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Let’s Remember When BMW Stuffed a McLaren F1 V12 in an X5 for Fun

The 240-mile-per-hour McLaren F1 is heralded as one of the greatest cars ever. It’s perhaps the most lusted-after enthusiast machine built even 28 years later, and it’s only obtainable by the ultra-wealthy. But what you may not know is that there is an even rarer vehicle that uses one of the F1’s most important parts: its engine.

That vehicle is none other than the BMW X5 Le Mans. Yes, it has the McLaren’s BMW-sourced V12 under the hood, it sounds like an F1 car, and it’s an SUV.

The BMW X5 Le Mans is the relatively little-known granddaddy of BMW’s performance SUVs. Built in 2000, the prototype packed a punch unlike any other people hauler on the planet thanks to its 6.1-liter V12 shrouded in carbon fiber. The contraption sent more than 700 horsepower to a rear-biased drivetrain, had a lightning-quick zero to 60 time of just 4.7 seconds, and could climb all the way to 193 mph. This unusual combination of speed and utility undoubtedly helped swoon white-collar BMW executives into greenlighting the more modest production-ready version of the car, the X5 M, for release nearly a decade later.

Of course, that car didn’t get the S70/2 V12 from the F1.

After developing that engine for McLaren, BMW’s engineers built a more powerful variant called the S70/3. Eventually, BMW ended up with an iteration known as the P75, the “P” designating it as a race engine in the company’s lineup. This platform would end up powering the V12 LM and V12 LMR Le Mans prototypes, all with McLaren F1 heritage running through their veins. For the full story, check out this article and videos from The Drive.

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