Name: Chrysler ME Four-Twelve (after mid-engined, four-turbo, twelve-cylinder)
Debuted: 2004 North American International Auto Show
Specs: mid-mounted AMG V12 quad turbo engine with 850 horsepower, 850 pound-feet (1,150 Newton-meters) of torque, seven-speed dual-clutch gearbox, rear-wheel drive, 2,880 pounds (1,310 kilograms) weight
Why We Remember It Now:
14 years later, it looks just as nice as any of today’s supercars and has the technical specifications to go up against the very best of them. The fact that it almost made it to production leaves us wondering what could have been.
The Daimler-Chrysler era is deemed by many as being a fiasco, but it did enrich the automotive world with this wonderful V12 gem, albeit only as a concept car. “The most advanced Chrysler ever built,” says the original press release from 2004, which we’ve attached at the end. Given the juicy technical specifications of the ME Four-Twelve, we totally agree with this statement as the concept used a 6.0-liter V12 engine of AMG origins and equipped with four turbochargers.
Lamborghini is bragging about the Aventador Superveloce Jota’s “best” weight-to-power ratio, but let’s keep in mind this had a whopping 850 horsepower responsible for moving just 2,880 lbs (1,310 kg). That translated into a remarkable weight-to-power ratio of 3.4 lbs (1.5 kg) / hp. Output was channeled to the rear wheels through a seven-speed, dual-clutch Ricardo gearbox specifically engineered for the concept.
In order to achieve such a remarkably low curb weight, carbon fiber was used not only for the bodywork, but also in the aluminum honeycomb monocoque tub. The diet also consisted of carbon ceramic composite brakes as well as a carbon fiber seat structure lowering the weight of the entire seat to merely 27 lbs (12.3 kg).
The ME Four-Twelve was really all about the astounding numbers: 0-60 mph (0-96 kph) in 2.9 seconds, 0-100 mph (161 kph) in 6.2 seconds, the quarter mile in 10.6 seconds at 142 mph (229 kph), and an estimated top speed of 248 mph (400 kph). None of these figures were ever verified as Chrysler came up with them doing projections and modeling.
The concept’s design was certainly on a par with the juicy specs sheet as the car still looks incredible even by today’s standards. The interior cabin might be showing its age a little bit - it’s a 14-year-old car after all - but with a few changes here and there, it could be brought up to date without much effort.
It’s worth mentioning the ME Four-Twelve was seriously considered for production, but ultimately the project was axed. Reports from the mid-2000s say the mid-engined supercar would’ve been way too costly to develop, so the business case for it wasn’t exactly favorable. The fact that it would have (probably) been quicker than the Mercedes SLR McLaren was also a concern as Daimler surely wouldn’t have wanted that.
Gallery: 2004 Chrysler ME Four-Twelve concept
Chrysler ME Four-Twelve Revealed As Chrysler’s First-Ever Mid-Engine Super Car
The spectacular quad-turbo, V-12 powered, mid-engine Chrysler ME Four-Twelve super car has roared onto the scene to shine as the most advanced Chrysler ever built.
The ultimate engineering and design statement, and a brilliant example of the Chrysler Group’s capabilities, the ME Four-Twelve will establish a real-world performance record for a rear-wheel drive, mid-engine super car and may also set a record for lightening-quick vehicle development. Taking less than one year to complete from start to finish, the Chrysler Group partnered with some of the best in the business to assist in its development.
“The ME Four-Twelve has been one of the most closely guarded secrets, not only to the outside world but also within our organization,” said Trevor Creed, Senior Vice President, Chrysler Group Design. “The idea for this machine was conceived as a spectacular follow-up to the Dodge Tomahawk shown last year. The big difference is that Tomahawk was a design statement. ME Four-Twelve, however, is as much an engineering statement as it is a design statement.”
“ME Four-Twelve adds a new aura of performance to the Chrysler brand,” Creed said. “It is aerodynamically honed, and it balances elegance and power. It exudes strength, performance and prestige. The ME Four-Twelve is Chrysler’s own creative interpretation of the classic mid-engine super car architecture.”
AMG Powertrain and Ricardo Clutch Transmission for Unmatched 0-60 Performance
The heart of the ME Four-Twelve is its all-aluminum, quad-turbo, 6.0-liter V-12 engine. With electronic sequential multipoint fuel injection and a 9.0:1 compression ratio, the ME Four-Twelve’s AMG-developed engine delivers 850 bhp @ 5750 rpm, with 850 lb-ft. (1150 N-m) of torque between 2500 and 4500 rpm on premium unleaded fuel. The specific power output translates to 142 bhp/liter, and with a curb weight of just 2880 lbs. (1310 kg), the ME Four-Twelve has the weight-to-power ratio of 3.4 lbs/bhp – each of these sets new performance records and new benchmarks in the super car category.
