- Post is under moderationV12 LMR / #Jenny-Holzer / #BMW-Art-Cars / #1999 / #BMW-V12-LMR / #BMW-S70/3 / #BMW-S70 / #BMW-V12 / #BMW-V12-LMR-Jenny-Holzer / #BMW-Art-Car / #Art-Cars / #Art-Car / #BMW / #BMW-V12-LMR-Art-Car /
After a break of four years since David Hockey’s 850CSi BMW returned to its roots with the 15th Art Car – it was going racing again! Art Cars The 15th machine in the series: Jenny Holzer’s V12 LMR.
As BMW’s Art Car project started with racing cars one could argue that over the ensuing years it’s used far too many road cars, and even when it did choose to adorn its racing cars they were never used in anger on track – witness the two E30 M3s and the E36 Touring Car that never went near a circuit. The first four cars all took part in the #Le-Mans 24-Hour and 1999 saw a return with Jenny Holzer’s V12 LMR.
The work of Jenny Holzer, who was born in Ohio, USA, in 1950, cannot be put into conventional categories. Since the late seventies, she has rejected traditional forms of expression such as representational painting, working with words instead of pictures. Messages in the form of LED lettering are arranged together with carved plaques, benches or sarcophaguses made of stone to make up complete installations. It is this interplay of language, objects and context as equal elements that render her work so unique and makes her one of the most consistently exhibited artists worldwide. The Art Car designed by the American concept artist was adorned with messages which she said, “Will probably never become void”. Bold statements in capitals such as ‘Protect me from what I want’ and ‘What urge will save us now that sex wont?’ were emblazoned on the car.
Her concept is based on traditional colours and materials used in motor racing. To allow the characteristic blue and white BMW colours to remain visible during the 24-hour race at Le Mans, she used reflecting chrome letters and phosphorescent colours. During the day the sky is reflected in the letters, during the night the foil is desorbing the saved daylight in blue. Except that the car never raced at Le Mans, although it was one of three V12 LMRs that was used for the preliminary qualification in May, for the actual race BMW elected to use the more traditionally liveried cars. It would have been disappointing had BMW left it at that, but fortunately the car did compete in its Holzer livery in a round of the American Le Mans Series in 2000 at Road Atlanta for the Petit Le Mans. Sadly by this time the LMRs were no longer competitive and had to play second fiddle to the Audis with the Holzer car coming in a distant fourth place.Stream item published successfully. Item will now be visible on your stream.
- Post is under moderationTWELVE INTO THREE
If you think putting a 5.6-litre #V12 into an E30 is madness, it’s best not to mention the 300hp shot of nitrous… A 400bhp V12 with 300bhp nitrous shot is one hell of a powerplant, but fitting it into a humble 1988 E30 316i body is simply bonkers. As if you hadn’t guessed already, this sideways little coupé is another marvel from our quite mad Scandinavian friends. Words: Iain Curry Photos: Max Earey.
After featuring an E90 #BMW-3-Series with turbocharged E36 M3 transplant last month, I said that nothing the Scandinavians could do to a BMW would surprise me anymore. Well, I was wrong. Presented here is an E30 that you simply wouldn’t believe unless you witnessed it in the flesh. Unsurprisingly, no E30 ever left the Munich factory with a V12 lump in its engine bay. Nor for that matter did any 5 or 6 Series of the same era. Only one 7 Series did, and this had a ‘paltry’ 5.0-litre M70 unit.
Just one car in BMW’s long history has come with the fearsome 5576cc V12 S70 engine, and that was in the über-expensive Nineties gangsta luxury coupé – the 850CSi. A little over 1000 of these cars (and hence these V12 engines) were ever produced, but even with such an extreme level of rarity, one of these mighty 12-pot S70 powerplants resides in an E30 316i’s body somewhere in the snowy Norwegian countryside. We simply had to make the long journey north to see it for ourselves.
You’re probably thinking the same thing I first thought when I heard someone had completed this transplant: V12 engine; little E30; weight distribution destroyed; pig to drive. In fact, it wasn’t simply a matter of the owner, Per Kristian Harildstad, shoehorning in whatever massive BMW lump he had lying around. No, it seems there is actually method to his madness. “The 850CSi engine is all aluminium,” the Norwegian said. “It is only 178kg, so is just 18kg heavier than an original E30 325i engine. My M350 is very nice on the track as the balance has not been affected.”
