Today’s car is a 1970 Mercedes-Benz (M-B) C111-II Coupe owned by M-B and the car is located at M-B Classic Center in Irvine, CA. I was lucky enough to photographed this rare car at the San Marino Motor Classic, that is held at Lacy Park, located in San Marino, CA. The car is finished in Bronze-Orange with a black interior with cloth hounds tooth inserts on the seats and gullwing door panels. It is presently powered by a 205 hp, 3.5 liter, M116 mid engined V8, that is fuel injected and mated to a 5-speed manual transaxle. Slowing this beauty down are ventilated disc brakes in all 4-corners. The front independent suspension uses wishbones with MacPherson struts, and an anti-roll bar, while the rear independent suspension incorporated, tri-axial hubs, three lateral links, trailing arms, and diagonally mounted coil over dampers.
A total 0f 16 were produced between 1969 through 1979 with 13 of them being of the Bronze-Orange configuration, of the 13 this is the only running and driving example. The MSRP was £5,000,000.00 and it is currently insured for approximately £8,141,000.00 or 10 million US dollars. In the original 1970 version, with the four-rotor Wankel engine has a published top speed was 186 mph with 0-60 mph time of 4.6sec, fast for the day.
The C111’s were created as advanced testbeds and practical concepts that shaped the future development of M-Bs. It gave them their understanding of composite materials, safety, aerodynamics, but the primary purpose was to test the viability of the Wankel rotary engine in production. In a time when gas prices were increasing the gas thirsty Wankel did not prove feasible at the time. After the initial showing in 1969 at the Frankfurt IAA exhibition in September and a series of other public showings, automobile enthusiast thought that the C111 was the successor to the M-B 300SL Gullwing. The C111 led to stacks of blank checks being mailed to M-B from the excited and hungry aficionados. M-B still has some of these checks in their archives.
This 53 year old test bed is a beautiful example of history that displayed cutting edge technologies, high performance capabilities, and futuristic designs. What a great car to take car shows and Cars & Coffee events. It is guarantied to draw a crowd as it did this year at the San Marino Motor Classic. Thank you for riding along. Frank