High-dollar car auction sales are nothing new, especially when classics are involved. However, there’s paying a large sum for something like an Alfa Romeo BAT concept, and there’s paying $300k for a Datsun 240Z. Classic BMWs are no stranger to high price tags, as evidenced by E30 M3 values. But you can buy a small fleet of those cars for $1.96 million—or, as one person did, you can buy a 1957 BMW 507.
The stylish 507 almost killed BMW
BMW struggled a bit in the years following WWII, Petrolicious reports. The brand’s motorcycles were doing reasonably well, but the company wanted to up its automotive sales. US importer Max Hoffman gave BMW an idea: make a flagship open-top sports car, Petrolicious reports.
Hoffman didn’t just pull this notion out of thin air. He had already convinced Porsche to create the original 356 Speedster. And without Hoffman, Mercedes-Benz wouldn’t have the 300SL Gullwing. Only BMW’s sports car, the future 507, would be more affordable than the Gullwing, Automobile reports. At least, that was the plan.
When the BMW 507 launched in 1956, it definitely had street presence. The sports car was designed by Albrecht von Goertz, who had worked on the Gullwing and would later design the 240Z. The 507’s body is hand-made out of aluminum; hence, no two examples are perfectly identical, Automobile reports. And it rides on a shortened version of the 503 GT’s platform.
Then as now, American buyers appreciated power. And the BMW 507 has it. Under the hood is BMW’s first V8, a 3.2-liter one with 150 hp linked to a newly-designed full-synchromesh 4-speed manual. Which, at the time, was more than enough for a 2930-lb roadster. Plus, thanks to a front anti-roll bar and double-wishbone suspension, the BMW 507 handles and rides comfortably, Petrolicious reports.
Unfortunately, while the BMW 507 had stylish looks, they didn’t come cheap. Originally, Hoffman predicted the roadster would sell for $5000—the modern equivalent of $47.8k, Automobile reports. But it actually cost $10,500; that’s about $100,500 today.
The near-$2-million 1957 BMW 507 Series II on Bring a Trailer
Still, how is it that a 1957 BMW 507 sold for $1,957,507 on December 7th, 2020, on Bring a Trailer?
To start, this particular example is a later Series II car, as most 507s are. The biggest difference between a Series I and a Series II is that the latter have their fuel tanks in their trunks. Later models also received front disc brakes instead of drums.
However, this 1957 BMW 507 has a few things that set it apart from the ‘majority’ of 507s. For one, it’s one of just 15 cars painted black from the factory. Secondly, it’s one of just 11 with the optional detachable hardtop, Automobile reports. This, due to the 507’s hand-built nature, is unique to this car.
Also, this BMW 507 has been refurbished and refreshed over the years. The paint is refinished, as is the hardtop. The roadster also has new body seals, re-chromed exterior trim pieces, and period-correct Rudge wheels purchased new from BMW. The interior has also been reupholstered, and the steering wheel and gauges have been rebuilt.
This BMW 507’s engine isn’t original to the car, BaT notes. However, it is a factory 3.2-liter V8 that’s been restored and service over the years. Said service includes a rebuilt water pump, a new battery, a repaired generator, and a new stainless-steel exhaust.
Plus, this 1957 507 Series II bears a certificate from BMW confirming the original order details, as well as the factory tool kit and copious service records.
Was it worth it?
Interestingly enough, a near-$2 million price tag for a BMW 507, especially one as rare as this, isn’t unheard-of. Given its condition and the factory Rudge wheels, $2 million is actually close to this car’s average market value, Hagerty reports.
And despite its rarity, this 1957 BMW 507 Series II isn’t the most expensive example ever sold. In October 2020 a 1959 Series II roadster formerly owned by the King of Greece went for roughly $2.5 million at a Bonhams auction. And a factory-tuned 1957 roadster bought by racing legend Sir John Surtees sold for $5,026,522 at a July 2018 Bonhams auction, Car and Driver reports. So, in a way, despite the high price, this 1957 507 was actually kind of a bargain.
But, if you want 507-style looks without spending several million, there is a cheaper alternative. BMW paid homage to the iconic roadster by creating the 2000 Z8, which also has plenty of aluminum, Hagerty reports. And, like the 507, the Z8 has a V8, albeit one from the contemporary M5. The 4.9-liter engine makes 394 hp and 369 lb-ft sent to the rear wheels via a 6-speed manual. And 0-60 mph takes 4.5 seconds, Car and Driver reports.
Unfortunately, while the BMW Z8 is much cheaper than the 507, it’s not inexpensive. Prices on BaT hover in the $150,000-$200,000 range.
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