BMW Classic Group started work on a 507 roadster once owned by Elvis Presley, the King of Rock 'n' Roll. The car's restoration is now complete, and it is scheduled to make its debut at the Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance on August 21. BMW Classic gives a look into what it took too get the car back in shape.
Elvis's 507 was found by Jackie Jouret from Bimmer magazine in the barn of Jack Castor. Castor purchased the car in 1968 and held onto it since. The pair was able to confirm the car was owned by Elvis, who acquired it when stationed in Germany with the US Army.
As you can see from the photo above, the car was not in good shape. Aside from the tired looking paint and body, there was a lot that needed to be repaired, replaced, or reconstructed. At some point, someone saw fit to drop in a Chevy V8, which meant the restorers had to not only build a new BMW V8 for it, but also had to repair the subframe where it had been modified. The interior was in bad shape as well, with seats that needed their own ground-up restoration, and a dashboard that was just completely missing.
The restoration group also had to remove eight paint jobs the car received over its lifetime. One of those resprays was commissioned by Elvis himself. The car was originally white when it was raced by Hans Stuck, but after Elvis purchased it he reportedly painted it red to help hide lipstick and messages left by fans.
BMW Classic Group restored this car back to its original condition, which also means it's back to its original white paint. The car will be on display at this year's Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance alongside a number of other vintage BMWs celebrating the company's centennial.
This BMW 507 Has Been Reborn In The Memory Of Elvis Presley
“Around 2006, I drove down to the Half Moon Bay. The car was standing for years in a barn on a pumpkin farm,” begins Klaus Kutscher, Restoration Expert at BMW Classic. “It was really rough. A lot of parts were missing…” he says. Even finding a BMW 507 is an achievement, but true ‘barn find’ cars often require a Herculean amount of work to get right. This particular car had a saving grace, however: “We searched the VIN number and realized that the car belonged to Elvis.”
That’s right: when Elvis Presley was based in Germany for the U.S. military, he drove this very car as his daily driver, even buying a second to give to friend Ursula Andress. As you could imagine, Elvis driving around Germany in a white BMW 507—of which there were roughly 250 examples made—wasn’t difficult to spot. “He loved the 507,” Kutscher says.
“The car was normally white, and all his fans made kisses with lipsticks on the car, so he was mad and he painted the car red after that,” with Kutscher confirming the legend. It’s stories like those that helped to keep the restoration moving, even as the true measure of the task began to present itself.
“The dashboard was cut and they had other instruments also in the car. They cut the frame. The car was painted twice, then black, and then after that again in red. Then the car [had] …a big accident.”
Responsible for restoration at BMW Classic, the car presented both an opportunity to preserve history, as well as showcase the talents of his team in front of some serious crowds. After recently making its full public debut during Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance as the centerpiece of BMW’s 100-Year anniversary celebrations, the car will undoubtedly be active and present at classic car events for years to come.
“We always want to keep the car in this condition. That means in perfect condition. Now you can see the result looks, for me, beautiful, more than beautiful.”