ROCKING AND ROLLING IN ELVIS’ BMW 507 – AUTOMOTIVE MATRIMONY.
It is now time to put everything back in its rightful place - bodywork, chassis and engine.
Marriages are lavish celebrations which bring together things which were once separate. Completing a car restoration can feel similarly special. The individually installed parts are once again part of a greater whole and the end result is just like new. It's a great feeling and makes up for all the hard work.
But there still remains the question of the engine. Another engine was installed at some point, which was also a high-capacity eight-cylinder, but this one was made by Chevrolet. This is why an original 3.2l V8 engine with the right specifications for the BMW 507 was sought, located and then restored from the inside out and fitted. The heart of our Elvis Project was now in place - but there was the small matter of the other parts.
An appropriate transmission was also missing - the ZF 4S 17 to be more exact. Its reconstruction was just as painstaking as with the engine, i.e. dismantle, check, install new bearings, overhaul the synchroniser hubs and bolt onto the engine.
After sorting out the transmission, we turned our attention to the back axle. For the BMW 507, this featured a special aluminium differential, which was certainly a challenge to source. However, our ambition was clear: it had to be as authentic as possible. Eventually, the right differential was found and we could install it with a suitable back axle.
Stop and go.
The brakes were also a special feature: drum brakes all round. The age of disc brakes was just starting to dawn and they eventually made their way into the BMW 507, but not right from the start. Let’s quickly remind ourselves: Elvis’ white BMW 507 was a showroom piece, one of the first ever produced. This meant it came with the series-standard drum brakes.
Many BMW 507s went on to be retrofitted with disc brakes, which of course made this fast sports car even more high-performance. But if the King of Rock ’n’ Roll was content with drum brakes, his highly-prized automobile should get no less (or no more - whichever way you look at it). It had to be fully authentic.
The wheels with their spectacular central lock also required particular attention. They were invented to speed up tyre changes during racing since they can be released and tightened using one large screw. In the 50s, they were the hallmark of thoroughbred sports cars.
Love of detail.
Naturally, we renewed all the wiring, electronics and the cable harness. Even with the best maintenance, these parts were encased in rubber and plastic and could not remain undamaged after such a long period of time. And with Elvis living a notoriously wild lifestyle, you can barely imagine the things his hot rod BMW 507 has seen and experienced. Perhaps it’s best not to know!
Rocking and rolling!
What an auspicious moment when such an automobile is able to stand up on its own four wheels again! Everyone involved gets a tingling feeling. Even if there are lots of details missing; it is a proper car again, not a collection of puzzle pieces.
Next came the interior, which we made habitable once again using new carpeting in original velour. The biggest moment comes right at the end of the process, when you can finally sit down in it. Just like Elvis did all those years ago. Make me thrill with delight.