The Chrysler ME Four Twelve
0-100 in 6.2 seconds, 0-60 in 2.9, Quarter mile of 10.6 @ 136 mph... and all put together in record time
The ME 4-12 was not a concept car, but the prototype for a car that was never approved.
Around 300 Chrysler ME 4-12 cars were to be built each year, leaning on carbon fiber and aluminum. Road testing was scheduled for late January 2004, with production to start within two years. The concept cars / prototypes were built in the United States by Metalcrafters; the lead engineer was from Chrysler and the lead suppliers were North American. Most off the shelf parts appear to be from Chrysler, aside from the engine.
In 2004, prototypes were being tested; the top speed appeared to be 240 mph, with quarter mile times of 10.6 seconds at 136 mph. It used the double-clutch automatically-controlled manual transmission designed and patented by Chrysler, with manual overrides via steering wheel paddles. When AutoWeek test drove it in August 2004, they found numerous changes from the prototype.
The major shortcoming of the ME-412 was that it easily beat the Mercedes SLR, which was years in the making, and far more expensive to develop; Dieter reportedly was screamed at for this, and it may even have been one of the reasons why Wolfgang Bernhard was “de-selected” from the Mercedes-head job. The ME-412 itself was cancelled, reportedly as an embarassment to Mercedes.
ME-412 team effectiveness (by Bob Sheaves)
There were just eleven people working on the ME412 from Chrysler (out of about 10,000 at CTC, FREC, and JTE), according to press preleases. There were a handful of suppliers, under ten that have admitted to in the trade magazines.
In my opinion the most important piece of R&D, Ricardo was handling the people or “warm bodies” doing the work, under Chrysler direction and supervision. Approximately 30 people (2 from DCX, maybe) would be involved with this work, including design, engineering, manufacturing feasibility, testing, and process.
For this team to even make one driveable vehicle (or several, as an article stated the car is under development - which, by inference, means there is at least one car and probably five transmission assemblies — at least one for manufacturing development, at least one in a mule car, and least one in the show car, and at least two in dyno testing) in under 18 months is nothing short of phenomenal — especially given the money spent so far, which is about average for a non-functioning show car by GM.
The return on investment of this kind of research (such as the ME-412) is far more important that most realize!
More Chrysler ME-412 details and photos
The ME stands for “mid-engined,” where the quad-turbo, AMG V-12 is positioned. A highly modified Mercedes powerplant, it was reportedly designed for Chrysler, and was rated at 850 bhp @ 5750 rpm, with 850 lb-ft. (1150 N-m) of torque between 2500 and 4500 rpm on premium unleaded fuel. Use of the AMG engine was dictated largely by the need for high power with light weight (around 500 lb) and at reasonable development cost; the Chrysler V10 would have been much larger and heavier.
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 — a new record. In speed runs, the Chrysler ME Four-Twelve went from 0-60 mph in 2.9 seconds, 0-100 mph in 6.2 seconds, and blistered through the quarter mile in 10.6 seconds at 135 mph.
The car was designed to achieve outstanding thermal performance under extreme conditions. The 7-speed Ricardo double clutch transmission was developed for the car, with Chrysler’s own double wet-clutch technology and 200 millisecond shift times. The double wet-clutch technology appears to come from Chrysler. (An anonymous Chrysler employee wrote, "I cannot believe that Chrysler didn't get the credit for this transaxle! To be fair, it fits with its replacement by the junk MB controls and system.")
The ME Four-Twelve used carbon fiber bodywork with a carbon fiber and aluminum honeycomb monocoque (“true unibody”) tub. Aluminum crush structures and chrome-moly sub-frames allowed the ME Four-Twelve's rigid support structure to meet US impact rules.
The suspension used 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 had massive 15.0-inch (381 mm) ventilated carbon ceramic composite disc brake rotors with six-piston aluminum mono block calipers. The composite discs are 65% lighter than comparable cast iron rotors. 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.
At just 44.9 inches tall, 78.7 inches wide and 178.8-inches long, the two-seat, mid-engine ME Four-Twelve was wind tunnel tested in Auburn Hills.
The 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 coefficient of drag (Cd) of 0.358. Large vented front and rear wheel houses reduce lift; active and passive aerodynamic devices provide stable vehicle performance at all speeds.
The interior is relatively spacious 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
The ME-412 easily accommodates drivers in a wide range of heights, and provides strong access to driving controls; it includes an F1 racing style paddle shifter.
Styling was done by Brian Nielander, who worked with engineers and aerodynamics experts to shape the interior and exterior.
Wolfgang Bernhard, Chief Operating Officer - Chrysler Group, said, "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."
The SLR McLaren is the top of the Mercedes [sport] line.. they've spent millions on it.. and they've spent years on it.. it represents the best of anything Mercedes.
Enter the ME-412.. they took a Mercedes engine.. took it to Mercedes tuner... they spent a year.. and outdid the SLR McLaren..
Chrysler can do in 12 months what it takes Mercedes years.. and not only can it do that, it can do that with their parts for less and better to boot!