Twenty five years ago, BMW revealed its first V-12 engine – and the first German V-12 in 50 years. The engine was introduced in 1987, just one year after the second-generation 7 Series sedan arrived.
At the time, rumors suggested that the new engine was intended “to promote a sense of exclusiveness and cachet.” According to BMW, the automaker’s development chief at the time was quoted as saying: “if the engineers wanted to go for nothing but the best of everything, we didn’t try to stop them.”
For the V-12 in the BMW 750i that debuted in 1987 at the Geneva Motor Show, engineers started with a clean-sheet design focusing on refinement, low NVH, as well as balancing power with fuel consumption. With its 300-hp 5.0-liter V-12 and a four-speed automatic, the 1988 BMW 750i is EPA-rated at 11/16 mpg city/highway. Today, the 2013 BMW 760Li is powered by a 535-hp 6.0-liter V-12 that’s mated to an eight-speed automatic. EPA-rated fuel economy has improved to 13/20 mpg on BMW’s twelve-cylinder four-door.
Earlier this year BMW announced the 760Li “V-12 25 Years Edition” to commemorate the V-12’s anniversary. Just 15 examples of the $159,695 sedan were allocated for the U.S. The special-edition model gains BMW Individual Champagne full merino leather seats accented by black piping, champagne-colored Alcantara headliner, black leather pillars, piano black wood trim, rear-seat entertainment system with monitors, and badges on the door sills, headrests, and iDrive controller, as well as unique 20-inch wheels.
Take a look at 25 years of BMW 7 Series V-12s in the gallery below.