The M10 derived BMW F1 engine

Back in the eighties, Formula one was in what we now call the start of the golden era, innovation was banging at the doors of performance, and the multiple F1 teams were on the prowl for more power.


This is how BMW overcame the limits of what was possible back then, starting with the humble and pedestrian M10 engine block. BMW engineers chose this inline four cylinder blocks as their starting point, with a 1.5 liter displacement; it complied with the engine with forced induction displacement limit per Formula One rules in the eighties.

We take now a small tour of this engine’s history.

By using the iron M10 block for theM12/M13 BMW F1 engine, the massive boost from the seemingly oversized turbocharger was contained and turned into over 1000 horsepower. While this setup struggled with tremendous turbo lag at its 1982 debut, engineers successfully sorted out the problem.

Nelson Piquet won the F1 World Championship in 1983, onboard a BMW powered Brahbam. In the following years, numerous other F1 drivers scored wins in cars sporting the by then legendary BMW engine. In 1987 a revised version of this engine was even nicknamed Megatron.

A testament to German engineering brilliance, the M12 BMW F1 Engine has earned itself a place in history as it marked the start of a great era in Formula One.

This excellent footage below shows the Brahbam BMW machine in a qualifying session in 1985.