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Thread: A curious 507....

  1. #1

    A curious 507....

    This is reputed to be a Raymond Lowey's own 507, it says here in the little plack that it is part of the Peterson Collection, and was a gift of the Lowey estate. Anyone know anything about it?
     
    Andrew Macpherson

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    Found this: "This BMW was built for designer Raymond Loewy for his personal use by Pichon et Parat of Sens, France. It was one of a series of experimental vehicles Loewy created to study ideas for possible incorporation into production vehicles. It embodied the simplified form he predicted would establish a trend. His influence was later evident in the appearance of the Studebaker Avanti."

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    Administrator thegunguy's Avatar
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    Roundel or gunsight?
    thegunguy

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    Z8 Millennial Monster hayvenhurstkid's Avatar
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    My understanding is that BMW first gave the assignment to design the 507 to him. This car was built but rejected. I must say that the car they did go with, which was designed by Count Goertz, was a gorgeous design, especially when compaired to this design.

  5. #5
    I must say that it is a bit of an ugly duckling, and is far from the purposeful splendor of his locomotives, which I really like.
     
    Andrew Macpherson

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    My sources indicate that the alternative design for the 507 was submitted by a BMW engineer named Ernst Loof in 1954. At the recommendation of US importer Max Hoffman, BMW asked Albrecht Goertz to submit his own design and it was chosen for production. Interestingly enough, Goertz had worked for Raymond Loewy at his South Bend, Indiana Studebaker plant for 3 years until Loewy fired him and advised him to forget design and marry a rich woman instead! Since the 507 was the inspiration behind our beloved Z8s, we should all be glad he didn't take his advise.

    With the BMW 507 having recently celebrated its 50th birthday, there have been numerous articles written about this icon in BMW's history. A very nice one appeared in the February 2006 issue of Bimmer magazine. Interestingly enough, the 507, while highly praised upon its release, didn't sell well when new (over-priced for its modest performance level seems to be the consensus) and eventually faded into relative obscurity, particularly among car collectors. Ironically, it wasn't until the release of the Z8 and all of the comparisons it generated, that the 507 began to appreciate rapidly in value and today it has become a much sought after classic. And rightfully so. The car's design is truly unique, gracefully sculpted, nicely proportioned, and it is frequently referred to as one of the most beautiful cars ever built. It's not hard to see why it served as such an appropriate inspiration for the Z8.

    Which for me begs the question: Which one is more beautiful? In many of the published comparisons between the two, the authors tend to side with the 507 and I suspect this has more to do with the weight of historical perspective than it does with subjective analysis. If the 507 is commonly considered to be one of the most beautiful cars ever built, raising the Z8 to a higher level is going out on a very thin limb where most automotive writer's fear being ridiculed for their independent opinion. Having no such fears myself, I will procede to tap dance on that branch and state unequivocally that the Z8 is by far the more beautiful design. Heresy, blasphemy? Let's find out.

    From every angle, the Z8's lines curve as if sculpted by flowing water whereas the 507, balanced as it may be, is definitely less sleek. The front end is a perfect place to see this with the 507's thin bumper looking very tacked on and the V'd grill shape interrupted by the protruding fenders whereas the Z8's nose flows smoothly to the sides. Of course, much of this difference is due to the different technologies available to the respective designers, but that doesn't change the fact that the Z8 is more graceful in its design. Or check the shape of the doors. The 507 has rather plain looking rectangular doors which add nothing to the overall design. The Z8, on the other hand, has a door shape which enhances the car's design and adds its own complimentary styling element with that wonderful curve in the rear. Even the vaunted 507 grill vents, often considered a primary shared element, are much prettier on the Z8 due to their flowing shape. The rear end on the 507 is nicely tapered, beautifully proportioned, with very elegant lines. But the Z8's tush is a work of art, with sensuous curves and exquisite detailing. I would submit that it borders on sexual. Another essential comparison is the side profile which, while distinctive on the 507, approaches perfection with the Z8. Its top fender line always reminds me of water flowing over smooth boulders in a stream and the way it integrates the front design with the rear is pure poetry. Furthermore, every detail on the side of the car responds to that same flow and becomes nothing more than a ripple in the water. If you need more proof of what I'm saying, try comparing the interiors of the two cars. The 507's, while elegant in its simplicity, does not hold a candle to the visual eye-candy provided by the Z8's astonishing design. Where I believe the two cars compare most favorably is when viewed from above. Here, both have an integrated, proportional, "rightness" to them that makes me long to be a bird. Even so, the Z8's less fussy detailing makes it a winner once again. In the final analysis, it is the coherency of the overall design which conveys classic beauty and while the 507 is a well balanced package, the Z8's integration is so complete that it's hard to imagine changing a single line for the better.

