Many people today connect the legendary BMW 507 with Elvis, who owned one, with some unspecified golden age within the good reputation for the Munich-based brand. Actually this beautiful vehicle would be a commercial disaster, which period within the good reputation for BMW was one burdened by disaster and gloom…
During World War Ii, BMW was not able to construct cars however it did develop perhaps the very best radial engine of The Second World War, the BMW 801 of Focke-Wulf Fw-190 fame additionally, it labored on jet engines and were able to start producing one, the 003, before hostilities ended. BMW also created its excellent motorbikes for military use, which was that.
Immediately after world war 2, BMW almost stopped to exist. Its primary vehicle building facility in Eisenach found itself under Soviet occupation and, while using undamaged tooling and stock of parts, started to show out completely new cars such as the 327. Before long, the BMW name was altered to EMW so they won’t cause further conflict using the West.
The Munich facility, which had made aircraft engines, have been reduced to boulders and incredibly little might be salvaged. Anyway, the American occupying forces didn’t permit BMW to restart vehicle production. Nonetheless, the BMW management persevered, and stored pleading the Americans for permission. In 1948, producing the R24 motorcycle commenced. BMW was during the game.
It had been alive, only just, coupled with no vehicle to construct. Among the managers attempted speaking to Ford and Simca to create their vehicles under license, but the talks got nowhere. Germany was poor and BMW’s chief engineer, Alfred Bning, believed an inexpensive vehicle was the solution: the motorcycle engine-powered 331 appeared as if a scaled-lower pre-war BMW model, however the board didn’t approve it for production.
It was vetoed through the former banker and Opel plant manager, Herr Grewenig, who believed, properly, that for some time BMW wouldn’t have a very big enough factory to efficiently create a cheap vehicle while earning money onto it, and that he pressed in order to obtain luxury automobiles that may be produced in small figures with a far more significant profit. He won within the finish, and that he had Bning design the BMW 501.
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This vehicle, operated by a six-cylinder engine, an improvement of the pre-war design, was delayed, overweight, underpowered, and price around a typical German earned in 4 years – not quite a recipe for commercial success. The physiques were built at subcontractor Baur in Stuttgart due to delays to in-house facilities, thus contributing to the price.
The 501 was updated before long, as well as in 1954 a parallel model was introduced, the 502, with a brand new, 2.6-liter V8 engine, created by Bning and Fiedler (exactly the same Fiedler who had been instrumental in the development of the 328 prior to the war, and who earlier choose to go away to get results for Bristol Cars in England).
Sales from the 501 and 502 were finally healthy, but inadequate for the organization to build up. The following stage of BMW’s history involves Max Hoffman, the previous Austrian Rolls-Royce and Bentley dealer who offered cars around the New England from the U . s . States, essential within the good reputation for Mercedes and Porsche.
In individuals days, influential vehicle importers could really possess a say with what vehicle makers built, especially individuals like Max Hoffman and Luigi Chinetti, men having a strong history in sales.
Max Hoffman, buoyed through the success he generated using the 300SL Gullwing and also the 190SL Mercedes, recommended that BMW make use of the new trend for fashionable sports cars and convey a coupe in line with the 502. He felt certain whether it cost $5,000 or below, he could easily shift thousands in america.
BMW made the decision to go for it, however the 503 coupe proposal, a four-seater using lots of 502 carryover parts, was considered by Hoffman to not be radical enough. He didn’t like exactly what the factory ran, so he recommended that uncle, Albrecht Graf von Goertz, a disciple of Raymond Loewy, submit his refreshingly different design.
His work was approved for production because the 507, and both 507 and 503 were brought to the general public within the same year 1955, the 507 in New You are able to, and also the conservative 503 in Frankfurt. Regrettably for that beautiful 507, the expected U.S. sales never materialized, as Hoffman, getting learned the vehicle cost two times around the first estimate, more than the 300SL, withdrew his huge order.
BMW created only 252 (or 253, based on who you ask) 507 roadsters between 1956 and 1959, and even such proprietors as Elvis (whose vehicle surfaced lately) and John Surtees wouldn’t persuade the buyers to spend their cash.
