Art of the Automobile

21 November 2013

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Lot 127

1958 BMW 507 Series II Roadster

  • Chassis no. 70180
  • Engine no. 40188
  • Body no. 1179

Sold for $1,650,000


  • BMW’s most important production automobile, and a landmark design
  • A desirable Series II example with rare factory hardtop


The post-war sports car in America is a thing of beauty, and the man almost singularly responsible for recognizing that American audiences would appreciate such beauty and performance was Max Hoffman, for whom the world’s automakers created art in metal for, for over two decades. He was the ultimate muse: a man who inspired beautiful machinery with a simple command, and one that had the resources and influence to back up his inspirations.



It was the drumbeats from Hoffman’s New York office that led to the creation of the Porsche Speedster, the Mercedes-Benz 300 SL and 190 SL, and this car, the BMW 507. BMW would have eventually recognized the performance capabilities of its engineering, or how the American market’s thirst for fast, beautiful open two-seaters had not yet been quenched, but it was actually Hoffman who spurred on the effort, by demanding stylish machinery that would bridge the divide between low-priced MGs, the Porsches, and the pricey 300 SL in his lineup.



The 507 would utilize the best of Bavaria, with mechanical components sourced from the 502 and 503 series, including a 3.2-liter, overhead-valve aluminum block V-8, which had been improved with twin carburetors in order to produce some 150 horsepower. Like most great automobiles, however, it would not have become a legend if not for its flowing, downright sensuous curves. It was Max Hoffman who had final approval of the design, so he requested the services of Count Albrecht von Goertz, a protégé of famed industrial designer Raymond Loewy, whose futuristic themes for Studebaker in the early fifties had caught Hoffman’s discerning eye. For Hoffman and BMW, Goertz imagined some of the most beautiful lines ever folded into metal.



The 507 design had a lightness that was combined with a hint of feline power and unmatched refinement. Its long, sinuous fenders kicked at the rear and swept elegantly towards the front, framing a glamorously stylized version of the traditional BMW “twin kidney” grille, in itself molded and refined, with voluptuous creases that were prominent from every angle. Narrow chrome bumpers did not interfere with the flowing simplicity of the design, but it instead accented its grace. Most prominent to the stylist’s eye are the intricate shark-like ventilation “gills” along the front fenders, which echo those on the Mercedes-Benz 300 SL, which was Hoffman’s earlier inspiration. It is a reminder of the visionary muse behind Goertz’s art, and it is a stylistic feature that is still visible decades later in many of BMW’s sports cars, beginning with the Z8.



The 507 was hand-built at a price that eventually reached over $11,000, which was a towering sum for a car in the day, and it was discontinued after only two-and-a-half years and 251 examples. Those 251 people looked at the car, soaked up its beauty, and likely forgot the price. Elvis Presley reportedly gave one to Ursula Andress, who was entranced with it. Eventual World Champion John Surtees received a 507 from Count Agusta, the motorcycle manufacturer. The basic lines of the 507 went on to inspire the greatest modern BMW, the Z8, which became its spiritual successor in the carriage houses of the wealthy and stylish.



Offered here is a desirable Series II variant with increased engine output and a little additional space behind the seats, offering those taller drivers a more comfortable seating position. It has been beautifully restored in striking Silver with contrasting handsome Green leather upholstery, making it an elegant, period-correct, and beautifully subtle alternative to the sea of white 507s more often offered. It is presented in excellent overall condition, and it has been nicely detailed, with correct steel wheels fitted and an original 507 factory hardtop. Importantly, the 507’s hardtop was “designed in” by Goertz, and the car is as striking with the hardtop fixed as it is when opened to the breeze.



Most importantly, in a recent road test by an RM specialist, the car started with ease and was superb in operation, with an easy clutch, responsive brakes, and exhilarating performance. Even at 60 mph, it traveled straight down the road, and heading into a curve, it handled adroitly, just as Max Hoffman would have expected of it.



In those days of the new America, as memories of World War II faded and the Baby Boom echoed through streets of prosperity, sports cars became a symbol not just of speed, but also of freedom. The BMW 507 has become an iconoclastic object of that time, and it is at home in history as it is in the garage.

Please contact our exclusive automotive transportation partner, Reliable Carriers, for a shipping quote or any other information on the transport of this vehicle.

