BMW Celebrates 25 Years of V12 Power

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There aren't a lot of automakers still making V12s, but BMW is one of them, and has been doing so for a quarter-century now.

There aren't a lot of automakers offering twelve-cylinder engines these days. Jaguar has long since abandoned its V12, the Maserati's latest twelve-pot (the MC12) has long since outlived its limited production run, and McLaren (whose F1 had a dozen pistons) has now called the twelve-pot a relic of history. The V12, then, is a bit of a rarity in an industry that is being driven towards smaller, more fuel-efficient engines. But a few automakers are still making them.

A good portion of them (Audi, Lamborghini and Bentley) are made by Volkswagen, joined by the likes of Ferrari, Aston Martin, Rolls-Royce, Mercedes-Benz (which also makes Pagani's engines), and BMW, which is celebrating the 25th anniversary of its first V12. First unveiled in the second-generation 7 Series in 1986 (pictured here), the BMW V12 has become a mainstay of the Bavarian automaker's line-up, if a rare one. The original 5.0-liter engine produced 300 horsepower, but has by now grown to six liters and augmented by a pair of turbochargers to deliver 540 horsepower - approaching twice the output of the original - in the latest 760Li.

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Versions of BMW's V12 have gone on to power the 850i coupe (and 850Ci and CSi versions), the Rolls-Royce Ghost and the aforementioned McLaren F1. But no matter how many (or how few) vehicles carry the V12 (from BMW or any other automaker), they still remain an exclusive mark of distinction for any vehicle.

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