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Page Overview: BMW Group Classic: Elvis 507 - Paint job


Elvis Presley bought it in white but then had it resprayed in red. What colour is it now?

Elvis Presley, King of Rock ’n’ Roll, performed his military service in Germany. While there, he treated himself to the ideal car for motorways without speed limits: a BMW 507 in the colour feather-white - BMW’s show model from IAA 1955, which soon became a sensation. The singer and superstar later changed the colour to red. Legend says it was due to the lipstick worn by his admiring female fans.

Whatever the case, the time came to make a major decision concerning the restoration of this historic BMW 507: what colour paint should be used to bring the car back to its former glory?

Layer by layer.

Elvis’s BMW 507 certainly has a colourful past, as can quite clearly be seen in the various coats of paint. Starting off in feather-white, the car then turned red - that much is known - but now, we have used colour spectrum analysis to try and shine some light into the dark recesses of the car's history. The result was surprising: Elvis’s supercar was repainted in full a grand total of eight times, the last of which being red. However, precious little of its former splendour was left and a great deal of rust on the bodywork had left its mark. The damage was repaired, but the question of which colour to choose was still unanswered.

The American, Jack Castor, was the last owner and wanted the car to be as original as the day it was manufactured: it had to be feather-white. Exactly as it looked at the IAA when its famous first owner decided he had to have one. The decision was an easy one to make. After all: what the customer wants, the customer gets.

A lick of paint, not the kiss of death.

The painting process was approached very carefully and cautiously because we did not want to car to be “repainted to death” - a very touchy subject in the world of classic cars. This is because modern techniques and materials achieve an absolutely perfect finish, which is fine for new cars, but what about back then? Over-painting old cars can suck the life out of them, giving them a degree of perfection but making them lose their authenticity at the same time. The slightly imperfect finish from back in the day is just a much a part of the vehicle as its technology, seat fabrics and sound of the engine. Elvis’s 507 had to hold onto its style and character.

After analysing the old, pleasingly named feather-white paint, the new paint was remixed exactly in line with the original specifications. The rest of the painting process was performed in line with conventional principles: first a solid base layer, then a filler to smooth out any bumps, which is an essential step for ensuring the final product looks flawless - optically smooth and symmetrical. Applying the final coat is always the most rewarding part as the bodywork finally starts to look as you had been imagining it the whole time. The job is complete once a critical eye has glanced over the handiwork and trained hands have ensured everything is order. Then all you need to do is put the car together.

Be-bop-a-lula, it’s my baby …

As mentioned previously, it was decided that the car be given an authentic paint job that corresponds to the techniques in use at the time. This was achieved without a doubt as can be seen from the stunning results. The King of Rock ’n’ Roll would have no doubt been pleased. Red, white or whatever colour - it’s his baby. Besides, most kisses these days are sent by SMS.

Find out more about Elvis’ BMW 507.