1957 BMW 507
Year of manufacture1957
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 designed by Count Albrecht von Goertz, it was the spectacular 507 roadster 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 great 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 aluminum body appeared to be stretched over the mechanical underpinnings and evoked speed even when standing still. Not only did the 507 look like a true sports car, it also performed 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-carb V-8 engine. Depending on the gear ratio selected, the 507 was capable of 125–135 mph and offered brilliant acceleration, reaching 0–60 mph in less than 10 seconds. Though the 507 was not designed with motor sports in mind, its performance was such that several examples were entered in major racing events including the Mille Miglia and the Tour de France.
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 motor sports 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 that BMW had enjoyed in the prewar years with the legendary 328.
Production of the 507 commenced in November 1956 and came to a close in May 1959 after just 254 examples were built. 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 produced by the Munich-based company.
The BMW 507 presented here, chassis 70073, is a desirable Series II model, of which 218 examples were built.
The Series II 507s, initially developed as a separate model for the American market, became the production standard in mid-1957. They 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.
As confirmed by BMW Classic records on file, chassis 70073 was completed on August 27, 1957, fitted with engine number 40059, and finished in Silbergrau (Silver Grey). Of the 254 cars built, 21 were originally finished in Silbergrau, tied with Japan Red for the second most popular 507 color after Feather White. Two days after it was completed, 70073 was shipped to BMW’s official dealer in Rome, Casa dell’Automobile, making it one of just 27 Series II 507s delivered new to Italy.
According to research obtained from the BMW Classic Car Club of America and included in the history file, the first known owner of 70073 was Stuart Hanford of Lebanon, Pennsylvania, who acquired it second-hand from well-known Milanese exotic car dealer Viviano Corradini. Around 1979, the 507 was sold to Dr. Leland House, a pioneering BMW collector based in Costa Mesa, California. The car remained in his ownership until 1986, when it was sold to Lothar Hoess, a Connecticut-based collector who owned a variety of significant sports cars, including Abarths, four-cam Porsches, and Mercedes-Benz 300 SLs.
In 1998, the 507 was sold at a Christie’s auction in New York as an original car in need of cosmetic attention. Over the next two years, the BMW received a high-quality cosmetic restoration, during which time it was refinished in the present color scheme.
In 2000, American software magnate Frank W. Pritt purchased 70073 and it remained a fixture in his impressive car collection for the next 14 years, sharing his garage with an Alfa Romeo 8C 2300, Jaguar D-Type, 300 SL Roadster, and other notable classics. More recently, this rare BMW has been kept in a private East Coast collection and shown only once, at the 2015 Classic Sports Sunday Concours d’Elegance held in conjunction with the Palm Beach Cavallino Classic.
Today, the BMW remains in lovely condition throughout, and looks splendid in its light metallic blue paint paired with beige upholstery, dark blue top and trim. Significantly, and unlike many 507s, this car retains its original, matching-numbers engine (40059) as well as its original data plate, body tag (numbered 001072), period-correct KpZ wheels, and under-hood tool kit with proper Hazet components.
Undoubtedly among the most iconic, beautiful, and desirable European sports cars of the 1950s, the BMW 507 is a model that is highly sought-after by discerning collectors. Not only are these cars eligible for the most exclusive concours d’elegance and driving events, including the Mille Miglia and Colorado Grand, but they are also the most important BMW sports cars of the postwar era and, as such, represent the ultimate achievement of this legendary German marque.
With precious few produced, a matching-numbers 507 is an extremely rare find – let alone a desirable Series II example such as this one, which possesses a well-known history, a desirable factory specification, and a limited roster of knowledgeable owners. Gooding & Company is proud to offer this outstanding 507 – a particularly fine example of a distinguished breed.