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The Secret V-16 BMW That Never Saw the Light

13 Apr 2024
  • What innovations and engineering feats distinguished BMW's 1990 750iL V-16 Goldfish sedan from its predecessors and contemporaries in the automotive industry?

In the late 1980s, BMW was at the forefront of pushing automotive boundaries with its ambitious plans for a luxury sedan beyond its flagship 7 Series. Among its notable experiments was the creation of a secret project known as the "Goldfish," which unveiled an intriguing blend of design, power, and size that could have redefined BMW's luxury lineup.

The story begins with the "Goldfish" project in 1988, where BMW astonished enthusiasts with a one-off sedan featuring a colossal V-16 engine. This bespoke creation, often referred to as the "Super Seven," demonstrated BMW's eagerness to venture beyond conventional luxury sedan norms. However, what remained hidden for decades was a subsequent development that took shape in 1990—a mysterious sequel to the original Goldfish.

A Bold Chapter in Automotive Innovation

A Bold Chapter in Automotive Innovation

Unveiled recently at the Techno-Classica Essen event, this secret sedan was a true gem of automotive history. Crafted under the leadership of designer Boyke Boyer, the 1990 BMW 750iL V-16 "Goldfish" embodied a sophisticated fusion of BMW's iconic E32 and upcoming E38 design languages. At the core of this behemoth was a 6.6-liter V-16 engine—an evolution of BMW's existing V-12 powerplant, amped up to deliver an impressive 348 horsepower.

What set this newer Goldfish apart from its predecessor was not only its refined aesthetics but also its practical engineering solutions. Unlike the original, which sported dramatic air scoops and fiberglass gills, the 1990 Goldfish featured a smoother profile, concealing its enhanced cooling systems ingeniously repositioned to the rear. This shift allowed for a more streamlined design, harmonizing with BMW's evolving design philosophy.

Size was another notable aspect of the 1990 Goldfish. Surpassing the dimensions of the 7 Series E32 of its era, this sedan stretched over 214.5 inches in length—exceeding even contemporary luxury standards. Despite its substantial footprint, BMW managed to balance the Goldfish's grandeur with elegance, positioning it as a testament to automotive innovation and luxury.

BMW's ambitious experimentation with the V-16 engine, however, was not without its peers in the industry. Mercedes-Benz, BMW's perennial rival, reportedly explored the concept of an 18-cylinder engine for its flagship S-Class—a testament to the era's fascination with engineering marvels beyond conventional V-12 configurations.

Ultimately, the fate of the Goldfish project mirrored the trajectory of its counterparts in the automotive industry. As BMW's focus shifted towards other ventures, including the acquisition of Rolls-Royce, the vision of a V-16 flagship sedan faded into obscurity. Rolls-Royce later became the canvas for BMW's renewed exploration of ultra-luxury motoring, albeit with engines of different specifications.

While the 1990 BMW 750iL V-16 "Goldfish" remains a captivating footnote in automotive lore, its legacy underscores BMW's daring spirit of innovation. Although the V-16 dream never materialized beyond these prototypes, the Goldfish exemplifies an era when automakers dared to dream beyond the ordinary—creating legends that continue to fascinate enthusiasts to this day.

Wael Nakhle

BY Wael Nakhle

Wael is an automotive content writer specializes in creating written content for Motor 283. Producing a wide range of content, including blog posts, articles, product descriptions, reviews, and technical guides related to cars, trucks, motorcycles, and other vehicles, with an unprecedented passion for cars, and motorcycles.

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