Close

    • Turbos are not new to Formula 1 - A look back at BMW's 1500+ horsepower M12/M13 turbo 80's F1 motor based on the production M10 four-cylinder

      If you are browsing this site you likely already are aware that Formula 1 is switching to turbocharged motors this year. This is not the first time F1 has ditched naturally aspirated motors for forced induction units as many fans fondly remember the 80's turbo era. Manufacturers experimented with supercharging and turbocharging throughout Formula 1's early history but it was not until the 80's that turbo motors really dominated F1.


      The most dominant engine of that era is arguably the BMW M12/M13 motor. What makes this engine special is not just the insane horsepower or championships it is that it was based on a production M10 four-cylinder iron block. This block first entered production in 1962 and would continue to be produced until the late 80's. Even after turbo motors were banned from F1 in 1989 the M10 block would still be used by various teams in various Motorsports to great success. That is what you call a legendary engine design and one of the many reasons BMW has earned the reputation as one of the world's best engine builders.

      The M12/M13 is the most powerful four-cylinder ever produced by BMW. How much peak power it actually hit we will never know as there was no accurate way to measure the output. Not to mention boost was pushed to whatever level teams thought they could get away with in qualifying so rumors of 1800+ horsepower in qualifying trim are not far from the truth. Whatever the power output actually was this little 1.5 liter saw outputs ranging from 740 horsepower to 1500+ throughout its years in Formula 1.

      The rpm achieved was 11,500. The new F1 motors for the 2014 season rev to 15,000 rpm. They also offer up a similar displacement at 1.6 liters although from six cylinders instead of four. They also are direct injected versus the port fuel injection of the 80's. Boost is limited to about 3.5 bar (50.7 psi) by the fuel flow rate for 2014 although there is not an official boost cap. The 80's M12/M13 saw over 5.5 BAR (79.7 psi) in qualifying and boost had to be capped at 4 BAR (58 psi) in 1987 due to fears power was getting out of control.


      How much horsepower the new Formula 1 motors put out will have to be seen but it is safe to say with regulations limiting boost, fuel amounts, and fuel flow rates the new engines will not even approach the power levels seen in the 80's. When BMW was allowed to run wild they made so much power the motors ended up being banned from Formula 1 competition. That is perhaps the greatest compliment to the M12/M13 engine's prowess as any.










      [img]http://www.gurneyflap.com/Resources/JAN1926.jpg/img]

































































































      This article was originally published in forum thread: Turbos are not new to Formula 1 - A look back at BMW's 1500+ horsepower M12/M13 turbo F1 motor based on the production M10 four-cylinder started by Sticky View original post
      Comments 42 Comments
      1. Sticky's Avatar
        Sticky -
        Click here to enlarge Originally Posted by munters Click here to enlarge
        I was a BMW mechanic at that time. The Munich M team then told us they used the engines from junk yards (the older the better) because the iron did not expand as much with heat anymore. or in other words new engines would not handled the power.
        That's quite right they specifically sought out seasoned blocks run through many heat cycles.
      1. undercover's Avatar
        undercover -
        sickkk!!!
      1. SSO95's Avatar
        SSO95 -
        how much for one of these in an m coupe?
      1. bobS's Avatar
        bobS -
        Man that engine is so mean, its insane how much power it made. BMW ...please get back into f1
      1. digger's Avatar
        digger -
        only a few years ago rumours were 1500bhp, in another 5 years rumours will be that they were making 2000+bhp......the way i look at it is the M10 block was too far over designed as a production block and this isnt what engineering is about at all given it was never intended for these power levels. you could have saved another 10kg off the block thats the way a modern engineer would look at it. that's my alternative view and opinion on it......
      1. Sticky's Avatar
        Sticky -
        Click here to enlarge Originally Posted by digger Click here to enlarge
        only a few years ago rumours were 1500bhp, in another 5 years rumours will be that they were making 2000+bhp......the way i look at it is the M10 block was too far over designed as a production block and this isnt what engineering is about at all given it was never intended for these power levels. you could have saved another 10kg off the block thats the way a modern engineer would look at it. that's my alternative view and opinion on it......
        I think you're insane.
      1. DavidV's Avatar
        DavidV -
        Click here to enlarge Originally Posted by digger Click here to enlarge
        only a few years ago rumours were 1500bhp,
        You're forgetting one important thing here.
        Qualifying at that time was done in 3 sessions spread over the friday and saturday.
        There were no engine restrictions in terms of max amount of engines used, so the engines used for qualifying were only meant to last one qualifying session at most.
        And some (most at the early turbo times) didn't even make that and blew up.

