3 Things Auto Body Technicians Can Learn from Elvis Presley’s Restored BMW 507
August 17, 2016
For decades, Elvis Presley’s old BMW 507—of which only 257 were ever built—had been sitting in a garage out of service since the early 1970s. That all changed when it was discovered and purchased by BMW two years ago in order to restore it back to its former glory, the way it was when The King of Rock N’ Roll drove it. The BMW Classic division, based in Munich, has since finished that restoration process, and the legendary car has been on display at the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance since yesterday, August 16th, 2016.
If you’re interested in becoming an auto body technician someday, it’s fascinating to look at how the BMW Classic division managed to restore the body and functionality of this legendary car. Read on to find out how they did it.
1. Auto Body Technicians Know Dismantling Is the Best Way to Start The Restoration Process
At the outset, workers decided to dismantle the car completely so that they could begin the restoration process. They had to use acid baths and alkaline baths for different parts of the car, in order to strip it of the various paint jobs it had accumulated over the years. This includes Elvis painting the originally feather-white car into red to hide messages his fans would write on the car with their lipstick.
The remnants of the engine and the interior were put to the side as well, so that the car could be rebuilt from the ground up. If you have a career in auto body repair, you know these types of things are massive, long-term projects. You also know how immensely satisfying it is once it’s finished.
2. Sometimes New Technology is Necessary to Repair and Restore Older Cars
The BMW 507 was originally manufactured and released in 1957, over 50 years ago. Since then, car technology and development has progressed leaps and bounds beyond what it used to be. This presented specific problems for the technicians who were repairing the car. In fact, some of the parts used in the 507 were no longer manufactured by BMW. They had to re-manufacture certain parts, and even use photographs to determine how to redo the interior.
For a student who wants to someday be an auto body technician, it’s fascinating to look at how the BMW Classic Center reconstructed the car. They mixed older manufactured parts with innovative new technologies, like using 3D printing to redo the door handles.
3. A Career in Auto Body Repair Will Teach How to Restore a Car’s Authenticity
Someone who has trained to do auto body repair will know that putting parts into a car that weren’t originally meant to be there presents some challenges. For Elvis’ BMW 507, one of the owners who came after The King decided to replace the BMW engine with a higher-powered Chevrolet one. Due to the size of the new engine, the front frame had to be cut to accommodate the change, while the rear axles and gearbox were changed as well. Technicians working on the repair had to rebuild the entire front frame, put in the right engine, and fix both the gearbox and rear axles.
When Elvis’ famed BMW 507 resurfaced after so many decades, it provided a chance for BMW’s auto body technicians to restore it to its former glory by dismantling it, merging the old with the new, and rebuilding parts of it that had been changed over the years. Such a challenge presents an exciting opportunity for any car enthusiast, especially auto body technicians, who get to restore cars to their working forms day in, day out.
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