One of the most under-appreciated Italian supercars of all time gets the love it deserves

The Maserati MC12 is arguably one of the most underrated supercars of all time. Produced in limited quantities back in 2004 — only 50 were built — the MC12 was a two-seater supercar that Maserati built to comply with homologation requirements so it could enter the FIA GT Championship with a race-spec version of the same car. Sixteen years later, not a lot of people remember the MC12 or even its shared history with the much more famous Ferrari Enzo. Fortunately, Petrolicious’ original series Homologation Specials did not forget about the MC12 and its impact in the supercar world. It doesn’t get as much love and respect as the Enzo, but the MC12 should be remembered better than it has been. It wasn’t the best car to drive, and it was oft-criticized for being too big, but the MC12’s place in the annals of Italian performance cars is secure, or at least it should be.

Was the Maserati MC12 a great supercar?

That’s going to depend on your interpretation of a “great” supercar, but if you’re asking whether the MC12 was universally loved, then the answer would be “no.” Most of the criticism surrounding the MC12 involved its size and design.

Despite sharing a chassis with the Ferrari Enzo, the MC12 was a far bigger car that its counterpart.

The supercar also had a great look, but it lacked a few basic features that gnawed at people. It didn’t have a trunk, a spare tire, a radio, and yes, even a rear window. Granted, the lack of these simple features was attributed to its race car identity, but the road-spec versions could’ve at least had them. A rear window, for example, would’ve been nice on a car as wide as the MC12.

This Video About the Maserati MC12 Will Remind You Of Better Times
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The Maserati exotic had its share of detractors, but it also had fans, a lot of whom appreciated its smooth ride. Jeremy Clarkson begrudgingly admitted as much during his test drive of the MC12. The supercar’s handling and braking were also lauded, as was the traction control that engaged well when the car was turning into corners.

The Maserati MC12 had its flaws as most exotics of its time did.

It just so happened that its shortcomings were of shallow varieties that could’ve been avoided with more time spent on development. All the same, the MC12 made people think differently about Maserati, at least for a time. The Italian automaker showed that even if it relied heavily on Ferrari, it could still make a supercar that could stand on its own merits.

This Video About the Maserati MC12 Will Remind You Of Better Times
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2004 Maserati MC12 specifications
Engine: 6.0-liter V-12
Power: 621 horsepower
Torque: 481 pound-feet
0-60 mph: 3.6 seconds
Top speed: 205 mph
Units built: 50

How does the MC12 compare to the Ferrari Enzo?

This Video About the Maserati MC12 Will Remind You Of Better Times
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To be clear, the Ferrari Enzo is in a different league compared to the Maserati MC12. That statement is unassailable, even if both models share the same chassis. Maserati used that chassis to form the basis of a race car, which explains why the Italian automaker prioritized function over form in the MC12’s development. Remember, too, that Maserati only built the road-spec MC12s so it could qualify to return to the FIA GT Championships. The focus wasn’t entirely on making road-spec versions that could be considered as real road cars. Instead, Maserati took the MC12 race car and adopted for road use.

This Video About the Maserati MC12 Will Remind You Of Better Times
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The Enzo, on the other hand, was created not only to honor the automaker’s founder, Enzo Ferrari but, just as important, to vault Ferrari to the top of the Italian supercar hierarchy.

You could say that the automaker’s focus was squarely on making the Enzo the ultimate Italian supercar of its time, and, for what that’s worth, Ferrari accomplished that goal.

The Enzo is smaller, yes, but it’s also a true supercar, both in form and function. It’s faster and more powerful than the MC12. It was created largely through Ferrari’s Formule One know-how and expertise. Most of all, it was a Ferrari and a very special and memorable one at that.

This Video About the Maserati MC12 Will Remind You Of Better Times
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The MC12 was one of the defining supercars of the 2000s. It’s lost its place in that history, but videos like Petrolicious’ original series Homologation Specials, can serve as a reminder of what the MC12 was like, both on the road and at the race track. It’s no Ferrari Enzo, but it was still a force to be reckoned with.

Kirby Garlitos
Automotive Aftermarket Expert - kirby@topspeed.com
Kirby’s first exposure into the world of automobiles happened when he caught Knight Rider on television as a five-year old boy. David Hasselhoff didn’t leave much of an impression on him (that happened later on in Baywatch), but KITT certainly did. To this day, Kirby remains convinced that he will one day own a car with the same ‘spirit’ as the original KITT (not the 2008 monstrosity). He doesn't know when that will be, but until then, he’s committed to expressing his love for KITT, and all cars for that matter, here at TopSpeed.  Read More
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