BMW 503 Coupe (1956 – 1959) Review

BMW 503 Coupe (1956 – 1959) At A Glance


+Fast and elegant

-Rare and expensive

BMW might have been struggling for survival in the 1950s, but the 503 remained one of the most effective upmarket sporting cars money could buy. It topped the BMW range, which could have been more unbalanced – with this range of luxury cars at one end of the spectrum, and the tiny Isetta microcar at the other – and nothing between. The glorious looking 503 was designed by Count Albrecht Goertz – a man who years later was closely involved in the best-selling Datsun 240Z, among many others. It was sold alongside the curvaceous 501 and 502 saloon models, and used the same running gear as the 502 (including the V8 engine). The style of this car was very individual.

The long and angular looking cabriolet featured protruding headlights and a tall bulbous version of the BMW kidney grille; and was an exceptionally good-looking car. It was much lighter than the 501 and 502, though, and the V8 engine had been uprated to produce 140bhp – so it was fast and enjoyable to drive. However, it had a price tag to match the exclusive looks – and as a result found few buyers. Despite its contemporary styling, the BMW 503 was an expensive disaster helped almost bankrupt the company.