Long before we had to worry about emissions regulations, carbon tax, and fuel consumption, the size of a car’s engine indicated its level of luxury.
This was especially true when it came to engine refinement – more cylinders and a smoother drive – which is why back in 1987 in a bid to outdo Mercedes-Benz, Rolls-Royce, and Bentley, BMW pursued a V16 prototype with some truly unexpected results.
BMW already had a V12 750iL as a base model to work from, but what would be a precursor to today’s M-cars – and because of Germany’s race for uber-horsepower – BMW wanted something more powerful, faster, and more refined than any of its competitors.
Championed by Dr. Karlhienz Lange and accompanied by Adolf Fischer, Hanns-Peter Weisbarth, and large amounts of grit and determination, they created one of BMW’s wildest engines ever.
Using the 5.0-litre V12 (M70) engine from the 750iL, Fischer and Weisbarth essentially grafted on four extra cylinders to create a V16 monster.
This increased displacement to 6.7-litres, and saw the motor produce 308kW of power and 621Nm of torque.
For the 80s this was impressive, and the large car was also quick for its day. It promised a 0-100km/h time of under 6 seconds and a top speed of 283km/h.
Due to the huge nature of the engine and the large amount of power it put out, a standalone cooling system was built into the boot of the BMW and connected to the motor.
Large air scoops were then grafted onto the rear flanks of the car to suck in air and keep the V16 running reliably, and saw it earn its nickname of “Goldfish” – because it looked a lot like a goldfish with large bulging eyes.
Unfortunately, global economic challenges soon put the project to rest – confining the Goldfish to the BMW museum – but its dominance over the luxury British brands took a positive turn thereafter when it acquired Rolls-Royce a decade later.
While the V16 never saw the open roads of Europe, it was a precursor to BMW continuing along the path of more cylinders in strange configurations.
For BMW, it turned to turbocharging V12 engines that now do duty in the world’s most luxurious vehicles from Rolls-Royce.