BMW 503

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BMW 503
BMW 501
ManufacturerBayerische Motoren Werke AG (BMW)
ProductionMay 1956 – March 1959
413 built
SuccessorBMW 3200 CS
Body style(s)2-door 2+2 seater coupe
2-door 2+2 seater cabriolet
LayoutFR layout
Engine(s)3168 cc V8
Transmission(s)4-speed manual
Wheelbase2835 mm (111.6 in)
Length4750 mm (187 in)
Width1700 mm (66.9 in)
Height1400 mm (55.1 in)
Curb weight1500 kg (3307 lb)
(measurements approximate)
RelatedBMW 507
BMW 502
DesignerAlbrecht von Goertz
1914 - 2006
ManualsService Manual

The BMW 503 is a two door 2+2 seater sports car unveiled by BMW at the 1955 Frankfurt Motor Show. Production got under way during the summer of the next year, and by 1959, when the 503 was withdrawn, 413 had been built including 139 cabriolets.


The car was styled by the entrepreneurial auto-designer, Albrecht von Goertz based on preliminary drafts prepared by Kurt Bredschneider. It was originally intended to feature a flamboyant shape incorporating rounded mudguards which would have emphasized its kinship with the BMW 502 sedan, but regulations concerning matters such as light positioning rendered such a form impractical. In retrospect, the more square cornered look of the car as it emerged with fully integrated wings may have been more in tune with future styling trends than the original proposal.


The 503 incorporated the 3168 cc light metal V8 engine from the 502 which in this application delivered a claimed power output of 140 bhp (103 kW) and acceleration from standstill to 100 km/h (62 mph) in 13 seconds along with a top speed slightly short of 120 mph (193 km/h). The four speed manual transmission was unchanged from that used in the 502.


Also presented at the 1955 Motor Show was the car’s sister model, the BMW 507, a two seater aluminium bodied roadster targeting customers looking for more raw performance. Both would be overshadowed in the marketplace by headline grabbing sports cars from Mercedes Benz. Although the 503 outsold its sibling, sales volumes were dwarfed by those of the rivals from Stuttgart-Untertürkheim. Fifty years later, the BMW sports cars from the 1950s are much sought after by collectors and enthusiasts both on account of their inherent qualities and because of their rarity.

BMW 503 interior