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The John Surtees BMW 507 is up for sale
'One owner from new' has never sounded more special. Got £2m spare?
There are many, many heroes in the world of motorsport. It takes some real mettle to stand proud of them, but someone who can claim just that is John Surtees CBE, the only man to win world championships both in cars and on bikes.
We could fill the rest of our allocated portion of the internet with his other achievements, but rest assured he’s a bona fide legend. He sadly passed away last year, and the car you see here is one of the wondrous things he left behind.
It’s a BMW 507 Roadster, already a staggeringly pretty car not short of reasons to buy it. But this one has a certain John Surtees as its ‘one owner from new’. And its story is every bit as wonderful as you’d expect.
The car was a gift to John from bike company MV Agusta, after he won them their first 500cc world championship, the equivalent of today’s MotoGP class. The one you want to win, basically.
Just to really tug at your heart strings, the 507’s myriad documentation includes the following letter from MV Agusta.
“Dear Mr Surtees,
This letter is to confirm that on the 12th January, 1957, we presented to you an amount of DM 27,115.00 for you to buy a BMW type 507 Touring Sports car which was intended as a gift to you in appreciation of your winning the Motorcycle World Championship in 1956 for our company in the 500cc class.
We want to mention here the fact that the above World Championship in the 500cc class was the first ever achieved by this company, and the above was but a token of our sincere gratitude.
Yours very truly”
To truly finish you off, there’s a written history of the car from John himself, also among the documentation. “Count Agusta was delighted [by the world championship] and, perhaps thinking that my terms hadn’t been that generous, he said ‘We must buy you a prize, do have a think’,” reads one snippet. “I went to Count Agusta and said I knew what I would like. It was a 507 BMW.”
BMW may have made 252 examples of the 507, but there’s only one John Surtees car. It contains lots of little tweaks that only a committed racing driver with a busy schedule would fit, and it’s utterly unique.
There’s more power. All-round disc brakes. The standard soft-top was removed, allowing John to fit all his race gear beneath the hard-top as he drove between circuits. It’s since been replaced, but you probably ought to keep the hard-top in place for the authentic Surtees look.
John received the car in 1957 and used it frequently. “The car was used continuously up until I joined Ferrari,” his endearing history continues. “On joining them at the end of 1962 Enzo Ferrari came out of his office after we had made an agreement and said ‘German car, not possible’. I thought I was going to be given a Ferrari. But that didn’t happen, although I did end up with a 330 GT… I finally drove the BMW home and basically laid it up in the garage.”
Genuinely used by John – and often – but without a terrifying mileage, it’s impossible to see how this car could be a better memento to John and his legendary life and career.
There are just two rather large obstacles to ownership: the £2m to £2.5million estimate when Bonhams auction it at Goodwood on July 13, and whether you can bear for your name to be the second on the registration document when John Surtees has been the sole owner for the last 70 years. What a thing.