As the car that kicked off this foray into V12s, I thought I'd pick the BMW M760Li xDrive. Not because it's the obvious choice, but because I have fond memories of it. In 2017 I drove BMW UK's first right-hand-drive car 700 miles from Megève, in the French Alps, to Britain. It was a joyful experience. Officially, this wasn't an M7, but it could've been. The twin-turbo, 6.6-litre, N74 V12 made 610hp and dished out so much torque it could've subbed for a John Deere. I am not joking - 590lb ft is roughly what a jolly green 6175R tractor uses to pull a plough.
And because all that plough-pulling poke begins at just 1,500rpm, the M760Li's performance came as effortlessly as breathing. Straight-line speed wasn't all it was about, though. It could also be fun. Genuinely. The xDrive was fantastic in snowy Alpine drifts and a dab hand at drifts itself. During the photoshoot at Chobham, this great, two-tonne 'barge' was doing a tail-happy dance as easily as any bona fide M car.
The rest of the time it was as restful and calming as a spa weekend delivered by the Dalai Lama. Blasting through France it ate up miles with the detached serenity of a Eurostar train. But oddly, one of my favourite things about V12s - all of them, not just the N74 - is how smooth they are before even running. Hit the starter with anything else and there's that unruly wah-wah-wah-wah as the engine cranks. But a V12, with its twelve compression points per rotation, whirs away sublimely. I marvelled at that the first time I ignited one and then every time since. So now the V12 flame is burning out, I will miss them dearly. JH
2015 was a big year for me. I bought my first house and, more importantly, my first Renaultsport, I built my first Caterham and went to the 24 Hours of Le Mans for the very first time as well. The latter was three firsts rolled into one, as it was also the first time I drove an Aston Martin and experienced a V12.
This gorgeous Onyx Black example was also built in 2015, so it seems fitting for this Six of the Best. It may not be the fastest or most dramatic V12 on this list, but our choices are almost always driven by nostalgia, and that LM weekend with a V12 Vantage S will always be one of my favourite memories from PH.
The Sportshift automated manual takes some getting used to, but this car benefits from the Sportshift III 'box, which is the best of the bunch. But you're not buying this car for the gearbox - you're buying it for that glorious 573hp V12 that has been masterfully shoehorned into a Vantage engine bay. I can still hear it now. We published our Buying Guide a year ago and at the time, you could buy a Vantage V12 for £60k with 40k miles. Today, the cheapest equivalent is £72k on PH and values are surely only going one way. So, what are you waiting for? BL
You probably remember where you first heard about Pagani. For most of you (and me), it was on that old pokey motoring show on BBC2. So old, in fact, the Pagani Zonda was on the very first episode of the 'new' Top Gear, and was only the second car The Stig ever drove around Dunsfold back in 2002. He raced it against the Murcielago - the Zonda was six seconds quicker.
It was, no doubt about it, a cool car. The centrally placed exhaust, the sleek nose (so low you'd struggle to get it up an inclined driveway), the four headlights staring at you like some sort of creepy crawly. And, of course, that wonderful 7.3-litre Mercedes-Benz M120 V12 engine, with 555hp. I could keep waxing lyrical about what a poster-child the Zonda was, but, perhaps unsurprisingly, there aren't any listed in the PistonHeads classifieds, and that is the name of the game for this task. Damn.
So forget the Zonda - let's talk Huayras. Specifically, this incredible Roadster, one of just 100 ever produced, which boasts 764hp and 737lb ft from its 6.0-litre engine. Another stunning Pagani, powered by another stunning AMG V12 - a match made in heaven. UK registered in 2020, it's covered just 37 miles with one owner since then. Despite being domiciled here, it is left-hand-drive, but if anything's going to scare you about having your own Nero Blackstar, carbon-fibre Roadster, it's not going to be having the wheel on the wrong side. What might scare you is the price. It's £2.8m. But as the classified page so kindly reminds us, there is the option to 'Finance this car'. So that helps. BW
Everyone has a dream garage. It might have two cars in, it might have two hundred, but we all have those vehicles that we'd buy as soon as the Lotto win landed. I most certainly do, but it changes with the wind. The only constant is the Ferrari 812 Superfast. No, really - it would be the first buy. I first drove one almost four years ago, and haven't gone many hours since without mentioning how unutterably wonderful it was.
Why? Plenty of things, but for the sake of this we'll focus on the engine. The F140 GA V12 might be Ferrari at its finest; there are more powerful iterations (the F140 GC, HB and HC, since you're asking) but they're all in crazy-expensive exotica. And there's still 800hp (!) in this one, with the most exhilarating rush to peak power at 8,900rpm. There's not a more thrilling experience in road cars than an 812 when the blue shift lights are lit, I'm sure.
Which made one an easy choice to celebrate great V12s - because there might not be one greater. This Superfast, to me, is particularly fantastic: red wouldn't be my first choice for a V12 Ferrari, but Rosso Fiorano Metallizzato is stunning. Add to that silver wheels, tan leather, and some carbon goodies, and it's pretty much the perfect example of my favourite modern Ferrari. Which would make it a quarter of a million from the jackpot very well spent. MB
While you'll certainly find more impressive, shoutier V12s out there, I've gone with the Jaguar XJS V12 for two key reasons. Firstly, to me it stands out as something underappreciated, quiet, and unassuming - yet powerful. Secondly, I actually own one! Having driven my XJ-S around the NC500 last summer, I feel somewhat qualified to speak for the big cat's ability to tirelessly devour miles, but that's a story for another day...
For now, some history. Beginning its life with the significant disadvantage of being the successor to the captivating E-Type, the XJ-S was immediately (and now infamously) criticised for not being an E-Type. Pundits baulked at the styling, particularly the 'flying buttresses', as well as its voracious thirst. Concerns, however, were soon allayed, as the motoring community came to appreciate the refined power, comfortable road feel, and the luxurious setting you got with this true grand tourer. History eventually silenced the naysayers as the XJ-S (or XJS, depending on the period) remained in production for over 20 years, and even won the Bathurst 1000 in 1985.
Regarding the topic of the day, the 5.3-litre, 12-cylinder behemoth under the bonnet, there have been many iterations over the years with varying degrees of power, capacity, reliability, and efficiency. This one, I feel, strikes a great balance. Being an HE (high efficiency) you can expect a thrifty, um, 15-20mpg, while producing almost 300hp. This vehicle itself is beautiful in my eyes: a chrome-bumpered, quad-headlight coupe in maroon over cream lather - with the added bonus of being a Le Mans special edition. This would certainly tempt, if I hadn't scratched the itch already. AF
We had an Aventador join us in convoy to Le Mans back in 2016; alas, I was in a Jeep following the Lamborghini, but it probably sounded better on the outside than on the inside anyway. The exhaust note bouncing around the French tunnels still resonates through my ears today; it was like no noise I'd heard on the public roads before. You could hear it long before you could see it, as drivers craned their necks expecting to see an early-90s F1 car overtake them.
I was going to choose a 'regular' LP700-4 just like that one. Considering early ones can be bought for a little over half their new price, they look like good value. But I've opted for something slightly more special and much more expensive: the LP 770-4 SVJ. I've only ever ridden shotgun in one of these when we had the press car in 2019, constrained to little more than walking pace it seemed, but the big Lambo still looked and sounded magnificent.
There are only a handful to choose from in the classifieds currently, so really it comes down to colour choice. I've gone for green this time, but I'm not picky on colour - just give me one! High on the Lotto win list and if my numbers ever come up, you'll find me in the Hindhead tunnel (and the petrol station...) every single day. SL
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