After announcing the discovery and the start of the restoration process, BMW has finally showed us the finished 507 roadster that once belonged to none other than Elvis Presley.
Being one of just 254 ever built, the BMW 507 is one of the most sought-after Bavarian models ever but this particular one has one hell of a history behind it, making it easily of the most fascinating vehicles in the classic car realm.
Elvis Presley bought a BMW 507 during his military service in Germany. No one really knew the chassis number of the car driven by the “King” and there were even doubts about whether Elvis had ever transported the car back to the USA after he finished his military service. For almost five decades, the car was considered lost.
The mystery was eventually solved thanks to the research done by American journalist Jackie Jouret when she discovered that the car Elvis bought in Germany was used previously by racing driver Hans Stuck. Following the chain of evidence, she found out that the German racing driver won a number of hillclimbs in Germany, Austria and Switzerland driving a white BMW 507 with chassis number 70079 and registration plate M-JX 800.
The particular 507 was also on display at the 1957 Frankfurt Motor Show and was repeatedly used as a press car. In 1958 and after Stuck had finished racing with it, the car ended up with a dealer in Frankfurt with an upgraded engine and a new gearbox. 23-year old US soldier Presley took it for a test drive and decided to buy it. The car was then put on plates issued by the military that were changed on a yearly basis, which is why it was so difficult to track the car down.
With the car transferred to the US, Elvis decided to repaint the original Feather White bodywork of his 507 to red as his female fans repeatedly wrote messages on it with lipstick. He even swapped the original 150hp V8 engine for a Chevrolet V8 unit.
Fast forward to 2006 when car collector Jack Castor read Jackie Jouret’s article about chassis number 70079 and wrote her that he was the owner of the car. Up to this point he knew that the 507 he had in storage was once driven by Hans Stuck but up until then, he could only speculate about Elvis being one of the previous owners.
The condition of the car was certainly a concern when BMW Group Classic got it for a complete restoration. Although all the original body parts and other components were still present, this beat-up 507 had no engine or gearbox. The rear axle was also not original and of unknown origin while rust was eating away the floor assembly, the seats were worn and the instrument panel was missing.
A lot of components had to be re-manufactured from scratch given the extreme rarity of the model. Window winders and door handles were made with the use of 3D printing, a new instrument panel was also created while the leather upholstery precisely matches the pattern shown in old photographs. Even the 3.2-litre V8 engine was sourced and rebuilt from spare parts but BMW didn’t give it an engine number on account of the unavoidable use of old and new components.
This stunning BMW 507 with the incredible history is set to make its public debut on August 18 at the Concours d’Elegance in Pebble Beach, California.