Home Cars 30 V12-Engine Cars That Created Automotive History

30 V12-Engine Cars That Created Automotive History

Vukasin Herbez December 10, 2018

For almost century and a half of the internal combustion engine, there have been numerous engine configurations on the market. They range from the standard four, six and eight cylinder motors to the strange three and five-cylinder engines. And no one can forget about those radial, boxer and rotary Wankel units. There are a dozen ways of making good car engine.

However, out of all those configurations, the V12 is the most sought-after, powerful and expensive to buy and maintain. For those who don’t know, the V12 is a 12-cylinder engine that can use either gasoline or diesel fuel. They consist of cylinders in two banks in a “V” shaped form. Most people consider the V12 engine to be the pinnacle of automotive engineering.

The V12 motor is the top of the line power plant in terms of power, torque and smoothness, too. Regardless of the displacement or actual power, the V12 engines deliver turbine-like acceleration. And with its torque throughout the rev range, car fans can expect a special driving feel. But the V12 is also the most expensive engine option.

A V12 can cost a fortune to feed and properly maintain. That is why they use the V12 in lots of super luxury and performance cars. So, read on to learn much more about the best V12-powered cars that made history. These vehicles established this engine configuration as the most sought-after option in the car world.

  1. Packard Twin Six

Even though the American car industry rarely introduced V12 engines after the Second World War, several U.S.-based manufacturers produced some interesting and desirable V12-powered cars. The first was the 1916 Packard Twin Six, which was widely recognized as one of the first V12 powered road cars ever made.

This luxury car had 85 HP, which was considered a big number in those days. Drivers got smooth acceleration with loads of torque, too. They produced the Twin Six until 1923, making over 35,000 of them.

  1. Lincoln K-Series

The K-Series was a true world class automobile that could rival anything from Cadillac, Packard, Mercedes or Duesenberg. Powered by a brand new and massive 447 cubic inch V12, the K-Series delivered 150 HP and a serious performance by the standards of the day. Lincoln offered the K-Series in many body styles. Also, you could order special coach-built body, which many customers did.

  1. Lagonda V12

Mostly unknown to most modern car enthusiasts, the Lagonda was a British luxury brand later absorbed by Aston Martin. In 1937, they introduced the Lagonda V12. It was a high class, luxury roadster powered by a state of the art V12 engine, according to the standards of the day. It displaced 4.5-liters, producing 180 to 200 HP. The car was well-received and due to its big power, was one of the fastest cars of the late ‘30s.

  1. Lincoln Continental V12

In 1939, Lincoln introduced the Continental model, which is still the nameplate people commonly associate with this brand. The company wanted a car with a European or Continental appearance and style. So, they took a Zephyr chassis and V12 engine and put it in a gorgeous coupe and convertible body.

The Continental even featured a spare wheel on the trunk that later became a trademark detail on many future Continental cars. This first-generation Continental proved to be popular since the V12 engine had loads of power. Also, the car looked like a million dollars while cruising the streets. Production lasted until 1948. Interestingly, it was the last V12 car a major U.S. manufacturer made,

  1. Ferrari 125 S

In 1947, Ferrari, as most people know it today, introduced its first real car, which was the 125. This was a small roadster that people could use as a road car and a racer, as well. Under the hood was a 1.5-liter V12 engine with 118 HP, so it delivered a vivid performance by the standards of the day.

  1. Ferrari 250 GTO

Probably the most legendary, sought after and valuable classic Ferrari is the 250 GTO. They introduced the car in 1962 as a high performance/racing version of the 250 series. In fact, it was a separate model due to numerous changes to the engine and chassis. The 3.0-liter V12 delivered around 300 HP, so the car was sure winner on race tracks all over the world.

  1. Lamborghini Miura

Many enthusiasts will claim that the Miura is the first proper supercar in the world. And to be honest, it has all the right ingredients: a fantastic design, as well as crazy power and performance numbers. However, it came with a hefty price tag and they produced it in limited quantities. The Miura was also the first car to feature several technical solutions that later became mandatory features in the supercar segment.

And even if it wasn’t the first, it is certainly one the most influential and iconic supercars of all time. Part of that appeal comes from the 4.0-liter V12 motor they transversally mounted behind the driver. It delivers a mind-blowing 350 HP to the rear wheels in a furious fashion with a thundering soundtrack.

  1. Ferrari 410 Superamerica

Pushing the boundaries of engine capacity and construction, Ferrari introduced the 410 Superamerica in 1955. It had a 5.0-liter V12 with 340 horses they based on racing engines and it delivered a brutal performance. Ferrari built just 35 of them until 1959.

