A model aimed at boosting BMW's profile and sales in the Fifties, the 507 dragged it to the edge of bankruptcy instead. But it remains one of the most glorious models to have ever rolled out of Munich
Rarity and beauty are two major factors that fire the desirability of a car in the classic car market. Add to these an association with a couple of celebrities, and its appeal shoots through the roof. And if the celebrities include the likes of Elvis Presley and Frank Sinatra, then you sure have a legend clothed in sheet metal right there. Arguably one of the most beautiful cars ever built by BMW, the 507 is all this and more.
Still reeling from the financial ravages of World War II, BMW began eyeing markets outside the Continent to expand its business. And the USA, with its huge appetite for luxury and sportscars couldn't be ignored.
That's when Max Hoffman who was the leading importer of the Bavarian carmaker's vehicles in the US suggested that Munich build a car that could compete with the Mercedes 300SL. BMW approached designer Albrecht von Goertz to pen a car that will be at once beautiful and muscular, and what Goertz came up with must have surprised even BMW.
The lines were as gorgeous as any that came from Italy or Britain while looking as brawny as any of Detroit's best. Into this stunning all-aluminium body was dropped a 3.2-litre aluminium alloy V8, which, mated to a four-speed transmission, was good for 150bhp. The 507's performance figures were decent for the time, with 0-100kph done in about 10 seconds and the quarter mile coming up in about 18 seconds. Although the initial models had drum brakes at all four corners later models came with discs up front.
Launched with much fanfare in early 1955, the 507 was intended to be priced at $5,000 (Dh18,365), but unexpectedly high production costs pushed it up to $11,000 when the car was sold in the US in 1956. Instead of enhancing the company's fortunes and reviving its name, the 507 pushed the carmaker to the brink of bankruptcy, and in 1959 after incurring huge losses, production was stopped.
Although BMW had targeted an annual production run of 5,000 units, only a paltry 253 examples were made over three years. However, this also means the 507 is one of the rarest collectible sportscars from the Fifties and one of the best looking ever made by BMW. And the fact that good examples of the 507 are on sale on the classic car market for close to $1 million today is testimony enough to the ever-growing value of this rare gem from Munich.