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BMW prototypes Z3 V12, 7 series V16 Goldfish, X5 V12 Le Mans

Uwe Fischer /BMW
BMW prototypes: Z3 V12, 7 series V16 Goldfish, X5 V12 LM
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E in V8 in a BMW 3 Series? A V12 in a Z3? Sounds like engine swap and it is, but has nothing to do with tuning. Because these are factory conversions. Secret factory conversions, to be precise, which are now in an inconspicuous warehouse. We were inside and photographed the spectacular test vehicles from BMW - including the 7 Series V16 with the code name Goldfish.

Thick V16 in the 7 Series with a narrow kidney

The entrance: unspectacular. The address: top secret. The content: super exciting. Hundreds of cars and motorcycles from the company's history are stored in the BMW depot. There is at least one copy of almost everything that BMW has ever built. Some of the cars that are here only exist once anyway. Like the 7 Series E32 from 1987 with the gills on the side. Behind the slim kidney of a 735 iL is a V16. It only just fits in the engine compartment because the radiator is located in the trunk. Therefore the gills: They direct fresh air to the coolers. Between the taillights: a black painted radiator grille. The coolant sloshes in its container on the right side of the side wall. We are not allowed to start the 6.7-liter engine, and certainly not drive, the Goldfish would need a major inspection after the long downtime.

BMW wanted to counter the Mercedes V12 with the V16. Mercedes, in turn, countered that of the 750i with the V12, which came in the 600 SE in 1991. According to BMW, the V16 of the “Goldfisch” project has 408 hp - exactly the same as the M120 from competitor Mercedes. Why didn't the V16 come? Today BMW says they wanted to avoid an arms race.

In addition, the twelve-cylinder had potential that almost reached the performance of the V16: In the 850 CSi, it achieved 380 hp and 550 Nm with a higher compression and more displacement. Later expansion stages, such as the McLaren F1, even managed 600 to 700 hp.

Wheat beer idea: V12 in the X5

Motorsport GmbH transplanted a 700 hp variant of the LMR-V12 in Year 2000 even in an X5. This prototype is also in the BMW Classic warehouse. The X5 Le Mans immediately attracts attention with its multi-part rims, modified aprons and bulging hood. It was created because Paul Rosche and his team came up with the idea while drinking wheat beer that a V12 should also fit into the X5. According to legend, a bet was made and Rosche then measured whether or not with a folding ruleit could fit. It fit, and how: In 7: 49.92 Hans-Joachim Stuck lapped the Nordschleife in the X5 Le Mans. Three seconds faster than an M3 CSL.

Uwe Fischer /BMW
Unusual: BMW Z3 with V12 in apricot.

Fast on, because they BMW engineers are good for even more surprises. So they crammed the V12 into a peach-colored Z3 Roadster. Anyone who opens the hood has serious doubts as to whether it will ever close again.

Doubt as to whether the hood closes

It closes. But stickers warning of hot control units give an indication of the problem with a five-liter V12 in a roadster that is barely more than four meters long. In addition, the car was already a bit front-heavy, says Stefan Behr from BMW Classic. First and foremost, they wanted to see whether the roadster could handle the performance. It tolerates it, as the M Roadster with six-cylinder and up to 325 hp later proved. The V12 conversion wasn't stronger either.

Uwe Fischer /BMW
Hearty: BMW X5 with a good 700 PS from an LMR-V12.

7 Series with M5 technology for the engine guru

By the way, M GmbH took the opposite route a few years earlier: The technicians gave Paul Rosche's company car, a diamond-black 7 Series from the E32 series, the drive train of one M5 E34. The four-valve six-cylinder looks splendid under the hood that opens to the front, the M5 wheels give an indication of the unique piece for the engine guru.


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