Sometimes great cars achieve significant commercial victory. Witness the Volkswagen Beetle and Model T Ford as obvious examples.Other times, great cars make virtually no impression on the market, save to point the way for others to follow. The Chrysler Airflow and Cord 810 are prominent examples of this phenomenon. Sadly, the BMW 507 roadster also belongs into this significant but ill-fated category. Born in the glory days of the true sports car, raised with a distinguished pedigree and built to the highest of standards, the 507 failed miserably at achieving commercial accomplishment, which is a great shame considering its many good features.
Picking off after the battle
To set the stage for the entrance of the 507, let us travel back in time to the immediate repercussions of World War II. Like most of the war-ravaged German auto industry, BMW was in scraps. Its auto manufacturing services, what were left of them after Allied bombing and occupation, were in Eisenach, behind the quickly closing Iron Curtain of Russian-occupied East Germany. Read more . . .
The principle was simple. In the mid-1970s, BMW was doing very well in its battle with Ford in the European Touring Car ranks, so the authorities who were at the company decided that it would be a good idea to step things up a notch and attack the much more prestigious arena of World Sportscar racing. After all, Frankfurt-based Porsche was reaping plentiful amounts of prestige from its dominance of that well-regarded series, and Munich-based BMW presumed it had the expertise to knock Porsche off its throne and grab some of that prestige for itself. Matched up to BMW, Porsche was a relative upstart. There was simply one catch.
At the time, BMW didn’t produce a car that had nearly the capabilities required to compete in the heavy and hot caldron of World Sportscars, a series that had spawned the Shelby Cobra Daytona Coupe and the Ferrari 250 GTO among others. A builder of well-respected coupes and sedans, the Bavarian manufacturer didn’t even build a vehicle that could legitimately be dubbed a “sports car.” Despite that, its brass decided, rather quickly, that it should be a player in this highly evident, highly competitive arena. In essence, BMW had given itself two separate ventures. Building a successful race car to compete with the top-ranked Porsches was intimidating enough, but Read more . . .