Nearly four decades after his death, the iconic entertainer known as the King of Rock & Roll remains one of the most lucrative names worldwide. In fact, it’s estimated that Elvis Presley Enterprises, the corporate entity that guards the Presley estate, continues to rake in an estimated $700 million per year. So, it was no surprise when BMW jumped at the chance to recover the 1957 BMW 507 Roadster that the King once drove. Now, they’ve got plan to return the beat-up ride to its former Elvis-worthy glory.
In 1957, Presley’s Let me Be your Teddy Bear topped charts and the King of Rock & Roll was making women worldwide swoon. Meanwhile, BMW was having a tough time selling its newest ride, unveiled at the Frankfurt Motor Show in Germany. So, the company recruited Auto Union driver Hans Stuck to race the 507 Roadster and to help market it to potential buyers in celebrity circles and high political places.
The next year, while serving in the US Army, the King himself happened to spot the 507 at the Monthlery track in Paris, France. He liked what he saw, dropped a wad of cash and drove it away. By that time, wear and tear from being on BMW’s press fleet had taken a toll on the car and subsequently was outfitted with a new four-speed manual transmission, new windshield and a rebuilt 3.2-liter 150hp V8 engine. Cosmetically, the gleaming white ride faced another challenge – a continuous barrage of female fans who scrawled their phone numbers across its hood in lipstick. That’s why Presley had the car painted red.
When Presley returned to the United State, the Army reportedly shipped the Roadster to him. But what happened to the car once it crossed the Pond is a bit of a mystery. What is known is that the car changed hands – and engines – a time or two before being bought by Jack Castor in 1968 and disappearing into a warehouse for the ensuing decades.
Finally, the King’s ride has again emerged. Castor recently shipped the car back across the ocean to BMW’s Munich museum, where it will be featured in the museum’s Lost & Found exhibit. It’ll remain on display until August 10, when BMW begins a full restoration expected to take upward of two years.
We here at E3 Spark Plugs already are anxious to see the final result. And we’re wondering – which Presley tune would you most want to crank up on the radio while cruising in the King’s Roadster? Post your thoughts on the E3 Spark Plugs Facebook Fan Page.