    Perhaps another way to see what I'm talking about is to ask yourself what each car reminds you of when you gaze upon it. For me, the 507 is a pretty 1950's sports car. The Z8 always makes me think of a lioness on the prowl, with its feline face, rippling muscles, and sleek shape. And that, I believe, is the genius behind Henrik's design: it evokes a sense of athletic prowess and animal magnetism that has a basis in the natural world, not the iron foundary. When we add in the fact that the Z8 can actually deliver on its promise of performance, I think the answer to my question is clear. What do you think?
    Grease Monkey

  7. #7
    Beautifully said, but I'd still like a 507 to keep my Z8 company! One place that I really see the difference in the two is in the number of colors that were available. I've seen pictures of 507's in so many colors I've almost come to wonder if any two the painted the same, while we got just 4 colors, until Stratus came along.
    Andrew Macpherson

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    I have to agree with you about Loewy's locomotive designs: purposeful and elegant at the same time. Quite remarkable really and certainly icons of the era. Buck Rodgers on wheels! I understand he also designed the shape of the ubiquitous coke bottle. As for that custom BMW, since he did some other design exercises utilizing production cars, I would guess that he either acquired or was given a 507 to play with and came up with that unusual body style. Anyone else see some of his "Avanti" in it?

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    Very much Avanti in the Loewy design.

    The first 507 was desiugned in-house. It looked very derivative of the MM streamliners and later Veritas, if I remember correctly. Max Hoffman saw it and expressed his displeasure at it, then got Goertz involved.

    Regarding the 507 and Z8, I would have to admit that I like the Z8 better, but remember we are all judging it with contemporary eyes. This is a common problem with vintage vehicles - tastes in color have changed, as well as how vehicles are viewed in relation to their contemporaries and modern vehicles. I have an ALFA Romeo Spider Veloce. I remember these as being quite low slung compared to other cars of the 1960's. Today it looks as though it is on stilts compared to more modern cars.

    Remember that Fisker had more works to draw from then Goertz, particularly the e-Type Jaguar, that is reflected in the tail of the Z8. Technology has helped. Goertz had a single choice of headlight as opposed to small projectors and the whole idea of covers that alow the lights to be incorporated without interrupting the fender line that was developed after the 507. The taillights of the 507 are pretty prosaic, but that was in a time when molded plastics that could withstand environmental exposure were just starting to be used. My MG, a contemporary of the 507, still had glass taillight lenses. Technology allowed Fisker much more freedom in the 40 years between the design of the 507 and the Z8.

    As for colors, Andrew, don't think that all you see today were available when the 507 was produced. First, the 507 is not yet a full classic, so it is not judged with the same scrutiny to authenticity as some of the CCA full classics. There is an interesting dichotomy in the classic car community. While you may lose points for a wire with the wrong color insulation, the attitude towards car colors is one of - your money, your choice. One problem with recreating an authentic color is that most of the the photographs of today's full classics (produced earlier than 1948) are black and white, so it is very difficult to determine what was the original color of a car. Mixing codes are lost, so examples that do exist are subject ot several years of yellowing or fading -- not to mention that some pigments no longer exist -- a lot of pigment sused metals that are now known to be very potent carcinogens. A lot of the car of the era were painted with nitrocellulose lacquer, and no one is crazy to keep cans of this explosive material around (I did find some cans of 1940's and 1930's DuPont lacquer that my father was pack ratting when I cleaned out my parents' house - scary!). About the best research I have seen is on Cord 810/812's where Josh Malks' book lists all the serial and engine numbers and the original colors for just about every car built. Unless documentation like this exists, or you are dealing with a one-off of a documented color, most auto serial numbers were just the sequence in which the chassis rolled down the line -- not at all like modern VINs with coding for equipment and color built in.

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    There is no doubt Fisker had technology and hindsight on his side when compared to Goertz' design work, but the 507 continues to be judged by modern critics as one of the most beautiful cars ever built while the Z8's design remains somewhat controversial and by no means universally acclaimed (present company excluded). In fact, when it comes to classic beauty, I believe the bias is in favor of vintage vehicles, like the 507. A perfect example for me is the Ferrari 275 GTB/4 which is my favorite vintage design and I don't believe there is any modern Ferrari which even comes close in terms of styling. That, I believe, is what sets the Z8 apart from most other contemporary exotics: Fisker carried forward the classic lines, proportions, and gestalt of a great design but managed to improve upon it, partly by taking advantage of modern technology, but mostly by adding his own sense of style and beauty to it. Perhaps even more telling, when asked what a modern 507 would look like if he designed it, Goertz said "the Z8"! In the end, we're all judged by what we did with what was available to us, but some people transcend those limitations by creating a work of such perfection that it becomes timeless and can be favorably compared with anything that comes after. The sculpture of Michelangelo is so exquisite that it is hard to imagine how it could ever be improved upon. I think Henrik has a touch of the master in him!

    As far as your Spider Veloce is concerned, it remains one of the loveliest designs I have ever seen.

