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Best of 2023

The 25 greats: here are the world’s best-ever V12 supercars

Searching for a definitive list of unfiltered 12-cylinder magic? Look no further

TVR Speed 12
  • Aston Martin One-77

    Aston Martin One-77

    The One-77 may have a similar engine to the Valkyrie, though in this guise it’s packaged up as a sporty grand tourer as opposed to a visceral road racer. You’re also treated to an engine note that would rival the very best Aretha Franklin concert.

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  • Ferrari Daytona SP3

    Ferrari Daytona SP3

    Sorry LaFerrari, this spot has to be reserved for the Daytona SP3 given that it has all the theatre without the hybrid assistance. It also marks a return to its roots for Ferrari and headlines an exclusive run of low-volume, mid-engined, solely combustion-powered cars. Long may they reign.

  • Pagani Zonda F

    Pagani Zonda F

    Though the Zonda C12 kick-started Horacio’s vision, the Zonda F was the first real heavyweight; the culmination of years’ worth of trial and error coming together. In roadster form, the F’s AMG-sourced V12 was pumped up to 641bhp and 575lb ft of torque, making it more than a match for anything from its period.

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  • Lamborghini Miura

    Lamborghini Miura

    With a transversely mounted V12 at its core, the Miura became the fastest car in the world with a speed of 180mph. And remember, it did that despite having an excess of smudged mascara lining its headlights.

  • Bugatti EB110

    Bugatti EB110

    If the Veyron is the Thierry Henry of the car world, the EB110 is its Arsène Wenger; it laid the foundations for the former to become the then-slowest car in history. Oops, the fastest. The EB110 is still mighty quick by today’s standards, with its 3.5-litre V12 launching it to 60 in just over three seconds and only running out of steam at 218mph.

  • Vector M12

    Vector M12

    Some things just don’t go together: electricity and water, a visit to the gym followed by a pizza, or a low-volume American start-up and a V12. This was evidenced by Vector and its Diablo-engined M12, with just 14 examples produced over a four-year span before the company effectively went bust. Interesting car.

    Image: Michael Santor Design

  • Jaguar E-Type

    Jaguar E-Type

    Flawed, yes, but unapologetically suave to such an extent that even Old Man Ferrari stood up and took notice. Among the wave of electrified E-Types, V12 examples still do exist - some with as much as 400bhp - but do be warned: a potato is a more reliable mode of transport than an E-Type.

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  • Ferrari F50

    Ferrari F50

    Some of us have really annoying siblings: they’re good-looking, intelligent and always had a sporting pedigree. A bit like the F40, really, so the F50 had a lofty reputation to uphold. It did so admirably, and a big reason for that is because it shared the same engine block as Alain Prost and Nigel Mansell’s 641 F1 racer from 1990.

  • Lamborghini Diablo

    Lamborghini Diablo

    The successor to the Countach and the very first Lamborghini to scale the 200mph barrier. Built over an 11-year span and complementing its 5.7/6.0-litre V12 with a timeless piece of styling, the Diablo helped cement Lamborghini’s reputation for being one of, if not the maddest carmaker on the planet.

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  • Mercedes-Benz CLK GTR

    Mercedes-Benz CLK GTR

    An important piece of motorsport history for the Silver Arrows, thanks to its dominance in the FIA GT Championship in the late ‘90s. Just 25 road-legal homologations exist, so it explains why a coupe and convertible pairing recently fetched eye-watering amounts at auction. Just watch those kerbs when parking up. It's... wide.

  • Jaguar XJR-15

    Jaguar XJR-15

    With less power than a modern BMW M3, the XJR-15 is not the most ideal card to draw in a game of motoring Top Trumps. So why, then, have we inducted it into our list of 25 greatest hits? Simple: the 24-valve Jaguar V12 produces a sound akin to Thor clapping his hands and opening the heavens.

    Image: RM Sotheby’s

  • Ferrari 599 GTO

    Ferrari 599 GTO

    Only thrice in history has Ferrari used the ‘GTO’ badge, and the last instance came with the 599. The trusty F140 V12 is present and modified to allow the GTO to barnstorm its way from 0-124mph in under 10 seconds. Shock horror, we were expecting a turbo-diesel unit from a hatchback.

