1956→1959 BMW 503 Cabriolet

1956→1959 BMW 503 Cabriolet
BMW 503 Convertible. (11/2010)

1956→1959 BMW 503 Cabriolet

At the International Motor Show in Frankfurt in 1955, BMW presented not one, but two spectacular new automobiles, the BMW 503 Coupe and the BMW 507 Roadster. Both models were powered by the eight-cylinder engine, which had been increased to a capacity of 3.2 litres and which delivered 140 hp to the BMW 503 and a breathtaking 150 hp to the BMW 507. With features which included leather upholstery and electric windows, the four-seater BMW 503 fulfilled the burgeoning desire for luxury and extraordinarily elegant design during the early phase of Germany’s economic miracle.

The designs for the BMW 503 and BMW 507 were drafted by the young German designer Albrecht Graf Goertz. The former student of the famous industrial designer Raymond Loewy succeeded in melding long, stretched side contours and powerfully swept fronts with an elegance and lightness which until then had only been achieved by Italian automobile designers. Even today, this combination is still a perfect example of the sporting elegance which is also expressed by the BMW 6 Series Coupe.

The BMW 503 was also a pioneer in terms of technology. Parts of its bodywork were made of aluminium, the lightweight V8 engine accelerated the coupe to 190 km/h. A brake servo was part of the standard equipment and from 1957 onwards, the gearbox was married directly to the engine and for the first time was operated by a gear stick on the floor and not by a gear shift on the steering wheel, as had been the case up until then.

1955 BMW 503 Cabriolet Gallery

See full 1955 BMW 503 Cabriolet Gallery here

In Detail

typeSeries Production Car
production years1956 – 1959
built atGermany
body stylistGraf Goertz
engine90º V8
positionFront, Longitudinal
block materialAluminum Alloy
valvetrainOHV, 2 Valves Cyl
fuel feed2 Zenith 32 NDIX Carburettors
displacement3168 cc / 193.32 in³
bore82 mm / 3.2 in
stroke75 mm / 3.0 in
power104.4 kw / 140 bhp @ 4800 rpm
specific output44.19 bhp per litre
bhp/weight93.33 bhp per tonne
torque215.6 nm / 159 ft lbs @ 3800 rpm
body / frameAluminum Body over Box-Steel Frame
driven wheelsRWD
front brakesDrums
rear brakesDrums
steeringRecirculating Ball
f suspensionDouble Wishbones w/Coil Springs, Anti-Roll Bar
r suspensionLive Axle w/Hydraulic Dampers
curb weight1500 kg / 3308 lbs
wheelbase2835 mm / 11.1 in
front track1400 mm / 55.1 in
rear track1420 mm / 55.9 in
length4750 mm / 187.0 in
width1710 mm / 67.3 in
height1440 mm / 56.7 in
top speed~190 kph / 117.99 mph
0 – 60 mph~12.8 seconds

Auction Sales History

1957 BMW 503 Cabriolet 69146 – did not sell for €240,000 One of only 139 Cabriolets built. Recent professional engine rebuild and cosmetic freshening by RM Auto Restoration. Equipped with desirable Rudge wheels and Becker Mexico radio. Eligible for the Colorado Grand.
Auction Source: 2013 Villa d’Erba Auction by RM

1956 BMW 503 Series I Cabriolet 69081 – did not sell for $260,000 With fine details done to perfection and apologizing for nothing, this BMW 503 is remarkably complete and even includes the original tool box with its tool set, which is nearly impossible to locate. The photo-documented restoration was completed just days before its debut at the 2011 Hilton Head Concours d’Elegance, where BMW was the featured marque. The 503 was the recipient of one of the show’s highest awards: Best Postwar BMW. A restorationA restoration album was assembled using some of the many hundreds of photos taken throughout the restoration process and will accompany the car. The owner proudly claims that “this is the best 503 in the world at present.” Given that the production run of 412 units included only 139 cabriolets, it is hard to imagine anything better.

Auction Source: Monterey 2012 by RM Auctions

1957 BMW 503 Cabriolet 69146 – sold for $231,000 This Bertone-bodied 503 Cabriolet is one of the 129 drop-tops built. It was acquired by an American collector in the early 2000s, and at the time, was in excellent original condition. Very little work was required to make it road worthy. It was given a mechanical restoration which turned out to be little more than a meticulous detailing and tune-up. It was evident that the car had been well cared for since new. The car was given a full re-commissioning, that included taking it down to the bare aluminum. It was painted in white paint with the interior receiving a refinishing in leather. All of the gauges, knobs and interior hardware were re-freshened, and a new top was fitted.

Auction Source: 2009 Gooding & Company Pebble Beach Auction