If the imminent BMW M760Li xDrive with its 6.6-litre twin-turbo V12 looks like a bonkers limo, then note this sixteen-cylinder manual-equipped 7 Series prototype from 1987.
You read that right – BMW Classic has delivered these images of an E32-generation 750i prototype that swapped out its M70-designation 5.0-litre V12, before it had another four cylinders welded on and returned to the engine bay as a 6.65-litre V16 petrol engine.
The project was to create a ‘Super 7’ and the prototype – which remains owned by BMW but not on public display – was dubbed Goldfish as a nod to its stealth metallic gold paintwork.
Work started in July 1987 and BMW’s engineers had by December worked out a way to fit so many cylinders under the bonnet.
The solution was to flick the single under-bonnet radiator for two smaller units in the boot, fed air by fibreglass side scoops tacked onto its debonair styling as though it were a 1990s HSV Senator. The rear number plate dropped to the bumper, replaced by a grille to extract heat just like in a Porsche 911.
Perhaps the coolest fact in the dual-clutch automatic-obsessed world was the replacement of the 750i’s four-speed automatic with the six-speed manual from the 8 Series coupe.
On a dyno the mighty V16 was said to produce 304kW at 5200rpm and 625Nm from a relaxed 3900rpm, up on the V12’s 224kW/450Nm; the 0-100km/h in the 6.0-second region.
Of course from the second quarter of this year BMW will launch locally its latest-generation 7 Series in range-topping M760Li form complete with 448kW/800Nm, 0-100km/h in 3.7sec and a $449,000 plus on-road costs pricetag. Progress, and all.
Goldfish never went into production, sadly. We can imagine a few straight-laced BMW executives murmuring that 12 cylinders might be about enough. Records show it still is.