Early V8 Power! 1960 BMW 502

Disclosure: This site may receive compensation from some link clicks and purchases.

Show of hands if you’re familiar with a BMW 502 like this 1960 example. I’m sitting on mine because it’s new to me. And this car was supposedly a contestant in the Concours D’Lemon competition which, according to their website, focuses on “CELEBRATING THE ODDBALL, MUNDANE & TRULY AWFUL“. Really, how bad can this unusual BMW be? Let’s look it over and see what it’s all about. Located in Monterey, California, this rare Bimmer is available, here on craigslist for $20,000.

Offered for eight model years (’55 to ’62) the 502 is considered Germany’s first postwar V8-powered car, or so it is said. Production numbers were light with just a bit over 3,000 seeing the light of day by the end of production. The seller’s claim of 200 copies applies to the 1960 model only – these were expensive cars and it’s believed that the price (about $4,200 in 1960 dollars) is what held back sales. Besides a four-door sedan, such as our subject car, two-door coupe and cabriolet body styles were offered as well.

This car is from an estate and there is a pretty good video here that details its discovery and car collector Wayne Carini’s involvement with it. This is a banged-up BMW, no doubt, it’s rusty as is visually evident, and there is cracked Bondo but all-in-all, it’s not in terrible condition, it’s just well-worn. The underside is pretty shaky, however – lots of scale, and maybe worse, it will need to be thoroughly checked. Fortunately, the more obscure exterior pieces, such as the stainless steel trim, still appear to be attached.

The heart of the matter is the aluminum block, 100 HP, 2.6 liter V8 engine. It is said that BMW included iron cylinder liners to give this V8 rigidity and durability and the seller claims, “This vehicle is running and driving surprisingly well. The motor sounds amazing, and has lots of power, the transmission shifts smoothly through all gears” – that transmission being a four-speed manual unit.  It’s suggested that the brakes need attention as they are very poor and have not been addressed.

The interior looks like a lot of European cars from the late ’50s/early ’60s – well maybe not a Mercedes but it’s a typical look. The fabric upholstery is stained and worn, the steel dashboard has a peeling paint problem and water intrusion looks to have damaged the door cards. The instrumentation is rather plain, I guess I was thinking something more commanding and Germanic would have been employed by BMW in this era.

The seller opines, “Obviously it should be fully restored. The great thing about this BMW is how complete it is! Good luck to anyone trying to find parts“. And it’s that parts matter that has me concerned. Yeah, it’s complete but I wonder about the longevity of the powertrain and what is, or is not available for such a long-gone obscure model. That alone would keep me at bay, how about you?

Auctions Ending Soon


  1. Fahrvergnugen FahrvergnugenMember

    So. Wayne helped dig this out of a barn, the owner couldn’t afford what it would cost to properly restore it, and Wayne didn’t want to buy it himself or undertake a restoration and resale.
    I respect his decision and take a hard pass, too.

    Like 8
  2. leiniedude leiniedudeMember

    Nice looking ride, looks way older than a 1960 to me. Fahrvergnugens comment nailed it.

    Like 1
    • nlpnt

      It was a decade-old design by then, the 6-cylinder 501 was first shown at the Frankfurt auto show in 1951.

      This example’s 2-tone green heightens its’ resemblance to a Morris Minor, but those were at least cheap and, had sold a million units by ’61 and have masses of parts common/interchangeable with Spridgets, classic Minis and RWD Datsuns.

      Like 1
  3. Bob C.

    159 cubic inches and 100 horsepower. Man, that is one puny v8! I thought the 221 Ford Windsor with 145 horses was puny.

    Like 2
  4. That Guy

    BMW was a pretty marginal company at this point, because they were making expensive and not-that-great machines in small numbers. It was the Isetta and then the 700 which kept them afloat to the early 60s, when they hit upon the winning sports-sedan formula which set them on the road to where they are today.

    Like 5
  5. Maggy

    This would be a cool car to turn heads just putting around town going to the grocery store and local errands. 20k cool….nahhh.

    Like 2
  6. HoA Howard A ( since 2014)Member

    My daughter has a newer BMW, IDK, 328(?), and if I showed her this, she’d plotz. I’m always amazed at what many of these imports turned into. From humble beginnings to automotive wizardry. While the V8 is a novel feature, don’t get too excited, it’s no fire breathing US version. These did 0-60 in like 15 seconds and the 1/4 mile in around 20 sec. @68 mph, not much faster than a VW bug. It is however, probably the smoothest motor, and not any schmoe drove one of these. At over $4500 new, over a grand more than a Corvette, it was a pricey car. A quick check, surprisingly shows, many replacement parts are available, just not body parts. Just because it’s so unusual, some BMW fan will step up. A stranger to the brand, not so much. Cool find. Europe had such cool cars while we had Rambler Americans( no offense to Rambler fans)

    Like 4
  7. Big C

    Yes. The Concours de Lemons. Where the wine and cheese set display their rusty oddballs. Chortle, snort and snicker into their Cabernet Sauvignon. Then post said beater for $20k.

    Like 1
  8. Lance

    Not one of BMW’s better designs.

    Like 1
  9. Car Nut Tacoma USA

    I don’t think this car looks that bad. Patina doesn’t have to be a bad thing, provided there are no rust holes in the body. And as long as the car is driveable and safe to drive under its own power, I’d be willing to pay between $15k and $20,000.

    Like 2
  10. TheOldRanger

    I’m not a Beemer fan, but I do like this one (sorry Lance) but I think this is a classic look (even though this is a 1960… I also thought it was older). One thing for sure, if you are driving this around, people are going to look at it, ask about it, etc… for several reasons, but it definitely will get you attention.

    Like 2
  11. Jonathan A. Green

    There are probably a number of issues, but the bottom line is that not every car needs to be a perfect restoration. I’d be in at no more than 10k. Too bad that someone thinks this car is a joke, i.e., Concours de lemon.

    Like 2
  12. Frank Barrett

    Compared to a Mercedes-Benz 300 limo, the only thing this car had going for it was the V8, a version of which powered the BMW 507 sports car, now running around $1 million per. Anywhere else in the country this would be a $10,000 car, but, hey, it’s California and Wayne Carini laughed at it, so double the price!

    When pricing a car to buy or sell, you have to factor in the negatives and the positives. This one is unattractive, has major $$$ needs, and was a failure when new. On the positive side, it’s rare (for a reason), has an unusual engine, and would be a standout anywhere. Fill in your numbers for each factor, and you have a fair price.

    Like 1
    • Bill McCoskey Bill McCoskeyMember

      About 20 years ago I briefly owned a 3200 series version of this car, with a 3.2 liter V8. Sold it because of the hidden rust. The main chassis rails are made of oval cross section steel that is very expensive to repair [the reason I sold mine].

      Potential buyers are cautioned to put the car on a lift and check the body/frame over very carefully with a small pick hammer.

      That said, the car was a pleasure to ride in and drive on long distance trips. While you won’t find much at the local parts houses, almost all mechanical parts can be sourced, and some trim pieces have been reproduced, like the lenses.

      Like 2

Leave A Comment

RULES: No profanity, politics, or personal attacks.

Become a member to add images to your comments.


Get new comment updates via email. Or subscribe without commenting.

Barn Finds