So having a 400bhp lightweight V12 in situ is impressive/insane/ridiculous enough for most, but this being Norway, is it any surprise to see a 300bhp shot of nitrous rigged up to the intakes? This is a land where they think nothing of launching themselves off a 120-metre-high ice-covered hill with only a plank strapped to each foot, so 700bhp going through the rear wheels of an E30 on an icy road should almost be expected.
Unlike in the UK (where people don’t go into work at the merest hint of some frozen water on the roads), people like Per take their super-powerful BMWs out on whatever surface mother nature throws at them. It was snowy and icy on the day of our photography, but Per had no qualms about taking us out on the nearest twisty road for a fine display of controlled drifting. It’s amazing how easy it looks with 700bhp going through the rear wheels on a zero-grip bit of tarmac.
So how the hell did this mad E30 M350 with a love of sideways action come to fruition? “I originally owned an 850CSi,” Per said, “but I crashed it and ended up buying back the engine and gearbox from the insurers. At the time I had a 5.0-litre engine from a 750i in the E30, which ran a 12.6 1/4-mile on standard tyres. I’d had this for two years, so last summer I thought I’d put the 850CSi V12 in instead. It was very, very difficult to do all the wiring and ECU, there are so many complicated electrics, but I have proved that it can be done.”
The amount of work Per has carried out to realise this E30 M350 is obviously substantial: you don’t just put a V12 up front with a nitrous shot in an E30 and not think about the rest of the car. “The problem was,” Per explained, “that it was all trial and error. No-one else has done this modification so I had to try lots of different parts.”
The Data File does read like a Who’s Who of BMW bits from through the years. There’s an E28 M5 water cooler, E30 325i oil cooler, Alpina B7 diff, E36 323i Compact rear brakes, E36 M3 front brakes and the hydraulic braking system from an E38 750i.
A Frankenstein’s monster of something from everything it seems, and clearly with the same potential to kill its creator such is its extreme performance. It is, of course, far prettier than the monster described in Shelley’s classic.
The 1988 316i has been transformed with attractive M-Tech 2 kit, complemented by headlight eyebrows, de-chromed grille and bonnet vents to help cool that mighty V12 down. Rolling stock is taken care of with a set of 19” Rial six-spokes, but more sensible 17” E36 M3 wheels with slicks are used when the M350 is used for its summer track work.
Getting the suspension just right is integral with such a beastly car, and you can’t get much more serious than AP Racing height and damping adjustable coilovers. Brakes are equally important, and with Per’s trials with E36 and E38 parts, he knows he’s got the anchor ability to shake off some of the silly speeds he can achieve.
Above all, it’s seeing the V12 in the E30’s little engine bay that impresses most. As wedged in as a fat man on a tube train in City rush hour, the stonking 5.7-litre somehow exists in here to ensure it’s a surreal vision to all BMW enthusiasts. It just shouldn’t be possible! Per is an inspiration to all with his engineering ability, and I’m sure he won’t mind me saying a little mad for taking on this task.
Incredibly enough, things are due to get even madder. A quick look in his substantial workshop revealed another of these 5.7-litre V12s up on a rack being worked on. Strapped to the side was a Procharger supercharger more often seen on drag cars, race cars and racing boats. Surely this isn’t going in the E30? Oh yes it is. “I’ll be putting it in next winter,” Per said, “and it could make around 1000 horsepower. We’ll never know until we test it on a dyno.” Is there no end to what these people will try?
For now though, it’s clear not all Scandinavian BMs need to be of the forced induction variety to attain huge power figures. Per has proven that keeping BMW’s principle of naturally-aspirated petrol engines and getting substantial power gains is possible, but his efforts did involve squeezing the ultimate into an E30’s engine bay.
So for all who’d ever contemplated it, discussed it and argued it, the proof is here that a V12 will fit under an E30’s bonnet, and shouldn’t affect the car’s handling characteristics dramatically if using the allaluminium 5.7-litre 850CSi lump. Don’t expect rigging the wiring up to be simple though, and the first job is to find an ultra-rare 850CSi engine. There’s 1057 out there, and Per’s got two of them already. Happy searching!
