So far as inner combustion engines go, V12 engines are on the zenith. That is whereas nonetheless acknowledging the all-powerful W16 motors seen in at this time’s Bugatti hypercars, whereas not forgetting the likes of mainstream automakers – corresponding to BMW and Mercedes-Benz – additionally having flirted with the concept of series-production V16 engines prior to now. With the 16-cylinder energy vegetation primarily synonymous with the French automaker, the V12 is the de facto ruler for the broader spectrum of ultra-high-performance vehicles.
The range of this record totally demonstrates the common enchantment that V12s have world wide, to each producers and shoppers alike. This unanimous and long-spanning help for the expertise has helped to spawn a number of the most spectacular engines ever produced. The same old suspects are at play right here, with Ferrari and Lamborghini making their completely not sudden appearances. The British – by way of Aston Martin, Jaguar, and GMA – have shared their very own extremely spectacular interpretations as effectively, whereas extra typical manufacturers corresponding to BMW, Mercedes-Benz, and even Toyota have had their say.
For essentially the most half, these engines are naturally aspirated and characteristically rev all the way in which to the moon. In totality, every one among them is nothing in need of a legend.
Right here’s the shortlist of 10 such engines, curated to your studying pleasure:
Initially designed by Gioacchino Colombo, this engine can hint its roots again to the very first Ferrari-branded mannequin designed by Ferrari Enzo – the 1947 Ferrari 125 S – the place it debuted as a 1.5L V12. The core design of the engine would persevere for greater than Four a long time; alongside the way in which rising in dimension, having numerous ranges of compelled induction, and turning into a dual-overhead-cam configuration with EFI. Many credit score the motor’s longevity to its repute for being bulletproof.
Profitable in each road-going and race monitor derivatives, the record of Ferrari vehicles this engine has graced has no scarcity of automotive icons; the Ferrari 250 Testa Rossa, Ferrari 250 GTO, and Ferrari 365 GTB/4, simply to call a couple of.
Regardless of being produced by BMW, the S70/2 didn’t characteristic in one of many Bavarian automaker’s personal manufacturing vehicles. Nonetheless, it did find yourself powering none aside from arguably essentially the most iconic supercars ever made – the 1992-1998 McLaren F1. The 6.1L naturally-aspirated unit produced 627 hp and was able to 0-60 mph in simply 3.2 seconds, and had a prime pace of 240 mph. It wouldn’t be till the following millennium earlier than these figures could possibly be surpassed.
Apparently sufficient, BMW wasn’t Gordon Murray’s first selection to provide the engine for his groundbreaking supercar, with collaborations with the likes of Honda and Isuzu falling aside earlier than they’d go for the Munich-built energy plant. No matter would possibly’ve occurred if issues turned out otherwise, who’s to know? However what we do know is that BMW acquired issues completely spot-on with the S70/2, which continues to be considered one of many true and timeless masterpieces in automotive historical past.
Jaguar’s first foray into the world of V12 engines started in motorsport as early as 1951, with its 1964 XJ13 Le Mans race automobile finally serving because the trickle-down expertise supply for its manufacturing vehicles. For the latter, this may start with a 5.3L naturally-aspirated unit within the 1971 Jaguar E-Sort and would even go on for use by different automakers corresponding to Daimler and Panther. An HE (or “high-efficiency”) model of this engine could be launched in 1981 – that includes on the XJ12, XJ-S, and Daimler Double-Six – which improved gas financial system by nearly 50% in comparison with its predecessor, with out affecting efficiency.
In its last iteration, the V12 would evolve right into a 6.0L HE unit which produced as a lot as 333 hp and 365 lb-ft of torque. It was more likely to be some variation of this engine which was initially being marketed to be used on the Jaguar XJ220, earlier than the British automaker controversially selected a 3.5L twin-turbocharged V6 engine as a substitute. The final Jaguar V12 engined was produced on April 17, 1997.
Lamborghini V12 L539
Like Ferrari, Lamborghini additionally has a protracted and storied historical past with V12 engines, having created its very personal first model of this energy plant for its mid-’60s period Lamborghini 350GT manufacturing automobile. Beginning off as a significantly brawny 270 hp 3.5L naturally-aspirated unit, the “Bizzarrini” engine would evolve right into a 661 hp 6.5L naturally-aspirated unit and be long-established by fashions as latest because the 2010 Lamborghini Murciélago LP-670 SV.
So long as the Bizzarrini engine continued, we really feel that essentially the most important assertion of Lamborghini’s V12 mastery comes within the type of its newest iteration of the engine, dubbed ‘L539’. This energy plant would share its debut with the 2011 Lamborghini Aventador, of which it initially powered with 690 hp by way of a 6.5L naturally-aspirated configuration. With a recent design, the brand new engine was over 18 kg lighter than its predecessor and was programmed with a brand new firing order. The all-wheel-drive supercar would see important enhancements throughout its lifecycle, with the most recent iteration of the L539 automobile producing 770 hp within the limited-edition 2021 Lamborghini Aventador Ultimae.
If the F140 had solely powered the (2002-2005) Ferrari Enzo – the primary Prancing Horse mannequin the place it featured – it could have been no much less important or legendary than it’s at this time. The 65-degree V12 engine debuted on the Enzo as a 6.0L naturally-aspirated V12 unit which produced a staggering 651 hp @ 7,800 rpm and 458 lb-ft of torque @ 5,500 rpm. Over time, 6.3L variations of the F140 have powered the likes of the hybrid LaFerrari and the F12berlinetta.
