Cars & Stars

Elvis and his lipstick messages of love

Photo credit: BMW Classic

Elvis Presley, the “King of Rock’n’Roll”, adored cars and knew exactly what he liked: beautiful, seductive ones like the BMW 507 that he purchased in Germany in 1958 when, although still only 23 years old, he was already well known for his music, produced by Sub Records. But what exactly was Elvis doing in Germany? Perhaps the last thing you might expect of someone who was already an established star: military service at the Friedberg US Army base near Hessen!

Elvis Presley, 23, during his military service in Germany, performs one of his songs for a group of fans watching him take delivery of his BMW 507

The car in question (chassis #70079), having rolled off the assembly line on 13th September 1957, was not brand new. It had already appeared at the Frankfurt International Motor Show and been used for test drives by the press, before being sold to the legendary racing driver Hans Stuck, who, earlier in 1958, had driven it to victory in various hill climbs in Germany, Austria and Switzerland. After Presley purchased the car, it was registered with a temporary US military plate. These military plates were changed every year, a circumstance that later made identification of the car particularly difficult. Furthermore, Elvis had the car, originally white, repainted in red in order to conceal the messages that his fans would scrawl in lipstick on its body, something that the young recruit’s superiors obviously could not tolerate!

Legendary racing driver Hans Stuck during a 1958 hill climb in the BMW 507 later bought by Elvis Presley

In 1960 the singer returned to the USA, taking his 507 with him. A few months later, he sold it to a Chrysler dealer in New York for USD 4,500. This marked the start of numerous vicissitudes and changes of ownership for the car. The mechanics were also changed, the original engine being replaced with an American one.

In 1968 the 507 was bought by Jack Castor, a passionate classic car collector. He knew that it had previously belonged to Hans Stuck, but it was not until later that, on researching the chassis number, he discovered that it was the very 507 once owned by Elvis Presley. Despite choosing to hold on to the car, he did little to preserve it. Finally, in 2014, after a lengthy negotiation, he agreed to sell it to BMW, which had been wanting it for some time.

Repainted red and in poor condition, the car was purchased in America by BMW and then perfectly restored

The 507 was shipped back to Germany along with the spare parts and documentation that Castor had collected over a number of years. The restoration work was not easy, even for the German experts, as the car was in poor condition.

Finally, at the end of two years’ work, the BMW 507 was repainted in its original shade of white. Too bad that Elvis is no longer around. He would love to have seen it adorned with a few more lipstick messages, and not just from his older fans!

Here is Elvis Presley’s 507 today. Every last detail has been restored to how it was when the car was owned by the “King of Rock’n’Roll”