Paul Rosche, a distinguished engine specialist and the head of the motorsport at BMW, demonstrated an inclination for unconventional concepts by piloting a specially designed 7 Series. Assembled within the esteemed confines of BMW’s manufacturing facilities, one can find the service limousine, along with an atypical undertaking conceived by Rosche.
The notion of transplanting an M5 engine into a BMW 7 Series or installing a V12 into an X5 may seem like the work of aftermarket tuners. However, these conversions were sanctioned by the factory, with a covert air shrouding their existence. Presently, these sensational BMW test vehicles are housed within an unremarkable warehouse, and we were granted access to photograph two of them.
Rosche’s service 7er with 390 hp
The entryway may appear unremarkable, but its address is classified information. The contents housed within the BMW repository, however, are anything but mundane. A treasure trove of the company’s automotive heritage, nearly every model ever produced is represented here, including several unique specimens. Among these rarities is the sole surviving 7 Series E32 driven by Paul Rosche during his tenure as a company executive.
Aptly described as a technical tour de force, the vehicle has been expertly retrofitted with an M5 E34 drivetrain by skilled engineers. The powerplant, a stunning four-valve six-cylinder, is prominently displayed under the forward-opening hood, which reveals an array of M5 wheels indicative of the car’s singular engine origin. With displacement boosted to 3.9 liters, coupled with an impressive compression ratio of 12.5:1, the vehicle delivers a staggering 395 horsepower, representing a 95 horsepower increase over the top-of-the-range 750i’s five-liter twelve-cylinder. Notably, the engine was originally intended for use in the never-produced M7 model.
Wheat beer idea: V12 in the X5
In the year 2000, Motorsport GmbH executed an advanced engineering feat by installing a 700 horsepower variant of the LMR-V12 engine into an X5, a prototype which is currently housed in BMW Classic’s inventory. The X5 Le Mans is a striking spectacle, featuring multi-part rims, modified aprons, and a bulging hood.
This innovative idea came about when Paul Rosche and his team were discussing over wheat beer, contemplating whether a V12 engine could fit into the X5. Legend has it that a bet was placed, and Rosche, using a folding rule, measured and confirmed that it was possible. The outcome of the project was staggering, as Hans-Joachim Stuck completed the Nordschleife lap in the X5 Le Mans in a record time of 7:49.92, three seconds faster than an M3 CSL.
To summarize, Paul Rosche, the genius behind BMW’s Formula 1 endeavor, was proficient in executing exceptional engine projects. He even used one of them as his company car. The X5 Le Mans was another testament to his expertise, showcasing how an SUV could surpass a BMW M3 CSL’s speed on the Nordschleife when equipped with a remarkable engine.