BMW’s M-division revealed the origins of the V12 engine from the McLaren F1. The carmaker said that initially, it was developed to fit into an M8 version of the 8-series in 1990; however, it had never entered production. Back then, the V12 was based on two 6cyl engines from the M3 during that period. Tests of the 8-series showed that it was reliable.
But BMW management never permitted this car to materialize even when development had been completed for the M8 and its V12 engine and test vehicles had shown that it was production-ready.
The management didn’t budge even when the M-division insisted. M staff said that the engine delivers about 550bhp in the M8 and offers a “stunning” performance. The V12 engine went on to form the basis for the McLaren F1 road car and Le Mans champion.
This engine was also used in BMWs own sports prototype, which won the Le Mans race in 1999. It had also powered a first generation X5, which can deliver more than 700bhp with a 6-spd manual box, enabling the car to reach a top speed of 300kph (186mph).
And even with these achievements, the car still didn’t get the go-signal to enter production. BMW considered the engine when it was planning how to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the M5 but it was deemed too sizable for the engine bay.