It's 1987, and Dr. Karlhienz Lange, Adolf Fischer and Hanns-Peter Weisbarth, the very germanic gentlemen who would also be responsible for the 8 series BMW, decide to make a production ready 16 cylinder version of the e32 7 series.
Lange instructed Fischer to explore the possibilities beyond the M70 engine. And it was from then that the Secret Seven project was born and BMW’s first V16 engine came into fruition.
Less than six months after Lange gave the go ahead on the project, Fischer had a complete (and production ready) 6.7 liter V16 engine on a dynamometer on Christmas Eve in 1987. Naturally the numbers on the V16 engine were nothing short of impressive boasting 408 bhp at 5200rpm and 461 ft lb of torque at 3900rpm, more than 100bhp and 100 ft lb torque than the 5.0 liter V12. The engine was run by two Bosch engine management systems, essentially treating it as two straight-eight cylinders.
Within the walls of BMW, the Secret Seven project was also known as the “Goldfish”. Reason being, the 7 Series sedan that the V16 engine was fitted into was a golden color so the project was christened the Goldfish.
The V16 was 12 inches longer than the V12 in the engine bay. Naturally, this caused many problems, such as the fact there was no room for cooling. So, being pragmatic germans, the cooling was relegated to the rear of the car!
The best part of the car? It came with a 6 speed manual transmission also used in the 8 series! And BMW's first airbag steering wheel, and by far its ugliest.
In the prototype phase, the V16 was ready for full production and BMW did consider building a “Super 7″ of sorts but securing approval from the board was too far fetched and the V16 never saw a garage or driveway.
Sure, 400bhp is what a lot of cars get out of 6 cylinders today, and its 0-60 times of just under 6 seconds isn't neck snapping, but owning a 16 cylinder 7 series must have felt very nice to say.