Over time, BMW had four V12 engines in production series cars: the M70, M73, N73 and N74. But it’s the latter which will hold a special place in everyone’s hearts. The N74 was the first turbocharged V12 engine made in Munich. Furthermore, it also powered an entire range of Rolls-Royce models. As of 2022, the N74 is officially no more in a BMW-badged car. The last model to use a V12 engine was the 2022 BMW M760i Final V12 Edition.
But what really made the N74 V12 special?
- Power: The N74 V12 is capable of producing up to 602 horsepower and 590 lb-ft of torque, making it one of the most powerful engines ever produced by BMW.
- Technologies: The N74 V12 features advanced technologies like direct fuel injection, variable valve timing, and turbocharging, which contribute to its high performance and efficiency.
- smoothness: The V12 configuration of the N74 engine makes it incredibly smooth, with very little vibration or noise, providing a refined and luxurious driving experience. Hence why it was used in Rolls-Royce models as well.
- Lightweight: Despite its size and power, the N74 V12 is surprisingly lightweight thanks to its aluminum construction, which helps improve overall vehicle handling and performance.
- Exclusivity: The N74 V12 is a very rare engine, only used in limited production models like the BMW 760Li and the Rolls-Royce Ghost. Its exclusivity adds to its allure and makes it highly sought after by performance enthusiasts and collectors alike.
- fun fact: The N74 marked BMW’s first use of an 8-speed automatic transmission
BMW produced four different versions of the N74 V12: the N74B60, N74B66, N74B66TU and N74B68. It was the latter that came with the biggest displacement ever: 6.75 liters used in the Phantom, Cullinan and Ghost. The power output in this iteration was 563 horsepower and 605 lb-ft of torque. On the other hand, the 6.6 liter N74B66TU made 602 horsepower and could handle a top speed of 190 mph.
The N74B60 was used in the BMW 760i/760Li (F01/F02/F03) from 2008 to 2015.
The N74B66 found its place under the hood of several Rolls-Royce models:
- 2010-2020 Rolls Royce Ghost
- 2014-2020 Rolls-Royce Ghost V specification
- Eadon Green Panthean Coupe (a retro-styled British Luxury Coupe]
- 2014-2022 Rolls Royce Wraith
- 2015-2022 Rolls Royce Dawn
This technical upgrade (TU) of the N74B66 powered the BMW M760Li xDrive (G12) from 2016 to 2022.
The N74B68 engine is currently used in the following models:
- Rolls Royce Phantom VIII (2017-)
- Rolls Royce Cullinan (2018-)
- Rolls Royce Ghost (2021-)
Why Did BMW Phase Out The V12?
As eight-cylinder engines approached the performance of twelve-cylinder engines, it has become increasingly difficult to justify the latter. The recent introduction of V8 plug-in hybrids has made the case for V12 BMW engines almost untenable. Additionally, the limited demand for the V12 BMW M760Li also played a role in the decision to phase out the engine. Despite its impressive performance, the V12 had to be retired.
Luckily, pre-owned BMW M760i or M760Li with the V12 engine are fairly affordable now (some as low as $53,000), so if you’re looking to own a piece of the V12 history, this might be a good opportunity to chase some low mileage models.