A few years ago, we already reported on a Super 7 of the E32 series with the code name "Goldfish". Behind it was the installation of a sixteen-cylinder engine. You read correctly: a V16. Now BMW is showing another prototype from 1990 at the Techno Classica 2024 in Essen. A real surprise...

But first things first. The secret 7 Series was supposed to be faster and more stable than the most powerful S-Class of the late 1980s - at least that was BMW's original goal. Presumably they were aware that Mercedes-Benz was working on a 600 SE/SEL with over 400 PS. And even more, engine boss Kurt Obländer is said to have developed an eight-litre V16 with around 540 PS ready for series production for the initially planned "800 SEL" model of the W 140.

Gallery: BMW 750iL V16 Goldfish (1990)

The Bavarian company decided to modify the existing M70 V12 engine and add four cylinders. The result was a 6.7-litre V16 engine and a special engine management system in which the unit was treated like two eight-cylinder engines in series.

The (unofficial) "767iL" had a six-speed manual gearbox and produced 408 PS and 613 Newton metres of torque. This was enough to sprint from 0 to 62 mph in just over six seconds. The top speed was given as 174 mph.

But there was one major problem. The 310-kilogram V16 was longer than the V12 in the E32 and left no room for cooling under the bonnet. This meant that the entire cooling system, together with gigantic fibreglass gills and air scoops to help the engine breathe, was relocated to the boot.

BMW 750iL V16

BMW 750iL V16 "Goldfish" (1987)

This is probably where the nickname "Goldfish" came from. The cooling situation in the rear also meant visual changes, which prompted the designers to opt for smaller rear lights and to remove the fog lights and reversing lights.

The 7 Series would therefore have had to be massively redesigned to accommodate the V16 for the normal user. Officially, environmental concerns were put forward to justify the cancellation of the V16. In both senses of the word: to prevent an "arms race" with other manufacturers, the V16 was never brought into series production. In addition, a more powerful version of the M70 engine, the S70B56 later installed in the BMW 850 CSi, delivered 380 PS and 550 Nm of torque, almost equalling the performance figures of the V16.

All the more interesting is the 750iL V16 from 1990 now on show in Essen. As BMW Classic tells us, you can tell that the vehicle has been in storage for years. This condition was deliberately left almost untouched.

BMW 750iL V16 Goldfisch (1990)

BMW 750iL V16 Goldfish (1990)

BMW 750iL V16 Goldfisch (1990)

BMW 750iL V16 Goldfish (1990)

BMW 750iL V16 Goldfisch (1990)

BMW 750iL V16 Goldfish (1990)

What is striking is the significantly different look to the first “Goldfish”. While this was still an E32, the 1990 V16 shows clear parallels to the 7 Series of the E38 series introduced in 1994, especially at the front and rear. In between, the vehicle looks more like an E32. However, the V16 fit into this prototype without modifications and the rear gills.

According to BMW, the idea was to design a saloon above the 7 Series. This aluminium prototype from an Italian company was created for this purpose. Boyke Boyer was responsible for the design, he actually also designed the later E38.

Under the long bonnet was a longitudinally mounted V16 with a displacement of 6,646 cubic centimetres. Bore and stroke: 84 x 75 mm. Output: 353 PS, plus a five-speed automatic transmission and a top speed of 155 mph. The dimensions of the 1990 goldfish are also interesting: 5.45 metres long, 1.90 metres wide and 1.50 metres high. These are roughly the dimensions of a current 7 Series.

It remained a one-off. BMW may have noticed how much the Mercedes W 140 was attacked in public because of its dimensions. (Today, nobody gets upset about even more gigantic SUVs ...) In addition, markets such as Japan were in crisis at the beginning of the 1990s. It is also conceivable that BMW stopped many non-essential projects from 1994 onwards in the course of the Rover takeover.

The goldfish idea lived on a little after the takeover of Rolls-Royce by BMW. You may discover some goldfish in the Phantom and Ghost. Here, however, V12 engines with biturbo were sufficient for up to 600 PS.

Gallery: BMW 750iL V16 Goldfish