In 2012 BMW celebrates 25 years of 12-cylinder engines, with its first such engine debuting on the second-generation 7 Series in 1987.
The first 12-cylinder luxury model in half a century debuted as the BMW 750i in March 1987 at the Geneva motor show. The new M70 engine, which had been designed completely from scratch, would develop 300 horsepower from a displacement of five liters. The new powerplant set new benchmarks in engine design due to its refinement, low noise levels and excellent balance between performance and fuel consumption.
The 5.0-liter V12 alloy engine set a new benchmark with an overall weight of 240 kilograms. Its maximum output of 300 hp at 5,200 rpm, with a specific output of 60 hp per liter of displacement, and maximum torque of 450 Newton metres at 4,100 rpm, went beyond any comparable competitor offerings of the time. BMW’s sales office had received over 3,000 pre-orders even before the first official showing of the BMW 750i, which was offered in two versions, the 750i and 750iL long-wheelbase version.
In 1994, an all-new 750i was launched. Developed on the basis of the M70 engine, the M73 had a displacement of 5.4 liters and produced maximum output of 326 hp. Despite being more powerful, the M73 was approximately 13 percent more fuel efficient, having reduced emissions and improved refinement.
In 2002, BMW launched the 760i with 445 hp developed by an all-new 6.0-liter V12 engine, the first 12-cylinder unit with direct injection. At present, BMW’s 12-cylinder tradition lives on in the current generation 760i/Li. The N74 engine was redeveloped in 2009 and offers 544 hp and 750 Nm of torque thanks to turbocharging technology.