6 Best BMW Engines of All Time
There’s a reason why BMW is considered the Ultimate Driving Machine. For decades, they have been designing and making some of the most legendary engines of all time. Here’s a list of our favorite BMW engines. Give it a read and let us know if you agree in the comments below!
From the inline 6-cylinder BMW IIIa aircraft engine built in 1917 to the modern s55 twin-turbo engine found in the M4, there has been a lot of high-qualify technology in between. BMW has a proud history of producing some of the best engines ever made whether you’re enjoying them as a road car or beating the snot out of them on the racetrack, BMW engines have been named the coveted International Engine of the Year 62 times — more than any other manufacturer and twice as often as its closest competitors.
1. M88 (3.5 Liter Naturally Aspirated I6)
The M88 was the first M engine built by BMW and powered the M1 supercar. Depending on the car it was in, it could create from 215 HP to 282 HP with a 6,500 RPM redline — a big deal when it was created in the late 70s. It was also used in the Group 5 race series in the BMW 3.0 CSL, which was raced in Europe and the U.S., and made upwards of 800 HP at 9,000 RPM.
A powerful engine, it produced one of the sweetest sounds you’ve ever heard in an engine.
2. S14 B23/B25 (2.5 Liter Inline Four)
This engine makes the list because the S14 is still in use in various competitions and race series today despite not being manufactured after 1991. It also was the first M3 and the basis for the E30 M3 Group A, arguably the winningest touring car to date.
From the S14B23 EVO 2 with 217 HP to the S14B25 EVO 3 with 280 HP, it packed a punch for an inline four. The 2.5 liter makes 235 hp at 7,000 RPM and produces 177 pound-foot of torque at 4,750.
In its time, it was easily the best four-cylinder available.
3. S65 (4.0 Liter Naturally Aspirated V8)
Produced from 2007-2013, the S65’s main use was in the BMW M3. It remains one of the favorites of BMW enthusiasts today. The 4.0 liter naturally aspirated V8 can rev to nearly 9,000 RPM. It’s unmatched when it comes to excitement as drivers experience a rifle shot crack at each upshift and redlines to 8,450 RPM. By the way, it made 444 HP in its latest version. The race version of the S65 engine was named the P65.
There’s no other motorsport-version BMW M engine that’s produced more modern racing success, including back-to-back championships in ALMS racing and a Grand-Am and Daytona victory.
4. M10 (1.5 Liter Overhead-Camshaft Four)
Perhaps its most significant engine, BMW’s M10 didn’t have six cylinders. The M10 was the company’s first four-cylinder engine since they stopped producing the 309 in 1936. BMW’s M10 was introduced in a new class of sedans and used in many models over the years – the company produced more than 3.5 million M10 engines between 1962 and 1988.
Importantly, the twin-cam turbocharged M12 engine, which was used in Formula One racing, was based on the M10 engine block. It had a maximum output of 1,400 HP in 1986.
5. S55 (3.0 Liter Twin Turbocharged I6)
The S55 is often criticized by die-hard BMW enthusiasts. It doesn’t make that deep and booming sound that other BMW M3 engines can generate. However, it’s got power to spare.
425 HP and 406 pound-foot of torque, along with a decided lack of “turbo lag” make it a top performer. It’s smooth in operation and can feel almost naturally aspirated at times.
6. S63 (4.4 Liter Twin Turbocharged V8)
The S63 is an incredible smooth piece of machinery. Lasting about a decade, the current version is being used in M5, M6, and X5/X6 M cars.
The 4.4 liter twin turbocharges V8 is the most powerful BMW ever made nameplate, built into the BMW M5 “30 Jahre M5” limited edition to mark the 30th anniversary of the BMW M5. Just 300 of these cars were ever produced and are considered the most powerful automobile ever produced in BMW history going from zero to 60+ (100 km/h) in less than 4 seconds.
How Does This List Stack Up Against Yours?
BMW has designed and manufactured some of the most legendary engines ever made. The combination of high revving and free performance with a surprising smoothness has put BMW engines at the top of many performance driver’s wish lists. When it comes to racing, few manufacturers have had as much widespread — and varied — success in motorsports.
Which BMW engines would make your list of the greatest of all time? We’d love to hear! At Condor Speed Shop, we live and breathe BMW engines, performance parts and racing.
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