And, befitting a machine that will play comfortably in the super car league, the performance of the ME Four-Twelve is stunning. In our projections and modeling, the ME Four-Twelve goes from 0-60 mph in 2.9 seconds, 0-100 mph in 6.2 seconds and it will blister through the quarter mile in 10.6 seconds at 142.0 mph. The estimated top speed of the ME Four-Twelve is 248 mph (400 km/h). The vehicle is designed and packaged to achieve outstanding thermal performance under extreme operating conditions. Its large capacity, high-efficiency engine-cooling system allows this engine to retain optimum thermal performance – a key advantage in the super car arena.
The 7-speed Ricardo Double Clutch Transmission was developed specifically for this vehicle and features the latest double wet-clutch technology and electronic control strategy. The exclusive ME Four-Twelve transmission delivers uninterrupted torque to the rear wheels with 200 millisecond shift times.
Advanced Composite Structure, Cat-Quick Agility
The ME Four-Twelve’s advanced, carbon fiber bodywork was designed to mate to a carbon fiber and aluminum honeycomb monocoque tub. Aluminum crush structures and chrome-moly sub-frames complete the ME Four-Twelve’s rigid support structure. Taking advantage of its impressive racecar-like structural rigidity, the ME Four-Twelve’s suspension, steering and brakes are engineered for super car performance. Overall, the vehicle’s structure – consisting of multiple materials - achieves an ultra lightweight design with outstanding vehicle rigidity and complies with all US federal regulations related to impact testing.
The suspension is comprised of double wishbones, aluminum control arms, horizontally-opposed coil-over dampers with electronically controlled compression and rebound tuning, stainless-steel push rods and a blade configured anti-roll bar.
The power-assisted rack-and-pinion steering has an overall ratio of 16:1 with 2.4 turns lock-to-lock and a turning circle of 36.0 feet.
The ME Four-Twelve braking system features massive 15.0-inch (381 mm) ventilated carbon ceramic composite disc brake rotors with six-piston aluminum mono block calipers for superior braking performance during all driving conditions. The composite discs are sixty-five percent lower in weight than comparable cast iron rotors. This results in significantly reducing unsprung mass and improving shock damping response.
ME Four-Twelve wheels are cast aluminum: 19x10-inch front and 20x12.5-inch rear. Michelin high-performance radials are 265/35ZR19 in the front and 335/30ZR20 in the rear.
Ultimate Chrysler Engineering and Design Statement – to the Last Aerodynamic Detail
At just 44.9 inches tall, 78.7 inches wide and 178.8-inches long, the two-seat, mid-engine ME Four-Twelve has a striking presence – poised as if ready to pounce. The ME Four-Twelve carbon fiber body work has that “chiseled all from one piece” look, honed from hours of development in the Chrysler Group wind tunnel in Auburn Hills, Mich.
The computer controlled active rear spoiler articulates rearward 100 mm to increase down-force to a total of 925 lbs. (421 kg) at 186 mph (300 km/h), while achieving a competitive coefficient of drag (Cd) of 0.358. This results in unwavering stability at the ultra-high speeds of which ME Four-Twelve is capable. All body openings have been optimized to achieve maximum thermal performance. In addition, large vented front and rear wheel houses reduce lift as well as active and passive aerodynamic devices that have been implemented to provide stable vehicle performance at all speeds. Those devices include:
- A front fascia splitter for increased frontal down-force
- A fully developed underbody with integral rear diffuser to reduce lift and provide additional rear down-force
- Formations in the belly pan forward of each wheel to aid in reducing lift
- The decklid rear “ski-slope” formation improves rear down-force
- Large rear grille integrated into the fascia helps ventilate air through the engine compartment
- Cubic section at the leading edge of the front fascia helps air attach to the underbody and reduces lift
A Tasteful and Purposeful Interior Environment
Chrysler brand beauty and elegance has been blended with the function and form that are essential in the ultimate super car. For example, ME Four-Twelve’s interior shows the carbon fiber structure of the body tub throughout, used for its light-weight attributes but refined in texture to fulfill the Chrysler brand promise. In addition, leather-covered sport seats, a tilt steering wheel, automatic climate control and a premium audio system are housed in a vehicle that is just as at home on the highway as it is on the race track. Unique features and elements include:
- Carbon fiber seat structure with a total seat weight of just 27 lbs. (12.3 kg)
- Competitive-in-class interior roominess with 37.2 in (942 mm) of headroom, and 42.7 in (1085 mm) of legroom
- A large glass roof panel extends from the windshield to the rear header
- Passenger-side adjustable foot support helps keep the “co-pilot” in position during extreme cornering maneuvers
This vehicle breaks the mold of the super car genre because its packaging can easily accommodate drivers in a wide range of heights. Ease of access to driving controls was a primary focus. For example, there are steering wheel mounted controls, including a column mounted F-1 racing style paddle shifter with aluminum shift paddles and centrally mounted driver controls.
“In terms of advanced materials, aerodynamic efficiency and vehicle dynamic performance, the ME Four-Twelve represents the ultimate engineering and design statement from Chrysler,” said Wolfgang Bernhard, Chief Operating Officer, Chrysler Group. “It’s everything we’ve learned about creating exciting, desirable automobiles. And, as such, it’s not really a concept car but is, in fact, a prototype that will be road-ready by summer.”