مصادر عالمية / Interesting Engineering

The Experimental Mercedes-Benz C 111 Never Got to Hit the Road

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Back in 1969, Mercedes-Benz unveiled an iconic sports car — called the C 111 series — but much to everyone's dismay, it never hit the market as a mass-produced product.

The Orange-colored beauty was a winged dream for sports car enthusiasts, but sadly wasn't up to snuff for Mercedes-Benz's expectations in terms of reliability.

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Mercedes-Benz's C 111 car was a dream come true

The engineering and design teams behind the C 111 series initially worked on an idea throughout the 1960s. Eventually, Mercedes-Benz's concept was unveiled at the International Motor Show (IAA) in Frankfurt, Germany.

The Experimental Mercedes-Benz C 111 Never Got to Hit the Road
The C 111 in the making during the 60s. Source: Mercedes-Benz

The team worked to achieve the ultimate sports car. These automotive bodies were made of fiberglass-reinforced plastic, which is riveted and glued to a steel-frame floor. This makes the car lighter and enhancing acceleration.

The Experimental Mercedes-Benz C 111 Never Got to Hit the Road
The promotional image for the C-111 in 1969. Source: Mercedes-Benz

While the car was already expected to be a success, its fame even surpassed the company's expectations. The car eventually became a major style icon of the 1970s — thanks to Bruno Sacco's influential vision. 

The Experimental Mercedes-Benz C 111 Never Got to Hit the Road
A German newspaper from 1969, headlining the C 111 as "The ‘big hit’ of the IAA is not for sale.", Source: Mercedes-Benz

The "super" sports car featured gullwing doors and a three-rotor Wankel rotary engine with a 280 HP, making it the industry's new kid on the block. The C 111 could hit a top speed of roughly 167.7 mph (270 km/h).

Notably, the C 111 series is also the inspiration behind the gullwing doors in the automotive industry.

The Experimental Mercedes-Benz C 111 Never Got to Hit the Road
A Wankel engine. Source: Mercedes-Benz

Initial success inspires second-coming: the C 111-II

After the massive success of C 111, Mercedes-Benz rolled out C 111-II as a successor. The C 111-II could go from 0 to roughly 60 mph (100 km/h) in less than 5 seconds with a top speed of 186.4 mph (300 km/h).

With its superior strength and vibrant design, C 111-II ruled the auto market in the pivotal decade.

Additionally, the C 111-II surpassed its predecessor in strength, the C 111-II featured a four-rotor Wankel rotary engine with a 350 hp.

The Experimental Mercedes-Benz C 111 Never Got to Hit the Road
C-111 with gullwing doors up. Source: Mercedes-Benz

While the series was very well-received by both the press and the public, it still wasn't enough for mass-production. The Wankel engines used in these cars are known for their compact power and lightweight nature.

Even with the Wankel engines, the C 111 series was reportedly not approved by Mercedes-Benz in terms of reliability and durability.

The Experimental Mercedes-Benz C 111 Never Got to Hit the Road
The promotional image for the C-111 in 1969. Source: Mercedes-Benz

Test Circuit Duty

After Mercedes-Benz decided to keep the car off the roads, they decided to use C 111 series for the world's test circuits during the oil crisis of the 1970s.

A team of researchers even fitted a C 111-II car with a three-liter five-cylinder diesel engine. Later called C 111-II D within the company, the car went on to set 16 world records within 60 hours — 13 of which were for diesel vehicles — and the remaining three were for cars with any type of engine.

The Experimental Mercedes-Benz C 111 Never Got to Hit the Road
The C111-II D on-duty. Source: Mercedes-Benz

The C 111 series is still in use — but only for research and development purposes. As the epitome of the 1970s' dream car icon, this model has remained the best of the best for many car enthusiasts around the world — for 50 years. But sadly, this experimental design will probably always stay a dream since the Mercedes-Benz never released further news on one of the most beautiful designs in history.

It's okay to dream, though.

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