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    Simon Jackson

    War and Peace - BMW 503

    Posted in Cars on Monday, 22 July 2019

    Often overlooked in favour of its more sporty two-seater relation - the 507, the equally sought after 503 illustrates an important part of BMW’S post-war history... Words: Simon Jackson. Photography: BMW AG.

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    BMW 503 COUPÉ
    Year of manufacture #1957
    Recorded mileage 92,300
    Asking price £250,000
    Vendor Oliver Penney, South Stoke, Oxfordshire; tel: 07867 635993; www.oliverpenney.com

    WHEN IT WAS NEW / #BMW-503-Coupé / #BMW-503 / #BMW /
    Price £4801
    Max power 138bhp
    Max torque 164lb ft
    0-60mph 10.5 secs
    Top speed 118mph
    Mpg n/a


    This ultra-rare 503 is splendidly original and gloriously shabby. It’s one of just three right-hand-drive coupés – there were three RHD cabrios, too. Owner Penney, a BMW specialist with a background in motorsport R&D, has sorted elements of the car mechanically and everything bar the radio and clock works well, including the complex electro-hydraulic windows.

    The aluminium body is mostly good, but the nearside front arch is bubbly. The paint is ancient and cracked. The floors and main chassis rails are solid, but the (non-structural) offside steel sill is rusty. Most of the brightwork is smart, but the back bumper is holed, the nearside front wing strip is wrong and the doorhandles are lightly pickled. New tail-light lenses come with it.


    The motor now has 9:1 compression, plus improved porting/carburetion and a recalibrated twin-point distributor (and iridium plugs) bringing power to probably nearer 160bhp. Its oil is clean and between levels, the radiator top tank full. The factory scuttle-mounted box remains, with tools. Penney has rebuilt the entire rear end: axle, torsion-bar suspension and brakes. The tyres are fresh Blockley 185VR16s, with a crossply of the same make on the spare. There’s a stainless exhaust and a new aluminium fuel tank.

    The hide is original, slightly saggy in the front with a lovely patina and the colour on the door pull/armrest beading worn through. The headlining is a bit water-stained and rough at the edges. Inside the beautifully engineered door pockets are sheaves of maps telling the history of the car’s travels. The dash top and instruments are good, plus it has a Becker Le Mans radio. The 3168cc V8 starts easily and it drives well, with a nice gearchange. Performance feels similar to a Rover P5B and the servo brakes (Dunlop discs on the front) pull up straight. Oil pressure is 50psi on the move and coolant temperature is steady at about 185ºF (85ºC).


    Given that 507s – with which this car shares its running gear – are now million-pound motors, the price comes into perspective. A five-speed #ZF transmission could be made available, built and fitted for extra.

    SUMMARY

    EXTERIOR Shabby; almost all trim is there
    INTERIOR Exquisitely made; wearing well
    MECHANICALS Gone right through; drives nicely

    VALUE ★★★★★★✩✩✩✩

    For Elegant rarity; build quality
    Against Deciding exactly what to do with it: preserve or restore?

    SHOULD I BUY IT?

    If you want a right-hooker 503 coupé, this is the only game in town. Penney would very much like to be involved with its upkeep, so no worries about looking after it
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    Adam Towler
    Adam Towler updated the group cover
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    Adam Towler
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    Adam Towler
    Adam Towler created a new group BMW 503
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