BMW Announces Its Last V-12 Model

BMW’s 7 Series has been available with 12-cylinder power since 1987.

BMW announced Tuesday it will build the last BMWs fitted with a 12-cyinder engine in June 2022.

To mark the occasion the company will build what it calls The Final V12, 12 vehicles bound for the U.S. based on the BMW M760i xDrive. The twin-turbocharged 6.6-liter engine produces 601 horsepower and 0-60 mph times of 3.6 seconds through an 8-speed automatic transmission.

Being a limited edition, it will be specially trimmed, wearing a simple V12 badge on its decklid, and 20-inch double-spoke light alloy wheels painted either Window Grey or Jet Black. They shod M Sport brakes with either blue or black calipers. And the car can be painted in any BMW paint color. 

Inside, door sills will be inscribed with “THE FINAL V12”, with a console-mounted plaque stating it’s “1 OF 12”. The model will come fully equipped with BMW’s Driving Assistance Professional Package, Luxury Rear Seating Package, Panoramic LED Roof, Adaptive LED Headlights with Laserlight, and Bowers & Wilkins Diamond Surround Sound Audio System. And it can be lined any available BMW Full Merino leather hide.

The model is slated to cost $200,995, including destination charge. Of course, you can always still order an ordinary M760i xDrive and get the same basic model, which starts at $157,800. 

But V-12 engines will continue to find their way into Rolls-Royce models until the company switches over to electrified models later this decade. Rolls-Royce is pledging to abandon its 6.75-liter V-12 and transform to all-gas line-up by 2030. The company’s first EV, the Spectre, is expected to come to market in late 2023.

The 1987 BMW 750i was the first postwar German car fitted with a 12, in this case a 5.0-liter V-12 producing 295 horsepower.

BMW’s 12-cylinder engine history

The move ends a history of V-12 models that dates to 1987, when the automaker introduced its first version, a naturally aspirated, single overhead cam 5.0-liter V-12 engine rated at 295 hp used in the 750i. It was the first 12-cylinder engine built by a German automaker in the postwar period.

But BMW had been exploring 12-cylinder power for more than a decade.

It started with a project codenamed M33, which combine two 6-cylinder units to create a V-12 with 60-degree cylinder bank angle. By 1974, the experimental engine was built, displacing 5.0 liters and generating 300 hp. But it was deemed too heavy, weighing 315 kilograms (694 pounds).

So BMW went back to the drawing board, cobbling a new 12 together from a newer, smaller six-cylinder engine. This project, the M66, resulted in a 60-degree V-12 as well. Two versions were built, one displacing 3.6 liters, the other and 4.5 liters. But this project was shelved due to fuel economy concerns then roiling world markets. But by 1982 the oil crisis subsided, and work began anew. But unlike the M33 and M66 engines, which were cobbled together from existing 6-cylinder engines, the new powerplant was designed from scratch, debuting in the BMW 750i for 1987 and dubbed the M70.

BMW’s 5.0-liter V12 was the third in a series of V-12 projects that were built by BMW since 1974, but the only one to read production.

When the new 750i debuted for 1994, a new 12-cylinder arrived, dubbed the M73 and based on the M70. Displacing 5.4 liters it generated 326 hp. But engineers weren’t looking to dramatically increase the mill’s performance, they were looking to improve its fuel efficiency, which rose 13% compared to the old M70.

For its next iteration in 2002, a new 6.0-liter V-12 arrived in the equally-new 760i with four valves per cylinder and variable valve timing and producing 445 hp. It would be replaced in 2009 by the current engine.

Who still makes a V12?

A 6.0-liter V-12 is still being offered by Mercedes-Benz, but solely in the Mercedes-Maybach S 680 4MATIC Sedan. Rated at 621 hp and 664 pound-feet of torque, it should prove to be a powerful sedan, able to compete against its rarified competitors.

With the arrival of the BMW M760i, engine size and power grew significantly.

Lamborginihi will also continue to use V-12 engines, but odds are it will have some element of electrification. The new powerplant would be the third in Lamborghini’s history. The first was a 3.5-liter V-12 that debuted in 1963 and was designed by Giotto Bizzarini. By the time production of this powerplant ceased, it was 6.5-liter V-12 last used in the Murcielago LP 640. It was replaced by the L539 V-12 built specifically for the Aventador. 

But its chief competitor, known for its 12-cylinder engines, has notably downsized its powerplants. That would be Ferrari. Most models already sport six or eight cylinders. Yes, you can get a 12 in the new 2022 Ferrari 812 Competizione for $601,570, but it’s likely to be the last non-hybrid model, sporting an 819-hp 6.5-liter V-12.

Aston Martin still offers the DB11 and DBS still use a 5.2-liter bi-turbo V-12, and the company will produce its final V12 Vantage later this year. Of course, Bentley still offers its W-12 in the Flying Spur, Continental GT Speed, and Bentayga Speed, but the company has already stated it will phase out its 12-cylinder engine by 2026

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