Without question, the greatest engine BMW ever produced is one that never actually powered a BMW. Instead, the Bavarian brand whose name literally has “Motor” in it made its greatest engine for someone else. That someone else was Gordon Murray, who used the engine for the legendary McLaren F1, so nothing to be ashamed of. The engine is question was the S70/2, which was a 6.1-liter naturally aspirated V12, and it made among the greatest internal combustion engine noises in the history of the automobile.
In this new video from Automotive Mike, you get to hear that engine in its rawest spec, powering the McLaren F1 GTR Longtail racecar. And, while it actually doesn’t sound as good as the road car version, it’s still an incredible thing to hear. At low revs, it’s deep and burbly, which is sort of what you’d expect from a large-displacement, atmospheric V12. However, it quickly climbs to a buzzy, metallic wail. It’s able to get up to the high end of its rev range rather quickly, as the S70/2 is an incredibly fast-revving engine.
When Gordon Murray came to BMW M and Paul Rosche with his engine requirements, there were a few standouts. Most notably, it needed to be naturally-aspirated, it needed to have twelve cylinders, it needed more than 100 horsepower per liter, and it needed to rev fast. How fast? Well, it was capable of revving about 10,000 rpms per second. That means it’s capable of hitting its 7,500 rpm redline in under a second. At the time, that was unfathomable. Of course, that’s been beaten many times over since then, most notably with Murray’s latest project, the GMA T.50 (that V12 can rev 28,000 rpm per second and has a 12,000 rpm redline).
So you can imagine why it sounds the way it does in this video. It sounds buzzy, raw, and violent in a way that only a race car can. But when the driver is really on it, pushing it hard under load, it sounds fantastic.
I’ve never driven any sort of McLaren F1, road car or race car, because I’m a normal mortal and few of us mortals have ever been given the opportunity. However, it just looks, sounds, and feels like it would be incredible to use. The best I can do, though, is to watch this video and live vicariously through the driver, imagining what it might be like to use on a track, where I could really push it. If you watch the video, you can too.