BMW Has Been Building The V12 In The 7 Series For Over 25 Years


And an all-new model's reveal is only days away.

We’re only a couple of days away from the unveiling of the all-new BMW 7 Series. Anytime an automaker unveils a new flagship is a pretty big deal, but the 7 Series has something few other flagship sedans don't: an optional V12 engine. Obviously there’s been an evolution of the V12 since it first debuted in the 7 Series in 1986 (the first gen 7 Series offered inline-sixes only). So we figured it’d be cool to take a look back on the evolution of this particular Bimmer and its big engine.

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The second generation 7 series, the E32, was unveiled in 1986 for the '87 model year. Unlike the first generation, this was the first 7 Series to be offered with a V12 (inline-sixes were the previous engines). The 5.0-liter V12 was rated at 300 hp, which was quite something for its day and age.

The E38 7 Series hit the market in 1994 and, like its immediate predecessor, carried on the V12 tradition. This time, the engine grew in size to 5.4-liters with 322 hp. The 750iL was pretty rare and, as the name suggests, only available as a long-wheelbase variant.

Perhaps there was no other 7 Series that made such a dramatic leap in both design (the "Bangle Butt") and technology as the E65, first revealed in 2001. This was also the very first BMW to be offered with iDrive, which sparked utter hatred in many loyal BMW buyers. The V12 was now a 6.0-liter unit with 439 hp.

Because the E65 was pretty controversial, BMW went with a more conservative approach with its successor, the F01. It first hit the market in 2008 and unlike previous generations, this 7 Series has an ActiveHybrid option, which is a V8-electric motor combo. The V12, available solely for the 760i/Li, is a twin-turbocharged V12 rated at 540 hp.