50 years have passed! The Mercedes-Benz C 111. The record-breaker

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It was designed as an experiment, never to see the light of day as a series production model. It was the Mercedes-Benz C 111, that celebrated its public debut at the International Motor Show in Frankfurt exactly 50 years ago.

Visitors crowded around it. It was a futuristic super-sports car featuring swing doors. Customers started sending blank cheques to purchase one. But the C 111 was not for sale. Only twelve such cars were built in 1969 and 1970.

Mercedes-Benz C 111 (5)

It came to test the rotary piston engine on a principle developed by Felix Wankel. A three-rotor Wankel engine powered the car and developed 280 horsepower. The variant displayed one year later in Geneva came with a four-rotor engine and 350 horsepower.

It turned out that the rotary engine had a fuel consumption and emissions about 50% higher than a V-engine with the same cubic capacity. Major setbacks which led to Mercedes-Benz putting an end to the development of the power unit in the early 1976.

Mercedes-Benz C 111 (9)

The model was under the liability of the head of passenger car development, Rudolf Uhlenhaut, while the project manager was Dr Hans Liebold, head of pre-development. A team led by Joseph Gallitzendörfer drew the fascinating vehicle, while the famous Bruno Sacco coordinated body development. On the 15th of July 1969, the wedge-shaped super-sports car was taken to Hockenheimring.

The C 111 looked odd with its body riveted at the joints and with glass-fiber reinforced plastic body parts. The metallic orange paint finish added dare and took it straight to stardom.

Mercedes-Benz C 111 (4)

Two versions with five-cylinder turbodiesel engines (C 111-II D in 1976 and C 111-III in 1978) were built, as well as the C 111-IV with a V8 petrol engine in 1979. On the high-speed track in Nardò, Italy, the C 111s established numerous new records, one of them the circuit world record with 403.978 km/h by the C 111-IV on 5 May 1979.

2014 was the year the car regained its place in history. Mercedes-Benz Classic restored one of the dream sports cars from their collection. And it was totally drivable, thanks to an M 116 3.5-litre V8 engine.

Mercedes-Benz C 111 (3)