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A BMW Roadster Fit for a Count, Literally

The designer of the BMW 507, Count Albrecht Graf von Goertz, owned one himself.

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Count Albrecht Graf von Goertz, wasn’t just the designer of the BMW 507, he was also a customer.

A former bank clerk, Goertz emigrated to the United States prior to World War II and opened up a shop in LA that specialized in modifying Fords. When he wasn’t doing that, Goertz was tinkering with designs of his own and eventually put together a handmade concept car which he called the “Paragon” coupe.

The BMW 507 roadster which was owned by Count Albrecht Graf von Goertz. (Bonhams)
The BMW 507 roadster which was owned by Count Albrecht Graf von Goertz. (Bonhams)
The BMW 507 roadster which was owned by Count Albrecht Graf von Goertz. (Bonhams)

Following a five-year stretch in the Army, Goertz returned to the U.S. and drove the concept car across the country to New York and wound up in the parking lot of Waldorf-Astoria.

While admiring a car in the lot, Goertz saw a passenger in that car get out and start checking out the Paragon. Impressed with what he saw, that passenger – industrial designer Raymond Loewy – ended up getting Goertz a job at the Studebaker design studio.

The BMW 507 roadster which was owned by Count Albrecht Graf von Goertz. (Bonhams)
The BMW 507 roadster which was owned by Count Albrecht Graf von Goertz. (Bonhams)
The BMW 507 roadster which was owned by Count Albrecht Graf von Goertz. (Bonhams)

From there, the Count began to further grow his skill set and his contact list and had gotten to know BMW’s general importer in America, Max Hoffmann, by the time he set up his own design business in 1953.

Through Hoffman, Goertz found out about BMW’s plans to build a big sports car to offer to consumers in U.S. and sent in a bid to Munich to design what would become the BMW 503 and 507. Based on a strong sketch, Goertz won.

The BMW 507 roadster which was owned by Count Albrecht Graf von Goertz. (Bonhams)
The BMW 507 roadster which was owned by Count Albrecht Graf von Goertz. (Bonhams)
The BMW 507 roadster which was owned by Count Albrecht Graf von Goertz. (Bonhams)

Following 18 months of design and production, the BMW 507 – a German-designed vehicle designed to North American tastes capable of hitting up to 125 miles per hour with a 0-60 time of 11 seconds thanks to a state-of-the-art V8 engine – made its debut in 1955 at, coincidentally enough, the Waldorf-Astoria in New York.

Possibly Goertz’s finest work, the BMW 507 and its $9,000 price tag was a hit with celebs like Elvis Presley, Formula 1 world champ John Surtees, original Bond girl Ursula Andress, but did not do well on the commercial market. After beginning in earnest in 1956, production of the 507 ceased in  1959 after only about 250 0f the cars had been sold.

The BMW 507 roadster which was owned by Count Albrecht Graf von Goertz. (Bonhams)
The BMW 507 roadster which was owned by Count Albrecht Graf von Goertz. (Bonhams)
The BMW 507 roadster which was owned by Count Albrecht Graf von Goertz. (Bonhams)

One of those 507s, a 1957 model which was one of only 34 Series I vehicles to be produced, was purchased by Goertz himself in 1971. The car passed through the hands of a number of owners before and since but still “represents a rare opportunity” to own a BMW sports car “with classic German styling and reflecting the impressive sporting pedigree of the Bavarian marque,” according to Bonhams.

Expected to fetch anywhere from $2,100,000 to $2,500,000 at the Les Grandes Marques du Monde au Grand Palais, we’ll find out what the car goes for when it crosses the block today in Paris.

The BMW 507 roadster which was owned by Count Albrecht Graf von Goertz. (Bonhams)
The BMW 507 roadster which was owned by Count Albrecht Graf von Goertz. (Bonhams)
The BMW 507 roadster which was owned by Count Albrecht Graf von Goertz. (Bonhams)

Born to a German aristocrat in Brunkensen in Lower Saxony, Goertz was not technically a Count but began referring to himself as one after the death of his older brother.

Regardless, the roadster will likely fetch a count-ly sum rather than a princely one at auction.