  11. #11
    There is an interesting dichotomy in the classic car community. While you may lose points for a wire with the wrong color insulation, the attitude towards car colors is one of - your money, your choice.
    My absolutely favorite 'custom' of all time is an absolutely delicious Hermes colored Bugatti 57 that I saw in Merle & Peter Mullin's collection here in LA. That car is part of a collection of more than 60 cars, including unique and gorgeous streamlined Delahaye's, Talbot's, and many, many other Bugatti's. The lady of the house had it decorated to her own design, using Hermes Orange and Brown, and even though it may sound wrong I promise you it is just a knockout, so much so that I've always promised my Hermes crazed better half that should it ever come up in auction I'll get it for her!
    Andrew Macpherson

    Expert Z8 Inspections, with full support for both Z8 sale and purchases.

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    This article may help explain the Z8's appeal:

    "An experience like no other began with the capture of my vision, drawn along the rise and fall of sculptured fenders as if the aluminum bodywork emanated a curious magnetism. I unconsciously gauged the Z8's overall proportions and, in the instant it took for my eyes to sweep the car's entirety, concluded they were in impeccable balance. Beautiful, a term I don't often bestow upon mechanical devices, seemed to be fully apppropriate to my reaction.

    Later, when reflecting on a full profile photo of the Z8, it struck me as to why the car's styling was so inherently pleasing at first sight: The ratios between length, width and height appear to have been devised by the same forces which shaped the spiral of a nautilus shell or delicate curve of a fern's stalk. In other words, the Z8 is a wonderful example of dynamic symmetry, also known as the Golden Mean. Expressed as the mathematical ratio (1:1.618), it is found in such natural forms as the nautilus and the fern, but why this is so is still one of life's great mysteries. There's no mistaking, however, the very tangible effect this ratio has on the rational mind. It provides a sense of order without redundancy and has been used by architects since ancient Greece in the search for the most pleasing, stimulating designs. So important is this ratio that Galileo even utilized it in his studies of the mechanics of motion.

    The "Divine Mean", as it is also called, is most easily described as a line: if the left hand part of the line is length a=1, then the right hand portion is length b=0.618. Dividing a line in this way is said to provide a Golden or Divine section. Why this is mathematically interesting is that the length a is to the whole length a+b, as the length b is to a. Why this seems also to be inherently pleasing in an aesthetic sense is beyond ken.

    Apply the same measurement to the Z8, and the point describing the Golden section is almost exactly where the rear curve of the door opening intersects the horizontal cut line between door and fender well - right where the driver is centered. Is this mere serendipity, or did BMW's design team study ferns and shells and wear "Golden Mean" T-shirts during the car's development? I believe there's a simple explanation: Chris Bangle (not likely), Henrik Fisker (of course) and gang in BMW's design studio were doing no less than tapping into an aesthetic born in nature. It was perhaps this same dynamic which led Albrech von Goertz to pen the BMW 507 in the mid 1950s, the roadster which inspired many of the Z8's project goals. Still, Bangle and Co. were certainly under no pressure to evoke the 507 in their design, and Fisker says he viewed the 507 just once, and for a short time, before he sketched the first drawings of what would become the Z8. Why the Z8 ended up looking as it did, I think, was in a very real way, decreed by the "correctness" implied by the Golden Mean.

    However the inspiration for the Z8 came into fruition, its effect on the heart and intellect is indisputable.

    ...The new Z8 roadster is the best example yet of ultra-sophisticated technology wrapped by unashamed emotional appeal. Its graceful lines evoke a time when life wasn't so complicated, when design was expressive of values beyond mere costliness. Yet under the aluminum skin is a wondrous array of BMW's best production-car technology.

    All of this wouldn't mean beans, of course, unless the Z8 delivered on this promising blend of high-tech and haute couture. And it does - unequivocably, unquestioningly, undisputably, unassailably, uncompromisingly.

    Like so many other recently minted limited-edition cars, the Z8 is a beguiling blend of engineering prowess and applied aesthetics. Unlike so many of those cars, the Z8 fulfills the expectations outlined in the specs by inviting the driver to share in its complex technology, not be overwhelmed by it.

    Balanced to the eye and to the aesthetic mind, unburdened by extraneous visual elements, the Z8 is both a marvel of technology and beautiful driving experience."

    Greg Brown in European Car Magazine


    Grease Monkey

  13. #13
    Z8 Guru 2112's Avatar
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    Not that my opinion is that valuable but I agree the Z8 is the better of the two. It embodies so many great design features into one great package. As to the classic Ferrari's, I grew up drooling over the 365 GTB/4 soft top but came to love the late 50's SWB cars. Particularly the 59' 250 SWB California Special without the Plexiglas headlight covers. Of the mid engine cars, After the 512 BB they all started looking like spaceships to my eye (although performance and quality improved drastically).
    2000 Red over black
    heavily modified for performance. Although, not to the level of GM's car