Concept cars are a fascinating look behind the curtain of secrecy maintained by automakers. They give us an indication of what automotive engineers get up to when asked to create cars with no restrictions. This V16 BMW 7 Series is a prime example of what we mean. This video of Porsche prototypes also shows us cars that never saw the light of day.

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Ultimate 7 Series

What you are looking at (above) is an E32 generation BMW 7 Series. At the time the most powerful production version of the line-up was the 750iL. It featured a 5,0-litre V12 engine mated with an automatic transmission. In 1987, BMW considered building the ultimate 7 Series, something that would challenge the likes of Rolls Royce (not yet owned by BMW) or Bentley.

The starting point for this exercise was the 750iL, but BMW felt it needed a more substantial engine to compete with those brands. BMW engineers Adolf Fischer and Hanns-Peter Weisbarth were drafted into the project. Fischer, who had designed the 5,0-litre V12, was given the task of expanding the engine. He added four more cylinders to create the world’s first V16 BMW 7 Series. The massive engine measured 6,7 litres in swept volume.

Special electronic engine management was developed for the naturally aspirated motor. It essentially treated the engine as two straight eights. After fine-tuning the engine was good for 304 kW along with 625 N.m of torque. Interestingly, the engineering team decided to mate the mill with a six-speed manual transmission. The large saloon could sprint to 100 km/h in six seconds and on to a top speed of just over 280 km/h.

Cooling issues

One problem with adding four cylinders to the V12 is that the V16 was about 300 mm longer than the standard engine. That meant there was no room in the engine bay for the 750iL’s cooling system. A simple solution was to move the car’s cooling hardware into the boot. Fibre-glass air scoops on the rear fenders fed two boot-mounted radiators and fans. A grille was fitted to the rear panel to extract warm from the boot, which in turn necessitated smaller taillights.

The V16 BMW 7 Series remained a concept and was hidden from the public eye until fairly recently when BMW decided to share its existence with the world. It remains, to this day, the only V16 BMW 7 Series ever made.