  1. Jaguar E-Type Series III V12

Introduced in 1961, the Jaguar E-Type was a sensation on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean. Despite Jaguar’s long-lasting tradition of building fine sports cars, the E-Type was years ahead of its time. It came with a superb design, four-wheel disk brakes, an independent rear suspension and a powerful straight-six engine.

However, in 1971, they unveiled the E-Type Series III. Under the long hood, there was a 5.3-liter V12 engine pumping out approximately 280 HP, which transformed the E Type into a comfortable long-distance cruiser.

  1. Lamborghini Espada

When it first entered the car world, the Espada drew a lot of attention. In fact, it even received some criticism for its unusual styling, almost flat roofline and wagon-esque profile. However, these features allowed for substantial room inside the car, so four adults with their luggage could easily travel long distances.

The power came from the legendary Lamborghini 4.0-liter V12 engine, which was and still is a piece of mechanical art. It has four camshafts, eight Weber carburetors, and delivers up to 350 HP.

  1. Ferrari 365 GTB/4 Daytona

Ferrari presented the Daytona in 1968 and it proved to be an extremely important, advanced car. It featured four camshafts on an upgraded 4.4-liter V12 engine. Also, it came with an independent rear suspension, discs all around and a transaxle gearbox. Along with producing a whopping 300 HP, this engine made the Daytona one of the best and fastest GT cars of the period.

  1. Lamborghini Countach

The Countach is probably the best-known supercar of its day. There is no doubt it was the most popular poster car on most kid’s walls in the ‘70s and ‘80s. Lamborghini introduced it in 1974 as a concept car. But soon, it became a reality for wealthy playboys of the day. The Countach was notoriously hard to drive and cramped inside, but nevertheless, it was a legendary car.

All Countach models had the V12 and with a displacement ranging from 4.0 to 5.2-liters. Since they presented the Countach in the ‘70s during the oil crisis, a big, thirsty V12 under the hood was a brave thing for them to do.

  1. BMW 750iL

Back in 1986, BMW introduced the 750iL, the range-topping luxury sedan from the 7-Series range. However, under the hood was a newly designed 5.0-liter V12 engine producing 295 HP and 332 lb-ft of torque. It was the first BMW V12 engine and they constructed it using two six-cylinder units they welded together. And from 1987 until present times, V12 engines are a part of BMW’s portfolio.

  1. Toyota Century

To perfectly describe the Toyota Century, you must compare it to Rolls Royce, but not to a Cadillac, which was the symbol of the automotive luxury in those days. They hand-built the Century in limited production, designing it to be a highly-formal limousine for the Japanese royal family as well as for high ranking Yakuza members. The second generation had a Toyota hand-built 5.0-liter V12 engine they styled solely for this model in just in few copies.

  1. Lamborghini LM002

Interestingly, the LM002 is somewhere between a truck and an SUV because it has four doors and a truck bed behind. This crazy creation debuted in the mid-80s as Lamborghini’s attempt to enter the world of luxury SUVs to widen its appeal.

The 5.2-liter unit with 400 HP was the same as you would find in the legendary Countach. For those buyers who thought 400 HP was not enough, they could offer the LM002 with a 7.3-liter monster V12 engine from a racing boat.

  1. Mercedes S600

Even though Mercedes is one of the world’s premier luxury brands, they waited to introduce a V12 engine in their cars. The first V12 Mercedes was the W140, a legendary S-Class model from the ’90s. The S600 featured a 6.0-liter V12 engine with 445 HP. It delivered a rapid performance even though the car was quite heavy and full of luxury features.

  1. Bugatti EB 110

Before the mighty Bugatti Veyron or the new Chiron they developed with Volkswagen’s money, there was the early ‘90s Bugatti. But, they only produced one model they called the EB 110. And it was only on the market for just a few short years.

The EB 110 SS was powered by a 3.5-liter quad turbo V12 delivering 600 HP with a 0 to 60 mph acceleration time of 3.2 seconds. However, the EB 110 SS cost over half a million dollars new and they never sold them in the USA.

  1. McLaren F1

There is so much written about the F1, including the design and production. But most car fans would agree that it changed the supercar world forever. So, here are the basics. They revealed the F1 in 1992 and it stayed in production until 1998.

During that period, McLaren produced 106 cars, including the GT-R version, which was a highly successful racing model. The F1 featured a bespoke 6.1-liter V12 engine BMW Motorsport made. It delivered a whopping 627 HP, using a six-speed manual transmission.