It has since advanced to its present peak as a 6.5L energy plant – dubbed the F140 GA – which produces 789 hp @ 8,500 rpm and 530 lb-ft of torque @ 7,000 rpm within the 812 Superfast; this makes it essentially the most highly effective naturally-aspirated manufacturing automobile engine ever produced to this present day. It’s probably that this could possibly be one of many last generations of Ferrari V12 engines – whether or not it’s naturally aspirated, turbocharged, and even hybridized – so admire it whereas it’s nonetheless round!
Mercedes-Benz M120 / M297
When Mercedes-Benz caught wind of archrival BMW’s side-hustle with Gordon Murray, let’s simply say that there was no resting on any laurels occurring at their Stuttgart headquarters. With a intelligent riposte, Mercedes would debut their first-ever V12 engine via the 1993 600 SEC (later to be renamed the S600 Coupé, and ceaselessly known as the S-Class). The 6.0L naturally-aspirated energy plant was good for 389 hp, 420 lb-ft of torque, and a prime pace of 155 mph in its preliminary configuration.
Not solely did Mercedes-Benz one-up BMW by utilizing the engine for their very own vehicles, however in addition they borrowed a web page from their opponent’s playbook and had their M120 engine long-established to be used within the magnificent Pagani Zonda supercar as effectively. Hand-built and tuned by AMG, the M120 additionally featured on the Mercedes-Benz CLK GTR race automobile and likewise noticed its displacement elevated to 7.3L to be used on the SL73 AMG and CL73 AMG – and at which level it was generally known as the M297. Probably the most highly effective iteration of the M120 options within the Pagani Zonda Revolución, with the non-street-legal automobile good for 789 hp and 538 lb-ft of torque.
Aston Martin NA V12
With the most effective sounding V12s (and vehicle engines, interval), the story of how the Aston Martin (naturally-aspirated) V12 got here to be is moderately extra peculiar and convoluted. The mission had much less, ought to we are saying, glamorous beginnings, when issues principally began off with the event of a 2.5L naturally-aspirated V6 engine. This explicit unit was primarily the brainchild of Suzuki and Mazda, with the latter’s then-majority proprietor, Ford, then taking the blueprint to Cosworth, who would go on to construct the Duratec V6.
Evidently, the story didn’t finish there, and Aston Martin would find yourself bolting two of these engines collectively to create the 5.9L naturally-aspirated V12 it could stamp its identify on (and market as a 6.0L). Having extra in widespread with a Ford Taurus than homeowners or fanatics want to admit, the motor produced 414 hp and 398 lb-ft of torque within the 1999 DB7 V12 Vantage. Aston Martin continues to make use of a V12 engine to this present day, with the 2017 DB11 having long-established a 5.2L twin-turbocharged model. Extra not too long ago, the corporate has referred again to the naturally-aspirated configuration, with a 6.5L unit designed to energy its Valkyrie hypercar with over 1,000 hp @ 10,500 rpm (plus an extra 160 hp with its hybrid-electric system).
To name Toyota’s 1GZ-FE the “Godfather” of Japanese vehicle engines could be neither an understatement nor unbefitting. In any case, the venerable V12 from the land of the Rising Solar – which completely powers the Toyota Century luxurious sedan – is each one-of-a-kind and has a penchant for attracting a specific sort of “underworldly” proprietor in its homeland. It’s the one manufacturing V12 engine to come back from Japan and nonetheless manages to invoke all the important philosophies of Japanese craftsmanship – corresponding to reliability, construct high quality, and refinement.
GMA Cosworth V12
It’s inconceivable to discuss the naturally-aspirated engine in the GMA T.50, with out moving into the way it’s concerned in a lot extra than simply spinning the brand new supercar’s rear wheels, or about how different design components of the automobile are constructed round it. As spectacular as a 12,100 rpm redline sounds, its 654 hp and 345 lb-ft of torque doesn’t sound extraordinary by at this time’s requirements. However relaxation assured this engine, and this automobile, are on the cusp of a very “redefining” second in automotive historical past. Crucially weighing at simply 178 kg, the engine performs an enormous issue in the direction of the T.50’s general curb weight of simply 980 kg – about one-third that of a up to date supercar or hypercar.
The GMA T.50 is the end result of a long time of Gordon Murray’s aerodynamic and mechanical engineering expertise. A part of what makes the T.50 so thrilling, is that it incorporates the design and performance of the notorious Brabham BT46 “Fan Automobile.” A big fan – powered by the camshaft of the engine and matched with the curved underbody of the BT46 – created an lively venturi impact that fairly actually vacuumed the automobile onto the highway, and allowed it to nook at barely plausible speeds and ranges of grip. The T.50 will characteristic one thing comparable, and sure extra superior. On a highway automobile. We are able to’t wait to see this within the flesh.
Bugatti 3.5L Quad-Turbocharged V12
This Bugatti engine has had a really adorned profession, albeit a brief one, which makes it all of the extra spectacular. Featured completely on the (1991-1995) Bugatti EB110, this 3.5L quad-turbocharged V12 is accountable for some very notable distinctions. First, it’s broadly considered being one of many catalysts within the revival of the French marque though it did not be straight accountable for this. It grew to become the world’s quickest manufacturing automobile of its time, beating the Jaguar XJ220 within the course of.
Suffice to say, it grabbed all of the headlines, and actually, that was the entire level. I imply, for what different functions would using 4 turbochargers be given the inexperienced gentle for? Positive, it produced a whopping 553 hp and 450 lb-ft of torque, however you would need to argue that this probably may’ve been achieved with a extra typical design. In any case, quad-turbocharged engines by no means actually proliferated, and there’s most likely good science behind why that’s been the case. Nonetheless, there’s nothing un-iconic a few V12 engine with nearly as many turbochargers as you may depend on one hand; and we like it all the identical.