Some 14 years ago an angel was born. That angel sounded a trumpet. That trumpet broke down a wall made of porcelain. Behind that wall: the Maserati MC12, a car that still continues to defy any bounds of reason or earthly restrictions whatsoever.
The Maserati MC12 was, well, I can’t say that for sure. I have never seen a Maserati MC12. I have never touched one. I have never been walking down a dark street one night, the ground still wet from an earlier rain, the leaves in the sycamores rustling above, a streetlight glinting up on the slick pavement distracting me and then crack the snap of twelve cylinders gasping for breath, bouncing between the buildings, headlights washing out the whole expanse, like I was lifted into heaven, if for a moment, a moment in which all I am is an observer taking in, in pieces: the strakes running over the vented hood, the center-lock wheels with seven trident spokes, the vents on the fenders to release high pressure over the front wheels, the difficult to comprehend complex curvature of the body as it cuts away around the doors, those multi-layered intakes, wondering to which radiators and coolers they might run to, hidden away under carbon fiber clamshells, and then the full-width wing curing out then up and then across to meet itself, thin and also preposterous.
That’s definitely not a thing that has happened.
So it’s not completely fair to me to say that the Maserati MC12 existed. It certainly didn’t have great reason to exist. It debuted in 2004, with 25 examples getting made, then 25 more were made in 2005. It was a road car version of the race car version of the Ferrari Enzo, a car that was already a road car. Except it wasn’t exactly an Enzo, but I’m making things more complicated than they need to be.
Ferrari didn’t race the Enzo, but Maserati raced the MC12, which was like an Enzo but made better for racing, with longer front and rear bodywork like the GT1 cars that ran at Le Mans in the 1990s. The MC12 did race in GT1, but it was after the GT1 era at Le Mans, so it wasn’t exactly like it was really racing in GT1, made all the more confusing because it was excluded from the championship standings when it started racing. Even though it was allowed into the races themselves—races that it did compete in even though it wasn’t technically in the competition—it was just there, at the event, like Big Papi playing in your softball game, except none of the runs he scores count, so he’s just there and nobody knows how or why.
But again, that’s the racing version of the MC12. Maserati sold it as a road car, the specs of which are basically the same as the Enzo, only with a different body on it and no rear window.
It has the same 5998cc V12, with 612 horsepower at a wonderful 7500 RPM and 481 lb-ft of torque at a lofty 5500 RPM. Redline was at 7700, per Maserati’s handout for the car. This was downrated from the Enzo. For what reasons? Unclear. The Enzo redlined at 8200 RPM and made a good 40 more horsepower, running up about 12 miles per hour faster in top speed, 217 versus 205.
So too was the MC12 about 220 pounds (100 kilos) heavier than the Enzo.
It would be easy to say it was an Enzo but worse. But it was an Enzo that was different, and the reasons for its existence seemed obtuse other than for racing in a series that nobody watched, where it didn’t even technically compete.