Aug 8, 2016 | By Benedict

German car manufacturer BMW has used 3D printing to restore Elvis Presley’s BMW 507 racecar, after it was discovered in a pumpkin factory. Additive manufacturing technology was used to recreate the window winders and door handles of the classic vehicle.

Love me, printer, love me sweet: when Elvis Presley purchased his BMW 507 chassis number 70079 in 1958, the King probably never anticipated it being restored and showcased almost 60 years later—not least with something called a “3D printer.” That, however, is exactly what has happened. Two years ago, BMW Group Classic purchased the iconic vehicle from owner Jack Castor, who had been storing it in—of all places—a pumpkin factory.

Restoration of the BMW racecar, which was shown off at the Frankfurt Motor Show and used for media drives back in its heyday, took about two years. During that time, BMW engineers gave the vehicle a brand new engine and a handful of original parts, used old-fashioned paint application methods, and even used 3D printers to create new window wipers and door handles.

The car’s decorated history goes back even beyond Elvis. Celebrated German driver Hans Stuck raced the vehicle for a few months in the 1950s, after which it was passed onto a BMW dealership in Frankfurt. Elvis, stationed in Germany as a soldier in 1958, saw the car at the dealership in and snapped it without hesitation.

Before Elvis bought the legendary 507, the car was white as a feather. The King, however, had it painted red for—legend has it—reasons more pragmatic than aesthetic: according to Elvis historians, female fans would write their phone numbers on the white car wherever he went; by painting it red, the King would never need to fix it up.

When Elvis returned to the U.S. in 1960, he sold the car to a buyer for a $4,500, after which the new owner replaced the car’s BMW 3.2-liter V8 engine with a Chevy V8. The car was later acquired by Castor, who kept it in storage in Alabama until BMW finally took it home in 2014. Until 2006, Castor had been unsure as to whether the vehicle really belonged to Elvis. However, after inviting an expert from Bimmer magazine to check it out, the car’s serial number confirmed what the collector had hoped: the red roadster was indeed the King’s.

Castor sadly passed away before restoration of the vehicle was complete, but would surely have been delighted with the result. Using special acid and alkaline baths, BMW has returned the vehicle to its original Feather White, in accordance with Castor’s wishes. During its 1955 to 1959 production run, BMW built just 254 of the now-legendary 507s, which can now fetch up to $2.5 million if in good condition. This 507 will soon begin a lengthy tour circuit starting with Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance, part of Monterey Car Week.

Restoration of the Elvis 507 does not represent BMW’s first foray into 3D printing with cars. In July, the company outlined plans to expand its planar 3D printing operations in order to create series parts, while the German luxury car specialist was also one of the big names attached to HP’s big Jet Fusion 3D printer release in May. BMW has not yet revealed what kind of components it will create using the HP 3D printer, but has promised that the machine will be used for end-use parts as well as rapid prototyping.



Posted in 3D Printing Application



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