Legendary British Formula 1 champion and Grand Prix motorcycle champion John Surtees’ 1957 BMW 503 3.2l Cabriolet has been put up for auction by the champion driver’s family at the Goodwood Speedweek sale. The car which is expected to start at £220,000 – 260,000 (Rs. 2.08 – 2.46 crore) will be put under the hammer by Bonhams.
John, the only world champion of both Formula 1 and Motorcycle Grand Prix racing, got the car around 1990 from its first owner and is one of three Right hand drive cabriolet versions of the car which was produced for about 400 units. While the engineers in Germany were busy tuning the 503’s engine in 1957, Surtees was leading the pack in the motorcycle Grand Prix championship with his MV Agusta after just having won it the year before.
Count Albrecht von Goertz from Studebaker studio designed the car, to make the car more attractive in the United States, this particular car with the right hand configuration was built for Aldington, from AFN ltd of Isleworth which were the importers of BMW during that time.
The all-alloy 3.2l V8 produces 140bhp and can accelerate the car to 118mph of top speed. The body is completely made from aluminium, the car was the first from Germany to feature a power hood and electric windows.
Bonhams has auctioned a 1957 BMW 507 owned by Surtees which he bought new and was the sole owner in 2018 for a BMW record of $5 Million. As the Goodwood auctions were cancelled earlier this year, the live action will hold a limited number of clients, and also be live streamed for online bidders.
The BMW which was driven by the eight-time world champion until his death in 2017, has a comprehensive history of maintenance, all of which is documented and signed in the name of Surtees, “the 503 was restored to a condition that satisfied me. It looks superb, runs likewise and everything that was original works, including the foldaway roof operated by a hydraulic pump.” said the Late driver who had a particular liking for BMWs who got the car when AFN ltd was sold to Porsche.
The car also has a unique registration number, BEE 46, which is a reference to Ardlington’s doctor Bee who was allowed to use the car. The 503 is not expected to break the record of its sibling, but looking at how Bonhams understated that auction’s price in 2018, nothing can be said. Sholto Gilbertson, Director, Bonhams Motoring and Head of the Bonhams Goodwood Speedweek Sale said “Not only is it one of the most exclusive and desirable BMWs of the ‘golden age,’ but also has fantastic provenance, having being owned by one of the motorsport world’s most revered and successful champions.”
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