  1. Ferrari F50

While the Ferrari F40 had the twin turbo V8, its successor, the F50 returned to the naturally aspirated V12 formula. The idea behind the F50 was to present a Formula One car with license plates. But, behind the passengers was a racecar-derived 4.9-liter V12 pumping out an amazing 520 HP to provide a fantastic performance.

  1. Pagani Zonda

One of the most interesting members of the highly exclusive V12 supercar society is Pagani. They stole the spotlight from the automotive public with their fantastic Zonda. Powered by a Mercedes AMG V12 and almost entirely consisting of carbon fiber, the Zonda is extreme in all aspects. In fact, it is highly praised by people who are lucky enough to take it for a spin.

  1. Audi Q7 V12 TDI

All the cars on this list are either luxury or sports models. And all of them use gasoline-powered V12 engines, except the 2008 to 2012 Audi Q7 V12 TDI. And the TDI stands for turbocharged direct injection. Back in 2008, Audi presented 6.0-liter, V12 engine that used diesel fuel with a rating of 500 HP and 740 lb-ft of torque.

This was one of the most powerful diesel passenger cars diesel engines they ever built. In fact, it was the only diesel V12 they used in a road-going vehicle. The sales numbers weren’t that great, but the Q7 V12 TDI became infamous in automotive history.

  1. Rolls Royce Phantom

As the world’s most luxurious brand, the Rolls engineers naturally chose the V12 to power their Phantom super limousine. The BMW-derived 6.6-liter twin turbo V12 is not only super powerful at 650 HP, but also unbelievably smooth. In fact, it is just as you would expect from an engine that powers “the world`s most exquisite car.”

  1. Pagani Huayra

The Zonda was tough to replace with its superior performance and looks, but Pagani managed to surprise the automotive world again. The Huayra follows a proven recipe with its AMG-derived V12, carbon fiber body, perfect engineering, and sublime speed. And that’s more than enough to feature it on this list.

  1. Lamborghini Diablo

Coming from a long line of world-class supercars, the Diablo was the definitive ’90s, Lamborghini. It had a screaming V12 behind the driver and Lambo-styled scissors doors. Also, it had a 200 mph top speed with a glorious soundtrack. However, it was only available as a manual and air conditioning was an option.

  1. Ferrari 812 Superfast

Officially called the 812 Superfast, this car is the newest Gran Turismo Ferrari introduced in late 2017. The power comes from the new 6.5-liter V12 engine producing a mind-blowing 800 HP. Ferrari declares this model as its fastest naturally-aspirated V12 car. In fact, it is one of the most powerful naturally-aspirated cars the car industry has ever seen.

  1. Hongqi L5

Nobody would blame you if you don’t know about this car. The Hongqi is a Chinese brand of luxury vehicles mostly unknown to outsiders. The power comes from a 6.0-liter V12 engine producing 408 HP that sends the power to all four wheels. With a base price of over $700,000, the Hongqi L5 is an exclusive limousine, yet they only offer it on the domestic market.

  1. Maybach 57 and 62

Mercedes designed this next car to be a direct competitor to the Rolls Royce Phantom. And they prepared two versions of their new flagship sedan, the Maybach 57 and the Maybach 62. They gave the number designation according to the length of the car in decimeters. Both versions get their power from a twin-turbo 6.0-liter V12 engine with 603 HP and 738 lb-ft of torque.

  1. Aston Martin 0-77

Back in 2009, Aston Marin presented an exclusive series of just 77 cars. The model was called 0-77 and it was the best, fastest and most expensive Gran Turismo coupe they ever produced. Under the hood was a 7.3-liter V12 engine pumping out 750 HP with 540 lb-ft of torque.

  1. Maserati MC-12

If you think the Ferrari Enzo is not the prettiest supercar on the planet, but you love the design and performance, then the Maserati MC12 is the car for you. Built on the same platform with the same drivetrain and V12 engine, the MC12 is slightly longer, a bit more comfortable and much better looking. Also, it is much rarer than the Enzo.

  1. Lamborghini Aventador

The Aventador is a successor of the long line of V12-powered supercars. It draws its inspiration from such legends as the Countach, Diablo or Miura and uses the same formula. It comes with a crazy, wedge-shaped design, a big V12 behind the driver and brutal performance. The Aventador has 6.5-litre V12 that produces an astronomical 700 HP and 510 lb-ft of torque.

These are the top 30 V12-engine cars that created automotive history with their crazy numbers and mind-numbing performance. Did you find your favorite? If so, you’d better start saving up since none of them come with a small price tag. Even so, you’ll be the envy of your neighborhood with one of these cars in your driveway.

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