MCA Centenaire / Mega Monte Carlo
Well, it’s the end of the 90’s Obscure Supercar Series. It’s been a fun trip down memory lane and to make part 5 of 5 a bit more special, we have a double dose of semi-French supercar craziness. Enjoy!
The MCA Centenaire
Back in 1990, the Monaco Automobile Club was ready to celebrate its 100th anniversary and well, you know how Monaco is in the car department…every playboy on the planet stops by at some point driving whatever’s hot at the time; so, to stand out you really need to step up your game. That being said, it wouldn’t be proper if the local car club of one the most glamorous, wealth ridden places in the world were to celebrate its special birthday with just any old thing. Thankfully it didn’t need to. A few years before, pilot/engineer Fulvio Ballabio started a company called Montecarlo Automobiles (or MCA) which was particularly suited to make something truly worthy of a 100th anniversary.
A racecar for the street, and the first road legal automobile to use a full carbon fiber structure (the McLaren F1 gets a lot of props for being the pioneer with a CFRP monocoque structure, but the Centenaire was rocking those kinds of materials before), the MCA was a very, very limited production machine. Presented to (the late) Prince Rainier of Monaco in August of 1990, the Centenaire was only made until 1992 with a grand total of 5 units ever seeing the light of day: one black, one white, one red and two in royal metallic blue like the one presented in the pictures. This particular car was actually for sale about 10 years ago for 387 thousand dollars…who knows how big the price tag would be on it today. Well, whomever spent almost 400 grand got a very nicely wrapped V12 Lamborghini (from the Countach Quattrovalvole), stylish red leather interiors, and the joy of knowing that he’ll never have to stop bragging about how exclusive his ride is.
The Mega Monte Carlo
Aixam-Mega…what strange, wonderful kind of mad people they were back in the day…A French company which is still an extremely prolific manufacturer of microcars, AM decided all of a sudden in the early 90’s that they were gonna start building supercars. You know, for the heck of it. I mean, why make something with 10 or 20bhp when you can have 400? It’s a no brainer. The first attempt by AM at being insane resulted in something which is one of the best, most innovative concepts to ever grace the automotive world; called “Track”, you can read all about this insane off roader/supercar in a previous AV post here.
Not happy with just tearing up the countryside, AM wanted more from their “we have no idea what we’re doing but it’s sure fun as hell” program. So in the early 90’s the company bought MCA and set out to make the Centenaire…better. AM was extremely successful in its goal
I truly wanted to end this series with the Monte Carlo because first: it is just the most beautiful thing! And second: it embodies all that was great and special about the super limited production dream machines of the 90’s. While the Centenaire was a bit oddly proportionate, and 90’s supercars in general didn’t always exhibit the best of judgments as far as their styling (especially the models from small manufacturers), the Monte Carlo always had my heart with its drop dead gorgeous lines which are – to me – simply perfect. It’s surprising to find out that the whole thing was pretty much designed by computer with performance/aerodynamics in mind; you’d expect it to be “colder” in its appearance, but it exhibits as much soul and emotion as any Italian exotic of its day. Presented at the Geneva Motor Show in 1996, the Monte Carlo ditched the Centenaire’s Lamborghini V12 for a Mercedes one. The new German heart was capable of propelling the Monte Carlo from 0 to 60 in 4.4 seconds; not bad at all. AM had the intention of not only building it for the road, but also to take it racing at Le Mans. Sadly, only one stunning Monte Carlo GT racer was made (which you can see here) because someone at AM decided to ruin it for everyone by bringing the company back to the boredom of its microcars in the early 00’s, abandoning supercar territory for good. The dream was over.
No one seems to know for sure how many Monte Carlos were made between 1998 (when production started) and 1999, and one can only speculate on how many more wonderful, peculiar, inspired, brilliant things could have come forth if AM’s adventure had continued. I’m thankful that the Track and the Monte Carlo exist, I truly am, but I’ll also permanently be sadden by the fact I’ll never get more AM supercar goodness in my life.
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