More often than not, a car's name can dictate just how excited you feel about it. Think about some of the greatest and most evocative car names there's ever been - Thunderbird, Aventador, Corvette, Viper, Interceptor, Valkyrie - with each and every one of them bringing thoughts of something extraordinary, regardless of whether those thoughts relate to anything tangible or not. And with that in mind, there is an important question that must be asked: what exactly does the name "Birdcage" invoke in you?
With a whiff of sarcasm to mask a limited car knowledge that doesn't stretch back beyond the start of the new millennium, the name may make you envisage a car with a feathered rodent inside that's always got an answer for everything. But if classic racing cars are your particular bent, you will know that the Birdcage name doesn't refer to a car that Piers Morgan's in; instead, it will unquestionably conjure thoughts of Maserati racing cars from a glorious era in motorsport. And in 2005, the name was resurrected for a very special concept indeed.
Unveiled at the Geneva Motor Show, and winning the show's prize for best concept car, the Birdcage wasn't just about celebrating the legendary name from Maserati's racing past – it was about celebrating a very special occasion for the designers of the car, Pininfarina. For 2005 marked the fabled Italian automotive artist's 75th anniversary, and this car was their way to commemorate the event. When you look at the details, you have to say that it's one hell of a way to say happy birthday to yourself.
Built on the same carbon fibre chassis as the MC12 GT1 Racing Car that won the 2005 FIA GT Championship, it also inherits the same 6L normally aspirated Ferrari Enzo V12, tuned up to send 700bhp to its rear wheels via a 6-speed sequential 'box. And to top it off, the body was made entirely of carbon fibre too. But the really striking thing about the Birdcage Concept became abundantly clear the moment you tried to climb aboard.
The Birdcage was not somewhere you found something as commonplace as doors. To get inside, the entire front canopy lifts off, reminiscent of a jet fighter. Just watching the process of the canopy opening is almost unnerving, like watching the start of a lobotomy – but it's mightily beautiful, and utterly hypnotising.
You may think that in the 6 months it took to design the Birdcage, everything was very carefully metered around the centrepiece of the canopy, and therefore, the car is merely a design practice showcasing a marvellously original way to open a door. But in fact, aerodynamic downforce was engineered into the car in the form of a rear diffuser, and two active rear spoilers that raise at speed.
Ultimately however, the Birdcage was just a concept, and therefore something of an exercise in the free will of not needing to adhere to any road regulations. But by doing that, they did create one of the most desirable and dreamt about Maserati concepts ever made.
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Written by: Angelo Uccello
Tribe: Speed Machines
Facebook: Speed Machines - DriveTribe
Photo Credits: Pininfarina