MercedesBenz C112 | Hemmings Motor News

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A great new V-12 engine and the of Group C racing combined to the creation of a stunning road car, the C112 of 1991

Article from Hemmings Exotic Car

At Frankfurt in 1991, revealed an experimental car that demonstrated how technology could the way to safer and more efficient cars. Its C112 was a tremendously automobile, the latest in the wave of that was sweeping the industry. If in, best dressed’ was the ticket for Mercedes-Benz seemed a welcome at the party.

Two years earlier, to Mercedes-Benz’s Frankfurt pavilion saw a different kind of concept Called the F100, it was a new kind of car—a one-box design in the driver sat centrally, for an excellent and optimum safety, and behind him passengers in two rows. Rife intriguing design features, the F100 was the first public of the work of a new Mercedes-Benz activity, its design department. Established as a operation within Bruno design group, advanced as DAS—was given a mission to down new roads and explore new

The C112 was intended to be a practical and acceptable car that was easy to safe and comfortable. Like the it was to be fully road-legal and capable of homologated for all world markets, Switzerland with its stern regulations and California with its emissions limits.

Tire-pressure and radar distance monitoring included in the specification. The cabin was to be appointed and well insulated the noise of the mid-mounted engine. temperature control and in-car were to be provided. Driving the wasn’t to resemble the harsh of a Group C car. There was to be assistance for brakes, clutch and

Within these parameters, the DAS explored a wide range of and radical forms. Some of the sketches, already proposing rear aerodynamics, were in 1988. Multiple concepts explored in both 1/10 and form, many with side air intakes that the rear engine placement. and his designers employed new sculptural that echoed some of the of the C111-III. The result was a pure, shape that was intricately at its sides and rear.

The C112 defied the flowing, plastic of many of the late-1980s super-sports Bruno Sacco told Cinti of Auto Design: the C112 theme was being we didn’t get lost in the maze, to be too trendy. It possesses a well-defined anchored in the past but coherently to design concepts developed the last fifteen years. We to continue with what we as our design philosophy.

Mercedes Benz successfully the use of the ‘flip-up’ headlamps which can the car and degrade its drag factor. were hidden behind fairings that recalled of the C111-III. Other lamps integrated into the Kevlar bumper. An automatically deployed spoiler hid in a funnel-shaped underwing beneath the nose radiator The inlet was set into a panel also formed the front and for this reason was made of Nose panels were to the front chassis sub frame.

doors were specified, a 40-year tradition. Door was servo assisted by hydraulic positioned under the roof opened and closed the doors a button was pressed. Operating were adapted from used to activate the flip-up bar on the SL roadster. A backup system against failure, and an infra red control was provided. Each was designed so that it could be open for access in case the car was

The rear bodywork consisted of a hinged aluminum cover for the atop aluminum panels to a steel subframe to form the of the tail, most of the venturi and the tip of the tail with its articulated The ends of the diffusers were as part of a Kevlar panel to act as the rear bumper. Above the the whole of the rear of the body was by a massive taillamp array.

To keep aerodynamic drag there were only air inlets: one in each flank in to that in the nose. The flank supplied cooling air for the engine bay also flowed through a for the engine oil. A portion of the air was channeled to the rear brakes. air for the front brakes was diverted the nose inlet, which fed a radiator that was placed horizontally.


Created by a select engineering team under Hoehl’s technical direction, the of the C112 retained direct with the Sauber-built Group C in its general layout, its aluminum and its underbody aerodynamics. The aluminum was designed to deform progressively impact and yet could provide stiffness and crashworthiness.

Behind the occupants was the new 60-degree-vee This 5,987cc unit x 80.2mm) was constructed in aluminum and had Nicasil-coated cylinder bores, among road engines. The six into one exhaust manifolds fed a system. This included a of double-fluted three way catalytic one per bank placed close to the

Rated at a maximum of 408hp at rpm, in its standard form the was the most powerful volume-production car in the world, adequate to give the a theoretical top speed of 192 mph. from rest to 62 mph was computed to 4.9 seconds. With only a bellhousing between the engine and the the wheelbase was held to 106.3 As exhibited at Frankfurt, the C112 room for neither a trunk nor a wheel.

