Gearhead News

January 12, 2021
This 400-HP, 20-Cylinder Flat-X Engine Is One of the Wildest Things in Internal Combustion

Gordon Murray once said that anything with more than 12 cylinders is just plain showing off. I certainly see his point, yet can’t help but wonder about the possibility of a nice, round 20 cylinders instead? That’s what you get from the X20, an engine developed by Bevan Davidson International, a small British automotive design firm. And the cylinder count isn’t even the most innovative thing at work here.

BDI is located some 33 miles from Lotus HQ in northern England. Led by Phil Bevan, a veteran of the industry who began designing and building vehicles in 1969, BDI owns revamped automotive startup Connaught and its 22.5-degree narrow-angle supercharged V10 engine prototype created by former JLR powertrain specialist Tim Bishop. Now, under the Villiers brand, BDI is planning to launch several evolutions of this highly modular and compact design, including this pioneering 20-cylinder flat engine.

The X20 is a pair of horizontally opposed 2.0-liter V10s with two crankshafts mated together via a geared system in the middle. With a displacement of 4.0 liters, it’s a 40-valve engine estimated to produce 400 horsepower without forced induction and mated to a Lamborghini-sourced six-speed manual from a Gallardo.

What’s the point of all this? For starters, with its 200cc cylinders and clever packaging, Bishop’s V10 engine can be scaled up or down into not only the proposed 20-cylinder supercar engine, but also a 22.5-degree V12, the world’s smallest production V6 at 1.2 liters, a V4, or according to Phil Bevan, even a V5. Now that would be something, especially powering a lightweight three-wheeler.

As Drivetribe‘s Mike Fernie also found out at the workshop specializing in prototypes and custom vehicles, BDI intends to launch at least three cars wearing the Connaught badge, all while working on a revolutionary two-stroke engine on the side.

BDI

Currently carburetted, this 1,200 cc two-stroke will soon get fuel-injected, only to be fed with synthetic oil to meet modern emission targets.

Who knows which of these ideas can progress into small series production, of course. According to the company boss, BDI operates with a 10 percent success rate at most. Still, a British supercar with a unique engine making more sense than the Cizeta-Moroder’s V16 would be interesting to see, especially acting as a halo car for the ambitious Connaught brand.

What would you jam a Villiers X20 into? 

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