On-road reality

It's kind of funny to speak with reps from supercar builders; they all generally want to convince you that their car is an everyday driver that you can enjoy like a rich man's Ford Mustang GT. The only one of these four I would suggest to a friend for everyday use is the Murcielago Roadster due to its softer suspension strategy, even though the scissor doors are an inconvenience for passenger entry and exit.

I'm not saying that you can't use the other three every day if you feel like it. Go ahead and drive all day in them. Just avoid routes that have too many bumps or holes. Overall, Italian road surfaces are pretty good and we all enjoyed all four cars over several miles free of traffic. But the stiffness built into the chassis of the Porsche, Maserati and Pagani makes it necessary to stop after every 150 miles to take a rest and get ready for the next 150. It's a physical workout in each of them, and if the drive is on smaller two-lane roads, the rest stops are needed even more.

Regarding the comment about the MC12 Stradale needing to stay at the track, I really mean a wide and long track like La Sarthe or Spa-Francorchamps, because the MC12 needs to stretch out and go at top speed to feel really right. So, on these twisting two-lanes out in the hills, though the MC12 can certainly drive these roads with ease, it would be best saved until weekend racing. Only then can it benefit from all that aerodynamic downforce designed into the elaborate bodywork. On the other hand, the Maserati is definitely a thrill on the highway while the sun is rising and there is no traffic. It is a supersonic jet that (thankfully) never takes off.

If the Carrera GT weren't fantastic under all road conditions, it wouldn't be a Porsche. I like this car better than any 911 simply because the front end is as stable as the rear end. Other than occasionally scraping its very low chin piece, the Carrera GT handles every road like a professional. There is a little harshness in the ride, but I like the level of roughness that Porsche has created here.

The finest quality of the Pagani Zonda F on the road is the fact that you can see absolutely everything out to the side and front. The design makes it so the view is panoramic, and this creates a high level of confidence and ease at the wheel. The transparent roof is another nice touch. Seeing what's behind you is much easier, too, thanks to new remotely adjustable side-view mirrors that are actually useful. This is also the most comfortable interior of the four which helps lessen the impact of the competition suspension settings. The custom-built six-speed transmission is easy and fast to shift via the short lever.

Ah, yes, but what's really the point of driving these incredible cars on the road? The point is that you want people to notice you. Each of these cars by itself can draw a crowd without even trying. Imagine having all four of them together driving through several towns and stopping for an occasional coffee. The crowds were everywhere we stopped and absolutely everyone turned a head to look. This is the point. These cars make you famous immediately if only for the fact that everyone has some idea of exactly how fast you could go if you felt like it. If you dared.


2005 PAGANI ZONDA F

Last opinion: Pagani Zonda F

This is the perfect Zonda. The 602-bhp version of the AMG 7.3-liter V12 is one of the best engines of all time. Weighing so little and with so much power and torque, the Zonda F is a good competitor for the Maserati on a large, long track. Horacio Pagani always emphasizes the heart and soul of his hand-made cars and never the performance. I think he can start talking about performance a little bit more now. In this class, I see it as a bargain given the huge price for the MC12. There is some talk that Pagani Automobili is on a thin financial edge, but it's a company that always survives.

Drivetrain

Longitudinal mid-rear engine,rear-wheel-drive with TCS

Engine

7.3-liter (7,291cc) 60 V12, dohc, four valves percylinder, Bosch fuel injection

Transmission

Six-speed manual withself-locking differential

Suspension

Independent double A-arms; anti-roll bars; helical springs and Ohlins adjustable hydraulic dampers;aluminum alloy suspension arms

Brakes

Ventilated Brembo hydraulicrotors, ABS

Dimensions

Length x Width x Height (in.):175 x 81 x 45
Wheelbase: 108 in.
Curb Weight: 2,711 lb

Performance

Peak Power: 602 bhp
@ 6150 rpm (DIN)Peak Torque: 549 lb-ft @ 4000 rpm

Performance

0-60 mph: 3.5 sec.
0-100 mph: 6.8 sec.
0-150 mph: 13.0 sec.
Top Speed: 214 mph

Production

Location: San Cesariosul Panaro, Italy
Run: 25 total cars
Build Time: 8 months
Base Price: $500,000


2004 PORSCHE CARRERA GT

Last opinion: Porsche Carrera GT

Key to the Carrera GT equation is balance. Weight distribution of 42/58 is spot-on for a rear-mid-engine car. I think most people would drive away from here in this car after a lot of thought and debate. It's not just the weight configuration, but also the exterior proportions, the Porsche name and the steering response. As full packages go, this a good one. The Carrera GT, Boxster and Cayman S rear-mid philosophy is Porsche's way into the future and I have a feeling that 911 sales will make up less and less of the annual budget as time marches on.

Drivetrain

Longitudinal mid-rear engine,rear-wheel-drive with TCS

Engine

5.7-liter (5,733cc) 68 V10, dohc, four valvesper cylinder, sequential multi-point fuel injection

Transmission

Six-speed manual

Suspension

Double wishbones w/inboard spring and damper pushrod design, anti-roll bars

Brakes

Cross-drilled PCCB (ceramic) rotors by SGL, ABS

Dimensions

Length x Width x Height (in.):182 x 76 x 46Wheelbase: 108 in.
Curb Weight: 3,042 lb

Performance

Peak Power: 612 bhp@ 8000 rpm (DIN)
Peak Torque: 437 lb-ft
@ 5750 rpm
0-60 mph: 3.6 sec.
0-100 mph: 6.9 sec.
0-150 mph: 13.2 sec.
Top Speed: 205 mph

Production

Location: Leipzig, Germany
Run: 1500 total cars
Build Time: 130 hours
Base Price: $440,000

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