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  • July 04, 2024 3 min read

    In February of this year, we were approached by Michael Grenfell with a very special request. He wanted a box and binder for his car documentation. But this wasn’t just any box for just any car. He wanted a bespoke box for his BMW 503 Cabriolet, a sixty seven year old car once owned by racing legend John Surtees. The documentation was thirty one pages of the car’s extensive history, renovations and operations – and Michael wanted a box suited to his car’s status in motor history.

    A Brief History of the Car

    This car was originally ordered by Dr Joel Bee, sporting motorist and enthusiast, in 1957, and is one of only three cabriolets to be built as a right hand drive. The colour was two tone BMW light blue metallic over BMW grey metallic, with a black convertible hood. The car had a finely crafted red leather interior with grey piping and maroon carpets throughout, edged with grey leather.

    In 1965, Dr Bee had the engine overhauled by Austin Munks, the local motor engineers, after his many short trips visiting patients took their toll on the car. By 1967, the car was laid up for several years due to the mounting expenses needed for maintenance, until his friend Aldy Aldington (the AFN salesman who originally convinced Dr Bee of the purchase) agreed to exchange it for a Porsche - which ended up being a second hand Porsche tractor Aldy used on his woodland estate to haul logs around.

    The car ended up in the back of an AFN workshop, until it was bought in 1992 by motorsport legend John Surtees. He restored the car in 2003, resprayed the paintwork the original colours, and found virtually no wear in the engine since the 1965 overhaul. He went through the car with his racing team, refurbishing items where necessary. He modified the gear lever, set up and tuned the suspension, and, in 2008, fitted a stainless-steel exhaust system.

    Surtees kept the 503 in a converted barn with his other two favourite cars, his BMW 507 and his Mercedes 300SL. He kept these three cars until his death on 10th March 2017.

    Michael bought the 503 from the Surtees family in 2020, continued the car’s renovations. Thanks to Surtees’ efforts, these were mostly cosmetic touches: rechroming, replacing the carpets, an overhaul of the heating system, restoring the ivory knobs and steering wheel, restoring the carburettors, replacing the radiator core, fitting special tyres replicating the originals and much more. The car has the two original Instruction Books, the standard on in German and the other in English, French and Italian.

    Michael now uses the car often and finds in one of the most desirable and satisfying cars to own and drive.

    Creating the Box

    Michael requested that the box match the car’s colouring – the light blue and metallic grey, with a black hood and red upholstery. Furthermore, he had obtained the last surviving roll of red leather BMW used on the 503s, which we needed to incorporate. 

    Making of luxury car documentation box and binder
    Making car documentation box with BMW car red leatherMaking of luxury car documentation box and binder

    Michael chose the shades of blue used for the majority of the box and we added a stripe of black running along the top to simulate the black hood.

    Making of luxury car documentation box

    Making of luxury car documentation box

    Making of luxury car documentation box

    Making of luxury car documentation box

    Making of luxury car documentation box

    Making of luxury car documentation box

    The binders and drawer were made using the precious red leather.

    Making of red leather binders for luxury car documentation box

    Making of red leather drawer for luxury car documentation box

     Making of luxury red leather car documentation binder

    Finally, we bound all of Michael’s documentation for him. The end result was a beautiful box he could be proud to hold his beloved car’s documentation in. We were honoured to make this possible for him and to add to this classic car’s rich history.

    Luxury blue car documentation box with red leather drawer and binders