BMW M10 Engine: The Story Of The Most Iconic Legend


A well over half a century (or I could say in the way of a century) ago the BMW M10 engine was launched. It was launched a long time ago, and since then the engines & technological advancements have been astounding. However, with the timeframe, the M10 becomes an iconic engine.

The M10 was the base for all of BMW’s new-age innovations and advancements. This engine serves as the base for the BMW M12 engines which were used in the Formula 1 car. The M10 engine block was also the base for the S14 engine used in the legendary E30 M3.

Well, this is just the start, the M10 has a lot of accomplishments that were ahead of its time. So, let’s know about the iconic M10 engine in more detail.

BMW M10 Engine: An Overview Of An Iconic Engine

After WWII BMW has to build itself back from scratch and save itself from bankruptcy. So, they started to gain some momentum from the Isetta microcars which were mass-produced in the mid-1950s, but it wasn’t enough.

Then with the engine head and racing driver Baron Alex von Falkenhausen, they launched the BMW M10 in 1962 with the all-new BMW 1500 “Neue Klasse” (New Class) sedan. And this was the revolutionary move from BMW that solidified its position in automotive history.

With that BMW launched the SOHC 1.5-liter inline-four M10 engine paired with the BMW 1500 elegant style.

At that time the M10 was the epitome of innovation with an engine block of cast iron and the head, front cover, and intake manifold were made with a very lightweight material. Although Falkenhausen convinced the team to use aluminum wherever possible to reduce the weight while maintaining durability. And with that, the initial M10 would have a displacement of 1,499 cc with a peak power of 79 hp.

By using these materials the M10 came out as pretty durable which can easily withstand bad conditions & proved its reliability.

Now you could guess the M10 was way ahead of its time.

All The Versions


The M10 proceeds to launch different versions capable of different outputs with modified parts to match the market needs. It was produced between 1962–1988 and in this period, introduced with the BMW 1500 “Neue Klasse” (New Class) sedan.

The M10 was introduced at 1,499 cc and with time BMW introduced many other displacements with different outputs. So, let’s take a look at the M10 engine family tree.

The M115 Version

In 1962 the M10 engine was launched with the M115 version on the BMW 1500. Here the 15 implies a 1.5L engine with a displacement of 1,499 cc which can produce up to 80hp and torque of 87 lb-ft(118 N⋅m) @3000 rpm.

Also, the M115 version was available on the 1500 from 1962-1964. Over a decade later it was again launched in the BMW 1502 which produced around 75hp and 87 lb-ft(118 N⋅m) @3700 rpm.

Available On:

  • BMW 1500 (1962-1964)
  • BMW 1502 (1975-1977)

The M116 version

The M116 is a slightly upgraded version of the M115 introduced in 1964, with a displacement of 1,573 cc. Additionally, this can produce around 84hp-103hp with a torque of 96lb-ft (130 N.m) @3500 rpm to 104lb-ft (141 N.m) @4500 rpm.

Available On:

  • BMW 1600 (1964-1966)
  • BMW 1602 (1966-1975)
  • BMW 1600-ti (1967-1968)

The M41 Version

The M41 is another upgraded version of the M10 engine, which has a compression ratio of 8.3:1 with a Solex 32 DIDTA carburetor for fuel supply. This engine has a peak power output of 89 hp-90 hp (66kw) @6000 rpm and a torque of 123lb-ft (167 N⋅m) @4000 rpm.

Available On:

  • First Generation of BMW 3-series The BMW E21 316 (1975-1980)

The M98 version

The M98 is another version of the M10’s 1573cc inline-four engine. Also, this engine has a completely different compression ratio of 9.5:1, which uses a Pierburg 1B2 carburetor.

The M98 is made to produce around 74 hp (55 kW) @5800 rpm and a torque of 81 lb-ft(110 N⋅m) @3200 rpm.

Available On:

  • From the same BMW 3-series family The BMW E21 315 (1981-1983)

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The M10B18 version

The M10B18 is a 1766 cc engine version that has been used in various BMW models. And the engine’s power ranges from 89 hp–104 hp, also with a bore of 89 mm (3.5 in), and a stroke of 71 mm (2.8 in).

Available On:

  • BMW 1800 (1969-1972)
  • BMW 1802 (1971-1975)
  • BMW E21 320i/320is- U.S. only (1980-1983)
  • BMW E12 518 – South Africa only (1980-1983)
  • The E30 316 (1982-1987)
  • The E30 318i (1982-1988)
  • The E28 518i (1981-1988)

The M118 version


The M118 version was launched in 1963 with a displacement of 1,773 cc. So, this engine has the capability of producing around 89hp-128hp with a torque of 106 lb-ft to 116 lb-ft at 3000-5100 rpm.

