Elvis was the 507’s second owner when he purchased it from a used car lot in Frankfurt in 1958. He was a soldier stationed in Germany at the time, and he used the roadster to commute from his house to the United States Army Base in Friedberg. While the car was initially white, Elvis had it repainted in red because he got tired of fans using lipstick to leave him messages on the hood, the doors, and the trunk lid.
Elvis put the 507 on a boat to the United States at the end of his military service in 1960, but he traded it in to a Chrysler dealership in New York a few months after. It was sold for the measly sum of $4,500 to Tommy Charles, a well-known racer who lived in Birmingham, Alabama. Charles replaced the original engine with a Chevrolet-sourced V8, a conversion that required cutting out part of the front sub-frame to clear the oil pan, and tore up tracks across the southern United States with it until 1963.
The 507 changed hands several more times during the years that followed until it wound up in the collection of Jack Castor, an engineer and vintage car enthusiast based in California, in 1968. He briefly used it to run errands, but ultimately stashed the roadster in a pumpkin warehouse with plans to one day restore it. He knew his car had won hill climb races in Germany and Austria early on in its life, though he had no idea that it was once owned by the King of Rock n’ Roll.
A few years ago, Castor read an article in Bimmer magazine that highlighted the history of Elvis’ 507 roadster, which enthusiasts had been trying to track down for about five decades. Suspecting he owned the car, he contacted the author who verified the chassis number (70079, for history buffs) and put the retired engineer in contact with BMW’s Classic center. The Munich-based company bought the car and shipped it back to Germany for a full restoration.
Bringing the 507 back to its former glory was easier said than done. BMW explains that the aluminum body was painstakingly separated from the steel chassis in order to retain as much of the original metal as possible. Moreover, 507 parts are hard to come by because only 254 examples were built so the missing instrument panel had to be newly cast, the worn leather upholstery was reproduced based on period documents, and the window cranks were 3D-printed and mirror-matched.
Mechanics built a 3.2-liter V8 engine from scratch using new and spare parts, and remanufactured the missing front sub-frame. Finally, the 507 was given a fresh coat of Feather White, its original color. All told, the restoration process took two years. It was largely carried out in-house by BMW’s Classic center, but the company enlisted the help of external specialists when needed.
The 507 will be shipped back to the United States and displayed at the annual Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance that will take place next week outside of Monterey, California. And if Elvis faked his death as conspiracy-theorists believe, the King may be strolling the green.
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