DATA FILE #BMW-E30 / #BMW / #BMW-E30-S70 / #BMW-E30-V12 / #BMW-350i / #BMW-M350 / #BMW-350-E30 / #BMW-M350-E30
ENGINE AND DRIVETRAIN: 5.6-litre #V12 from 850CSi with E28 M5 water cooler / #S70 / #BMW-S70 / #S70B56 , E30 325i oil cooler, cone filter either side, custom #DIY manifold and exhaust system, custom wiring and ECU. 850CSi gearbox, 2.65:1 #Alpina B7 differential with oil cooler. 300bhp nitrous shot
PERFORMANCE: 406bhp and 448lb ft of torque before 300bhp nitrous shot. 1360kg wet weight (standard E30 325i is 1240kg)
CHASSIS: 9x19” #Rial six-spoke alloys shod in 235/35 BF Goodrich tyres. AP Racing height and damping adjustable suspension, front strut brace, E36 323i Compact rear brakes and baring arms, E36 M3 front brakes, E38 750i hydraulic braking system
EXTERIOR: #1988 E30 316i body with OEM M-Tech 2 body kit from 325i, headlight eyebrows, black kidney grille, custom bonnet vents to allow cool air in, smoked lights all round, M350 rear badge made from 325i and 750i badges, exhaust heat shield for bumper, tow bar (!)
INTERIOR: Relocated pedal cluster, NOS nitrous button, #Auto-Meter gauges, M badge and gear knob, NOS bottle in boot
5.6-LITRE V12 #BMW-3-Series-E30
Above all, it’s seeing the V12 in the E30’s little engine bay that impresses most. It’s as wedged in as a fat man on a tube train in rush hour.
Cabin’s Auto Meter gauges and Nos switch.
A quick look in Per’s workshop revealed another of these V12s with a Procharger supercharger strapped to the side. Is there no end to what these people will try?
Two feet of laying snow means one trapped journo!
A surreal sight: 850CSi V12 in humble E30 bay.
Even madder: a 300bhp nitrous shot for the V12.
Boot houses regularlyrefilled NOS bottle. Mad.Stream item published successfully. Item will now be visible on your stream.
- Post is under moderationWhat’s in a Name? We love the 850CSi and head back to the 1990s to sample a super example of the breed. It had a BMW M chassis number, a #BMW-M-engine and a chassis finely honed by the handling gurus at M GmbH yet the 850CSi has sometimes struggled to garner the right reputation. Words: Bob Harper. Photography: Dave Smith.
Admittedly it’s a long time ago now, but I distinctly remember my first ride in an 850i. I was working for a busy BMW main dealer in central London and as it was expected we would see more than our fair share of the new über-coupé coming through our doors BMW GB (as it was at the time) loaned the dealership a pre-production example for us to have a play with. After days of badgering one of our Master Technicians finally gave in and took me out for quick blat in the new age coupé and I have several distinct recollections. First, the rear seats (where I was unfortunate enough to be perched) were a joke. Second, it was too quiet; even at full chat it had a turbine-like smoothness that did little to stir the heart.
And third, there seemed to be something missing when compared to the glorious 6 Series it replaced. Over the years I grew to admire the super coupé, but I never lusted after one… that is until I drove a CSi. Amazing what two extra letters on the car’s rump could do to the driving experience! To my mind the CSi was the car the 850i should have been: brutally fast yet endowed with keener handling and a soundtrack befitting of BMW’s range-topping coupé. But then it should have come as no surprise that the 850CSi was such a masterpiece as, while it wasn’t badged as such, this was a fully fledged M car in all but name.
Of course, BMW M had already developed an even mightier beast, the #BMW-M8 (see for the full story), but once the BMW board had pulled the plug on that monster, M turned its hand to developing a less extreme version of the E31 Coupé. Two of the main players in the development of the M8 had been Karl-Heinz Kalbfell and Wolfgang Reitzle and they managed to persuade the BMW board that the 8 Series needed a flagship, a worthy range-topper, but a less extreme and not quite so expensive a prospect as the largely bespoke M8 would have been.
The first item that needed attention if the hottest Eight was going to be taken seriously was the engine. While there was nothing intrinsically wrong with the M70 V12 that acted as the powerplant for both the 750i and 850i, it wasn’t exactly what you could call a sporting unit. From its 5.0-litre capacity it managed to produce 300hp or, to put that another way, just 60hp per litre – a figure that was beaten by the lowly four-cylinder engine from the 118i! It did offer turbine-like smoothness and plenty of torque – 332lb ft of it – but an M car needed to sparkle and thus project leader for the S70 engine project, Franz Zinnecker, embarked on a programme of revisions to the big V12.
