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A classic in design, the New Class engine was a high-revving 4-cylinder, single overhead cam powerplant with an all-aluminum cylinder head.



The designer of this new breed of engine was a man who was accustomed to success on the track. 

Among his many talents, Baron Alex von Falkenhausen was an engineer, a trials motorcyclist, and a racing driver. In 1947, he won the German national title with an AFM single-seat racecar powered by a 1.5-liter version of the 328's inline 6-cylinder engine.

Today, he is considered to be one of the fathers of the modern BMW, chiefly because of his M10 engine design and his commitment to motorsport.


But the design process wasn't easy. 

In the late '50s, BMW management thought that a 1300 cc engine should be used in the New Class. Considerations of road tax, total weight, and installed engine volume suggested an engine with a modest displacement.

On the other hand, Alex von Falkenhausen felt the new engine should be capable of 2000 cc. He was able to convince the BMW board to accept a 1500 cc engine, and then he designed a 1.5-liter that could be easily expanded to a 2.0-liter.

"I thought we needed to have a good 2-liter", he said. "So when they agreed to build a 1500, I designed it so it could easily be made an 1800 and then, with a new casting technique, a 2-liter. It was only a year before they wanted a 1600, then in another year an 1800."


The engine was the basis for every New Class model. In all, over 3.5 million M10/M12 series engines were produced.

The engines powered:

  • all the four-door 1500-2000 range, 
  • the two-door 1600-2002 series, 
  • the 3 Series models of the '70s and '80s, and 
  • the 4-cylinder 5 Series

The 1.5-liter engine featured:

  • a single, chain-driven overhead camshaft
  • an 8-port aluminum cylinder head 
  • 5 bearing crankshaft
  • over-square cylinder dimensions
  • optimum lengths for inlet and exhaust manifold tubes

In high gear, 1000 engine revolutions correspond to only 16 mph, and even at 6400 rpm the piston speed is a low 2980 ft/min.

"The 1500 engine has been criticized for its lack of flexibility, but we cannot agree with this. On very substantial hills we gave the car full throttle at 2000 rpm in 4th gear, and it did wonders in pulling itself out of such predicaments. Again, this may be due at least in part to the carburetor settings employed, but as we drove the car, flexibility as such (as distinct from torque and low speed acceleration) was very near being outstanding." Car and Driver review.



In tests conducted by reviewers, top speed proved higher than BMW's numbers. This is probably a result of the manufacturer averaging 8 runs in opposite directions to obtain a top speed figure. The top speed is thus not merely a "flash reading," but instead it is a truly attainable speed figure.

"Even more important in daily use is the unobtrusive way the car hangs on to its cruising speed, once it has been attained. Repeatedly, over winding roads infested with lots of traffic, we noted average speeds substantially higher than we would have guessed from the way the car handled. This feeling of always remaining at a comfortable, even leisurely, speed level was shared by our passengers in front and back, and is a tribute to the engine as well as to the running gear." Car and Driver review.

Nelson Piquet



On the race track, the engines powered touring cars, sports cars and a succession of Formula 2 champions culminating in Nelson Piquet's world champion Brabham BT52.

Brabham BT52

"I thought the block was good for 200, even 300 hp, but I never thought it would take 1000 horsepower."
Alex von Falkenhausen


Little Known Fact

Not long after the 1600-2 was announced, Alex von Falkenhausen had a 2-liter engine dropped into an example of the car for his own use. 

Independently, Helmut Werner Bonsch, BMW's Planning Director, had exactly the same conversion carried out for his car. 

Neither man knew of the other's car until one day in mid-1967 when both cars were in the shop together at BMW. Both were enthusiastic about their 2-liter two-doors, and between them they decided to put a formal proposal to the BMW Board that such a model should be considered for production. 

The 2002 was born!




Motor cc




Years Vehicle
M115 1499 75@5500 118@3000 Solex 34 PICB 1961 1500
M115 1499 80@5700 118@3000 Solex 34 PICB-1 1962 1500
M118 1773 90@5250 143@3000 Solex 38 PDSI 1963 1800
M116 1573 83@5500 123@3000 Solex 36 PDSI 1964 1600
M118 1773 110@5800 150@4000 2 x Solex 40 PHH 1964 1800TI
M118 1773 130@6100 150@4000 2 x Weber 45 DCOE 1965 1800TISA
M05 1990 100@5500 157@3500 Solex 40 PDSI 1965 2000, 2000C, 02/2002
M05 1990 120@5500 167@3600 2 x Solex 40 PHH 1965

2000TI, 2000TI-Lux, 2000CS, 02/2002ti

M116 1573 85@5700 123@3000 Solex 38 PDSI 1966 02/1600-2
M116 1573 105@6000 131@4500 2 x Solex 40 PHH 1967 02/1600ti
M118 1766 90@5250 143@3000 Solex 38 PDSI 1968 1800
M15 1990 130@5800 177@3600 Kugelfischer PL04 1969 2000tii, 02/2002tii
M17 1990 115@5800 162@3700 Stromberg 175 CDT 1972 E12/520
M118 1766 90@5500 142@3500 Solex 38 PDSI 1974 E12/518
M31 1990 170@5800 240@4000 Kugelfischer PL04 + KKK turbo 1974 E20/2002 turbo
M116 1573 75@5800 118@3700 Solex 38 PDSI 1975 02/1502
M41 1573 90@6000 123@4000 Solex 32-32 DIDTA 1975 E21/316
M64 1990 125@5700 172@4350 Bosch K-Jetronic 1975 E21/320i, E12/520i
M43/1 1990 109@5800 157@3700 Solex 32-32 DIDTA 1975 E21/320
M42 1766 98@5800 142@4000 Solex 32-32 DIDTA 1975 E21/318
M42 1766 90@5500 140@3700 Solex 32-32 DIDTA 1976 E12/518
M10B18(M99) 1766 90@5500 137@4000 Pierburg 2B4 1980 E12/518, E21/316, E28/518
M10B18 1766 105@5800 145@4500 Bosch K-Jetronic 1980 E21/318i, E30/318i, E28/518i
M98 1573 75@5800 110@3200 Pierburg 1B2 1981 E21/315
M10B18 1766 90@5500 137@4000 Pierburg 2BE 1983 E30/316, E28/518

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