewel-like detail. The headlights, lenses, glass, and trim are finished to a very high standard showing correct factory indications and precision fit. The distinctive BMW “spinning prop” emblems create elegant touches to the sinewy body design.
The sporty factory original, date stamped Rudge wheels are correctly finished with matching body color centers surrounded by stunning polished aluminum rims and finished with chrome plated knockoffs bearing the BMW logo. Michelin white wall tires add an elegant touch to the sporting profile. The distinctive split grille is polished to a high luster with precision fit to the openings and correct polish to the perforated grille screens. The elongated hood scoop is delicately finished with laser straight chrome trim complementing the BMW roundels flanked on each side in the polished fender vents. The hardtop has been painted a handsome darker shade of silver which creates a tailored look to the car as the 507 hardtop itself is one of the best-looking hardtops ever fitted to any sports car.
The interior is beautifully presented with rich, taut leather, offering an elegant sporting red hue that commands any viewers attention. The leather is beautifully creased, stitched, and tailored with exceptional details including stitched finger pulls, hand crank chrome plated window handles, and wrapped leather grab handles. The interior is elegantly trimmed with the seats showing just a hint of use, slightly relaxed by fortunate drivers and delighted passengers. The correctly trimmed low pile carpeting is in excellent condition, showing only mild evidence of use in the driver’s footwell. The black canvas convertible top raises and lowers easily with tight fit to the windshield and excellent material finish inside and out. The dashboard sports an elegant array of vividly restored gauges with crisp lettering and bright numeric indication. Further details include a Becker Europa radio, matching red speaker grille and instrument binnacle surround, and the gorgeous ivory white steering with four spokes encircled by the perimeter rim emulating the high-speed prop spin as a herald of BMWs aviation heritage, just as their logo conveys. The stunning and elegant interior continues to the lining and finishes in the trunk compartment which offers ample room for more than weekend luggage as well as a full-sized matching date coded Rudge wheel spare. Here too, as with the rest of the car, one can admire the attention to detail in the underside trunk finish and inner side panels.
Under the hood, the BMW V8 engine is a symphony of correct detail utilizing original accessories and properly finished hardware. While at BMW Classic Center the engine and engine compartment were restored and detailed to a high standard and great care has since been continuously given to preserve these authentic finishes. Although some miles and time have passed since completion, the engine presents exquisitely even under show-level scrutiny as both cosmetic and operational diligence has been fastidiously commissioned with top-tier professionals. A set of factory original tools reside in a dedicated storage box built into the engine compartment in front of the firewall – a clever original feature exceeding even the finest classic cars that often barely offer a small fabric rollup set of tools. Inspection of the undercarriage further validates the quality of the restoration from top to bottom. Not only has this car benefited from an expert restoration, the ongoing care and detailing have since continually preserved the quality of the finishes even on the undercarriage.
True to the original intent of this BMW 507, the visual condition is further enhanced by excellent mechanical refinement and operational confidence. The car starts and runs smoothly with a wonderful sound emanating from the optional twin exit pipes extending under the rear bumper. THE DELICATELY MUFFLED V8 ENGINE IS BRISK AND RESPONSIVE WHEN THE THROTTLE IS ENGAGED, AS THE ROADWAY QUICKLY DISAPPEARS BENEATH YOU. The comfortable seating position offers expansive visibility and easy to reach controls. Power is strong when encouraged, with second and third gear being especially rewarding for jaunts up to higher speeds. Driving this BMW 507 it is easy to see how these cars continue to delight dedicated and fortunate owners, many of whom regularly use these cars in motoring events because of their exceptional road manners, ease of use, and touring composure. This beautiful BMW 507 is accompanied by an original factory hardtop, an original set of Hazet branded tools, a Rudge wheel knock off tool, factory keys, a BMW maintenance chart, BMW 507 owner’s manual, period sales literature, and the BMW Classic Expertise Black Book.
Collected by some of the most distinguished and discerning connoisseurs, the magnificent BMW 507 Series II will forever remain an unrivaled icon of unparalleled automotive beauty and sophisticated elegance. Representing the absolute premier moment of automotive excellence which established the BMW legacy in North America and eventually the world, this beautiful example serves as the ultimate ambassador of elegant performance motoring. Supported by the BMW Classic Expertise “Black Book”, with mechanical refurbishment by BMW Classic, and confirmed by BMW Classic Zertifikat, this stunning 507 represents a rare opportunity to acquire a sports car of unprecedented elegance, expert authentic restoration, and unparalleled design.