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Secret project goldfish BMW 7er E32 750i: Photos of the V16

Kai Klauder
Secret project goldfish BMW 7 Series E32 750iL V16
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D he 7 series E32 from 1987 falls next to his golden paint, especially with gills in the rear side area. The slots at the back collect fresh air. No, the 7 Series does not have a rear engine, but behind its narrow kidney, which originally belonged to a 735 iL, there is no good in-line six-cylinder, but a powerful V16 engine. And it only just fits in the engine compartment because its radiator is housed in the trunk. That's why the gills. But that's not enough: a black radiator grille is also located between the taillights. The coolant sloshes in its container on the right side of the side wall.

The V16 was created from two V12s

Unfortunately, we weren't allowed to start the 6.7 liter engine, and certainly not drive it: The goldfish, as the nickname is inspired by the paint and the gills, needs a major inspection after the long standing time.

BMW Classic /Gudrun Muschalla
Looks like the V12 from the 750i, but has four more cylinders: the V16 in the E32 goldfish.

The displacement of 6,651 cubic centimeters shows what becomes obvious when you look under the hood: The V16 was created on the basis of the V12 engine M70. Motor racing developer Adolf Fischer was commissioned to develop a 16-cylinder engine in the summer of 1987. He took two M70-V12s for this, shortened one at the front by two pairs of cylinders and the second by the rear cylinder pair. The crankcase and cylinder head were re-cast. The newly forged crankshaft has nine bearings - that's two more bearings than the 12-cylinder. At first glance, there is little to see of the effort: The V16 is based on theOptics of the V12. The engine was ready by Christmas 1987. It first ran on test stands and was installed in an E32 7 Series in 1988.

280 km /h top speed

BMW Classic /Gudrun Muschalla
To make room for the V16, the radiator moved to the rear.

The new engine found space in the 7 Series only with an unusual trick. In the E32, the V12 was already tight. For the V16, the engineers moved the radiator to the trunk, installed two fans behind a black grille, and cut gills in the side panels above the rear wheel arches. A switch on the center console started the fans in the rear. Nothing is known of thermal problems. For this, Fischer reported that the sound of the engine was 'terrific over 4000 rpm'. The thirst of the engine was also terrific: the consumption was 20 to 21 liters. The performance of the prototype equipped with a six-speed manual gearbox was sporty. The never so-called '767Li' accelerated from zero to 100 km /h in six seconds. The maximum speed was determined during test drives with 'around 280 km /h'.

With the V16, BMW wanted to counter the Mercedes V12. Mercedes, in turn, countered that of the 750i with the V12, which came in the 600 SE in 1991. BMW presented this engine (M70) with 300 hp in 1987. It was related to the 'small' M20 six-cylinder (320i, 325i) and should represent the upper end of the possibilities. What hardly anyone knows today: There was also a three-cylinder. Based on the data of the M20-320i, a three-cylinder of this engine family should produce around 65 hp with a displacement of one liter. According to BMW, the V16 of the 'Goldfisch' project has 408 hp - exactly the same as the M120 from competitor Mercedes. The torque is specified as 62.5 mkg - converted to 608 Newton meters. The manages a six-speed manual transmission. The gear knob looks used.

No arms race, no 16-cylinder

BMW Classic /Gudrun Muschalla
The 'goldfish' ran around 280 km /h during test drives.

Why didn't the V16 come? Today BMW says it wanted to avoid an arms race. In addition, the twelve-cylinder had potential that almost matched the performance of the V16: in the 850 CSi, it achieved 380 hp and 550 Nm with higher compression and more displacement. Later expansion stages, such as in the McLaren F1, even managed 600 to 700 hp. And even if the enormous consumption of the V16 could have been reduced, there were very practical reasons against series production: The engine compartment would have had to be lengthened and the 60 kg heavier engine would have changed the weight distribution unfavorably.


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