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What better way to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the Automobile Club de Monaco than with an exotic mid-engined supercar? That is exactly what Fulvio Maria Ballabio had in mind when he established Monte Carlo Automobile or MCA. Certainly not shy of ambition, Ballabio intended the new Monegasque built machine to rival the best both on the road and track. To achieve this he called in the help of designer Guglielmo Bellasi, who had been one of the composite innovators in Formula 1.
Ballabio and Bellasi spent nearly five years carefully developing the chassis for the new MCA. With Bellasi's vast composite experience, it was not surprising that the MCA was crafted entirely from carbon fibre. Suspension was conventional by double wishbones. With the chassis fully engineered Ballabio travelled to Bologna in March of 1990. Here he signed an agreement with Lamborghini to supply him with the latest version of the company's legendary V12 engine.
In August of 1990 MCA presented the 'Centenaire' to His Royal Highness Prince Rainier of Monaco, who was an avid collector of anything automotive. While the launch coincided perfectly with the ACM's 100th anniversary, it was still poorly timed. The market for exotic cars had just plummeted, making the market for cars like the MCA Centenaire very small. Eventually just 5 examples were produced between 1990 and 1992, but it was far from the end for the carbon fibre supercar.
In 1993 a Georgian businessman bought the rights to the MCA Centenaire and set about turning a road car into a circuit racer with the intention of competing in that year's 24 Hours of Le Mans race. The 'new' racing car was dubbed the MIG M100 for 'Migrelia & Georgia'. Entered by Georgia Automotive, the car made its debut during the Le Mans test where it clocked the 30th time nearly one and a half minutes behind the fastest car. The team returned for qualifying, but the M100 failed to make the cut and was not seen out again.
This was still not the end as MCA was bought by the Aixam company and the Centenaire was developed into the Mega Monte Carlo. The name was a clear nod to the origins of the supercar. The Lamborghini was replaced by a Mercedes-Benz V12 engine that Mega had previously used in the Track four wheel drive sports car. The exterior design was also modified and further modernized. Although based on a six year old design, the Mega Monte Carlo was one of the most exciting cars released at the 1996 Geneva Motor Show.
There were again intentions to race the car at Le Mans in both the GT1 and GT2 classes with two different engines. Production problems, however, prevented that the Monte Carlo was ever fully homologated. At least one racing car was built with a large rear wing and carbon fibre brakes. It is believed that production ceased by 1999 and it is not entirely clear how many examples were produced. Aixam/Mega went back to concentrate on their city-cars, while in 2008 MCA made a return with Ballabio and Bellasi still at the helm.
Featured is one of the two MCA Centenaire prototypes built. It was displayed in the Lamborghini museum from 1992 to 1999. Monaco's very first supercar is shown here on the stand of French car broker Autodrome during the 2007 Retromobile show. It was shown alongside another Lamborghini engined special; the Heuliez Pregunta.
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