Almost a full decade before the first X5 M hit the market, BMW stuffed an evolution of the S70 V12 of McLaren F1 and BMW V12 LMR fame called the P75 into an E53 X5. It was called the X5 LM, with the LM standing for Le Mans, and even though this all happened over twenty years ago, it seems very few of us have forgotten about what could very well be the ultimate X5. BMW only built a single example, but that didn’t stop Hans-Joachim Stuck from using it to set a Nürburgring lap record of seven minutes and 49 seconds according to BMW M. Stuck’s record would stand for nearly twenty years before being unseated by an SUV lap time of seven minutes, 42.253 seconds.
The V12 engine in the X5 LM has been described as the S70/3 of the BMW V12 LM and V12 LMR Le Mans prototypes, but according to BMW Classic and an article from Jalopnik, it’s actually referred to as the P75, with the P moniker differentiating it as a BMW Motorsport engine instead of simply an M engine, just like the P60B40 V8 of the M3 GTR. Instead of producing 580 horsepower like the V12 LMR though, the P75 in the X5 LM isn’t stifled by air restrictors, and has what BMW Classic calls an, “insane” exhaust system, allowing it to make over 700 horsepower. As opposed to some kind of motorsport-derived sequential automatic transmission, the X5 LM has a traditional manual with three pedals. The interior of the Le Mans SAV is also stripped, with a roll cage that surrounds only the driver, and few of the creature comforts a regular X5 comes standard with.
Up until recently, the closest many of us have ever gotten to the illusive X5 LM has been through magazine write-ups and Internet articles from when it was new. Fortunately for us, BMW Classic is continuing to explore some of the downright legendary cars the division has in storage. A few weeks ago a video appeared on the BMW Classic YouTube channel, in which the E46 M3 GTR was examined. Keen eyes were quick to note the presence of a McLaren F1 GTR in the background, in addition to an X5 LM. This week, BMW Classic released a video focusing exclusively on the X5 LM, and you won’t want to miss it—specifically the final 30 seconds, in which the incredible V12 is actually started.—Alex Tock
[Photo and video courtesy BMW AG.]