The BMW M70 is a V12 SOHC piston engine which was BMW's first production V12 and was produced from 1987 to 1996.
The M70 essentially acts as two 2.5L straight-6 engines joined at a 60 degree angle, and shares many design elements from BMW's earlier SOHC engine designs, most notably the M20. The M70 was machined on the same tools as the M40 straight-4 engine, and shares some common parts. Additionally, it carries over the same 84mm bore and bore spacing, 75mm crankshaft stroke and six cylinder bank(s) of the 2.5 litre M20. The M70 has two Motronic 1.7 ECUs (one for each cylinder bank).
This said, the M70 engine does differ from earlier designs in a number of key ways, including:
AluSil block, in place of the cast-iron used in all previous engines. The oil pump is mounted on the block underside and not in the front timing cover.
Mass Airflow Meters (MAF) are used instead of the more dated Air Flow Meter (AFM) design. The former is a more straight through design, similar to those employed in later BMW engines such as the I6M50, M52, and V8 M60, M62 etc. This gives a more responsive and accurate measurement than the older AFM style, aiding fuel economy
Electronic Throttle Control is used in most markets instead of the cable setup common in other BMW engines until the later 1990s. For the most part this was surprisingly reliable system despite its complexity, particularly for the time. However issues with the DK throttle bodies is well documented
A Timing Chain was used instead of the camshaft belt found in the M20 and M40.
Hydraulic valve lifters are also used, rather than the mechanically adjusted tappets used in earlier engines including the M20. This was primarily due to ease of servicing. The M20 engines require tappets to be adjusted every 30,000 miles (50,000 km). However, due to the dual crossover banks on the M70, this would require removal of the intake manifolds to service.
Some parts are interchangeable between the M40 and M70 - valves, rockers, tappets and connecting rods. Minimal parts are interchangeable between the M20 and M70 engines. Spark plugs, leads for the right bank, air filter (but not air box), and the late style front mount M20 distributor caps and rotors are all cross compatible with M70 engines, however virtually everything else is M70 V12 specific.
Some examples of this engine are fitted with two alternators, such as in the E32 750iL Highline. One alternator is a full sized unit to service the car as on "regular" V12 models (regular to be taken in context of course), while the secondary smaller unit is used to charge an auxiliary battery and power all options in the rear passenger compartment, such as telephones and fax machines, as well as the wine cooler, independent climate control and power sun shields.
The compression ratio is 8.8:1, stroke is 75 mm (3.0 in) and bore is 84 mm (3.3 in).
4,988 cc (304 cu in)
220 kW (300 hp) @ 5200
450 N·m (330 lb·ft) @ 4100
5,576 cc (340 cu in)
280 kW (380 hp) @ 5300
550 N·m (410 lb·ft) @ 4000
6,064 cc (370 cu in)
461 kW (618 hp) @ 7400
650 N·m (480 lb·ft) @ 6700
5,990 cc (366 cu in)
448 kW (601 hp) @ 7500
651 N·m (480 lb·ft) @ 5600
1987–1994 E32 750i/750iL - this was mated exclusively an automatic ZF 4HP24 transmission
1989–1994 E31 850i/850Ci - this was mated to either the automatic ZF 4HP24 transmission or the optional Getrag 560G
This is a 5,576 cc (340 cu in) variant of the M70 engine fitted only to the E31 850CSi. With 1,510 units produced, this is the lowest production BMW engine to date.
1992–1996 E31 850CSi
The S70/2, while sharing the same 12 cylinder layout and design principle as the S70B56, is essentially two European market S50s joined together, and thus features 4 valves per cylinder and variable valve timing (called dual-VANOS by BMW) a dry sump oiling system and individual throttle bodies. Unlike the M70, it does not have hydraulic valve lifters, and as such requires routine valve adjustment.