Dream Garage: BMW 507
For whatever reason, most of the material in online auto enthusiast circles regarding BMW’s history seems to begin with the E30 M3, or for more nostalgic writers, the 2002. Before those sport coupes made Bayerishe Motoren Worke a worldwide brand, the 507 roadster debuted in 1956, a car that is as exquisite as it was a dismal commercial failure. Costing nearly double the intended MSRP at $10,000, the 507 sold just over 250 copies due to BMW’s relatively unknown status outside of Germany and the convertible’s substantial price tag. The blow wounded the company as it was recovering from World War II, during which time BMW sold relatively few cars compared to the juggernaut that was Mercedes.
The 507 was intended to be a competitor to the legendary Mercedes 300SL, but with the full might of the Mercedes factory team producing gullwinged race cars to compete at Le Mans and other competitions,, it was clear which coupe ruled the sports car roost. With a fuel injected 3.0L I6 that produced roughly 50hp more than the 507’s 3.2L V8, the steel or aluminum-bodied 300SL ran circles around its Bavarian competition. Both cars cost roughly the same amount, but the Mercedes name and race-bred lineage helped cement the 300SL in the pantheon of greats.
The second place finish this kept the 507 from immediately making its mark in history, at least until later in the century. As BMW made a name for itself with the success of not only the M-series sports sedans and coupes, but also its large saloons with their balanced combination of luxury and driving dynamics, the company’s postwar cars began to be more closely examined. The Isetta was little more than a funny little plaything, but the 2002 was recognized in its own right as being the forefather of the 3-Series, while the M line was prophesied by the 2002tii. It must be said that the 2002 revitalized BMW in its initial run, but it enjoys a more hallowed status as time goes on.
So where does that leave the 507? The roadster is hilariously beautiful, and viewing one sort of forces a smile on your face. The chrome bumper surely serves no functional purpose, and the fender badges hadn’t yet been slapped haphazardly onto every car under the sun, so they were still pretty neat. The design of the roadster was later adapted to a more modern sports car when Henrik Fisker borrowed liberally from the 507’s seductive sheetmetal as he penned the Z8.
Today, 507s sell between $500,000 and $1,000,000 when the planets are aligned and one is actually available on the open market. Due to its gorgeous design, rarity, and status as an ancestral marker for many successful BMWs created thereafter, the 507 earns a spot in the Dream Garage right next to its younger brother, the 850CSi.