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BMW Once Built an X5 With a V12 From the McLaren F1

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author photo by Doug DeMuro August 2016

I recently discovered that BMW built an X5 with the 700-horsepower V12 engine from the McLaren F1. Actually, this engine was in three cars: the McLaren F1 (perhaps the most amazing road-going supercar of all time), the BMW V12 LMR (which won the world-famous 24 Hours of Le Mans) and ... the BMW X5.

Moreover, the decision to install this V12 into the X5 was not the work of some backyard mechanic, some tuning company or a local dealer who wanted to drum up publicity. BMW put this engine in the thing themselves. And yes, it has a manual transmission.

Here's how it went down: Back when the X5 came out in 2000, BMW wasn't really sure how people would accept a "luxury SUV" from a performance-car brand like BMW. So they decided to create this V12-powered X5, dubbed the X5 Le Mans, to show what the car was theoretically capable of. Out came the SUV's 4.4-liter V8, and in went the F1's 6.0-liter V12, which made 700 horsepower and 531 lb-ft of torque.

The resulting performance was astounding: BMW said the SUV did 0 to 60 miles per hour in 4.7 seconds, on its way to a top speed of 173 mph. While this may not sound impressive by today's standards, bear in mind that this predates the Cayenne Turbo, the Grand Cherokee SRT8 and the X5 M by many years. When the X5 Le Mans was shown, the "highest-performance" SUV on the market was the 1998 Grand Cherokee 5.9 Limited -- with all of 245 hp.

Unfortunately -- and obviously -- BMW never put the X5 Le Mans into production, meaning the one they built remains one of one. The closest BMW came, with the first X5, were the high-performance 4.6is and 4.8is models, which offered up to 355 hp -- an impressive figure until you consider that it's half of what could have been

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Used 2005 BMW X5 3.0i
Used 2005 BMW X5
$7,900
This image is a stock photo and is not an exact representation of any vehicle offered for sale. Advertised vehicles of this model may have styling, trim levels, colors and optional equipment that differ from the stock photo.
BMW Once Built an X5 With a V12 From the McLaren F1 - Autotrader