The speed records of the Mercedes-Benz C111. The history of the revolutionary concept

In the 1960s and 1970s, the German firm Mercedes-Benz surprised the world with a series of experimental vehicles called the C111, designed to test new engine technologies and advanced features. However, it was the version equipped with a Wankel engine that captivated car enthusiasts around the world, becoming a legend in the history of the motor industry.

The Wankel Version of the C111: Revolutionary Design and Incredible Power

Foto:Wladyslaw. Creative Commons

The story of the Mercedes-Benz C111 Wankel begins in 1969, when the German manufacturer introduced its first version with a fibreglass body and a three-rotor Wankel engine, positioned in a central rear arrangement. This design gave the C111 a futuristic, aerodynamic look, which was complemented by its impressive technical specifications: a top speed of 260 km/h and acceleration from 0 to 100 km/h in less than 5 seconds. The second version of the C111, equipped with a 370 hp four-rotor engine, improved the specifications even further, reaching a top speed of 290 km/h in speed tests. The combination of a powerful Wankel engine and lightweight, aerodynamic bodywork made the C111 a model that car enthusiasts still admire decades after its debut.

The Experiment Continues: The C111 with Diesel Engine

Mercedes-Benz’s experimentation with the C111 was not limited to the Wankel engine. In the third version of the model, the company opted to install a 230 hp turbodiesel engine and a more aerodynamic body, which significantly reduced the vehicle’s drag coefficient. With a five-speed manual transmission, the C111 broke nine speed records in 1978, both for diesel and non-diesel vehicles. This experiment proved that the diesel engine had great potential for speed, and could be as exciting as a petrol engine.

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The C111 V8 Turbo: The Speed Record That Made It a Legend

Although the C111 had already achieved impressive speeds with its Wankel and diesel engines, the German firm still had one more card up its sleeve. In 1979, Mercedes-Benz introduced the C111 V8 Turbo, equipped with a 4.8-litre V8 engine and two KKK turbos, capable of delivering 500 hp. This model set an incredible speed record on the test track in Nardò, Italy, achieving an average lap speed of 403.78 km/h. The C111 V8 Turbo not only


  1. Why did Mercedes-Benz decide to use the C111 as a test bed? Mercedes-Benz used the C111 as a test bed to experiment with new engine and design technologies. The company was committed to innovation and was always looking to improve its products.
  2. How many versions of the C111 were produced? Four versions of the C111 were produced.
  3. What type of engine did the first version of the C111 use? The first version of the C111 used a three-rotor Wankel engine with direct injection.
  4. Who designed the Mecedes C111? The Mercedes Benz C111 was designed by Italian designer Bruno Sacco.