When Elvis Presley’s old BMW 507 was dragged from a shed just south of San Francisco in 2014, it wasn’t quite the greatest barn find of the 21st century. The car wasn’t really ‘lost’, and so the find was more of a much-anticipated reappearance. Still, it was a great day when this icon of both sports car and rock ‘n’ roll history was all set for a spectacular renovation by fastidious team at BMW Group Classic.
So there lay the ultimate dilemma: to undo Elvis’s contribution to the car or not?
The King picked up his 507 secondhand while stationed in Germany with the US Army in December 1958. The ultimate Christmas-present-to-self, I’d say. It had a new engine after a punishing life as first a press demo car and then a race track career in the hands of the great Hans Stuck.
The final owner of chassis 70079, a deceased NASA engineer called Jack Castor, had always meant to do the car up but never got round to it. No surprise that it was a daunting task; someone in the ownership chain between our gyrating idol and the space geek had ripped out the innards and installed a Chevrolet V8 engine, transmission, rear axle and even instruments. So there was plenty for BMW to crack on with; which, by the way, included remaking the door handles using 3D printing techniques.
However, in the name of taste and perfection, one bit of the old Elvis provenance was lost. The pelvic-thruster had had the car resprayed red from its original Feather White. So there lay the ultimate dilemma: to undo Elvis’s contribution to the car or not? They hesitated in Munich… and then rigid originality won the day. Right or wrong – what do you think?