Back in the 1990s, quite possibly the best road car engine ever made was installed in quite possibly the best road car ever made: the S70/2 BMW V12 found its way into the middle of the McLaren F1. Now the two companies are back together working on engines for the future.
There’s not a ton of information to go on here, but the precedent is so great it should be mentioned. In its official press release, McLaren says that BMW will help the company develop “new combustion technology” that is “destined for application in future McLaren engines.” As to what that is, who knows. Could this be complete engines? Could this be direct injection programming? We have no clue:
McLaren Automotive has announced a strategic project to design and develop technology for the next generation of powertrains. Working with a number of partners including BMW Group, the project will develop new combustion technology that will deliver a higher output per capacity than currently possible. It also aims to further facilitate CO2 reductions while simultaneously increasing engine output. The technology is destined for application in future McLaren engines.
The project, supported and part-funded by UK Government through the Advanced Propulsion Centre (APC), will also improve the UK’s development and production capabilities of low-CO2 internal combustion engine technology. The project will be led by McLaren Automotive but involves a total of six partners. McLaren Automotive will work with its existing engine manufacturing partner, Ricardo, and BMW Group while Grainger and Worrall will deliver complex, lightweight casting technology. Lentus Composites will contribute knowledge in specialist composite structures. Completing the syndicate is the University of Bath who bring their advanced research and development capabilities in internal combustion engine systems efficiency.
Commenting on the collaboration, Chief Executive Officer of McLaren Automotive, Mike Flewitt, said: ‘This is an exciting project that plays to the strengths of all partners. McLaren Automotive has an exceptional reputation for building the world’s finest engines, as showcased by our M838T and its previous category wins in the International Engine of the Year awards. We will continue to independently design and build our own engines, and the benefits of this project will help us accelerate the development of our next generation of powertrain, as confirmed in our recently-announced Track22 business plan.’
Currently, McLaren contracts Ricardo to build its engines, a contract that’s good through 2020. It might be a lot to hope for a screaming motorsports-derived V12, but we can dream.