Know Thy Germans: BMW 503 Coupe and Convertible

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Yes, yes, yes — we all know the 507 is the ultimate in post-war BMW hotness. And we'll get there. Before that time comes, we'd like to direct your eyes and brains to another Bimmer designed by the same dude, Count Albrecht von Goertz. All you really need to know about von Goertz is that the good Count had a significant hand in the Nissan Silvia 1600 Sports Coupe, the Toyota 2000GT, the Datsun 240Z and something called the Porsche 911. Oh, and he also fought against the Axis powers as a member of the US Army and was so into hot rodding that he had a shop in LA where he chopped Ford As and Bs. Sadly, one of the Count's greatest designs is his most overlooked, the BMW 503. More sexy precision after the jump.

The 503 not only debuted simultaneously with 507 at the 1955 Geneva Auto Show, but underneath they were basically the same car. For obvious reasons, the svelter 507 stole said show, but not for the 503's lack of trying. Like all of von Goertz's work, both the coupe and convertible posses an unbearable lightness of form (long hood, short deck, perfect greenhouse) that demands to taken out on the Autobahn and beaten. Unlike most German cars — which can't figure out if they want to be a train or a tank — the 503 exuded a lean, British sensibility. Plus, the coupe is missing the B-pillar — a trick it took Mercedes-Benz almost 50 more years to reproduce (think CL). Luckily, the beauty doesn't stop at the all aluminum sheet metal. Powering these rare hotties is the same V8 found in the frumpier 502 and the sportier 507. With much less weight to fight against, the 140 horses would top the 503 out at about 120mph — very fast for the mid-50s. The Roadster was also the first German car to have an electrically folding top.


Now the sad part — no one bought any. Only 412 503s saw the nightlight of garage (at about two to one, coupe to convertible). Count von Goertz and his GI buddies (thankfully) did such a good job kicking Prussian ass, that no one in the former-Fatherland was in the market for a car that literally cost more than their house (about $175,000 when new in 2006 dollars). BMW's plan to get back to its pre-war self (think luxury, think sporting, think 328) floundered and the company was sentenced to producing one-door bubbles for the next half-decade. In both design and intent, the 503 is the archetype for all subsequent 6-Series models. Think Farago will let us stick one in the Fantasy Garage?


Know Thy Germans: BMW 328 Roadster and Coupe [Internal]