The BMW 507 was the first sports car from BMW that could compete with the Jaguars and Ferraris. Born in 1916 as an aircraft-engine manufacturer, Bavarian Motor Works had branched out into motorcycles by the late Twenties and was looking to expand into the auto business. It got the chance when the Dixi company in Eisenach proposed that BMW take it over, thus giving the Bavarian firm a license-built version of the British Austin Seven.
BMW soon developed cars of its own that moved far beyond that humble little rattletrap, building a reputation for superb engineering in the process. This naturally embraced sporting models, of which the most famous and successful were the six-cylinder Type 328 and 327 of the immediate prewar years, and later, the BMW 507.
But then came World War II, and BMW emerged as divided as defeated Germany itself. Some of its prewar facilities were irrevocably lost behind the Iron Curtain in the new state of East Germany, while those that remained in free West Germany had been devastated by Allied bombing. Rebuilding from this rubble was slow and painful, and it wasn't until 1951 that BMW was able to return to car production, though it did so with a new postwar design.