1976 MercedesBenz C111IID

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Mercedes-Benz C111

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and heritage.

1976 Mercedes-Benz

The Mercedes Sports Car That Have Been

By Richard Contributor | Published Dec 31, 2010

Now a good time to have a of confidence.


Once we flail the driver seat of the Mercedes-Benz record car, a Mercedes gently lowers the gullwing into place while we the 20-plus gauges on the instrument

We#039;re told categorically the most important thing is not to get in way. In a car that sits 44 inches off the deck and with one mirror, this will be no task, especially as we#039;ll be on our axis as camouflaged Mercedes-Benz hurtle past at obscene Here in northern Germany, the ATP test track has epic in its 7.6 miles, but it#039;s the four of banking that matter.

And in a genuine record-setter, the Mercedes-Benz a futuristic sports car that set a for diesel-powered cars in 1976 by 160 mph for 10,000 miles.

The C111 is the sports car that Mercedes-Benz built, though it came oh so

Speed Comes With a

With fuel pump and ignition on, this most of exotica sounds anything There#039;s a hollow clatter, a of sound on start-up before the idles at a registered 1,000 Which is actually 966 rpm. it so on a bit of tape next to the rev counter. a tall 1st gear on the five-speed gearbox and a clutch that is in or out, we fully expect to the inline-5 diesel engine. we#039;re able to lurch in a series of surges like a as the revs reluctantly rise shifting into 2nd and accelerating without exceeding the mandated of 5,100 rpm.

Without a filter between and mouth, our first run through the banking brings with it elation and a slight case of the The C111 is effortless to drive, only a slight counterintuitive as you drive into the banking letting it settle on its given Just don#039;t try and change By about the 11th lap the thrill of has slackened a little, but then two test hacks blast us with just inches to We#039;re travelling pretty quickly, especially in a car that#039;s 40 old; just not quickly

It#039;s at times such as that you fully appreciate how good the good guys are. Not least Dr. Hans Joachim Kaaden, Guido and the legendary Erich Waxenberger. On 12, 1976, these Mercedes jockeys braved the banking at Nard? test facility in very car. After 64 of near constant driving, a driver change every two and a hours, they had beaten or eight new speed records and more than 10,000 And averaged close to 160 mph. Not bad for a

Midengine Is the Future

Backtrack to Mercedes-Benz had been absent top-flight motorsport for a decade the factory team#039;s withdrawal the 1955 disaster at the 24 Hours of Le and former competition chief Uhlenhaut was now head of passenger car He craved something to get his teeth and finally persuaded the company to into the future.

A new, youthful engineering generation assume control at the development in Unterturkheim. Uhlenhaut was particularly to explore the potential of a midengine the configuration that every car in the world had embraced in the wake of the revolution in motorsport. A design had first been mooted in but it wasn#039;t until 1968 the proposal, initially code-named really gained traction.

Had put the C111-II into production, it have come along before the BMW M1 .

This new breed of would be powered by a Wankel engine, Daimler-Benz being one of companies to have acquired a license for the design back in The car would also act as a test bed for things as composite construction, ABS and suspension configurations. Full-scale wasn#039;t on the agenda, yet this hack was intended to be a show-stopper

Midengine road cars still considered daring in the Uhlenhaut#039;s team had evaluated marques, acquiring a Lotus 47 others, but typically went its own way a semi-space frame chassis had deep sills to provide structural rigidity. Suspension was via wishbones and an antiroll bar up front, unequal-length transverse links, and lower trailing arms and an bar out back. Coil springs used at every corner. power came from an compact, 280-horsepower three-chamber engine, which displaced per chamber (the equivalent of a piston engine).

The Shape of the Future

With the bits sorted, the C111 was to take shape, even if shape was best viewed at The original test mule. the Tin Box. wasn#039;t a looker, as the aluminum bodywork was essentially in only to keep the rain The prototype took to the road on 16, 1969, and future record-breaker flogged it around the N?rburgring and circuits barely a month Meanwhile, the body engineering under Werner Breitschwedt and Wilfert set about transforming Sacco#039;s design rendering three-dimensional reality.

In July the first definitive fiberglass shell was glued, riveted and into place and then in a wind tunnel, where it a drag coefficient of 0.335. was the enthusiastic reception within the that the car was prepared for demonstrations to the at the Frankfurt auto show in

Mercedes-Benz C111

Predictably, reaction was one of jaw-slackened To most onlookers, this flight of fantasy was a dream car in sense, even if Merc remained mum over whether it ever reach volume In 1970, a restyled variant a 350-hp four-rotor Wankel. the broke cover at the Geneva show, and it seemed ever likely that the car would be for public consumption.

The big draw for the management was making use of the engine to which the firm had vast resources. The C111 was the platform with which to in this brave new world it found a home in a range of conformist products. Chevrolet the same adventure in 1971, led to two midengine, rotary-powered Corvette

The Future Changes Shape

there remained serious that the rotary engine ever provide the sort of and longevity expected of a Mercedes-Benz. Its thirst for fuel also against it, as did proposed U.S. air regulations. The other alternative was a piston engine, and one of the original was fitted with a 4.5-liter V8.

though, the board vetoed scheme. Taking a risk on a car so to everything else in the model was, well, too risky. it allowed a second batch of to be built, but only for research Since the 1973 fuel nearly extinguished the market for entirely, you can understand management#039;s

Of the first two series of C111s, were of the C111-II configuration. to confuse matters, this is the one and C111-IID. The car we#039;re driving was the first example of the second of prototypes and was relegated to a life of stasis in the experimental department#039;s Then it was resurrected in 1976 to the centerpiece of Daimler-Benz#039;s campaign to the image of its diesel engines. better way to publicize the potential of its inline-5 diesel than a few speed and endurance records?

So out came the rotary and in went a diesel unit taken the 240D sedan. With the of a turbocharger from Garrett a slightly more slippery and experimental Michelin tires, the collected all international records in the diesel class. Averaging mph on the 7.8-mile Nard? circuit the round-the-clock record run, the C111-IID had more than its worth. Even more so you consider it also averaged mpg.

The Sports Car of Today

not exactly hot outside as we#039;re but this fabulous machine may as be hermetically sealed. It gets toasty, very quickly. But such a fabulous device, you can it anything.

Back then, the of any supercar was an event, but all too often looked avant-garde when new preposterous just a few years the line. Just look at the Countach. The C111 in any of its guises require add-ons or other pestilence, and that fetching of Weissherbst (a reference to a German wine with an orange expresses the hedonistic glamour of the

Sure, this particular car is a gawkier than its siblings, in part to the cut #039;n shut of the rehashing for record-setting, with headlights and skinny tires. Yet without its make-up done, the still leaves you weak at the

The C111-III came together as a record-breaking version of the car in 1977, with diesel power, and it set records thanks to a top speed of 203 Finally the C111-IV appeared. by a twin-turbocharged 4.5-liter V8, this on the theme was driven to 250.918 mph at on May 5, 1979, to set the world closed-course record.

Had Mercedes taken the and put the C111-II into production, it have beaten BMW to the supercar long before the BMW M1 ever cover in 1978. But when the marque lost a fortune on its conventional supercar, the future for cars didn#039;t seem so The Mercedes-Benz C111 might been more like a end than a pinnacle of engineering but this beguiling oddity was triumphant even as it became marginal. And that still as a victory.

Mercedes-Benz C111
Mercedes-Benz C111
Mercedes-Benz C111
Mercedes-Benz C111

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