Big, powerful and with an amazing soundtrack, V12 engines are the epitome of luxury and are always closely connected to the most exclusive cars. Whether they are placed in sexy GT bodies or in the most opulent sedans, V12s are what automotive dreams are made of. Buying into this exclusive club can be very expensive, especially if we are talking about Italian and British coupés, but it can also be surprisingly cheap if you know where to look. Here are 8 of the cheapest ways to get that V12 engine.
Mercedes-Benz first introduced the V12 engine in the W140 generation of the S-Class, and it was a 6.0L unit producing between 394 and 408 horsepower. If you want to squeeze the most out of this V12, be on the lookout for a 1992 S600, as it has 402 horsepower, although I can’t say it matters too much for this type of vehicle. These cars hardly ever go over the $10,000 mark for decent examples, and offer bulletproof mechanics, a high level of comfort and that notorious presence of a 90s S-Class.
Another luxurious land barge with 12 cylinders under the hood is the BMW 7 Series. There are two surprisingly affordable generations of the 7 Series with V12 engines in them, and they both have the same name: 750. The first one was the E32 with 295 horsepower, and the other had a bit more: 322 horsepower. Most of these sleek beauties can be for less than $10,000 too, and if you want a slightly sportier executive sedan, the BMW 750 is the one for you.
Designed for smoothness rather than outright speed, the 750 is still a great choice (if you can stomach the maintenance costs that is!)
The Jaguar XJS was the vehicle tasked with replacing the long in the tooth E-Type. Despite not outdoing its predecessor in the looks department, the XJS was still a sales success with a production run from 1975 all the way up until 1996. In the classifieds these days though, the XJS is significantly less desirable than its older brother the E-Type but fortunately for us that means you are able to get this bargain v12 for a sensible price.
Even the best low mileage examples hardly exceed the $15,000 mark and if you really want a good project car foundation, you can find these Jags for as cheap as $3,500. As always with old Jags beware that the parts could be both costly and scarce to replace!
If the 7 Series is too much of a sedan for your taste, and you still want a V12 Bimmer, there’s some good news for you. For $10,000 to $15,000 you can find a decent 8 Series coupé. This sleek grand tourer was BMW’s halo car in the early nineties, and it has aged so well that it still looks fresh, modern and beautiful.
Plus, it has those famous pop-up lights for just the right amount of retro! For most of us, the brand new 8 series is also going to be ridiculously priced so here is the next best thing!
Once again, a Mercedes-Benz S-Class comes on our list, but this time, it’s the more curvaceous W220. The car is equipped with either a naturally aspirated or twin-turbocharged 6.0L V12 engine which had 367 or 500 horsepower. These are quite astounding numbers even for today and you can ride in these powerful beauties for as low as $6,000, although we’d recommend finding well-kept examples that are usually around the $12,000 mark.
Jaguar was no stranger to V12 engines, putting them in their XJ sedans since the seventies. While most vintage V12 Jags are quite costly today, there is one that you can afford with a reasonable budget. It’s the 1994-1997 XJ-12 sedan, a beauty with six liters of British firepower packed in 12 cylinders. In the US, they were available for two years only, as 1995 short wheelbase sedans and 1996 long wheelbase sedans. Today, these cars rarely come up for sale, but when available, they are often under the $9,000 mark.
The first generation CL was derived from the W140, the first car on our list, and it also had V12 power under its enormously long hood. However, as these gargantuan coupés are slowly appreciating, that leaves us with the W220-derived CL600 which is sportier and more modern. This powerful German GT could be found for under $10,000, with the best examples going for $15,000.
The last entry on our list is one of the best sleeper cars money can buy. Although it’s not technically a V12, but rather a W12 with the configuration of two V6 engines put together side by side, it still has 12 cylinders ready to blow your mind. Volkswagen’s W12 engine is one of the best engineered units on the list, so you’ll hardly encounter any of the unpleasantries of owning a second-hand luxury car. Truth be told, these cars are pretty rare on the classifieds, but for around $15,000, you can drive in a Bentley Flying Spur in Volkswagen’s clothes! Pretty cool, right?