Classic Car Story Index

The BMW 507 classic car was among that ambiguous group of great classic cars that failed in the marketplace. The 507 was a roadster version of the 501 and 502 vehicles that was produced from 1956 to 1959 for the U.S. market to compete with the likes of Maserati, Ferrari, Porsche, Aston Martin, Jaguar and Mercedes-Benz. At that time in post-war Europe most exotic car manufacturers depended heavily on American sales and Max Hoffman, a well known auto importer, convinced BMW that they could sell thousands of the roadsters. Fritz Fiedler, an engineer for BMW, was given the task of making it happen and the finished product was a winner, except in the marketplace, where it proved too expensive.

1956 BMW 507

1956 BMW 507

During World War II BMW made motorcycles for the German army and by the time the war was over the Munich facility was in near ruins from the heavy bombing. It took almost four years to revive their motorcycle production line and they didn't get back into car production until 1951. Their first production car was introduced in 1954 as the BMW 502 and featured an aluminum V-8 engine but it did not sell very well, nor did the following 503 model, which had a lot to do with their decision to take a chance on the 507.

The BMW 507 roadster is a true classic car that was just over 190 inches long and weighed about 3,000 pounds. The aluminum body was shaped by hand and each one was therefore slightly different. Some had optional hard tops but each was custom fit to a specific body. The front end held a double wishbone suspension system, an anti-roll bar and torsion bars. The rear suspension consisted of a live axle and torsion bars. There was also a transverse A-arm to compensate for braking and acceleration. Drum brakes were used with a power brake option. The aluminum engine had a displacement of 193 cubic inches and produced 150 horsepower, and the compression was eventually increased to produce 195 horsepower. The engine was fed by two Zenith two-barrel carburetors and was connected to a four-speed transmission. That much power from a relatively small engine sitting in an aluminum body out preformed most of the competition and Motor Revue reported that the car could go from zero to 62 mph in 11.1 seconds.

Count Albrecht Graf Goertz was asked to design the body of the 507 roadster and the finished product got a lot of attention at the 1955 Frankfurt Motor Show. The sleek body had minimal chrome and looked like it wanted to go fast. The interior was simple but appealing to those who understood the conflict between luxury and performance. However production became expensive and after a year of preparations the finished product reached showrooms at a list price of almost $10,000: more than the Mercedes-Benz 500SL and 356 Porsche. BMW built only 252 of those classic cars before halting production in 1959.