It had to be the find of the century for BMW when a 1959 Elvis Presley 507 was discovered in a California backyard. The Classic Car department wanted this car to be part of the next 100 years BMW celebration. They knew from the ownership title that the car belonged to Elvis Presley while Presley served as a Sergeant in the U.S. Army.
It wasn’t till they found Bill Hetzler that some of the details were filled in about the ownership of what is now known as BMW Elvis 507. Hetzler and Elvis were GIs side-by-side for two years; six months at Fort Hood, TX in the “Hell on Wheels 2nd Armored Division, and eighteen months in Friedberg, Germany in the “Spearhead3rd Armored Division.”
The burning question for BMW was why was the white convertible painted red, and where did this occur? Did Elvis not like the color? Was there an accident? Hetzler explained it to BMW, “After arriving in Friedberg, Elvis became eligible to live “off post.” Usually, this is permitted when close family lives with a soldier, but Elvis’ mother died on August 14, 1958, in Memphis, Tennessee, while we were still in Texas.
Naturally, she could no longer join Elvis. To remain eligible for off-post housing, Elvis invited his father and uncle to stay with him in a privately rented home in Bad Nauheim, a resort town only three miles from our Army barracks. Just about every day after his duty, Elvis drove to his home, but on the way had first to sign out at the base gatehouse.
Numerous teenagers, some with their parents in tow, gathered at the gate in search of autographs and photos from the singer. Some teens were so bold as to scrape white paint from Elvis’ car, placing it in little matchboxes as souvenirs.”
It wasn’t long before the BMW was so defaced Elvis had to have it repainted, at which point he chose the color red. BMW did their homework and found the body shop that painted the car in Giessen, Germany, about thirty miles North of Friedberg. At eleven cents a gallon in 1959, it was an easy drive.
It was also the same town one had to get a special “US Forces in Germany” license plate and all US military personnel had to register their private cars at the American Motor Vehicle Bureau.