Ever Seen A Range Rover County Classic Powered By A BMW V12?
Photography by Daniel Piker
Engine swaps have been and will likely continue to be the pride and joy of modified car owners. I mean, how can you not giggle at the fact that someone can take a German V12, stuff it into a British SUV, and then get away with it? This is exactly what Kito Brielmaier did to his 1991 Range Rover County Classic.
Kito’s love for Range Rovers started back in 1979 on an East African Safari when he was just seven years old. He and his parents were driving around in a Range Rover when they stumbled on the base of a very steep grass hill. Kito thought to himself that it was impossible for anything to drive up that kind of an incline, but very much to his surprise the old Rover made its way up with ease. That was the moment Kito fell in love with these machines, and he made a promise to himself that one day, he would own one too.
Fast forward to 2008 and Kito was finally able to buy his very first Range Rover. After an impressive one whole day of ownership, he decided it was too slow and immediately pulled the engine. The motor he chose gave him the power he was looking for, sure, but it wasn’t your typical V8 swap.
He ended up choosing the BMW M70, the big 12 cylinder unit out of the BMW E32 750i. They aren’t made to be direct plug-and-play swap candidates though; these range-topping BMW motors were meant for big sedans built a few countries away from the home of the Rovers, so while the idea was a novel one it still had plenty of hurdles and hours to cross before it was all buttoned up and functioning in a new engine bay. Doing all of the work himself meant it wouldn’t be a weekend job of course, but even then, Kito didn’t realize how much work was necessary to complete the project. All told though, the reward was worth the work.
Over the years since finishing its heart transplant, Kito has been told many times that this is what Range Rover should have done in the first place, and there is no disagreeing with that, at least when you look at the figures. The original 3.9L V8 produced a measly 175HP, whereas the V12—with an exhaust and tune—produces an additional 160HP, creating a Range Rover that can keep pace on the freeway as well as it can on the forest trail. It’s not the simplest motor to repair if we’re talking in relative terms, but like most German products of that vintage if you take care of it you won’t get any surprises.
As a result of all this, I think Kito’s built one of the coolest County Classics out there right now, which is saying a lot considering how popular these cars are becoming recently. More attention means more customization, but this goes beyond your standard lift kits and bumper deletes.
This Rover is equipped with Old Man Emu springs and shocks, custom front eccentrics, urethane bushings and sway bar spacers, and it sits on custom 17” alloy wheels. The interior has been completely redone with custom-covered Recaro seats, wood and carbon trim, and an infotainment system. Oh, and who can forget the push bar and off-road lights to complete the package? Almost a requirement of the modded Range Rover scene it seems. Throughout the entirety of this project, Kito’s plan for this car was to create a build that looked like it belonged. I think it looks the business, and while I like the originals and those modified in the typical traditions I think the BMW V12 adds a bit more to Kito’s.