The Hoehl-led team a riveted and bonded aluminum chassis tub that weighed 130 pounds bare. The tub ran back as far as the bay. Its high rear formed a tank from two internal electric pumps fuel. The three major bulkheads (front, cowl and were joined by a central running between the seats increased stiffness in bending and impact resistance.

A light cage was added to the tub as a support for the and doors. Then the aluminum-alloy forming the side panels, and roof was riveted to the tub and to the cage. A structure riveted to the front carried the battery and the water Water pipes were through the chassis backbone to the A substantial welded-steel framework rearward, alongside the engine, to the rear-suspension mounts, projected the monocoque tub. Bolted to the the structure could be removed for or repair.

The ZF transaxle that had yeoman service in the C111s and so other mid-engined sports was replaced by a new unit designed for the C112. The experience of the Motorsport group was exploited for the new unit, layout followed that of a used in the Group C cars. Its six were outboard to the rear of the and pinion and fed from the clutch by a running underneath the differential.

of steel-tube fabrications, the five-link suspension followed the geometry by Mercedes-Benz for its 190-series cars. over to the S Class, the Mercedes five-link rear suspension was a double-wishbone layout with an toe control arm, replaced in case by a hydraulic ram for the C112’s system. The front suspension was of pattern, also fabricated of tubing. Spring/damper units operated directly by the lower At both front and rear, the uprights were adapted forged-steel parts used in development.

One-piece magnesium wheels, by Speedline, were 17 inches in and had rims 8¼ inches at the front, 13 inches wide at the Their five-spoke design, not a on the classic C111-II wheel, be considered a weak point of the styling. Tires were high-performance ZR-rated radials, from both Michelin and Power-boosted brakes used cast-iron ventilated discs by four-piston calipers containing Pagid pads.

In addition to its brakes, clutch and steering, the had servo operation for the doors, door windows, seats and outside rearview mirrors. its other creature comforts, a Blaupunkt Mexico 2000 and its experimental suspension, braking and systems, the car was carrying a lot of high-tech In spite of its aluminum chassis and the C112 rolled out with its weight at a substantial 3,460 58% on its rear wheels.

Setting the well apart from the exotic sports two-seaters of its were its intelligent suspension and systems. Its potential marketplace included some impressive from the Jaguar XJ220 and Diablo to the Bugatti EB110, but of these or others of their ilk to much more than a brute-force approach to the driver/car/road Its computerized systems launched the well and truly into the generation of supercars.

Braking was by an ABS unit, monitoring and automatically any wheel locking under In tandem with the ABS, an control (Anti-Schlupf Regelung) or ASR automatically prevented spinning of driving wheel by applying the on the side of the spinning wheel. At the time, the ASR retarded the ignition and the throttle opening until any had been checked.

In addition to its of braking and drive traction, the fine-tuned its handling by means of a electronic rear-wheel steering called ‘cybernetic’ steering. The links in the five-link rear were replaced by a hydraulic ram at side. Key inputs to the system’s control unit were the g-force sensors and a steering-angle Any fault in the system caused the ram to be as a fail-safe measure.

The cybernetic steering control dynamic conditions and sent to the valves controlling the hydraulic which trimmed the rear-wheel angles to ensure that the followed the driver’s chosen It automatically compensated for irregularities in the surface and even for changes of grip. It also reacted to changes while cornering.

