Cars & Racing | 22 May 2017BMW Back to the Future Share article facebook twitter google pinterest The 1954 debut of the Mercedes-Benz 300SL would inspire BMW to produce one of the most celebrated designs in its entire history. BMW managers felt that they, too, should consider a model targeted at the smart and fashionable of the US East Coast and California. The plan was that the car should be positioned midway between the impossibly expensive Mercedes and the cheap and cheerful British Triumphs and MGs that most American sports enthusiasts were buying at the time. Thus in 1955 the remarkable BMW 507 was born. It was a happy amalgam of the 502’s V-8, by now uprated to 3.2 liters and 150 hp; a stiff, shortened chassis; and a two-seater roadster body of stunning proportions. The now-classic style had been penned in record time by Count Albrecht Goertz. Fast forward to 1999 and it’s classic lines re-emerged in the beautiful BMW Z8. From The BMW Century: The Ultimate Performance Machines is a closer look at this ground-breaking vehicle. The celebrated 1955 507 roadster and (top) the 1999 Z8 it inspired. BMW 507, 1955–1959 The 507 two-seater roadster has become one of BMW’s most famous models thanks to its gorgeous Goertz-inspired body, advanced V-8 engine, and impeccable hand-built construction. It has come to represent all the sporting and aesthetic values that BMW stands for, and it has taken on huge significance despite the tiny numbers sold during its short and deeply loss-making few years in production. Built on a new, shorter chassis with wishbone front suspension and improved location for the rear axle, the 507 enjoyed 150 hp from its high-compression V-8 with polished ports and a high-lift camshaft. In contrast to the 502 sedan and 503 coupe, the 507 had a direct floor shift. However, hampered by high prices, it never sold in the hoped-for numbers. The success of the sensational Mercedes 300SL prompted BMW to build the 507 (pictured). The BMW 507 designer Count Albrecht Goertz. A 507 typically commands a six-figure price tag today. The 507 proved to be an extraordinary car on many levels, not least of which was an enduring influence on the world of automotive design out of all proportion to the tiny numbers actually sold. It is now seen as a pivotal design in the BMW story and has been referenced with some regularity in later sports models such as the Z3, the Z07 concept, and the Z8. Its timeless proportions make it a habitual favorite of those who compile top-ten automotive icons lists, and it regularly strays into six-figure territory on the rare occasions one of the survivors comes up for auction. 1955: Debut at IAA show in Frankfurt. 1956: First deliveries begin. 1959: Disc-brake version shown; production halted in December with just 252 examples made. Buy from an Online Retailer Relive the first one hundred years of Germany’s best two- and four-wheeled rides. Established in 1916, BMW is one of the auto and motorcycle industry’s oldest and most-respected car and motorcycle manufacturers. Over the past century, the company went through myriad developments. The BMW Century chronicles this remarkable transportation company through images of the cars and motorcycles it manufactured, from the 1923 R32 motorcycle to sleek electric cars of today. This handsome volume is filled with images, history, and in-depth looks at the incredible machines BMW created year after year. The BMW Century showcases how the company’s new visionary team systematically rebuilt BMW in the post-World War II years into the spectacular success we know today – that is, a company with sales projected to be upwards of two million cars annually by 2016, led by its 3-series, the best-selling luxury-performance car in the world. BMW’s motorcycle division is no less legendary. It began with the 1923 avant-garde R32, which featured a 180-degree, horizontally opposed twin, the engine configuration that would become BMW’s hallmark. Along the way, BMW would use that configuration to power groundbreaking machines like the R90S, R100RS, and R80GS. Beginning in 1983, they would add three- and four-cylinder machines to their offerings, culminating in today’s spectacular S1000RR sport bike. From the pre-war motorcycles to the iconic R-series twins of the 1970s and 80s to the mighty M-series cars and superbikes of today, The BMW Century offers a full review of German engineering at its finest. The book is illustrated with hundreds of historic, contemporary, and racing photographs – many sourced from BMW’s archives – and detailed text relating the BMW’s full history. This is the one volume no BMW aficionado can be without. Share article facebook twitter google pinterest If you have any comments on this article please contact us or get in touch via social media.