        These engines had an over 3 Atm boost and unlimited fuel supply so yes, in the end they made just about 1500 hp.
        For the races the race-engine was highly detuned to last the 300km race distance, and these engines had an output of around 800hp, although that can not be verified
        But compared to the performance of the NA opponents they must have been around that power level.
      1. Sticky's Avatar
        Sticky -
        I don't know how anyone can complain about a block in the 80's being over-engineered.
      1. DavidV's Avatar
        DavidV -
        He's overthinking this whole design thing IMO.
        The reason for the original design of the M10 cylinder part (they didn't use the whole block, just this part mainly) was so sturdy and overdesigned, was probably due to low production costs/ore prices and cast production limitations.
        The BMW F1 section never complained about the sturdiness of the bottom end of the M10.
        They needed the oldest blocks for the F1 engines.
        There ad to be a lot of miles on the engines, and rumor goes they were peed on a lot by the engineers.
        There used to be a big pile of the engines behind the development building and everyone was to do their no. 1 there.
        The acid in urine somehow helped hardening the blocks...
      1. Sticky's Avatar
        Sticky -
        Click here to enlarge Originally Posted by DavidV Click here to enlarge
        The acid in urine somehow helped hardening the blocks...
        LOL wut
      1. DavidV's Avatar
        DavidV -
        Click here to enlarge Originally Posted by Sticky Click here to enlarge
        LOL wut
        Read and read

      1. Sticky's Avatar
        Sticky -
        This is the first time I have heard about peeing on engine blocks lolololol.
      1. DavidV's Avatar
        DavidV -
        The wonders of engineering Click here to enlarge
      1. digger's Avatar
        digger -
        i don't get my rocks off on things that are excessively over engineered and make pretty looking numbers.

        it doesn't take a good engineer to over engineer something. As a modern mechanical engineer i would lose my job if i did the same, everything would be too heavy
      1. Sticky's Avatar
        Sticky -
        Click here to enlarge Originally Posted by digger Click here to enlarge
        i don't get my rocks off on things that are excessively over engineered and make pretty looking numbers.

        it doesn't take a good engineer to over engineer something. As a modern mechanical engineer i would lose my job if i did the same, everything would be too heavy
        Well I mean BMW's engineers today just try to make the car last the warranty period. Is that good engineering? The M10 block is probably a better turbo candidate than any current BMW block. The new BMW blocks are lighter but which is more impressively engineered?

        I think your statement really depends on application.
      1. digger's Avatar
        digger -
        Click here to enlarge Originally Posted by Sticky Click here to enlarge
        Well I mean BMW's engineers today just try to make the car last the warranty period. Is that good engineering? The M10 block is probably a better turbo candidate than any current BMW block. The new BMW blocks are lighter but which is more impressively engineered?

        I think your statement really depends on application.
        assuming newer blocks prove themselves not to fail prematurely outside staistical variations then newer blocks are without a doubt better engineered. in order to make something both lighter and suitable for the application intended requires more knowledge and better understanding of the possible operating conditions, loads in service, duty cycle etc and better understanding of mechanical properties so you dont get it wrong. you need a better understand how structures behave so that material is added in the right areas in an efficient manner. lots of stuff has been and is done by designers (non engineers) eye balling stuff, rules of thumb and that works very often but in the modern world you will never be the best at what you do with this approach

        stronger does not mean better unless of course that is a design objective.

        anyone can build a bridge, but to design and build something that is light, economical to proiduce and efficient is where engineering comes into it
      1. Sticky's Avatar
        Sticky -
        Click here to enlarge Originally Posted by digger Click here to enlarge
        assuming newer blocks prove themselves not to fail prematurely outside staistical variations then newer blocks are without a doubt better engineered.
        Nice edit. The newer blocks may be better engineered by certain standards but are they stronger? Are they better for use in F1?

        Click here to enlarge Originally Posted by digger Click here to enlarge
        in order to make something both lighter and suitable for the application intended requires more knowledge and better understanding of the possible operating conditions, loads in service, duty cycle etc and better understanding of mechanical properties so you dont get it wrong.
        Soooo.... like I said, based on application?

        Click here to enlarge Originally Posted by digger Click here to enlarge
        stronger does not mean better unless of course that is a design objective.
        So the M10 block is better for Formula 1 than say an N54?

        Click here to enlarge Originally Posted by digger Click here to enlarge
        anyone can build a bridge
        I wouldn't cross a bridge I built. Just saying.
      1. digger's Avatar
        digger -
        Click here to enlarge Originally Posted by Sticky Click here to enlarge
        Nice edit. The newer blocks may be better engineered by certain standards but are they stronger? Are they better for use in F1?

        Soooo.... like I said, based on application?

        So the M10 block is better for Formula 1 than say an N54?
        the blocks weren't designed to be used for F1 when conceived, so who cares about F1 this doesnt make a block "good". they just raided the parts bin and found the M10 blocks were able to do the job without designing a new one specifically..... whoop dee do

        ive never said that the M10 block wasnt strong nor good at the F1 application

        if the M10 block is so good they would be using it on modern engines
      1. Sticky's Avatar
        Sticky -
        Click here to enlarge Originally Posted by digger Click here to enlarge
        the blocks weren't designed to be used for F1 when conceived, so who cares about F1 this doesnt make a block "good". they just raided the parts bin and found the M10 blocks were able to do the job without designing a new one specifically..... whoop dee do

        ive never said that the M10 block wasnt strong nor good at the F1 application

        if the M10 block is so good they would be using it on modern engines
        It makes the block good for F1 that it is strong right?

        Yes, they raided the parts bin and found an over engineered block that made for one of the best motors in F1 history.

        If you're not impressed so be it, I am.
      1. digger's Avatar
        digger -
        Click here to enlarge Originally Posted by Sticky Click here to enlarge
        It makes the block good for F1 that it is strong right?

        Yes, they raided the parts bin and found an over engineered block that made for one of the best motors in F1 history.

        If you're not impressed so be it, I am.

        in the modern world of F1 being strong is merely one aspect. hopefully it doesn't need to be said that it needs to be strong enough to withstand the loads it is subjected to, that is obviously a requirement.