It might come as news to those less familiar with BMW’s past that the 8 Series is actually a 30-year-old nameplate. First launched in 1990, the original 8 Series was similar in concept to the current coupe that shares its name. Alas, unlike today’s car, BMW’s M division never laid its hands on the original 8 Series. Or maybe we should say that M never managed to leave its mark on a saleable 8 Series model.
The little-known M8 prototype was never given the green light for production, but it is still a remarkable feat of engineering. Credit the 6.1-liter V-12 under this big coupe’s hood, which, according to the video above, is just one of three such engines to exist. With 640-hp (more than the current BMW M8), the rear-drive BMW M8 prototype was surely a rocket. Plus, with a six-speed manual on board, it was definitely a hoot to manhandle, too.
BMW’s big V-12 shared little with the unit in the production 850i of the 1990s. Unlike that car’s single overhead cam 5.0-liter unit, the M8 prototype’s 6.1-liter 12-pot featured dual overhead cams, a special intake setup, and an entirely reworked lubrication system. In fact, the oil sump was moved to the back of the car to allow the big bent-12 to fit under the M8 prototype’s hood. As a result, BMW was forced to route the car’s oil lines through the freaking roof to ensure the engine was properly lubricated. For the full story, check out this article from Motor Trend.