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Lot 21

2014   |   Amelia Island Auction 2014

1958 BMW 507 Series II

SOLD $1,815,000

Estimate

$1,500,000 - $1,800,000

Chassis

70134

Engine

40146 Body No. 1133

Car Highlights

Among the Most Desirable European Sports Cars of the 1950s
One of Only 252 Examples Ever Built
Highly Sought-After Series II Model
Elegant White over Blue Color Scheme
Very Original, Matching-Numbers Example
Single-Family Ownership for Almost 30 Years
Featured on the Cover of Roundel Magazine
Offered with Original Workshop Manual, Service Records, and History File
Eligible for the Best International Events Including the Mille Miglia

Technical Specs

3,168 CC OHV 90° Alloy V-8 Engine
Twin Zenith 32 NDIX Carburetors
150 BHP at 5,000 RPM
4-Speed Manual Gearbox
4-Wheel Hydraulic Alfin Drum Brakes
Independent Front Suspension with Parallel Wishbones and Torsion Bars
Live Rear Axle with Torsion Bars

Saleroom Addendum

*Please note this vehicle is titled 1957. Please also note that although BMW 507s have been welcomed at events such as the Mille Miglia, Gooding encourages any bidders interested in participating in such events with this car to contact event organizers directly, in order to determine the eligibility of a 1958 model year BMW 507 Series II that was constructed in 1957.

Register to Bid

Built towards the end of the 507’s four-year production run, 70134 is a desirable Series II model, of which 214 examples were built.

These refined Series II 507s feature a revised dashboard layout, more streamlined stowage for the convertible top and a relocated fuel tank that increased interior space, allowing the seats to be moved rearward to accommodate taller drivers.

Constructed in late 1957, it is believed that this 507 was sold new to the US through Hoffman Motors of New York. According to the research of marque experts, just 34 examples of BMW’s 507 were officially exported new to the US through Hoffman Motors and FADEX Commercial Corporation.

Several sources suggest that 70134 was sold new in Los Angeles to “someone in the movie business”; however, the earliest documented history dates to the 1970s, when the 507 was owned by a prominent architect living in Jackson, Mississippi. In the early 1980s, Barry McMillan of Pennsylvania acquired the 507 and it then passed to a Philadelphia-area collector before being sold to the Oldtimer Garage in Bern, Switzerland.

In 1985, the 507 was advertised for sale in Road & Track, and it soon caught the attention of a well-known, Colorado-based BMW enthusiast. While discussing the car with the vendor, he came to realize that this white 507, chassis 70134, was the very same car he had admired at a gas station years earlier while attending college in Jackson, Mississippi. In fact, this was the very car that sparked his passion for German sports cars and his love for the BMW marque.

Once a purchase was negotiated, the 507 was shipped from Switzerland to its new home in Colorado, where it immediately became the crown jewel in a growing collection of important BMW models.

Over the years, the 507 was a frequent participant in many BMW Vintage & Classic Car Club of America events, taking part in a variety of shows, tours, and special BMW Holidays. Most recently, the 507 made the journey from Colorado to New Mexico, where it was proudly displayed at the 2011 Santa Fe Concorso.

Today, this 507 appears to have never been subject to a complete restoration and remains in strikingly original order throughout. Significantly, all wheels are stamped with appropriate September 1957 date codes; the original matching-numbers engine (no. 40146) remains intact; the body number (1133 or 233) is stamped on the hood and other body panels; and the original blue and white leather upholstery, also marked in chalk with the body number, possesses a charming patina.

As would be expected of a well-kept 507, this car is offered with an original German-language shop manual, a tool kit, and an extensive history file that includes service records, articles, correspondence, and an autographed business card from Albrecht Goertz – the man responsible for the car’s timeless design. In addition to these important accessories, the sale of this special BMW includes the August 2011 issue of Roundel magazine (in which 70134 is featured) and a copy of Dr. Karlheinz Lange’s The Legendary BMW 507.

According to the consignor, the 507 is said to be in sound mechanical order, having always been regularly exercised and maintained in the hands of its long-term caretaker. On a recent outing, the BMW roadster performed beautifully, with smooth gearbox actuation, effective brakes, a healthy roar from the twin-carb V-8, and a decidedly sporting feel.

Compared with a production run of over 1,800 Mercedes-Benz 300 SL Roadsters, the rarity and exclusivity of these gorgeous BMW sports cars is immediately apparent when you consider that just 252 examples were ever built, of which 202 are believed to have survived. Due to their rarity and historical significance, 507s are welcome at the finest automotive events in the world, from exclusive concours to leading rallies, such as the Mille Miglia and the Colorado Grand.

As 507s continue to join major collections, it has become increasingly difficult to find such a desirable car for public sale, let alone an example such as this, with remarkable originality and a well-known provenance. Presented here is a matching-numbers 507 that was the undisputed centerpiece of a highly regarded, single-marque collection for almost 30 years, during which time it was always carefully maintained and enjoyed in the manner BMW originally intended.

The new owner of this 507 will have the rare privilege of enjoying one of the world’s most desirable sports cars, available for the first time in decades.

The 507

When the Frankfurt Motor Show opened in late 1955, the principal BMW attractions were two new variations on the V-8-powered 502: the 503 and the 507. Though both models were influenced by New York car dealer Max Hoffman and designed by Count Albrecht Goertz, it was the spectacular 507 that stole the show.

The new BMW roadster was so pure and perfect from every angle that it immediately took its place among the all-time greatest automotive designs. Possessing sweeping, harmonious lines, a purposeful rendition of the classic kidney grille, unmistakable side vents, and aggressive rear haunches, the 507’s lightweight alloy body appeared to be stretched tightly over the mechanical underpinnings and evoked speed even when standing still. Not only did the 507 look like a true sports car, it also drove like one.

With a rigid box frame, upgraded suspension, four-speed synchromesh gearbox and large Alfin drum brakes, the 507 possessed an ideal foundation for BMW’s robust twin-carburetor V-8 engine. Depending on the gear ratio selected, the 507 was capable of 125–135 mph and offered brilliant acceleration, reaching 0 to 60 mph in less than 10 seconds. Though the 507 was not designed with motorsport in mind, its performance was such that several examples were entered in major racing events, including the Mille Miglia and the Tour de France.

Production of the 507 commenced in November 1956 and came to a close in May 1959 after just 252 examples were built.

Initially intended to fill a gap between the low-priced English imports and the phenomenally expensive Mercedes-Benz 300 SL Roadster, the 507 commanded a princely $8,988 in the US and 26,500 marks in Germany, making it one of the most expensive – and therefore exclusive – cars of its day. As a result, the elegant BMW attracted celebrities as diverse as pop icon Elvis Presley and motorsport hero John Surtees.

It has often been said that development and production costs of the 507 would have bankrupted the company were it not for the Isetta and a thriving motorcycle division. In fact, the flagship model was never intended as a moneymaker, but sought to re-establish the outstanding sporting reputation BMW enjoyed in the prewar years with the legendary 328.

While it was far from a commercial success, the 507 certainly accomplished BMW’s goal; and, today, the limited-production V-8 roadster is surely the most desirable postwar model ever built by the Munich-based company.