Alexander Weaver

aweaver@rmsothebys.com

+1 864 313 6844
California, United States

Alexander Weaver joined RM Sotheby’s in 2011 as a Car Specialist after graduating from Furman University in South Carolina. Born... read more

Augustin Sabatié-Garat

asabatie-garat@rmsothebys.com

+44 (0) 74 1511 4179
United Kingdom

Augustin Sabatié-Garat joined RM Europe in 2012 as a Car Specialist after more than a decade in the collector car hobby. Gradua... read more

Barney Ruprecht

bruprecht@rmsothebys.com

+1 203 912 7168
Ontario, Canada

Barney’s interest in classic cars began at an early age after being introduced to his father’s all-original 1965 Porsche 9... read more

David Swig

dswig@rmsothebys.com

+1 415 302 2247
California, United States

David Swig joined RM Sotheby’s West Coast division as a Car Specialist in May 2015. He is a life-long automobile enthusiast and ... read more

Don Rose

drose@rmsothebys.com

+1 617 513 0388
United States

Don joined RM in 2006 after several years of professionally trading sports and classic cars, and after earning a reputation as a noted... read more

Donnie Gould

dgould@rmsothebys.com

+1 954 566 2209
Florida, United States

Donnie Gould joined the RM team in 2002 as a partner and Car Specialist after more than two decades in the vintage automobile auction ... read more

Gord Duff

gduff@rmsothebys.com

+1 519 352 4575
Ontario, Canada

Gord Duff began his journey with RM Sotheby’s in 1998. Since then, he has gained an intimate knowledge of a variety of marques a... read more

Ian Kelleher

ikelleher@rmsothebys.com

+1 310 559 4575
California, United States

Ian Kelleher began his automotive career immediately following his graduation from Oberlin College with a Bachelor of Arts in Politica... read more

Jake Auerbach

jauerbach@rmsothebys.com

+1 310 559 4575
California, United States

Jake Auerbach got his start in the automotive industry at an early age, spending his summers during high school working at a classic c... read more

Jonathan Sierakowski

jonathan@rmsothebys.com

+1 519 352 4575
Ontario, Canada

Jonathan Sierakowski developed a passion for classic cars while working at a Connecticut restoration shop as a teenager. He graduated with a... read more

Kurt Forry

kforry@rmsothebys.com

+1 717 623 1638
California, United States

Having worked for Bonhams’ Automobilia department for over 10 years, Kurt Forry joined RM Sotheby’s with more than a decad... read more

Matt Malamut

mmalamut@rmsothebys.com

+1 805 231 6410
California, United States

A long-time car enthusiast and Southern California native, Matt studied Automotive Technology at San Diego Miramar College and complet... read more

Michael Squire

msquire@rmsothebys.com

+44 (0) 20 7851 7070
United Kingdom

... read more

Mike Fairbairn

mfairbairn@rmsothebys.com

+1 519 352 4575
Ontario, Canada

As one of the three founding partners of RM Sotheby’s, Mike has a long-standing interest in the classic car industry. Graduating... read more

Oliver Camelin

ocamelin@rmsothebys.com

+44 (0) 75 0110 7447
United Kingdom

With an extensive background in exotic sports car history and sales, a particular passion for American curves, and fluency in three la... read more

Paul Darvill

pdarvill@rmsothebys.com

+44 (0) 20 7851 7070
United Kingdom

Paul Darvill joined the RM Sotheby’s European team at the beginning of 2015. Paul holds a degree in French and Politics from the... read more

Pete Fisher

pfisher@rmsothebys.com

+1 519 784 9300
Ontario, Canada

Pete Fisher was first introduced to antique cars in high school, working for Classic Coachworks in his hometown of Blenheim, Ontario. He att... read more

Peter Wallman

pwallman@rmsothebys.com

+44 (0) 20 7851 7070
United Kingdom

Peter Wallman joined RM Europe in 2007 following nearly two decades in the international advertising industry, where he was based out ... read more

Shelby Myers

smyers@rmsothebys.com

+1 310 559 4575
California, United States

Shelby Myers grew up with the classic car industry infused into every aspect of his life. He had the unique opportunity to watch the R... read more

Tonnie Van der Velden

tvandervelden@rmsothebys.com

+31 653 84 19 60
United Kingdom

Tonnie Van der Velden joined RM Sotheby’s European division in September 2015 as a Car Specialist. A lifelong enthusiast, Tonnie... read more