The 1970 Mercedes C111 a car that was born and spent its life in a lab

The 1970 Mercedes C111 a car that was born and spent its life in a lab

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Back in 1969 Mercedes wanted to start experimenting with some less conventional engines including a new type of Diesel engine and different Wankel engines which would give the car more power. The C111 was the next car that Mercedes built with Gullwing doors after the 300SL which I wrote about a few weeks back but sadly this car never went into full production. So sit back, relax and read about this incredibly cool experimental vehicle.



In the late 1960’s Mercedes was experimenting with a lot of different features it wanted to install on its mainstream production cars, primarily a couple of new engines. Apart from just the engines they were experimenting with better Gullwing doors, a new luxurious leather interior, Air Conditioning units and multi-link rear suspension.

The series 1 version of this car was introduced at the 1969 Frankfurt Motor Show and garnered a huge amount of interest worldwide.


The car is very un-Mercedes with the dipping nose and the popup headlamps which is probably one of the reasons why it never went into production, instead being used as a test bed. The car was designed by Bruno Sacco whose most significant design is the Mercedes 190 which is far a field from this car. The body is made from fiberglass and is somewhat Mercedes given it has two sets of headlights, one in the spot lights at the bottom and then the popup headlamps. As we look around the back of the car it has a very strange but great looking strut design around the engine cover and the back lights look very Ferrari-esque.

The series III and IV versions looked a lot more like something out of the Jetsons, going with a space craft style look with a longtail, they also looked really good but I’m not sure how much I enjoy the Citreon style wheel exposed on the Series IV which you can see above.

All in all, I think this car looks stunning and definitely a lot better than most cars built around this era.


As I said this car was built primarily as a test bed for different engines so there was a few different types put in the car during its lifetime. The first series of the car which was unveiled in 1969 had a three-rotor Wankel engine which was direct injection and produced 230 bhp which was a good amount in 1969. Wankel engines were big talk at the time but due to fuel consumption and unreliability issues they never really became mainstream. The series II (in the photo at the top) was shown at the Frankfurt Motor Show in 1970 and this time featured a four-rotor Wankel engine and it was good. This new version of the engine pumped out a massive 350 bhp and according to Mercedes could hit 186 mph.

Due to issues with the Wankel engines, Mercedes next decided to test Diesel engines in the series III and series IV versions. The series III had a five cylinder (yep I know) 3 liter diesel which produced 228 bhp and this car broke multiple speed records for a diesel powered car including hitting 200mph. This wasn’t as fast as they got the diesel to go though, the series IV and final experiment Mercedes decided to run with the C111 was a 4.8 Liter twin turbo charged engine which was running 500 bhp and managed to hit 250 mph on the Nardo ring. This was driven by Hans Liebold.


Only 16 of these cars where ever produced with not a single one sold to the public which is a shame because it is a very cool looking car and that diesel engine was probably the best version of diesel car I’ve ever heard of. It’s not the end though, Mercedes introduced the C112 in 1991 and did some more testing but that is a conversation for another article.