This “survivor” BMW 507 is all about preservation
To many, the 507 is the most beautiful BMW ever made. It was ambitious in so many ways, boasting a powerful engine, lithe handling, and gorgeous shape penned by designer Albrecht Graf von Goertz to rival the Mercedes-Benz 300 SL. Famed importer Max Hoffman helped BMW conceive the car with the sports car-hungry North American market in mind. Unfortunately, during its development, the original $5000 target price ballooned to $9000, almost two grand more than the 300 SL. The 507’s high price and subsequent low sales, totaling just 252 cars, almost left the German brand for dead were it not for a rescue investment from the Quandt family in 1959.
For owner Walter Scott, however, his 1960 BMW 507 Series II, a “survivor” from the roadster’s final model year, is a driver, and a sentimental one at that. We met him on The Amelia lawn earlier this year, where the car was displayed at BMW’s stand alongside the redesigned X5. While there are plenty of multi-million-dollar cars at a show like The Amelia, what struck us first about Scott’s 507 was its odometer reading: 52,698 miles.
It previously belonged to a dear friend of his, a classmate at Yale University who he remained close with for more than 50 years. Scott’s pal remained a bachelor, driving the 507 regularly. “He showered love and attention on it as he would have on a family of his own. And it’s always been driven—never treated like a trailer queen, always take care of.”
When Scott’s friend got sick several years ago, he became concerned about what would happen to his car. After 44 years of ownership, he entrusted it to Scott. Since then, the goal has been to both preserve and enjoy the 507, which wears chassis number 70240. It has never been fully restored, in hopes that it retain as much of its as-delivered appearance as possible.
BMW indicates that #70240 is the final 507 to leave the factory, though not the final to be built. Like other Series II 507s, it has a smaller fuel tank than the Series I cars, located under the trunk rather than behind the rear seats where it previously constrained passenger and trunk space. (Not to mention creating a tendency for passengers to smell fuel.)
The glossy red paint over tan interior is striking in person, with the cabin visible through the open top of this classic roadster. (#70240 was, according to BMW, one of very few cars to leave Munich with a factory hard top.) Painted Rudge knock-offs sit at all four corners. Between the front fenders lives a 150-hp, 3.2-liter all-aluminum V-8, paired with a four-speed manual transmission and shared with the 501/502 sedan of the early 1950s. The 507’s looks, however, were much more distinctive, and attracted celebrities from Elvis Presley to British race car driver John Surtees. Speaking of the latter, Surtees reportedly upgraded his car to 165 hp via higher compression, larger valves and carburetors, and a unique high-lift camshaft, according to Bonhams. Scott’s car apparently received the same treatment in the early 1990s, suggesting #70240 offers both show and go.
Scott, based in Londonderry, Vermont, divides his driving time between six cars. Yet he spends a good deal of it behind the thin-rimmed wheel of his red 507, adding 800-1000 miles per year.
“I’m taking it on a tour this summer,” he said, flashing a smile.
As refreshing as it is to see a multi-million-dollar piece of automotive history such as this to be so regularly exercised, it’s even more satisfying to see an owner carry on his friend’s legacy. And what better way to honor a great car than to take it out for great drives?