12 March 2022
The BMW 507 model series debuted at the Frankfurt Motor Show in 1955. A sporty model series aimed at buyers with purchasing power that didn’t exist in Germany and large parts of Europe. The price of the 507 was equivalent to 5.5 times the gross average salary of a German employee at the time.
Maximilian Edwin Hoffman was an Austrian-born, New York-based importer of luxury European automobiles into the United States during the 1950s. He recognised an opportunity in the American market for the BMW 507.
Hoffman had wanted BMW to be able to sell 5,000 units per year of the 507s for £3,800 apiece (which would be around £37,000 today, based on inflation). However, high production costs for German hand-built sports cars drove the price to roughly £7,650.
BMW ended up losing money on each of the BMW 507s it produced, which is why the company only ended up turning out 254 of the cars before shutting down the model in 1959.
Only an investment from shareholder and industrialist Herbert Quandt saved BMW from bankruptcy.
Among the first owners of the 254 vehicles were some well-known names. Alain Delon, John Surtees, Toni Sailer, Ursula Andress, Fred Astaire and Prince Ranier of Monaco are just a few.
Andress was reputedly given the 507 by her close friend, Elvis Presley. The pair had starred together in the 1963 hit musical Fun in Acapulco. In his pursuit of Andress, Presley had twice tried to give the Swiss bombshell a Cadillac Convertible, which she politely refused. On the second attempt, Andress informed Presley that she would like the BMW 507 he had famously used in Germany while drafted for the US Army.
Andress registered the BMW in California and used it extensively; she reputedly kept her treasured 507 until the late 1980s.