3D Printing Plays a Role as Elvis Presley’s Long-Lost BMW 507 is Returned to Original Condition–And to the USA
A model few know about and even fewer have ever seen, this particular driving machine’s true ownership could have disappeared forever had the search not been on by both BMW Group Classic Archives and American journalist Jackie Jouret, of Bimmer Magazine. Elvis purchased this car in 1958 while in Germany for a nominal sum even then at $3,750. With the original color in white, it was said to have been painted red not too long after as Presley was annoyed and embarrassed by the young German girls leaving their lipsticked red kisses all over it.
Although some of the details get hazy and there are some questions as to what the real story was with the car or with the paint—and more—it would seem that after nearly 50 years and some time being abused on the racetrack and as a test-driving vehicle for the press, the car was found in the ownership of space engineer Jack Castor, who actually purchased the car back in 1968. A car collector, he used the 507 to drive around town off and on and then relegated it to storage as he did have plans to restore it eventually. In the end, that task was up to BMW, as while Jack eventually became caught up in the excitement regarding Elvis, he did not ever begin refurbishing the 507 although he had many parts collected, and ready for use one day.Castor most likely became further distracted from that task when reading Bimmer, and lo and behold—there was an article about a car with the same chassis number as his: 70079. As journalist Jackie Jouret eventually met him at his warehouse, she saw the chassis number for herself. Jouret, and surely everyone, was astounded to see that they had found a car missing for decades, bearing ‘the holy grail among BMW numbers.’
It would appear that BMW went straight to work on buying that car from Castor. Eventually, they did strike a bargain and it went back to its original roots with the Bavarian manufacturer, under the agreement that it would be restored as Castor had meant for it to be. A true prize, certainly he knew they would uphold their end of the agreement as it was shipped by container to Germany. He died in 2014, never able to see the final results.It was to be a rather long journey for the car, from the discovery with Castor, to the return to BMW, to an extensive restoration project. Shipped to Germany, the car was then exhibited for some time at the BMW Museum in Munich, titled ‘Elvis’ BMW 507 – Lost and Found.’ After that, it was time for the team to hunker down and get to work at the BMW Group Classic Workshop.
“The opportunity to bring back the BMW 507 owned by the King of Rock’n’Roll to us here in Munich for purposes of restoration in accordance with the wishes of the previous owner, Jack Castor, was a dream come true for all those involved,” commented Ulrich Knieps, Head of BMW Group Classic. “This was an exceptionally fascinating project. The outcome is not simply a source of great pride to us. Jack would undoubtedly have been delighted by the outcome.”
Plenty of work took plenty more time than they’d imagined, from taking it completely apart to removing the engine, the dilapidated interior, and even the muted red paint.
With this amount of time having passed, obviously many parts for a 507 are now obsolete. This is where resourcefulness on the part of the BMW team came in—along with 3D printing, as bringing parts out of obsolescence is one of the technology’s greatest benefits. Numerous parts were simply re-made (and obviously most cars would not get this treatment), with tradition meeting high-tech. From the instrument panel to the leather, BMW worked tirelessly to make a complete and identical reproduction.
When it came to the window winders and the door handles, here they were able to put the 3D scanner to work first. By scanning the originals, they could then make a new, functional 3D printed part. This wasn’t the case for many of the different components, however, which had to be made in the traditional manner. Interestingly, while they were at it, they decided to make a new, small line of replacement parts for the roadster, now compiling a limited inventory at the BMW Group Classic parts shop. (Elvis and Castor both created an interesting benefit for fellow car collectors in the end, it would seem.)
The 3.2 litre V8 was to be reconstructed with spare parts, and the Feather White paint was newly applied, using methods that would have been used when it was originally made. This put an end to a two-year project, and surely there were many who felt extremely privileged to play a part. It’s quite a story, appropriate to the legend of Elvis Presley and his well-known love for cars.
Others who share a passion for both Elvis and rare cars can see the BMW 507 on August 21, 2016 at the Concours d’Elegance in Pebble Beach, California. Many certainly will enjoy checking out the unveiling of the new paint job, the engine, the tires, interior, and even the authentic Becker Mexico radio. Certainly as Presley’s sportscar makes it way back to the US in beautiful condition, fans will have great interest and a range of emotions at seeing the results of such an extensive, unique project. Are you interested in seeing the results of all BMW Classic’s hard work? Discuss further over in the 3D Printing Helps Restore Elvis’ BMW 507 forum at 3DPB.com.[Sources: Automotive World; Hemmings Daily; BMW Classic]
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