A comeback worthy of the King

From a pumpkin warehouse to Pebble Beach, Elvis Presley’s 507 has made an amazing journey since Bimmer uncovered it back in 2009.

July 21, 2016
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It was 1968, and Elvis Presley hadn’t had a Number One hit in six years. The King of Rock and Roll was only 32, but he’d lost his edge making cheesy Hollywood movies and subpar albums, and the world had moved on. And then, just before the year ended, a TV special called simply Elvis saw him return to form, playing stripped-down rock and roll in front of a live audience. Elvis Presley had made his comeback.

The same year that Elvis aired, the 507 he’d owned during his Army stint in Germany left Arizona for California. It had been purchased by Jack Castor, an aerospace engineer about Elvis’ age who’d been dreaming of a 507 since seeing one while working a summer job at Suddeutsche Bremsen in Munich…at almost the exact same time that U.S. Army Private Elvis Presley was driving around Frankfurt in the very car that Castor now owned.

By the time Castor bought it, however, 507 number 70079 was barely recognizable, having fallen victim to a hot-rodding DJ in Alabama just as Elvis was scoring his last hit record. Castor wanted to put it back to stock, to have a real 507 instead of one crammed with a Chevy V8 and lurid tuck-and-roll upholstery, so he stashed it in a warehouse and started gathering up the parts for a full restoration. Alas, other things took precedence, and for a while it seemed like Elvis’ 507 might suffer a fate as ignominious as that of Presley himself.

Fortunately, F. Scott Fitzgerald was wrong: Plenty of American acts have second lives. Elvis proved as much following his comeback and even in posterity, and now Elvis’ 507 is making a comeback of its own. For the last two years, the car has been at BMW Classic in Munich, undergoing restoration to its original specification. It was one of Castor’s last wishes before his death in November 2014, and when it crosses the dais at the 2016 Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance it will do so in tribute not only to Elvis but also in honor of Jack Castor, who kept it for more than 45 years in anticipation of just such a revival.

That revival began in December 2006, when we published a Back Page in Bimmer #63 entitled “Royal Coach.” We’d been cross-referencing various sources against Dr. Karlheinz Lange’s definitive model history, The legendary 507, and it had become obvious that Elvis’ car wasn’t 70192 as was often claimed but 70079, the first 507 raced by Hans Stuck. As it turned out, 70079 was just down the road from Bimmer HQ, stored in a warehouse near Pescadero, California. Its owner, Jack Castor, wasn’t making any definitive claims for an Elvis provenance, but he was certain it was the ex-Stuck factory racer.

The story that we published in Bimmer #85, June 2009, recounted as much as we knew of 70079’s history at the time. Since then, we’ve learned quite a bit more about the most significant 507 of them all.

The ’50s

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