• BMW 767iL

When BMW Built a V16 Called Goldfisch to Put in the 7 Series

The 767iL prototype was a widebody jet from the Bavarians

Evan Williams By: Evan Williams November 5, 2019

Remember when BMW tried to develop a sixteen-cylinder engine to stuff under the bonnet of the 7 Series? With an engine that was meant not just to show off what BMW could do on the top end, but that their designs were so flexible that a three-cylinder and a 16 could be based on the same architecture? No? Well BMW Group Classic would like to remind you of the Goldfisch.

767. It’s got quite the ring to it, doesn’t it? Possible trademark suits from Boeing aside, the 767iL prototype was a widebody jet from the Bavarians that unfortunately never saw production. A 6.7L engine with 16 cylinders that was based on the V12 that BMW did put into series production for the 7 Series as well as the 8. The company started work on this one back in 1987, and it was an impressive technological feat.

Where the standard 5.0L V12 of the time made 295 hp, a good figure then, the Goldfisch put out somewhere around 400 hp. Massive for 1987, still impressive by today’s figures.

To help develop it beyond the dyno, BMW put it into an E32-gen 750iL, so it was called the 767iL. Because back then the last two digits in a BMW’s name meant something.

BMW 767iL

BMW 767iL

Adding two cylinders to each bank obviously made the engine longer, but the V12 was already doing an impressive job of filling the E32 engine bay. So BMW moved the cooling system into the trunk, which is why the prototype is fitted with the absurdly massive ducts on the rear fenders. Because those are how the radiator got fresh air, though you’d be forgiven for thinking that it was a rear-engine car with some sort of tiny flat-four in the back.

And take a close look at just how absurd those cooling ducts are. Not only do they stick wildly out from the body, but they’re also longer than the rear door of the long-wheelbase 7. They look to be a bit more than a metre long. Then imagine how the proportions of the E32 would have been ruined by making the engine a third longer and you can see at least two of the reasons why this one didn’t make production.

The engine was more or less fully developed, but when they took it to the bosses to see about production, it was passed on. It was probably better as a thought exercise than a real production piece anyway, though VW Group and the Bugatti W16 might beg to differ.