Available On:

  • BMW 1800 (1963-1968)
  • BMW 1800ti (1963-1966)
  • BMW 1800tiSA (1964-1965)
  • The E12 518 (1974-1981)

The M05 version

Launched in 1965 The M05 engine has an engine displacement of 1,990 cc, which can produce up to 99 hp–118 hp with a torque of 116 lb-ft to 123 lb-ft at 3000-3500 rpm respectively.

Available On:

  • BMW 2000CS (1965-1970)
  • BMW 2000C (1966-1970)
  • BMW 2000 (1966-1972)
  • BMW 2000ti (1966-1971)
  • BMW 2002 (1968-1976)

The M15 version

Also known as the tii engine the M15 engine used the Kugelfischer mechanical fuel injection in its 1990 cc engine. Additionally, it is capable of producing around 128 hp with a torque of 131 lb-ft at 4500 rpm.

Available On:

  • BMW 2000tii (1970-1973)
  • BMW 2002tii (1972-1974)
  • E12 520i (1972-1974)

The M17 version

The M17 version with a 1,990cc engine can produce around 113 hp with a torque of 122 lb-ft at 3700 rpm. Also, it has a compression ratio of 9.0:1.

Available On:

  • BMW E12 520 (1972-1977)

The M43/1 version

The M43 version is also referred to as the M43/1 version, which produces around 109 hp with a torque of 118 lb-ft (160 N⋅m) at 3700 rpm.

Available On:

  • BMW E21 320 (1975-1979)
  • BMW E21 320i (1975-1979)

The M64 version

The M64 version was introduced in 1975 with a compression ratio of 9.3:1 which uses a Bosch K-Jetronic mechanical fuel injection. Also, this engine variant was capable of producing 123 hp and 129 lb-ft at 4350 rpm torque.

Available On:

  • The E21 320i (1975-1978)
  • The E12 520i (1975-1979)

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The M31 version

The M31 is a special turbo version of the M10 engine 1990 cc iteration. Also, it uses a KKK BLD turbocharger, which produces around 168 hp (125 kW) at 5800 rpm and has a torque of 181 lb-ft (245 N⋅m) at 4000 rpm.

Available On:

  • BMW 2002 turbo (1973-1975)

The M10 Contribution To The History

The M10 is a legendary engine that has a various version with different power outputs. Additionally, the M10 engine has a significant role in solidifying BMW’s name as one of the most prominent in the whole automotive world.

The M10 has a significant role in the development of powerful engines like the S14 & the M12. So, let’s see the contribution of the M10 engine below.

S14 Engine

Produced between 1986-1991, the S14 is a four-cylinder petrol engine used in the legendary E30 M3. The S14 was developed using the M10 engine block paired with the inline-six S38 engine’s cylinder head, where only four cylinders were used.

With its full capacity, the S14 engine can produce up to 235 hp (175 kW) at 7,000 rpm and 177 lb-ft (240 N⋅m) of torque at 4,750 rpm.

M12 Engine

The M12 or the M12/13 is a four-cylinder turbocharged engine that is based on the M10 engine. This 1,499.8 cc engine powered the F1 cars of the Brabham, Arrows, and Benetton teams.

Nelson Piquet won the FIA F1 Drivers Championship in 1983 with a Brabham powered by an M12/13 turbo engine. Also, it was the first turbocharged engine to win the driver’s championship.

And especially the power output, because the engineers have estimated that with maximum boost it could produce about a staggering 1,400 hp. Basically, this power output truly shows the example of what the M10 engine is capable of.

The Legacy Of The M10 Engine

Let’s be honest the M10 engine saved BMW from bankruptcy and made it the name it is today in the automotive world. Basically, it started it all and now BMW has touched the pinnacle of success and continues to do so with their innovations.

Because of the durability & potential of the M10 engine, it was used in various cars including race cars. Most of the BMW enthusiasts know this brand because of its newer inline six or v engines but everybody should know about the M10 engine, which boosted up the name of what it is.


How much horsepower does the M10 engine have?

The M10 engine power output starts from 74 hp at 5800 rpm to a maximum of 168 hp at 5800 rpm in the turbo variant.

What is the specs of the BMW M10B18?

The M10B18 has a power output of 89 hp–104 hp, with a bore of 89 mm (3.5 in), and a stroke of 71 mm (2.8 in).

Sources: BMW M10 – Wikipedia

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