Elvis' BMW 507 back in the building after top-to-toe restoration
There have been plenty of imitators, but there will only ever be one Elvis Presley. The King of Rock'n'Roll had an impressive garage full of delectable automobiles, from Cadillacs to Rolls-Royces to this one – the BMW 507. Presley drove the 507 around Germany while doing military service. It then disappeared for almost 50 years before ending up in BMW's hands and undergoing an exacting restoration. Now it's ready for public consumption, and damn, it looks fit for a king.
To say the 507 Chassis #70079 was looking a little worse for wear when it arrived at BMW is an understatement. Missing its engine and gearbox, the car's floor assembly had been ravished by rust over the years. There was no instrument panel, the rear axle was a "replacement part" with no known origin, and the seats looked like they'd been home to a particularly hungry family of rats.
In part that's because of the three subsequent owners, one of whom modified the car for life on the racetrack. The front frame carrier was chopped up to make room for a new engine, the instruments were ripped out and the rear axle replaced in the process, changes which remained until the car landed in the hands of Jack Castor.
Castor wasn't an amateur racer, and didn't feel the need to modify the 507 any further than had already been done. Instead, he started digging into the car's backstory with the help of journalist Jackie Jouret. Although he knew the car had been owned by hillclimb legend Hans Stuck, there was no solid proof of the Elvis connection until Jouret managed to connect the dots between previous owners.
Although the discovery essentially handed Castor a blank cheque, it remained in his shed for another two years before BMW offered to follow through on the restoration he'd always dreamed of carrying out.
Having been rescued from the pumpkin shed where it was stored, the car was shipped to Munich, where BMW set about restoring it using a box of spare parts Castor had acquired. The car was completely taken apart, with material spared and saved where possible for maximum authenticity. Some components, like the window winders, were 3D printed to original dimensions, while others justified a limited production run.
Meanwhile, the 3.2-liter V8 was rebuilt to original specification using a combination of original components and new spares. The motor has been fitted to a reproduced front floor assembly, created because the original component was lost when a past owner hacked it up.
Finally, the Feather White paint was applied using the same procedures prevalent in the 1950s. Inside, the instrument panel was replaced, and the black-and-white leather finish was wrapped around the original seat frames. Although the Becker Mexico radio isn't actually playing anything, we're thinking something like Jailhouse Rock would be appropriate.
BMW will display Elvis' car at this year's Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance, as a tribute to The King and Jack Castor, who wanted to see the car restored to its original glory before he passed away in November 2014.