The springing was by constant-rate steel springs and concentric dampers. response was modified according to conditions as part of a comprehensive system called Automatic Control or ABC. The C112’s ABC could adjust its handling from understeer through to oversteer according to the preferences of the and/or driver. It achieved by combining real-time adjustment of the of the four spring platforms changes to the springing and damping

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Inherent in the operation of the ABC was a form of suspension. A major advantage of the use of ABC was soft springs could a supple ride without the penalty of excessive roll. it ran at a ground clearance some times higher than of a Group C racing car, the could be held … by the ABC in both pitch and roll.

control mode engineered the C112 was aerodynamic, intended to with a classic conflict of objectives. To achieve high and fuel efficiency, the C112 was a drag coefficient of 0.30. was impressively low for a practical sports car and than the 0.325 of the C111-II. low drag, however, can come of stability. But adding spoilers and to counter lift and add stability can increase drag. The aim of the C112’s was to bring to the road the Group C that a ground-effect underwing counter lift without a significant drag penalty.

The low drag coefficient was attained a muted version of a Group underwing. From the car’s bottom, tunnels rose between the rear wheels and the keel for the transaxle. The lower links disturbed the airflow the tunnels. The C112 underbody achieved its aim, which was to the scales tipped toward rather than positive at speed. But when and if Group C of downforce were needed, could be developed by the same This was achieved by a supplementary variable’ aerodynamic system.

Active aerodynamics gave assistance to the driver when the reached its limit of traction in cornering or braking. Sensors g-forces in the front, middle and of the car gave information to the ECU that the C112’s actively variable When triggered by their system, a front spoiler and a rear airfoil were in one-tenth of a second. Combined, created a high level of downforce with an inevitable in drag. At the car’s theoretical top of 192 mph, they were to increase downforce from an figure to around 2,200

Popping forward from its beneath the car’s chin, the spoiler formed a splitter front entrance to the underwing. At the the airfoil was an integral part of the shape. It had a small aerodynamic in its parked position and created downforce when it shot up and to the In its deployed position, it greatly the scavenging and thus the effectiveness of the venturis.

Spoiler and airfoil activated when the ECU judged the tires were losing grip on the road. At first, the and airfoil were driven by motors, but these deployed too slowly. Hydraulic systems substituted to gain faster The front and rear aids had to hit the together to preserve the C112’s aerodynamic balance while its ton of downforce. This would to the rescue of a driver in distress a giant hand pressing the car on the roadway.

The rear airfoil had operating mode, one that back to the 300SLR of 1955. panic braking, it added more drag by moving to the rear and tipping up at some 45 In this position it acted as an air Thrusting the panel into the airstream shot the drag up to 0.90, treble its normal and dramatically reduced the stopping from 190 mph by a theoretical—and useful—330

Project engineer Karl said that the integration of the electronic systems was the major challenge for him and his team. His long-term was the provision of a single central processing unit in place of the dedicated ECUs used in the C112 prototype.

If the C112 no other purpose in its career as an inspiration for the integration of its many control concepts, it would repaid its creation by Mercedes-Benz. In however, it was an attractive automobile. its magnificent V-12 engine and interior, it transmitted a strong to the serious driver who wanted a car for its performance more than its

Independent distributors with clout were around no Sales responsibility rested Mercedes-Benz itself. And it was well that individual buyers eager to acquire the C112. We had for DM 1.5 million from would-be said Harald Leschke. was no lack of appreciation of the exotic of a great new sports car born the sign of the star.

Mercedes-Benz ways of making the C112. Sauber’s new factory at Hinwil in was capable of building small of such cars. We may try to have him very special Mercedes-Benz for the street, very customer-oriented, cars, maybe derived the Group C cars like the America’s The Star was told by Hubbert.

Maybe they be sold worldwide, but it will be a very small number, continued. We must discuss a lot of before we do it, then we will it to the public. At this time, it is an idea. But the C112 wasn’t idea. It was a creation of the era of Werner at Mercedes-Benz. When the project was and evaluated, Niefer was no longer to defend it. New people had new ideas; the belonged to the past.

And what a it belonged to. It was developed no further, its sister never completed. Yet the remains mutely expressive of the creativity of those men at Mercedes-Benz who to see the three-pointed star sparkle on the nose of a great road car.

This article appeared in the August, 2006 of Hemmings Sports Exotic

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