The latest episode of Jay Leno’s Garage features a very special car: the Mercedes-Benz C111.
First shown at the 1969 Frankfurt Auto Show, the C111 broke new ground in terms of both engineering and design, and with its gullwing doors there were immediately claims that it might be a preview of a successor to the legendary 300SL of the 1950s. Unfortunately, that was never the case as Mercedes had built the C111 purely for testing new technologies, primarily in the areas of lightweight design and powertrain development.
As we discover in the video, more than a dozen examples were built—all of them retained by the automaker. The one featured here is a C111-II, which debuted in 1970 at the Geneva Motor Show. It featured a larger, four-rotor rotary engine as opposed to a three-rotor unit in the original C111, and it also sported some subtle visual tweaks. Later, a C111 with a V-8 and even one with a diesel engine were developed.
A representative of Mercedes-Benz Classic walks Leno through all the different areas of the car before handing the comedian a set of keys. Due to the rarity of the car as well as aging tires, Leno doesn’t push the C111 very hard. However, it’s still impressive to see the C111 out on the road and makes us wish once again that Mercedes had put it into production all those years ago.
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