BMW is celebrating the 25th anniversary of their V12 engine by taking a look back at its development.
Originally unveiled in the 1987 750i, the 5.0-liter unit produced 300 HP (221 kW) and 450 Nm (332 lb-ft) of torque. It won the admiration of the public as more than 3,000 pre-orders were placed ahead of its debut at the Geneva Motor Show.
Besides becoming a new status system, the BMW 750i ushered in the first production German V12 engine since World War II. Development work originally began in 1972 when the automaker studied the feasibility of combining two six-cylinder engines to create a twelve-cylinder. A prototype was completed in 1974 but it weighed 315 kg (694 lbs) which was far too heavy to be used in a production vehicle. Development work started on a lighter engine, but it was eventually halted in response to the energy crisis.
By 1982, the world markets had stabilized and BMW felt confident enough to resume development of a twelve-cylinder engine. However, it was decided that the engine would be built from the ground up instead of trying to combine two existing six-cylinder units. This lead the company to successfully create the 5.0-liter engine that eventually debuted in the 750i.
Over the years, the engine would evolve and become more powerful. By 1994, it displaced 5.4-liters and produced 326 HP (240 kW). Eight years later, the 760i debuted with a 6.0-liter V12 engine that developed 445 HP (327 kW). Fast forward to today and the current 6.0-liter unit produces 544 HP (400 kW) and 750 Nm (553 lb-ft) of torque.