  • Pagani Zonda R

    Pagani Zonda R

    The ultimate rendition of what the Zonda could be with a no-holds-barred policy. The Mercedes-sourced V12 in the Zonda R has also been modified to such an extent that it now breaks the sound limits for most tracks, and we like that. We like that a lot. We said we like that A LOT.

  • Lamborghini Aventador SVJ

    Lamborghini Aventador SVJ

    When even Lamborghini gives in and turns to hybrid technology (Revuelto), you know the trend is here to stay. But that’s what makes us appreciate the Aventador SVJ that little bit more. It’s one of the last ‘true’ V12 supercars and bows out as one of the new school’s wildest. Though the near-constant flame spitting from many owners is getting a bit… dry.

  • Lister Storm

    Lister Storm

    A GT1 racer which initially aimed to compete with the likes of the McLaren F1 GTR and the Ferrari F40 LM, the Lister Storm’s performance was promising but ultimately frustrating - even at the hands of that Tiff Needell bloke. Just four homologation examples were built, so you’re more likely to see Narnia than one of these.

  • Pagani Huayra R

    Pagani Huayra R

    Another track special from the man who really disturbed Ferrari and Lamborghini. This time, the V12 puts 850bhp to the road and screams to over 9,000rpm. Perhaps the craziest fact about the Huayra R’s engine is that it weighs just 198kg - or less than the average Christmas dinner.

  • Jaguar XJ13

    Jaguar XJ13

    Just one XJ13 was ever made, and it didn’t even compete at Le Mans like originally intended (facepalm). But this was genesis of sorts for Jaguar, housing a road-going version of the 5.0-litre V12 that had been years in the making and eventually went on to power a number of big cats.

  • Ferrari Enzo

    Ferrari Enzo

    Even if Ferrari had called it the ‘Stewart’, the Enzo would still be considered a great. A bona fide leader from arguably the greatest decade in supercar history, the Enzo’s naturally aspirated 6.0-litre V12 allowed it to lap the Nürburgring over three seconds quicker than everybody’s favourite Porsche.

  • Aston Martin Valkyrie

    Aston Martin Valkyrie

    An Aston that prefers to ferry the world’s wealthiest adrenaline junkies as opposed to the velvet suits and dresses of Monte Carlo. The Valkyrie combines a naturally aspirated 6.5-litre Cosworth V12 with more F1 tech than just about anything else conceived with a similar ethos.

  • Lamborghini Murcielago

    Lamborghini Murcielago

    The Miura’s grandson, and a fine purveyor of everything it stands for (barring the makeup). The Murcielago contains an evolution of the same V12 that powers its forebear, and in its final ‘LP670-4 SV’ form, arguably transcended into hypercar territory.

  • Maserati MC12

    Maserati MC12

    For a car to share genes with the Ferrari Enzo is similar to a person being related to Charles Darwin - things are expected of you. The MC12 was released to mark a return to racing for Maserati and managed to lap the 'Ring nearly a second faster than its step-sibling to prove the Trident meant business.

  • Ferrari 812 Competizione

    Ferrari 812 Competizione

    The final Prancing Horse to make the cut, and quite possibly its last ever full-scale production model to say 'absolutely not' to turbos and electrical succour. Less of car, more of a five-act Shakespearean drama featuring one of the most extraordinary twelve-cylinder engines ever conceived.

  • TVR Cerbera Speed 12

    TVR Cerbera Speed 12

    Oh, what could’ve been. TVR has developed a pretty horrible reputation for unreliability over the years, but one thing it never lacked was ambition. The Cerbera Speed 12 was proof, with a claimed higher top speed than the McLaren F1 thanks to a pretty spectacular V12.

  • McLaren F1

    McLaren F1

    A production car speed record holder for 12 years and former Le Mans winner, the 240mph McLaren F1 is not only steeped in history but continues to win many burger-on-spoiler debates regarding the age-old question: what is the greatest car of them all? Values are also expected to cross £20 million in the coming years, highlighting the F1's evergreen appeal.

    Fun fact: Gordon Murray didn't like a few things on the F1, so he went ahead and designed...

  • GMA T.50

    GMA T.50

    ... this. As far as automotive purism goes, a Cosworth V12 combined with meticulous weight-saving measures left our Ollie Marriage with quite the conclusion during Top Gear’s world-exclusive GMA T.50 review: “It will almost certainly never be bettered.”

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