Design Milestone: Raymond Loewy’s 1957 BMW 507 Coupe – Ahead Of Its Time In At Least One Key Way

I’ve seen pictures before of Loewy’s BMW 507 Coupe that he designed and had built for himself, but they were invariably in profile or from the rear. When I came across a shot of its front end, I was downright startled. With its small rectangular quad headlights set into that smooth turned-down front end, it looks more like 1975 than 1957. It anticipates a raft of front ends with a similar design theme that was first seen on a few exotics (Miura, etc.) in the mid-sixties and became increasingly in the seventies, and almost ubiquitous in the mid-late 80s.

As a point of handy comparison, there’s a few production 507 Roadsters behind it, that came just one year earlier, and is considered stylistic classic, penned by Albrecht von Goertz. The two seem a decade or two apart, rather than one year. In 1957, all of the most advanced front engine sports-racers still wore their headlights proudly high on each fender peak, with a grille in between. The Loewy Coupe is something altogether different.

Admittedly, the downward curving bumper is a bit odd, but then Loewy’s personal cars invariably were. It looks like a mustache, but one has to get past his eccentricities to fully appreciate his genius.

The Loewy BMW Coupe’s rear end is a very obvious foreshadowing of the Avanti. Well, for that matter, the front end is too, if not quite so obviously.

Giorgetto Giugiaro’s 1963 Bertone Corvair Testudo concept, itself a very influential design, shows some very definite influences from the Loewy BMW, most of all in the way that the front end is just a gently turned-down extension of the hood, with the headlights faired into the sloping front. The single round headlights in turn may well have influenced the Avanti’s original single round lights.

The Testudo’s expansive rear window also seems to echo the one in the Loewy coupe. There’s no question that Giugiaro created a much sleeker and more refined car, and with significant unique qualities. But I couldn’t help but notice certain elements that seemed somewhat familiar.

It’s the front end that I keep coming back to. It is very prescient.

Much more than this rather bizarre and gaudy Jaguar-based coupe he head built for himself just one year earlier.

That goes for the LoReMo, another one-off he had built for himself in 1960. Its rear end was even closer to that which would be seen on the Avanti.

I eagerly await a detailed identification of those headlights by our resident expert, D. Stern.

I invariably have very mixed feelings about Loewy, especially his personal cars, but the BMW 507 Coupe certainly stands out as the best of the bunch, especially from the right angles.