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Mercedes C111, The Wankel Engined Sports Car That Never Made It To Production (Photos)

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The Mercedes-Benz C111 is a high-speed futuristic car that never became a series production model.

Despite interest from customers, Mercedes insisted the C111 and its variants will remain an experimental prototype.

mercedes-benz-c111

mercedes-benz-c111





mercedes-benz-c111

At the Frankfurt International Motor Show in September 1969, Mercedes presented an out-of-the-ordinary car to the world named C111.

The super sports car stole the show with its eye-catching orange paint job and an upward-opening gullwing doors. The C111 also has a highly-aerodynamic fiberglass body that was bonded to a steel chassis.

mercedes-benz-c111

mercedes-benz-c111

Describe as a “test lab on wheels”, the C111 prototype was designed to test the Wankel engine. It also featured new technologies that we see in today’s production cars.

The C111’s 280hp three-rotor unit allows a top speed of 260 km/h (162 mph). This speed was quite remarkable for the time.





mercedes-benz-c111

mercedes-benz-c111

Two months after the unveiling, a revised version, the C111-II was shown at the Geneva Motor Show.

Its 350 hp four-rotor Wankel engine allows a 0-100 km/h (62 mph) in 4.8 seconds. C111-II has a top speed of 300 km/h (186 mph).

C 111

1970 Mercedes

Little more was heard about C111-II after the death of Wankel Engine as diesel technology became the focus of research.

Again, the diesel tech led to the creation of record-breaking versions of the C111 few years later.

In 1976, 1978 and 1979, diesel-powered C111 completed runs on the high-speed test track in Nardo in southern Italy.

mercedes-benz-c111

Three generations of C111s. Initial prototype (background), the C111 I (center) and the C111 II (right).

On the first record run, the C111-II D was powered by a revised five-cylinder diesel engine displacing 3.0 litres. Instead of the 80 hp in the production car, the engine churns out 190 hp.

In 1978, the C111-III developed an output of 230 hp with an additional intercooler. But this record-breaking car now had little in common with the original C111. The silver-coloured body mounted on a floor unit with changed dimensions was even more thoroughly streamlined.

Merc

Merc

Merc

The record-breaking C111-IV of 1979 came with further aerodynamic refinements. It featured distinctive spoilers, a changed front end and two tail fins.

Its 4.5 litre V8 engine from regular production, enlarged to displace 4.8 litres and generate 500 hp.

mercedes-benz-c111

mercedes-benz-c111

On the track with other Mercedes models

In this version, the C111-IV was no longer a pure research vehicle; but one that achieved top-class sporting performance.

Despite customers interests, with some presenting blank checks to the giant automaker, Mercedes insisted the C111 will remain an experimental prototype.

mercedes-benz-c111

Merc

Merc

In total, 16 C111‘s was produced. 13 first and 2nd-generation Wankel engined cars; 2 diesel engined 3rd-generation cars used in Nardo record attempt; and a single V8-engined 4th-generation car.

Now an exhibit of the Mercedes-Benz Museum, the C111 has been displayed at other events. These includes the Paris Motor Show, London Motor Show, Turin Auto Show.





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