Remember When BMW Put A Le Mans Racing V12 In An X5?

Photo Credit: BMW
Photo Credit: BMW

Everyone loves the Carrera GT because it got its engine out of Porsche’s last Le Mans racing project. Well, BMW did the same thing, only with a single, not-for-production X5. Then the got it to do 192 mph on the Nürburgring.

The winning 1999 V12 LMR. Photo Credit: Getty Images
The winning 1999 V12 LMR. Photo Credit: Getty Images

The BMW X5 Le Mans, as the concept/demo/clown car was officially titled, was supposed to be some kind of cross-promotion between’s BMW’s new X5 (which was wildly popular but sort of sacrilegious to the brand) and their 1999 art car win at the 24 Hours of Le Mans (which was perfectly on-brand but not exactly something anybody gave a shit about).

The idea was simple: take the racing V12 out of the BMW V12 LMR (itself a development of the racing V12 that was in the McLaren F1 Le Mans cars) and just cram it, just squeeze and mash it into the front of a new X5 road car. The 6.0-liter motor put out some 700 horsepower, up a good hundred from the race car, since the concept didn’t need any series-mandated air restrictors. Torque, as Autocar notes, was a good 520 lb-ft going into an M-division six-speed manual transmission.


The rest of the modifications were pretty straightforward, just the usual wheels, tires, suspension, cage stuff that you do to make a car safe on a race track.

BMW got old timer Hans-Joachim Stuck to wheel the car around the Nürburgring Nordschleife and managed a 7:50 lap, with a claimed top speed of 192 mph (309 kph) on the track. That’s about as quick overall as, er, the new Honda Civic Type R.

BMW still has the car and periodically shows it housed in the company’s underground lair of forgotten concept cars and internal V12 projects.

What a stupid, glorious beast.

Raphael Orlove is features editor for Jalopnik.

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Ratchet when he's all hopped up on synthetic energon

I know it’s sacriligious as a sports-car guy, especially one who likes the lightest car he can squeeze his butt into, but I dig these stupid-fast, overpowered SUVs. I have a hankering for a X5M, Cayenne Turbo S, Cherokee SRT8... hell, even the top-tier Macan would be cool. Fortunately for me, I don’t have the budget to throw away my money on one.