A capacity increase was the obvious way forward and thus the V12’s bore was increased from 84 to 86mm (the same increase as had been envisaged for the M8’s 6.0-litre unit) and the stroke was lengthened to 80mm, an increase of 5mm over the M70. This resulted in a swept volume of 5576cc but where the M8’s engine had been designed with costly twin-cam, four-valve per-cylinder heads the production S70 stuck with its 24-valves and SOHC setup.
Naturally enough there was far more to it than a simple capacity increase as the V12 was endowed with lighter pistons, an increased compression ratio (up from 8.8:1 to 9.8:1), a stronger forged steel crankshaft, reprofiled camshafts and more aggressive valve timing in the quest for more top end power. The intake system was redesigned, the exhaust was reworked with larger diameter pipes with less back pressure and an engine oil cooler was also installed. Electronics were increasingly playing a much larger part in M’s thinking at this time so there was also adjustable throttle sensitivity via a dash-mounted switch (K for Komfort or S for Sport) and the S70 also had a variable rev limit – 6400rpm in first and second gears, 6200 in third, 6100 in fourth, and 6000rpm for fifth and sixth.
The result of all this work was an engine that developed 380hp at 5300rpm and 406lb ft at 4000rpm – gains of 80hp and 74lb ft over the standard M70 V12. It might still have only been developing 67hp per litre which must heave seemed like pretty small beer compared to 95hp/litre from the contemporary E36 M3’s S50 straight-six, but that mighty 406lb ft of torque went a long way to providing decent performance. Drive was through a six-speed manual ‘box (no auto option here thank you very much) and this was mated to a limited-slip differential and, for the first time on an M-developed machine, traction control in the form of ASC+T, or Automatic Stability Control plus Traction if you prefer the long-winded version.
Naturally enough there were a series of chassis revisions to the Eight to create the CSi and these were under the guidance of M’s then handling guru, Gerhard Richter. While it used the same basic McPherson strut/multi-link setup as the regular Eight, BMW M fitted uprated front hubs, stiffer dampers and shorter, by 10mm, springs. The steering was the same recirculating ball setup as for the rest of the 8 Series range but came with Servotronic speed-sensitive assistance and a quicker rack – 2.8 turns lock-to-lock compared to the 850i’s 3.3.
Perhaps the most intriguing aspect of the CSi’s make-up was the adoption of AHK (Aktive Hinterachs- Kinematik, or Active Rear-Axle Kinematics if you prefer the English) or rear-wheel steering in layman’s terms. This hydraulically-activated system worked by turning the rear wheels in the same direction as the fronts in order to facilitate quicker and smoother direction changes at speeds of over approximately 40mph, and could alter the angle of the rear wheels by as much as 2.5 degrees.
Brakes were as per late model E34 M5-spec – 345x32mm vented, floating discs with four-pot front callipers. These were covered by more E34 M5 parts – its 17-inch ‘Throwing Star’ wheels, although 17-inch bolted cross-spokes were an option, and later in the car’s life the 18-inch M Parallel items you can see in the pictures were also added to the options list.
Externally changes were kept to a minimum and, in the UK at least, a CSi can be easily mistaken for the 840i Sport models as they shared the same deeper front air dam, side sill additions and diffuser between the quad, round exhausts. Inside there were few changes of note, although the 180mph speedo with its red needles was a bit of a giveaway that this machine offered better performance than the normal 850i. BMW quoted a 0-62mph time of 6.0 seconds and a standing kilometre figure of 25.5 seconds – decent figures for its day, but there was no disguising the fact that an 850CSi tipped the scales at a not inconsiderable 1865kg and there’s no hiding that bulk when trying to get the car off the line. Nigh on 25 years later those performance figures are comfortably beaten by a 640i Coupé (5.3 and 24.8 seconds respectively), and obliterated by an M6 Coupé’s 4.2- and 21.7-second times.
