What is it about white and blue? Yes, they work great on the roundel, but the color combination itself is one of the best for almost any BMW model: Chamonix over Navy for a 2002? Sign me up. Alpine White over Pacific Blue on an E30 or E34—does it get any better?
There’s something distinctly BMW about white-on-blue, and there are numerous things about the 507 that have allowed it to transcend time and taste. Easily the most valuable BMW model of all, any of the 252 507 roadsters made for the 1956 through 1959 model years in good or better condition is worth millions, and the final two model years, ’58 and ’59, are the most coveted of all.
So what is it about this particular 507 that makes it special? To address the basics, it’s a Series II example which was produced in late 1957 for the following model year, which means that it boasts a handful of benefits over an earlier model, such as a smaller but less problematic fuel tank and disk brakes. It is also believed to be among just 34 that were officially exported to the U.S. (via Max Hoffman, of course) and is further said to be the only one sold here in 1958. Originally destined for Hollywood, the 507 ended up with an architect in Mississippi, and if you’ve been a BMW CCA member long enough, you probably know the rest of the story.
This 507, chassis #70134, was formerly owned by noted late BMW collector and BMW CCA member Bill Young. Featured on the cover of Roundel at least twice (December, 1996; August, 2011) the car has enjoyed a lively existence as opposed to languishing on a charger, and was driven regularly by Young from his initial purchase in 1981—when it cost him just $19,200—up until the final years of his life.
Satch Carlson and Young took it down to the Santa Fe Concorso in 2011, an experience in roadside diagnosis amid triple-digit temperatures that you can read about in the article mentioned above, and photographer Klaus Schnitzer drove it up Pikes Peak in the mid-1990s.
Sometime between 2011 and 2014, the car was restored for the first time to a notably high standard, and found a new owner to the tune of $1,815,000 at the 2014 Amelia Island Concours. Now scheduled to cross RM Sotheby’s auction block in Paris next year, #70134 has traversed the Atlantic ocean at least four times in its life: first when it was initially exported to the U.S., a second time when it could not find a seller in the early 1980s and was sent back to Europe for consignment in Switzerland, and once more when Bill Young purchased it in 1981 (and the shipping container was lost somewhere in Kansas for a few weeks). After 2014, the 507 made its way back to Europe once again, where it appears to have remained with one owner.
In 2011, the 507 crossed the $1,000,000 threshold when one sold at the Villa d’Este auction for €728,000. While the car was originally meant to be sold new for $5,000, Max Hoffman had a hard time moving them when the MSRP ended up being more than $10,000, or the equivalent of nearly $90,000 today. As noted above and in the August 2011 issue of Roundel, Young originally bought #70134 for $19,200 in 1981, and today the 507 is continuing to trend upwards in terms of valuation.
Earlier this year in Scottsdale, Arizona, RM Sotheby’s auctioned a black-on-red 1958 507, which met a hammer price of $2,175,000, a new record for the model. When it comes to 507s, #70134 is about as good as it gets. Yes, there are a handful with celebrity ownership in their provenance, and it seems that all but a few have been restored in some form or another during the decades that have passed since they were new, but Young’s former 507 is just a bit more special.
Said to retain its original engine according to at least one source, it’s the sum of the parts that make #70134 noteworthy. Beyond being one of just a few dozen originally sold new in the U.S., it enjoyed something like 35 years of unbroken ownership in the Young family, and spent its time either being driven or sharing a stable with a host of other incredible BMWs. It may have worn some white house paint after an unfortunate incident with a fan blade during the Pike’s Peak run, but today #70134 has been restored to its former glory, and appears ready to hang around for another 60 or more years.
It’s also almost surely been white-on-blue for its entire life as well. When the 507 was new, buyers could choose from something like 20 different paint finishes, two of which were white: Papyrus, like the 507 Jerry Seinfeld drove with Christoph Waltz in Comedians In Cars Getting Coffee, and Feather White, the original color of the famous Elvis Presley 507.
We’ll be watching next February when #70134 crosses the block, and will be curious to see if what was once a well-used and enjoyed 507 can push the market for the most valuable BMW of all time even higher.—Alex Tock
[Photos via RM Sotheby’s.]