Paul Rosche was perhaps one of the best things that ever happened to BMW. Yesterday on November 16, the ex-BMW Motorsport technical director passed away at the age of 82. In his 39-year long career with BMW where he earned himself the nickname of “Nocken-Paul (camshaft Paul), Rosche was responsible for the development of some of the best high-performance engines for the German carmaker that powered their racing cars for over three decades. But one of his masterpieces that became the backbone of BMW’s Motorsport campaigns in the 70s and 80s was the incredibly versatile M10 engine.
After graduating from college, Rosche joined BMW as a development engineer under the leadership of Baron Alexander von Falkenhausen. Here, Rosche worked on developing the highly versatile 1500cc BMW M10 engine which till now is known as one of the best BMW engines of all time. This very engine powered the BMW 1500, 1600, 2002, 3 Series and 5 Series BMW cars from the 1960s all the way up until the 1980s with an incredible 3.6 million M10 engines being produced. It was the highly versatile nature of the engine that made it such a critically acclaimed piece of engineering, boasting the capability to be tuned endlessly and worked upon in both its natural aspirated as well as turbocharged variations. The same engine that could would work wonderfully in road cars and provide a silky smooth driving experience, while on the other hand be bored out up to 1900cc and become the basis for the company’s racing engines for over two decades. The BMW M10 engine raced in countless Lola sportscars as well as the BMW 269 and BMW 270 Formula Two machines during the late 60s and early 70s. Later, the M10 engine was tuned even further to be used in the company’s highly successful touring cars.
After Von Falkenhausen retired in 1975, Paul Rosche became the technical head of BMW Motorsport where he lead the design and development of the straight-6 engine for the BMW M1. Soon after, Rosche convinced BMW to enter Formula One, where once again his M10 engine came to the limelight, becoming the base for developing the Formula 1 car’s M12 turbocharged engine, that eventually took Nelson Piquet to win his second World Championship in 1983. Rosche kept on developing the M12 engine that later went on to become the highest power output producing engine in Formula 1 history. The engine peaked out at 1500bhp from a 1500cc block, giving it an incredible one horsepower per cubic centimeter.
The BMW M10 engine that Paul Rosche developed back in the 60’s has become one of the most important, pivotal even, pieces of engineering in the history of BMW. While the engine was eventually phased out, Rosche’s engineering prowess soon followed up with another stunning powertrain in the form of the S14 engine that found home in the game changing E30 BMW M3, starting another revolutionary era for the German carmaker. The BMW M3 with the S14 engine would go on to become the most successful car in Group A racing.