Listen to the old BMW M5's V10 before it goes out of style forever

There is something menacing and terrible about V10 engines. They lack the vocal complexity of the V12 and they also lack the screaming elegance of flat-plane V8’s. What they have instead is pure terror.

For a few years, V10’s were all the rage in high performance cars of a particular sort. The outgoing M5 had one. The Dodge Viper had one. The Lamborghini Gallardo still has one. I once spent a working day a few inches ahead of 5.0-liter one installed in the engine bay of an Audi R8 and it sounded like Wernher von Braun on a very bad day.


We may be living in the sunset years of the V10 as performance cars increasingly make do with less cylinders and more force-fed air. Formula One abandoned the V10 engine formula in 2005. BMW abandoned the S85B50 V10—the engine used in the M5 and the M6, derived from its F1 program—last year. A menacing, high-revving, aluminum engine with 507 hp, it was a marvel, a winner of various International Engine of the Year awards for four years going.

And while the car that made it famous—the Chris Bangle-designed E60 M5—may have had the “elegance of an abattoir,” as Jeremy Clarkson put it on Top Gear, it sure is a treat to listen to as it strikes fear into the heart of some forest in this video, causing wheelspin all the way to third gear.

It will be missed.

Share This Story

Get our newsletter


Jonathan Harper

BMW stopped building them last year, but the E60's V10 will go down in history as one of the most epic sounding, and performing engines BMW ever produced.