However, one should never judge a car by its raw statistics and a trip up to Cariconics (who happen to have a rather lovely 850CSi in stock) proves this admirably. BMW made just 160 right-hand drive CSis which makes it a very rare beast – there are fewer RHD 850CSis than E28 M5s for example – and #Cariconics reckons this is the only Ascot green righthooker in existence. It’s a late model machine, from #1995 , and in the low wintry sun it really does look the part. As the years go on the Eight’s shape looks just better and better to my eyes, having an almost timeless elegance, aided by its lack of obvious aerodynamic addenda such as tacked on spoilers and its low nose line thanks to the pop-up headlights.
Cariconics specialises in the best of the best and this CSi has been treated to a thorough going over by a main dealer to ensure it’s in fine fettle. Recent work includes eye-wateringly expensive rear exhaust sections, a new air conditioning condenser and auxiliary fan, rear top mounts and a full service. At first glance its £35k price tag might seem expensive but it has virtually everything going for it in terms of rarity, desirability and collectibility, and let’s face it how many other V12-engined 1990s GTs with a manual gearbox can be bought for this sort of money? The proof of the pudding is in the eating, though, so once we’ve got the images safely embedded on a memory card it’s time to take the CSi for a bit of a drive to see if my memories of how good the car is are correct.
Slipping into the cockpit is a little bit of an odd experience as so much of the Eight’s interior is so unlike every other BMW you’ve ever come across. Not better or worse per se, just different. The centre console is a dominant force acting as a divider between driver and passenger and its sloping angled fascia containing the on-board computer, integrated stereo and heating and ventilation controls looks strangely unfamiliar despite its contents coming from the BMW parts bin. The dashpod is alien, too, with the overlapping rev counter and speedo, not something we’ve seen before on since in a BMW.
Twisting the key elicits the unusual brief starter motor whine that, again, sounds like no other BMW (well, it’ll be familiar to owners of 1980s and 1990s BMW V12s but no others), although in this application there’s a hint more depth to it, as if turning over the 5.6-litre V12 is a slightly more arduous task then calling the ‘normal’ V12 into life.
The controls operate in the expected BMW fashion though and there’s a reassuring familiarity about the stalks and pedal interfaces and even the gearbox, which feels heavier than most BMWs at slow speeds, soon takes on an air of typical BMW efficiency. I spend the first few miles reacquainting myself with the car – it’s years since I last drove an Eight – and it’s worth getting used to the car’s size and guessing where some of the car’s extremities are before delving deeper into the performance envelope. But when I do it’s a thoroughly enjoyable experience with the V12 feeling unburstable and doling out huge servings of torque in the mid-range.
Pretty soon I’m hooning along the back roads at a pretty decent lick and despite this type of environment not being the car’s métier I can’t help but marvel how well it copes with the tighter stuff, the brakes washing off excess speed without breaking into a sweat and the car’s underpinnings helping to make it feel far more nimble than a nigh-on two-ton GT has any right to. The fast sweeping sections of road hint at where the CSi’s real forte lies: crushing mile upon mile of fast, flowing A-roads – the exhaust signalling its approval with a cultured soundtrack and that clever AHK system helping the car to corner fast and with an unflappable feeling. As a way of crossing continents this car still has few peers.
As we head back to Cariconic’s HQ I can’t help but feel that the CSi really should have been given an M moniker. Kalbfell who was head of M in the 1990s suggested it missed out because the V12 didn’t adhere to M’s high-revving engine concept but perhaps it’s because leading lights such as Richter knew the true M8 had been built and shelved and thus they didn’t want what perhaps they saw as an ‘M-lite’ machine to be given the honour of the M badge. Either way, the 850CSi remains one of M’s greats and is so much more satisfying than the 850i that I sampled all the way back in 1989.
Tel: 07834 620589
TECHNICAL DATA #BMW-E31 / #BMW-850CSi / #BMW-850CSi-E31 / #BMW
ENGINE: #V12 , 24-valve / #S70B56 / #S70 / #BMW-S70 /
MAX POWER: 380hp @ 5300rpm
MAX TORQUE: 406lb ft @ 4000rpm
TOP SPEED: 155mph (limited)
0-62MPH: 6.0 seconds
NUMBER PRODUCED: 1510
YEAR PRODUCED: 1992 to 1996
PRICE WHEN NEW: £77,500
Externally there were few clues that this was the flagship £77k coupé bar the M mirrors and CSi script.Stream item published successfully. Item will now be visible on your stream.