The Maserati MC12 is a two-seat sports car produced by Maserati to allow a racing variant to compete in the FIA GT Championship. The car entered production in 2004 with 30 cars produced (five of which were not for sale). A further 25 were produced in 2005 making a total of 50 cars available for customers, each of which were pre-sold for €600 000.Maserati designed and built the car on the chassis of the Enzo Ferrari but the final car is much larger with less drag coefficient. The MC12 is longer, wider and taller and has sharper nose and smoother curves than the Enzo Ferrari, which has faster acceleration, better braking performance (shorter braking distance) and a higher top speed. The top speed of the Maserati MC12 is 330 kilometers per hour (205 mph) whereas the top speed of the Enzo Ferrari is 350 kilometers per hour (217.5 mph).
The MC12 was developed to signal Maserati’s return to racing after 37 years. The road version was produced to homologue the race version. One requirement for participation in the FIA GT is the production of at least 25 road cars. Three GT1 race cars were entered into the FIA GT with great success. Maserati began racing the MC12 in the FIA GT toward the end of the 2004 season, winning the race held at the Zhuhai International Circuit. The racing MC12s were entered into the American Le Mans Series races in 2005 but exceeded the size restrictions and consequently paid weight penalties due to excess range.
Development of the Maserati MC12 began while Maserati was owned by Ferrari in order to create a race car for Maserati that would be eligible to compete in the FIA GT. Its initial name was the MCC, meaning Maserati Corse Competizione, and development under the direction of Giorgio Ascanelli was planned to be simultaneous with that of the MCS, the road going version. The body shape was developed from an idea by Giorgetto Giugiaro during wind tunnel testing, though the majority of styling was by Frank Stephenson. The MCC had a very similar body shape to the MC12 but there were several key differences, most notably the rear spoiler. Andrea Bertolini was the chief test driver throughout the development (although some testing was done by Michael Schumacher), frequently testing the MCC at the Fiorano Circuit. As the MCC was developed further, word of the MCS ceased and eventually the final name, MC12, was announced.
The car is based heavily on the Enzo Ferrari, sharing the same Ferrari Dino V12 engine with slight modifications, the same gearbox (but renaming it Maserati Cambiocorsa) and the same chassis and track (length of axle between the wheels). The Maserati MC12 has its own bodywork which is wider, longer and slightly taller leaving the windshield as the only externally visible component shared with the Enzo. This extra size allows for greater down force across the whole body, adding to that of the two meter spoiler.
The MC12 is a two-door coupe with a targa top roof, although the detached roof cannot be stored in the car. The mid-rear layout (engine between the axles but behind the cabin) keeps the centre of gravity in the middle of the car, which increases stability and improves the car’s cornering ability. The standing weight distribution is 41% front: 59% rear; at speed however, the downforce provided by the rear spoiler affects this such that at 200 kilometres per hour (125 mph), the effective weight distribution is 34% front: 66% rear.
The MC12 sports a 232 kilogram (511 lb), six-litre (5,998 cc/366 cu in) Enzo Ferrari-derived V12 engine, mounted at 65°. Each cylinder has four valves, lubricated via a dry sump system, and a compression ratio of 11.2:1.These combine to provide a maximum torque of 652 newton meters (481 lb/ft) at 5500 rpm and a maximum power of 630 PS (460 kW; 620 hp) at 7500 rpm. The red line rpm is indicated at 7500—despite being safe up to 7700—whereas the Enzo has red-line at 8200 rpm.
The Maserati MC12 can accelerate from 0–100 kilometers per hour (62 mph) in 3.8 seconds (though Motor Trend Magazine managed 3.7 seconds) and on to 200 kilometers per hour (125 mph) in 9.9 seconds. It can complete a standing (from stationary) quarter mile in 11.3 seconds with a terminal speed of 200 kilometers per hour (125 mph) or a standing kilometer in 20.1 seconds. The maximum speed of the Maserati MC12 is 330 kilometers per hour (205 mph).
