Ferrari acquired Maserati in 1997, determined to sharpen the Trident and rebuild the company’s image. To accomplish this, Maserati was in need of a halo car, a tangible symbol of the new Maserati, one that would pay homage to the cars that dominated race tracks around the world, cars like the 450s and the Tipo 60/61. The FIA GT Championship series was chosen to be the venue where Maserati would attempt to win its first victory in an international championship since the Cooper Maserati Formula One car won the South Africa Grand Prix in 1967.
Homologation rules required a run of 25 cars, and Maserati planned to match that number both years of the 2004–2005 production run. Using the Ferrari Enzo as the platform for the MC12, a halo car, Maserati was guaranteed. American Frank Stephenson, Director of Concept Design and Development at Maserati, worked closely with wind tunnel engineers in forming the design of the car. The car’s general dimensions recall the Group C Le Mans cars of the 1980s, with the Enzo wheelbase lengthened half a foot and the overall length increased 17.5 inches. Not only does this added length increase high-speed stability, much of it is transferred into the passenger compartment, making the car a better fit for taller drivers.
Also borrowed from the Enzo is the naturally aspirated dual-overhead cam six-litre 12-cylinder engine, which aside from producing one of the most wonderful mechanical songs, develops 630 brake horsepower and 481 foot-pounds of torque at full tune. With a curb weight of 2,943 pounds, the MC12 boasts a 0–60 time of 3.8 seconds and a top speed in excess of 205 mph. All the power is harnessed by Maserati’s own Cambiocorsa six-speed transmission. Fully computerized, the driver selects gears via paddles located behind the steering wheel. The car performs with seamless upshifts and perfect double-clutch downshifts, blipping the throttle automatically to match revs, in essence, making a poor or miss-shift impossible. With either sport or race modes to select from, the MC12’s transmission is capable of lightning fast aggressive shifts on the track, as well as delivering the road manners for which Maserati’s latest generation of road-going cars are famous. Also, to assist with regular drivability, the front of the car can be raised at low speeds with the push of a button to clear moderate bumps and inclines.
Customer reaction was so positive that an additional 25 were produced one year later, bringing the grand total road car production to 50, twice the minimum number to qualify the model as a "production" car for racing.
The 50 road versions of the MC12 that were produced over the two year run were all identical, even finished in pearl white over blue as a tribute to the America Camoradi Scuderia, which raced the famous Maserati Tipo 60-61 Birdcages in the very early-1960s, with Stirling Moss as their lead driver. The body of the MC12 is constructed entirely of carbon fibre, with the stressed chassis made of carbon fibre and Nomex sandwiched in a honeycomb configuration. The cabin of the Maserati has a removable top, which converts the supercar from coupé to spider. The interior was designed with the driver in mind, with everything perfectly located, making the driving experience intuitive, yet there is meticulous care evident in the fit and finish, always reminding the occupants that they are in a Maserati. With clean, tailored lines, materials of the finest quality, and special attention paid to comfort, the MC12 perfectly marries luxury with race car.
620 bhp, 5,998 cc 65 degree-V twelve-cylinder engine, six-speed flappy-paddle Maserati Cambiocorsa transmission, front and rear independent adjustable wishbone suspension, and four-wheel cross drilled ventilated disc brakes. Wheelbase: 110.2 in.