THE tale had long been told of a rare BMW 507 sports car that had been bought by Elvis Presley while he was on military service in Germany only to vanish soon after he took it home to the United States.
It turns out the story is true and now, after 50 years in isolation and two years in restoration, the car has once more stepped back into the spotlight with an interesting tale to tell.
BMW 507, chassis number 70079, is now exactly how it was when the young Elvis Presley took delivery of it on December 20, 1958, complete with Feather White paint and 3.2-litre, 150 horsepower (110 kilowatts) aluminium V8 engine, centre-lock wheels and black-and-white interior.
Despite the fact Elvis was already famous and obviously wealthy, he actually bought the car secondhand from BMW's press and publicity department. It had been a Frankfurt Motor show exhibit, loaned to journalists and was later used by racing driver Hans Stuck, who won several hill climbs in it.
Elvis was 23 when he saw the car at a Frankfurt dealership and used the car as his daily drive - transport between his home in Bad Nauheim and the US Army Base in Friedberg.
In March 1960 Elvis finished his military service and went back to the US, taking the car with him and trading it in New York a few months later. It was sold to radio announcer Tommy Charles who took it to Alabama and started racing it. The sweet little BMW V8 came out, and a big Chevrolet V8 went in, forcing Charles to not only cut out parts of the chassis but also replace the gearbox and rear axle. He sold the car in 1963.
The 507 had two more owners before being sold in 1968 to aerospace engineer Jack Castor, who took it to California for use as an occasional runabout. Eventually, he put the car into storage with plans to restore it.
Strangely, Castor knew about the car's connection to Hans Stuck but only speculated about its connection to the King of Rock 'n 'Roll. In anticipation of a restoration, Castor had already collected a large number of parts. An engine, however, was not among them.
After several years and a number of discussions with restoration experts at BMW Group Classic in Munich, an agreement was reached. BMW Group Classic would buy the car from the retired rocket scientist and carry out a full authentic restoration.
The King of Rock ’n’ Roll bought his BMW 507 in white but then got it resprayed in red. Legend says he chose the colour to remind him of the kissing lips of his female fans. After the passing of the King, there were six further paint jobs until the sports car made its way back home to Munich.
The condition of the two-seater was bad. Yes, it had its original body parts and other components, but it had lost its engine and gearbox. The rear axle was of unknown origin, rust was eating away the floor assembly, the seats were worn, and there was no instrument panel.
The 507 and its collection of spare parts was shipped to Germany in 2014. It was completely dismantled and the aluminium body separated from the sheet steel floorpan and the paint removed in acid and alkaline baths.
A lot of components had to be remade from scratch, and even the leather upholstery was created to match precisely the pattern shown in old photographs and catalogues and window winders and door handles were remade using 3D printing.
The 3.2-litre engine was built from spare parts and the front frame carrier, which had been cut down at an early stage, also had to be reproduced and integrated with the floor assembly.
Maximum authenticity was also the objective when it came to painting the car which is once again resplendent in Feather White.
Sadly, Jack Castor never got to see the car in its restored state, passing away in November 2014 at the age of 77.
The car, however, made its return to the public eye when it was unveiled at California's Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance on August 21.
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