The power is fed to the wheels through a rear-mounted, six-speed semi-automatic transmission. The gearbox is the same as the Enzo’s transmission (tuned to different gear ratios) but renamed “Maserati Cambiocorsa”. It provides a shift time of just 150 milliseconds, and is mechanical with a 215 millimeter (8.5 in) twin plate dry clutch. Chassis
The MC12’s chassis is a monocoque made of carbon and nomex, with an aluminum sub-chassis at the front and rear. It has a roll bar to provide additional strength, comfort and safety. Double wishbone suspension with push-rod-operated coil springs provide stability and dampers smooth the ride for the passengers. The front of the car can be raised for speed bumps and hills by pressing a button that extends the front suspension. There are two modes for the chassis’ tuning which can also be changed with a button in the cabin: Sport, the standard setting, and Race, which features less of the Bosch ASR (Anti-Slip Regulation) traction control, faster shifts and stiffer suspension.
The MC12 has 480 millimeter (19 in) wheels with a width of 230 millimeters (9 in) at the front and 330 millimeters (13 in) at the rear. The tires are Pirelli P Zero Corsas with codes of 245/35 ZR 19 for the front tyres and 345/35 ZR 19 for the rear. The brakes are Brembo disc brakes with a Bosch anti-lock braking system (ABS). The front brakes have a diameter of 380 millimeters (15 in) with six-piston calipers and the rear brakes have a diameter of 335 millimeters (13.2 in) with four-piston calipers. The centre-lock wheel nuts that hold the wheels to the chassis are color coded: red on the left of the car, blue on the right.
The car has generally received positive reviews, but its critics say it is hard to drive, overpriced and too large. Other criticisms include the lack of a trunk, rear window, spare tire and radio, and the way the car’s engine was limited or “drugged”. Current driver for Vitaphone Racing Team Andrea Bertolini, the chief test driver throughout the development, said the car “reacts well and is very reliable in its reactions.”
The Top Gear television series acquired an MC12, and test driver The Stig achieved a lap time of 1:18.9 around the Top Gear track—0.1 seconds faster than his lap in the Enzo Ferrari. Host Jeremy Clarkson also drove it, comparing it to the Maserati Biturbo, a car he disliked. Clarkson criticised the car greatly, pointing out that, like the Enzo, it lacks a rear window. He also commented that it is “difficult” due to its size, and “one of the twitchiest cars” he has ever driven, meaning a small action by the driver results in an exaggerated reaction from the car. For these reasons, he promptly renamed the car “The MC Hammer”. Regarding the design of a racing car and modification to road standards he said, “Is it a racer? Is it a GT car? Is it a de-tuned Enzo in a fat suit? You can’t really tell.” Despite his criticisms he did compliment the smooth ride:
This car glides over bumps, the suspension absorbing the road-worker Johnnies’ laziness without transferring a single ripple to the cool blue interior with its Milanese fashion house upholstery.
Motor Trend Magazine reviewer Frank Markus had a more positive opinion. Despite initial skepticism he said, “It turns out that the Enzo makes a more comfortable and attractive road car when made over as a butch Maserati racer in street couture”. Markus complimented the stability of braking and the handling ability of the MC12, especially the drifting allowed by the traction control when cornering, commenting that “There’s none of the knife-edged limit handling we criticised in the more extreme Enzo. It’s even more forgiving at the limit than an Acura NSX.”
When Automobile Magazine tested an MC12, reviewer Preston Lerner called it “user-friendly”, praising the responsiveness and simplicity of driving. Lerner approved of Frank Stephenson’s work with the styling of both the car’s exterior and interior, calling the trim “Speed-Racer-ish” but “without looking as though it belongs in a Nitrous-ized Civic”. He also complimented the ASR’s level of intervention, commenting that it “lets the fun factor get reasonably high before kicking in”.
Recently Evo Magazine ran the MC12 at Nordschleife and obtained a 7:24.29 second lap time.This was also the second time an MC12 recorded a faster lap time than its Ferrari counterpart, with the Enzo lapping the track exactly 1 second slower. Both times were set by the same driver, Marc Basseng.