2018 Bonhams Goodwood Festival of Speed (John Surtees’ BMW 507 Announcement)

The 1957 BMW 507 Roadster that multiple championship winner John Surtees owned from new until his death is on offer at the Bonhams Goodwood Festival of Speed sale in the UK in July 2018.

John Surtees’ 1957 BMW 507 Roadster
© Bonhams

The rare, one-owner (John Surtees!) 1957 BMW 507 Roadster is one of the highlights of the 2018 Bonhams Goodwood Festival of Speed auction in July 2018. Surtees, the reigning 500cc Motorcycle World Champion at the time, acquired the BMW in 1957 and kept it until his death in 2017. BMW added some modifications to the car, as Surtees wanted it to go up hills faster but downhill slower. It originally cost £3,000 – the presale estimate is £2,000,000 to £2,200,000, which is likely to set a new model record.

NOTE: The 1957 BMW 507 Roadster achieved £3,809,500($5,031,683) to become the most-expensive BMW ever sold at public auction – see 2018 Bonhams Goodwood Festival of Speed Auction Results for details.

Bonhams Goodwood Festival of Speed Sale 2018

The annual Bonhams Goodwood Festival of Speed sale is held on 13 July 2018 during arguably the most important motoring event in Britain. It takes place at Goodwood near Chichester in the south of England.

1954 Mercedes Benz W196 Formula 1 Racing Car
1954 Mercedes Benz W196 Formula 1 Racer © Bohnams

The Bonhams Goodwood Festival of Speed sale is usually the most important of the three Goodwood auctions Bonhams holds most years. The Goodwood Members sale is in mid-March while the Goodwood Revival sale in September is usually a great occasion for historic cars.

The Goodwood auction record, also the British auction record, was set in 2013 when $29,650,000 (£19.6 million) was paid for a 1954 Mercedes Benz W196R Formula 1 single-seater racing car. At the time, it doubled the highest price paid for a car at auction and it is currently still the third most-expensive car ever sold at public auction.

John Surtees’ 1957 BMW 507 Roadster

John Surtees’ 1957 BMW 507 Roadster
© Bonhams

One of the highlights of the Bonhams Goodwood Festival of Speed sale is likely to be the rare, one-owner 1957 BMW 507 Roadster (estimate £2,000,000 – 2,200,000 / $2.8 to $3 million) directly from the estate of the late John Surtees CBE.

This is not only a beautiful example of BMW’s most elegant and refined sports car from the 1950s. It is very much ‘the John Surtees BMW 507’, a one-owner beauty being offered for the first time at public auction, direct from the estate of one of the world’s most revered and successful sportsmen — an eight-time World Champion, no less.

Surtees loved the BMW and actively drove it all over Europe. He was still using it as his primary car when signed for Ferrari five year later and kept it until his death in 2017.

John Surtees – Agusta and BMW

At the time that he acquired the BMW 507 as new in 1957, John was the reigning 500cc Motorcycle World Champion, having won the title in 1956 riding for Count Domenico Agusta’s MV Agusta factory team. A few months later, at Hockenheim, ‘Il Grande John’ — as the Italian racing fans had nicknamed him — spotted the elegantly understated 507 being used by BMW engineering director Alexander von Falkenhausen. He instantly fell in love with it.

“He saw me looking at it, and said to try it, Surtees recalled. “I came back thinking ‘that’s rather nice’. Back in Italy, when Count Agusta told John Surtees that he would like to buy him a present to reward his World Championship success, John would tell how ‘the light bulb came on’.

“I thought ‘Ooh, I really would like one of those new BMWs’,” said Surtees. “So I mentioned the 507. Inevitably, the old Count’s response was ‘What’s the price?’ and when I told him it was more than £3,000, he winced. “We finally did a deal and went fifty-fifty. I went back to von Falkenhausen, did a little development work for BMW and got the car in what the factory described as silver-grey, but which is more a lovely subtle silver-blue.”

John Surtees went on to win three more 500 cc World Championship titles with MV Agusta (1958-1960) adding to the original 1956 crown and three consecutive 350 cc World titles, 1958 to 1960. He then famously made the transition from two wheels to four, driving in Formula 1 from 1960 to 1972 and winning the Formula 1 Drivers’ World Championship with Ferrari in 1964. Meanwhile he kept the much-loved BMW 507 until he died on 10 March 2017.

John Surtees BMW 507 Modifications

John Surtees used this graceful grand touring car extensively, often driving over the Brenner and Simplon passes on his way between England and Italy.

Early on in his ownership he contacted BMW to comment that his car didn’t feel quite as good as the one he had first tried, finding that it wasn’t going up the hills as quickly as he would like yet was going down the other side far too fast.

BMW “breathed upon” his car’s V8 engine, enhancing its power and torque, and invited him to carry out brake testing in Birmingham with Dunlop, who duly fitted his car with four-wheel disc brakes. It was a great improvement.

John Surtees – BMW and Ferrari

When he signed for Ferrari in late 1962 Surtees arrived at the Maranello factory in his beloved BMW, whereupon Enzo Ferrari declared that drivers could not possibly have a German car while racing for his team. He must have a Ferrari instead!

Surtees’ glee was short-lived: “When I got my first pay cheque I found The Old Man had had the price of the new car deducted from my fee!”

BMW 507 Roadster Results at Recent Auctions

1958 BMW 507 Roadster Series II
Dirk de Jager © Courtesy of RM Sotheby’s

The BMW 507 was never as popular new as the Mercedes Benz 300 SL Roadster – being significantly more expensive new didn’t add to the appeal either. Only 252 were ever built making these cars much more of a rarity than the Mercedes of which 1,858 Roadsters were produced.

Results for BMW 507 Roadsters are significantly higher than for the 300 SL Roadster but it is often a harder car to sell at auction. Currently, these cars are likely to sell for just above $2 million.

The model record was set at Pebble Beach 2017 when Gooding sold a superbly restored 1958 BMW 507 Series II Roadster for $2,750,000. An unrestored, two-owner (but only one mechanic!) 1958 BMW Roadster Series II sold for $2.2 million at the RM Sotheby’s Paris 2018 sale – the owner of this car also had front disk brakes installed, as she enjoyed using the BMW for he daily driving needs.

The 1957 BMW 507 that was delivered new to Constantine II, the last king of Greece, will be offered at the Monaco sale in May 2018. The estimate is a whopping €2,100,000-2,600,000 ($2,600,000-3,220,000).

Bonhams Goodwood Festival of Speed Sale 2018