Amelia Island

8 March 2014

Offered from the Pray Collection

Lot 152

1958 BMW 507 Series II Roadster

Sold for $2,420,000

  • Chassis no. 70156
  • Engine no. 40024
  • Body no. 1155


145 bhp, 3,168 cc all-alloy overhead-valve V-8 engine with dual carburetors, four-speed manual transmission, independent front suspension with dual A-arms and torsion bars, live rear axle with torsion bars, and hydraulic front disc and rear drum brakes. Wheelbase: 97.6 in.

  • Offered from the Pray Collection
  • Two owners from new; single ownership since 1972
  • Offered with original engine, number 40167, verified by BMW Classic
  • Factory Rudge wheels, a Becker Mexico radio, and a factory hardtop
  • Impeccable purity and provenance


The parallels between Max Hoffman and Malcolm S. Pray Jr. are many. Both were blessed with a gift of foresight that allowed them to look overseas at a new world of automotive possibilities. Both had the drive to dream big and the will to push those dreams into creation. They were both larger-than-life spirits, and those spirits are inextricably intertwined with this BMW 507.

It was Hoffman that brought the 507 to life, essentially telling BMW that they should build a roadster slightly less expensive than the Mercedes-Benz 300 SL so that he could sell it to wealthy American customers. Being the most powerful importer in America at the time, he got his wish, and he virtually single-handedly propelled the 507 into creation. It was designed at his behest by Count Albrecht von Goertz, with its sensuous feline curves and shark-like louvers being hand-assembled around a robust V-8 engine. A towering price of $11,000 limited it to the most discerning of clientele and to a production run of only 251 examples, which were produced over two-and-a-half years.

It is safe to say that Mr. Pray was among the 507’s admirers when it was first offered, which was at about the same time that he was getting his own start in selling German automobiles. He was further influenced by an encounter with a fellow Greenwich resident, Al Mitchell, who was an airline pilot who happened to own a 507.

After an inquiry from Mr. Pray, Mitchell located this car in Pennsylvania, still with its original owner, Alan Friedland. Mr. Friedland was an enthusiastic participant in Sports Car Club of America races during this era, driving a McKee-Ford, an Elva Mk VIII, and this 507. Surviving records, located by RM Auctions, indicate that Mr. Friedland drove his 507 in the Northeast Ohio Regional Races of the SCCA, held at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in August 1962, among others. Spares that came with the car included low-cut gears for hill climbing, indicating that Mr. Friedland’s competition activities were not confined to the twisties!

The Friedland 507 was purchased by Mr. Pray, who became its second owner, on August 17, 1972, and he would never sell it. The file on the car includes a Pennsylvania title, which was issued to Friedland in 1971 and shows its reassignment to the Pray Automobile Corporation the following year.

In the 1980s, the interior, which included the seats, quarter panels, kick panels, door panels, and dashboard, was reupholstered in red Connolly leather; new Wilton wool carpeting was installed; and the interior wood was replaced or repaired as necessary. In 1997, the 507 underwent more significant work, with much of it being performed by Mr. Pray’s own shop. All trim was removed, repaired, and reinstalled. In 2006, the body was stripped, minor scratches and dents were repaired, and all panels were refinished in Graphite. Since this work was completed, the car has only been gently used, and it has just enough wear so that it looks the part of its 17,563 kilometers.

The Pray 507 was equipped by the factory with a Becker Mexico radio, as well as with two of the most desirable items, Rudge wheels and a removable hardtop. The Rudges, which are painted silver, have remained with and on the car its entire life. Mr. Pray chose to drive the car with its top down, and during the 1997 restoration, he had a new convertible top fabricated and the mounting pins for the hardtop removed. However, the original hardtop was kept, and it remains in unrestored condition.

As a happy conclusion to the story, the 507’s original 155 brake horsepower Series II engine, number 40167, was recently offered to the Pray Estate. Its authenticity to this chassis was confirmed by the 507 Registrar of the Historic BMW Club Germany, Wolfgang Niefanger, and BMW Classic. The original engine was acquired, fully rebuilt, and is now offered with the purchase of the car.

Today, the Pray 507 is all it was when it left the factory in 1958, and all that it should be, down to a collection of receipts, invoices, and documentation that accumulated during its time in Greenwich.

