1954 BMW 502 Luxus Diecast Model

  • Retail Price: $122.95
  • Our Price: $114.95
  • Out of Production
AutoArt 1954 BMW 502 Luxus (2.6) diecast car
  • Year: 1954
  • Brand: AutoArt
  • Make: BMW
  • Code: AA70594
  • Model: 502 Luxus (2.6)
  • Scale: 1:18
  • Color: Red

Photography by Rich Sufficool

Editors. Note: AutoArt released the BMW Luxus and Lexus GS 450H simultaneously. So we gave John a tall task – compare two standards of luxury. As usual he's proven up to the task.

BMW’s 501 was its first post-WWII automobile. Like other German cars produced by companies recovering from the ravages of the War, it utilized dated styling seemingly at odds with emerging designs of the time. But such was the artistry of BMW (and, concurrently, Mercedes Benz) that its finest cars from the period became classics rather than anachronisms. Introduced in Frankfurt in 1951, put into production in ’52 and joined by the 502 in 1954, BMW’s inspired re-imagining of older forms was affectionately dubbed the “Baroque Angel.” Fast forward fifty years to the launch of Lexus. The goal was a lofty one: create a marque to challenge the venerable German luxury cars. During the conceptual phase, conducted by Toyota in great secrecy, there were no delusions of displacing Mercedes or BMW, but a confidence that Lexus could comfortably and competitively join their ranks. (Despite speculation surrounding the meaning of the Lexus name, Toyota maintains it’s purely abstract, chosen for its ring of sophistication.)

When the LS 400 debuted in Detroit in 1989, the response of the American public and critics was overwhelming; Lexus’ dominance in the U.S. was quickly established (though it has yet to gain a comparable foothold in Europe).

Outwardly BMW’s 501 and 502 were nearly identical. The most substantial difference was the upgrade of the 501’s 2 liter straight 6 engine to the 502’s 2.6 liter aluminum alloy V8 (the first V8 in a post-war German car) producing 100 hp and a top speed of 99 mph. This was a grand luxury car by European (specifically German) standards of the time: the finest materials and the highest level of comfort and build quality rather than an enormous, chrome-laden car with a huge, gas-hungry V8 and brimming with the latest gadgets and conveniences (considered de rigueur in America). AutoArt’s connection to BMW in scale is unrivalled for its comprehensiveness and consistent quality. The 501/502 range was introduced about five years ago and includes many color options and even some service vehicles. This 502 in a deep, rich red invites (indeed demands) close scrutiny.

The classically sculpted body is perfectly captured, with fit and finish of the highest standard and a whirlwind of fine detail executed with utmost precision. Chrome and logos are perfectly scaled. Crystalline lensing (note the lights atop the front fenders, each with its textured lens over a tiny amber bulb) and glazing are top drawer AutoArt.

The hood, with an authentic collapsible support, opens to the splendidly detailed V8, fully wired and plumbed, with virtually every component individually cast and accurately painted. “BMW” is clearly stamped into each valve head cover. The undercarriage, with crisp brake, exhaust, suspension and drive train detail, is likewise superbly accurate. The interior is all subtle refinement, an artful amalgam of fine fabric, leather and wood captured perfectly by AutoArt in one of the finest interiors I’ve seen from them. (Yes, these seats have a wonderful, real cloth feel!) No detail has been overlooked: the white painted window crank knobs, every switch and recessed gauge on the wood-finished dash, the delicate “banjo” steering wheel spokes and a finished headliner with the clock (easy to miss) between the movable visors. And don’t overlook the shift pattern imprinted onto the gear shift knob!

Carpeting in the rear and utilitarian matting up front suggest the affluent owner was often chauffeur-driven. The trunk is carpeted and includes a covered spare. AutoArt’s aim has always been to make an uncompromisingly accurate replica with the most refined detail. So it is here, in near-museum quality.

Debuting in Frankfurt in 2005, Lexus’ GS 450h made a powerful impression as the world’s first performance-oriented hybrid luxury sedan. Also given high marks for styling, to my eyes it looks pretty much like my wife’s Honda Accord, if on a grander scale. So, for me, the old saying “the proof is in the pudding” is particularly apt here, and technologically the GS 450h is both extremely sophisticated (with a 3.5 liter 340 hp hybrid V6 able to propel the two ton-plus car from 0 to 60 in under six seconds) and uncommonly luxurious. This impressive new model is everything we’ve come to expect from AutoArt, with exemplary fit and a finish whose glow (not a glare) reflects AA’s mastery of metallic paint. Every chrome piece is precisely fitted and seems sculpted to scale.

The 18” alloys and brake detail are highly realistic, proof that plastics and metal can work together when the castings and finish are this sophisticated. Light lensing is jewel-like and the glazing, incorporating the windshield’s sun screen and the rear defrosting element, distortion-free. If you’re still not won over, note the “hybrid” scripts on the lower body trim! Under the insulated hood the V6 is hidden from view, with only the cowling (inscribed with HYBRID SYNERGY DRIVE and the Lexus emblem) and two conduit cables to the electric motor visible. But what there is to see is crisply rendered. The chassis, too, is largely sealed, but the dual exhaust and rear suspension components are convincing. The trunk is, of course, carpeted. The interior truly instills appreciation for the car and AutoArt’s modeling prowess. The impression is one of subtle, uncompromising luxury with every amenity you’d expect: power everything, CD player and navigation system, fine leather seats and chaste, elegant wood accents. AA’s refined detail is everywhere apparent: plush carpeting, exemplary wood grain, real cloth seatbelts with metal buckles, a dashboard of great depth and presence and the perfectly scaled wood and leather wheel with the delicate Lexus logo.

The weather stripping around the door frames is remarkable. My only gripes are the hard plastic used for the otherwise finely molded seats and (very surprising for AA) no door sills.

Apart from the customary opening panels and functioning steering, operating features are largely eschewed on both models in favor of crafting a visual tour de force. And that’s just fine with me.

Luxus and Lexus. Two exceptional images from AutoArt, one, a bewitchingly beautiful repaint of one of their finest BMWs and the other, an exemplary new replica of one of today’s luxury standards, provide an opportunity to compare and contrast the concept and manifestation of automotive luxury a half century apart. It proves both enlightening and fascinating. My thoughts? The BMW’s great heritage, refinement and classic beauty combine to make AutoArt’s replica essential. The Lexus, despite two decades of technological innovation, resulting in supreme luxury and performance, is for me an aesthetic also-ran. Its owners and admirers, however, can rest assured that it’s been superbly enshrined in Zamac by AutoArt. Whatever one’s conclusions, we have two models from one of the leaders in the industry, providing the hobbyist with a virtual time machine. Happy collecting!

-John Richards

  • Retail Price: $122.95
  • Our Price: $114.95
  • Out of Production

Buy the best die-cast cars, trucks and motorcycles online from LegacyDiecast.com! Where to buy diecast cars, tanks and planes. Best selection of die-cast models and display cases. Look for great deals and cheap prices on selected sale items.