Released in 1969, the Mercedes C111 attracted plenty of interest at the time. However, it was never actually put on sale and only 14 were ever created. Big Motoring World reviews the winged wonder.
The C111 was kept entirely in-house at Mercedes. With its glass-fibre bodied gullwing doors, it was a pioneering vehicle which was used in the research and development of future vehicles. Though the design never took off, the stylish and record-breakingly quick Merc had endurance and power to match.
Mercedes’ big push throughout the 1960s and 70s was safety – how on earth the C111 made it through production is a mystery. Add in the impending fuel crisis and the fact that early models used a Wankel rotary engine – not noted for their efficiency – and the decision not to proceed with a production version seems sensible.
Amongst other ground-breaking technologies, the C111 was used for testing the latest air-conditioning and anti-lock braking systems. It also used the latest radio antenna for the time and the interior is well-finished to say that it was never available to the public.
The C111 hits a top speed of 74mph which doesn’t sound quick, but the experience of the drive is a lot more than speed. It’s brisk compared to recent developments, but back in the 1970s it really was one of the quickest cars around. Grip and handling is also remarkable to say that this machine is over 45 years of age. A chilled interior, good brakes and a crisp radio signal – certainly an all-time Mercedes classic.