BMW X5 With 700-HP Le Mans Engine Is One Rare Beast

Classic Cars / 5 Comments

From the mind of Albert Biermann.

BMW has produced hundreds, probably thousands of race cars over its decades in motorsports. You've surely heard about many of them: the CSL Batmobile, the M1 Procar and obviously all manner of M3s. But did you know that BMW built a one-off X5 SUV with a 700-hp 6.0-liter V12 Le Mans engine the under hood? Well it happened, and it was glorious.

The BMW Group Classic YouTube channel was delving into its vault, filled with famous BMWs through the years. They start on a McLaren F1, which you'll remember also used a BMW V12, before explaining that the Bavarian company once built an X5 Le Mans, noting it's actually rarer than the similarly powered F1.


The car was the BMW X5 Le Mans and for two decades it held the SUV lap record at the Nurburgring. Hans-Joachim Stuck's 7-minute, 49-second run (in which he hit 311 kph or 193 mph) was beaten by the Lamborghini Urus. The difference was less than 7 seconds.

The X5 LM was built off the E53 generation using that race-winning 700-hp V12 LMR engine. It was a feasibility study by none other than Albert Biermann, who is now producing thrills for Hyundai's N division.

The engine was detuned for Le Mans work to just 580 hp using air restrictors, but "in the X5 Le Mans, the 12-cylinder was let off the leash." With those 700 ponies, the engine also made 531 lb-ft of twist. It's 0-62 mph was just 4.7 seconds.


Exterior modifications included the carbon fiber hood with a huge air extractor to keep that V12 humming. It also has wider front and rear bumpers, massaged wheel arches and sills, new wing mirrors and those racing wheels.

Inside, the X5 LM features a Recaro racing seat and roll cage for the driver. The rear seats were removed and gauges from the E39 M5 were installed. Some of the old German stickers were still attached, reading "always wear a helmet" and "no airbags installed."

The guys from BMW Group Classic get a hand-written note on how to start the beast, and at about 4 minutes in the clip, they take it outside to do just that. As you can imagine, it sounds like a race car. Unfortunately they don't take it for a spin. That makes sense, considering you might see 5 McLaren F1s in your life, and probably zero X5 LMs.


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