BMW South Africa Once Secretly Made An ‘M7’

BMW South Africa’s 745i is very different from the one you may be familiar with, using an engine related to the M1’s
BMW South Africa Once Secretly Made An ‘M7’

Most BMW geeks will be able to tell you about the E23 745i. Using a turbocharged 3.4-litre inline-six in later models, it’s arguably the most desirable of its kind. That is until you learn a second, rather different 745i exists…

A deep dive video by unveils all on the scarce super saloon, speaking with Dr Walter Hasselkus - managing director of BMW SA from 1984 to 1989 - along with others involved in the development

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Being a right-hand-drive market, the turbocharged 745i wouldn’t work - with its big snail being mounted on the right-hand side of the engine bay. Thus packaging is an issue, leading to BMW SA finding an unconventional solution.

Instead, it took a tweaked version of the M88/3 3.5-litre naturally-aspirated unit found in none other than the E28 M5, related to the dry-sump version used by the mighty M1 supercar. Here it produces 282bhp and 251lb ft of torque, sent to the rear wheels through a choice of a four-speed auto or a five-speed manual.

It wasn’t easy though - having to be mounted at an angle to fit with the front axle. After all, this was an engine designed for a mid-engine application.

The SA 745i even spawned its own race car.
The SA 745i even spawned its own race car.

Only 255 examples of the SA-special BMW 745i were made, though BMW did also homologate it as a race car for local use - said to be designed especially for Kyalami.

Check out the full video for the full story on how South Africa’s secret BMW M7 came to be.


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