The success of foreign automobiles in America was built upon the will of a few extraordinary men who sold a few extraordinary cars. Malcolm S. Pray Jr. was one of those men, and the BMW 507 was one of those cars. It was only natural that Mr. Pray would not only purchase a 507, but that he would also buy one from its original owner in 1972, long before other enthusiasts came around to the model. For nearly 42 years, it has been a mainstay of the Pray Collection, representing the success of both a marque and a man.

Addendum

Please note this vehicle was first registered in 1959. The original owner has graciously provided RM Auctions with a partial list of events in which it was campaigned, along with photography of the car participating in those events. Please see an RM specialist to review this exciting history!

Please contact our exclusive automotive transportation partner, Reliable Carriers, for a shipping quote or any other information on the transport of this vehicle.

Alain Squindo


Detroit, Michigan

Alain Squindo joined RM Auctions in 2007, after graduating from Georgetown University in Washington, D.C., with a degree in History. R... read more

Alex Classick

aclassick@rmauctions.com

+44 (0) 20 7851 7070
United Kingdom

Alex Classick joined RM Europe in 2011 as a car specialist, after graduating from Nottingham University with a degree in Business Mana... read more

Alexander Weaver

aweaver@rmauctions.com

+1 310 559 4575
California, USA

Alexander Weaver joined RM Auctions in 2011 as a car specialist, after graduating from Furman University in South Carolina. Born into ... read more

Annette Abaci

aabaci@rmauctions.com

+49 (0) 40 441 95 737
Germany

With post-secondary degrees in Economic Science and Mechanical Engineering, Annette Abaci initially worked part-time at Mercedes-Benz ... read more

Augustin Sabatié-Garat

asabatie-garat@rmauctions.com

+44 (0) 20 7851 7070
United Kingdom

Augustin Sabatié-Garat joined RM Europe in 2012 as a senior car specialist, after more than a decade in the collector car hobby... read more

Dan Warrener

dwarrener@rmauctions.com

+1 519 352 4575
Ontario, Canada

Possessing a degree in Economics from Brandon University, Dan Warrener spent the initial stages of his career working around the globe... read more

Don Rose

drose@rmauctions.com

+1 617 513 0388
United States

Don Rose joined RM Auctions in 2006, after many years of professionally trading sports and classic cars, and after earning a reputatio... read more

Donnie Gould

dgould@rmauctions.com

+1 954 566 2209
Florida, USA

Donnie Gould joined the RM team in 2002 as a partner and Car Specialist after more than two decades in the vintage automobile auction ... read more

Gord Duff

gduff@rmauctions.com

+1 519 352 4575
Ontario, Canada

Gord joined RM Auctions in 1998, initially responsible for the transportation and logistics of the company’s auction and restora... read more

Ian Kelleher

ikelleher@rmauctions.com

+1 310 559 4575
New York, United States

Ian Kelleher began his automotive career immediately following his graduation from Oberlin College, with a B.A. in Politica... read more

Jack Boxstrom

jboxstrom@rmauctions.com

+1 818 703 2816
Ontario, Canada

Jack Boxstrom joined RM Auctions in late-1996 to assist with the recently acquired, and subsequently record-breaking, auction in Monte... read more

Max Girardo

mgirardo@rmauctions.com

+44 (0) 20 7851 7070
United Kingdom

Max Girardo started his career in the vintage automobile industry in 1998, joining Brooks Auctioneers (now Bonhams) as a car specialis... read more

Mike Fairbairn

mfairbairn@rmauctions.com

+1 519 352 4575
Ontario, Canada

As one of the three founding partners of RM Auctions, Mike Fairbairn has a longstanding interest in the classic car industry. Graduati... read more

Peter Wallman

pwallman@rmauctions.com

+44 (0) 20 7851 7070
United Kingdom

Peter Wallman joined RM Europe in 2007, following nearly two decades in the international advertising industry, read more

Rob Myers

+1 519 352 4575
Ontario, Canada

As chairman and founder of the RM Group of Companies, Rob Myers’s entire career has been devoted to the classic car industry. Ro... read more

Shelby Myers

smyers@rmauctions.com

+1 310 559 4575
California, USA

Shelby Myers literally grew up with the classic car industry infused into every aspect of his life. He had the unique opportunity to w... read more

Vinnie Mandzak

vmandzak@rmauctions.com

+1 310 559 4575
California, USA

Vinnie Mandzak joined RM Auctions’ California office in 2012 as a car specialist, following more than 30 years’ experience... read more