The vehicle was practically hands-made, hence very costly, its 3.2-liter V8 engine developed only 150 horsepower, and it is performance was inferior to that particular of British cars imported towards the US. Simultaneously, the interest in motorcycles, the staple of BMW earnings, tumbled, and also the 500-number of sedans weren’t any longer selling in figures which may guarantee profit. 1959 would be a year of enormous losses, as well as despair.
Today, the BMW 507 is not connected using the worst year within the company’s publish war history. The 507, whose styling elements surfaced around the Z3 and also the Z8, has become an incredible investment, with some reaching $two million at auction. For those who have one out of your garage, it may only grow in value. If you do not, it’s unlikely you’re going to get an opportunity to try one, so let us discuss the way it drives.
Driving the BMW 507
To begin with, it really is beautiful within the flesh. In 1956, the 507 must have been stunning, unless of course it had been parked alongside a Gullwing. The proportions are perfect, the surfacing superb, and also the details timelessly elegant. The engine starts good enough when cold (completely different when hot) and also the gear box action instills confidence. There’s no American-style V8 burble, only a technical, clean, Germanic engine note which never becomes intrusive.
To date, so great. It does not accelerate in addition to you can expect, dealing with 60 miles per hour (96 kph) within 12 seconds from dead stop, and it is top speed is about 120 miles per hour (200 kph). Steering is heavy and vague, even though the vehicle could be hustled along a mountain road, it takes skill and does not flatter the motive force. A minimum of the suspension is supple and soaks in bumps well.
Like a cruiser, a boulevardier, it is extremely credible but less in order a driver’s vehicle. Yes, I understand Hendes Stuck (below) raced one and won his class in a hillclimb in 1958, but Hendes Stuck had won hillclimbs within the deadly V16 Auto Unions, and that he could drive anything with wheels onto it quicker than other people.
The wooden brakes (all however the last couple of cars had four Alfin drum brakes) require a proper shove to decelerate the vehicle, and also at speed the chassis feels average for that period. Granted, it’s safer to have an unskilled wheelman than the usual Gullwing, but additionally since the Mercedes gets to corners more rapidly and it also overwhelms the senses using the abundance of stimuli.
BMW 3200 Michelotti Vignale
The BMW 507 am perfectly resolved when it comes to design that just two stylists attempted to enhance the Graf’s work. One was Raymond Loewy, in 1957, but his creation am ugly it’s however a curious footnote within the good reputation for the legendary vehicle.
But there was another designer who attempted it, and the work makes a lot more sense. Giovanni Michelotti, very well known in great britan for his focus on various Triumphs, in the Herald towards the Stag, would be a prolific designer who always searched for methods to lure new clients.
Wishing to win a brand new hire BMW (he had been talking to around the BMW 700), Michelotti began sketching a far more modern skin for that BMW 507 chassis in 1957. He purchased a chassis through the Italian BMW importer, Alessandro Paolini of Casa dell’ Automobili, in 1958, and contracted your body panel try to Scaglietti in Modena, the builder of a lot of fantastic Ferrari physiques. The set up ended in the workshop of Alfredo Vignale in Turin.
This prototype, acquired by BMW in the year 2006 following a complicated existence, has become known as "3200 Michelotti Vignale," and it was initially presented openly in Turin in 1959. Regrettably for BMW and Michelotti, the gifted Italian was not able to influence BMW to carry on producing the 507 by having an updated body, built-in Italia at less expensive.
The vehicle looks similar to a Maserati, and it has a totally different air to what standard Von Goertz 507. Additionally, it has electric window lifters along with a cockpit more cramped compared to regular one.
Getting driven both an ordinary 507 and also the Michelotti prototype within the same roads, the second demonstrated more stimulating, possibly because of its unique nature and complex provenance. It is actually heavier, most likely because of its prototype nature and also the abundant utilization of lead filler by Vignale’s craftsmen.
Still, as a result of different, less relaxed driving position along with a different car windows vista, the position from the vehicle in corners appears strangely enough simpler, and much more tempting to push harder. Another exhaust note, much harsher and louder, also lends the vehicle another flavor. A redesigned dashboard looks right. Much better than the conventional vehicle? When it comes to appearance, no, but when it comes to rarity and history, we must provide the nod.
Photos: Piotr R Frankowski, Bernhard Limberger
Source: Auto Classics