Automotive

Elvis' BMW 507 back in the building after top-to-toe restoration

Elvis' 507 has been lovingly brought back to life by BMW 
Elvis' 507 has been lovingly brought back to life by BMW 
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The 3.2-liter V8 engine was rebuilt using a combination of original and spare parts 
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The 3.2-liter V8 engine was rebuilt using a combination of original and spare parts 
BMW used traditional painting methods to recreate the 507's finish
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BMW used traditional painting methods to recreate the 507's finish
A new instrument panel was fitted to the car, after the original was removed by a past owner 
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A new instrument panel was fitted to the car, after the original was removed by a past owner 
The new engine is lowered into the 507's body
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The new engine is lowered into the 507's body
Originally, the 507 belonged to hillmclimber Hans Stuck
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Originally, the 507 belonged to hillmclimber Hans Stuck
The body was stripped back and replainted in the original Feather White
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The body was stripped back and replainted in the original Feather White
The 507's silhouette is an absolute classic, and has influenced modern BMW roadsters
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The 507's silhouette is an absolute classic, and has influenced modern BMW roadsters
BMW has documented the process thoroughly
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BMW has documented the process thoroughly
The chassis was hit hard by rust when BMW got its hands on the car 
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The chassis was hit hard by rust when BMW got its hands on the car 
Elvis had the car painted in red after girls' lipstick messages became too prominent on the white paintwork 
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Elvis had the car painted in red after girls' lipstick messages became too prominent on the white paintwork 
It's safe to say the cabin had seen better days when BMW got its hands on the 507
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It's safe to say the cabin had seen better days when BMW got its hands on the 507
The 507's body was taken off and totally repainted 
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The 507's body was taken off and totally repainted 
BMW got the car from a collector's pumpkin shed 
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BMW got the car from a collector's pumpkin shed 
The BMW badge wasn't in good shape when the car was handed over to the restoration team 
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The BMW badge wasn't in good shape when the car was handed over to the restoration team 
The car was heavily modified by an owner determined to take it racing 
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The car was heavily modified by an owner determined to take it racing 
The original engine had been taken out and replaced by a Chevrolet motor 
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The original engine had been taken out and replaced by a Chevrolet motor 
70079 is the magic number when it comes to 507 chassis'
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70079 is the magic number when it comes to 507 chassis'
Hans Stuck originally owned this car, before Elvis bought it during his time in the US military
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Hans Stuck originally owned this car, before Elvis bought it during his time in the US military
BMW 1950s painting processes to achieve the right level of shine on the 507
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BMW 1950s painting processes to achieve the right level of shine on the 507
Some parts were replaced, some restored in the process of bringing the car back to life 
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Some parts were replaced, some restored in the process of bringing the car back to life 
The details on the 507 are beautifully finished, all to original specification 
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The details on the 507 are beautifully finished, all to original specification 
The original white and black interior finish has been lovingly restored 
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The original white and black interior finish has been lovingly restored 
The 3.2-liter aluminum V8 hasn't been granted a part number because of its half-real, half-spare parts status
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The 3.2-liter aluminum V8 hasn't been granted a part number because of its half-real, half-spare parts status
The 507's design has been used as inspiration for the modern BMW roadsters 
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The 507's design has been used as inspiration for the modern BMW roadsters 
The Becker Mexico stereo is a period touch 
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The Becker Mexico stereo is a period touch 
The 507 had just 150 hp, but it still was successful in the hillclimbing world
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The 507 had just 150 hp, but it still was successful in the hillclimbing world
The black and white interior scheme has been redone around the original seat frames
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The black and white interior scheme has been redone around the original seat frames
The restored 507 in all its glory
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The restored 507 in all its glory
BMW took two years to bring the 507 back to life
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BMW took two years to bring the 507 back to life
There's no doubt the 507 is a seriously handsome beast
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There's no doubt the 507 is a seriously handsome beast
The car saw a few owners after Elvis, and none treated it with the requisite care
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The car saw a few owners after Elvis, and none treated it with the requisite care
The 507 is a legend in BMW circles 
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The 507 is a legend in BMW circles 
The BMW 507 was also owned by Bernie Ecclestone in its time 
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The BMW 507 was also owned by Bernie Ecclestone in its time 
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The restored 507 in all its glory
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The restored 507 in all its glory
The 507 was finished with center lock wheels 
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The 507 was finished with center lock wheels 
Elvis' 507 has been lovingly brought back to life by BMW 
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Elvis' 507 has been lovingly brought back to life by BMW 

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.

The 507's body was taken off and totally repainted 
The 507's body was taken off and totally repainted 

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.

The new engine is lowered into the 507's body
The new engine is lowered into the 507's body

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.

Source: BMW

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