Watch: Listen to the madness of a V8 powered BMW i8
It’s fair to say that for many of us, the BMW i8 was somewhat of a disappointment. Its 1.5-litre turbocharged inline-3 engine produces no more power than a small hatchback and sounds like a vacuum cleaner. The additional electric power allows it to just scrape into the sportscar category despite costing just as much as entry level supercars such as the Audi R8 or the Aston Martin Vantage.
The i8’s lack of flair is reflected in its depreciation as the second-hand market is seeing cars go for less than half the price of a new example. Being worth so little, people are taking the opportunity to come up with the craziest project cars.
One of the most impressive is a racing i8 that is being raced by Rob, Kris and Mark Verhoeven in the Belgian Belcar series, which is owned by the Hamofa Motorsport team.
Similarly to DTM racers, the so-called BMW i8 GTR is a silhouette racecar. It is built on the Solution F chassis that allows teams to put pretty much any body on top of it. In fact, the body is really the only thing that means it is still an i8. The measly 3-cylinder engine has been swapped for a 540hp BMW S65 V8 and thanks to the lack of batteries for the hybrid drivetrain, it now weighs 1100kg, that’s around 500kg less than the road car.
Although the body looks similar to an i8, it has also been attacked with a magic Jeremy Clarkson hammer. There are countless louvres covering the car for cooling purposes, the splitter has been extended, the rear end has grown a diffuser and the mid-mounted engine receives air from the large roof scoop. Finally, the rear wing simply towers over any other car on-track.
Although the aero parts may be a little excessive for road use, this is the car I was imagining when the i8 project was originally unveiled. It would have been great to see the internal combustion engine have its last hurrah in a mid-engine BMW supercar.