What's the story?
Seeing a Range Rover Classic still on the road is something special. Hearing this particular Range Rover Classic pull up for the first time you expect the burble of the 3.9-litre V8. Then you hear a waffling throb from the twin exhausts. The V12 badge residing on the tailgate gives something of a clue – but what is it?
Peeling back the clamshell bonnet on Kito Brielmaier’s Range Rover reveals it to be a V12 (as you might expect); a BMW M70 5.0-litre V12 to be precise. Upon closer inspection Kito has done a very professional, neatly finished conversion that took two years to complete.
In 2008, Kito bought a 1991 Range Rover County Classic with a 3.9 V8. The vehicle was primarily used for towing so, when he experienced a few near-miss accidents – especially on highway sliproads – the quest for more power accelerated in the manner that his Range Rover didn’t. He rebuilt the V8 in the hope it would do the trick, but to no avail, so he looked for a replacement engine.
Working as a bespoke engine tuner specialising in BMWs, Kito finally settled on a 1993 BMW V12 with 40,000 miles on the clock, procured from Japan. Its brute force can equate to between 300bhp and 380bhp.
So how do you shoehorn a BMW V12 into a Range Rover? A custom bellhousing and bespoke engine mounts eased the process. The Range Rover’s ZF HP22 automatic gearbox continues to harness the power but the Borg Warner transfer case was upgraded for a Land Rover LT230.
Getting the V12 to work with the Range Rover transmission involved a lot of head-scratching. A custom carrier was built to mount the BMW 180amp alternator and the Range Rover power steering pump was fitted using a modified BMW pulley. The BMW engine controls and electronic throttle control were ditched and an EPSpro (EFI Source) engine computer replaced the three BMW engine computers.
Our favourite bit?
This is no normal 1991 Classic. Firstly, the headlining is firmly in place – not drooping down like an exotic Bedouin tent, which can often be the case on older Discoverys and Range Rovers.
Secondly, Range Rovers of this vintage usually have worn leather seats, with foam exploding like popcorn from the cushions. Not this one – completely restored, it features rear seats that have been rebuilt and re-upholstered with new leather, and Kito’s monogram is embroidered into the backrest. In the front, the heated Recaro seats give additional support – not enough to be uncomfortable, but just enough to keep your body held firmly at speed.
And the verdict from LRO writer Steve Hoare?
Given the power this Range Rover hides under its bonnet, it’s understandable that when Kito asks me to come for a ride, goosebumps immediately form across my skin. After 15 minutes of pure, unadulterated awesomeness we’re back at the start. I leave the passenger seat feeling exhilarated. Kito should issue every passenger with a certificate of completion and photograph to remember the experience by.
Engine: BMW (code: M70) 24-valve, sohc-per-bank V12
Transmission: ZF HP22 four-speed automatic with custom bellhousing, flexplate and flywheel
Suspension: Old Man Emu heavy-duty springs and shocks (two-inch lift) with anti-roll bar spacers and polyurethane anti-roll bar bushings front and rear. Front radius arm modified for five degrees of caster adjustment