The Full Story - Mercedes-Benz C111 (1969-1980)

The Full Story - Mercedes-Benz C111 (1969-1980)

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Language: English

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Number of phrases: 625

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00:00
it's the year 1967 and while the rest of the world is busy planning their summer of love the relentless engineers at mercedes-benz are setting the scene for a top-secret project which should last for more than a decade and result in the most stunning line of experimental vehicles in the history of experimental vehicles never before and never thereafter has an automaker put so much effort over more than a decade into the development of cars that they never intended to sell to anybody
00:35
not a single one this was a giant research project just for the sake of science and technological progress it's such a unique and extraordinary story it just deserves to be told so let's get that done [Music] to get a feeling of how spacey that whole project was you have to understand what kind of company daimler-benz was in the late 60s it was probably one of the most serious and conservative companies in the whole industry these guys weren't joking around the
01:08
product portfolio was extremely limited compared to today and very much focused on luxury the cheapest model was an e-class above came the s-class the sl and the mighty 600 for all the kings and dictators out there that was it they were selling 10 percent of today's volume and were the undisputed king of luxury cars and for the younger viewers out there there was no such thing as an a45 it just didn't exist and in the midst of that era project c101 was born in 1967 a team
01:44
was set up around the project leader dr hans liebold he reported his chief engineer the great rudolf ullenhout father of the 300slr ullenhaut coupee among many others the job create a laboratory on wheels to test and develop all kinds of new technologies above all the application of wonker rotary engines already in 1961 daimler-benz had purchased the license to produce onecall engines and the hopes were high that this tech had a great future besides the engine more innovations were to be applied like new suspension
02:15
geometries body materials and aerodynamics and all that stuff had to be implemented into a radically new vehicle type the engineers pulled up their sleeves and for the very first time with the help of computers created the initial concepts and designs in february 1969 they started building the first prototype the pressure was high and they had to be quick after less than two months the result was presented and visually it was what you would call quick and dirty internally it was called hobel which is german
02:46
for this a wood plane it was refined here and there over the next weeks and received a little facelift but basically remained a hobby on the exterior but make no mistake underneath its botchy body was already a fully functional prototype with a three rotor wonkle engine which was able to complete a major testing program on the test track in stuttgart onto turkheim at hockenheim on the nurburgring and even on public roads daimler was still trying to keep this project a secret the world should have a first look at the car on the frankfurt motor show in september 1969
03:18
so there was still a bit of work to do in the upcoming months they had to finish the design for excellent interior and give the car a new name peugeot insisted that all numbers with the center zero were theirs and that was how the c-111 was born [Music] while the hobo prototype was running its testing program the engineers and designers back in sindelfingen were working on its final disguise to make it look good for the iaa with its mid-engine layout it was already
03:55
clear that this mercedes was supposed to get a completely new design with proportions unlike any mercedes ever before responsible for the styling was the great bruno sako who years later would become head of the mercedes-benz styling center he created an extremely wet shaped gran turismo of radical simplicity this was not like secular's 1966 slx design study of a mid-engine sports car the c-111 was much more pure and clinical and technical featuring straight lines and clear surfaces when you look at the sports
04:25
cars that you could buy in 1969 an e-type a 911 a 275 a spitfire it's obvious that this c-111 was a very advanced design much more 80s than 60s as a highlight and to emphasize its significance the car received gull wing doors something mercedes has never done in the 15 years since the launch of the 300sl besides some technical reasons to go that way this was clearly a statement of how serious and how proud mercedes was with this car from the very beginning aerodynamics played an important role in the
04:56
development of the c-111 the engineers wanted to prove that a sports car could be low drag and efficient while at the same time ensuring a safe and well-balanced level of downforce on front and rear without any add-on pieces like flicks or spoilers that would disturb the clean styling but the core of the c111 and basically the main reason for the whole program was this a 150 kilo 1.8 liter 280 horsepower three rotor wonkle engine it was the hottest of engine technology in this era
05:27
and many adam levins believed that it would fundamentally change the way their cars are being powered in the future and there were some good reasons to believe in it the wankel engine is compact light and simple compared to a piston engine plus it can rev much higher and almost free from any vibrations sounds all very good but there were a few downsides which we are getting to in a minute but for the moment let's assume it's a great idea and put it in the c-111 on july 15 1969 the first c-111 was sent to hawkenheim
05:57
to start testing ullenhaut himself was at the wheel and he was certainly a bit underwhelmed the three-year-old engine was lacking power and torque and the quality of the fiberglass body was a disappointment overall this was far from satisfying at least the newly integrated five-link rear axle was a big improvement compared with the diagonal swing axle from the r107 that was still used in the first prototype and in combination with the extremely wide tyres was frankly dangerous anyway the presentation for frankfurt was set the car received its iconic orange paint
06:28
and was pushed on stage and it was quite a sensation without doubt the highlight of that year's frankfurt motor show this was the mercedes sports car that everybody was dreaming of finally since the 300sl a proper gullwing was back on stage with a breathtaking new shape and mind-blowing technology being able to do in five seconds and run up to 160 miles per hour mercedes has built five cars of that first series c-111 for an intense testing program and a driving event at the hockenheim ring
06:59
for journalists and vips it was clear that the c-111 was still an experimental vehicle and that there was still a lot of work to do especially on the engine side but people loved the idea of a new mercedes-benz supercar and rich guys from all over the world started to put their orders but mercedes kept saying no the c-111 was not built to earn money its purpose was to advance and display high-tech and there was still plenty of room for improvement so heads down and back to work
07:37
while the public was still celebrating edition one of the c-111 the teams in stuttgart were already back at their drawing boards or at their computers by the way which was a first during the c-111 development never before has a vehicle been engineered with the help of calculating machines and mercedes had the most powerful and capable calculating machines in the world and if you wonder how that looked watch this silence indeed well i'm really happy that my channel is
08:23
not about old computer technology because frankly this is not exciting at all old cars on the other hand they are getting more exciting every year it's about soul and design and beauty so back to our c-111 what were the major updates from gen 1. first of all they had to give the car the amount of power to match the looks so they added one additional rotor to the wankel engine increasing its capacity and torque by one third and the performance to 350 horsepower that would give the c-111 a top speed of
08:54
300 kilometers per hour what enabled that was also the revised exterior the design team together with their aerodynamicists improved the body significantly to bring down drag and increase the efficiency for instance the package of the front cooler and the position of air in an outlet was optimized to reduce lift above the front hood for a better visibility all around they lower the cockpit in the bed line increase the length of the side windows and open the rear side panels the overall drag coefficient was improved by 8
09:24
to a remarkable 0.325 and that's something you could feel when you look at the car this evolution of the c-111 was much sleeker and lighter and had the great proportions and the refinement that the first generation was still lacking and this was the c-111 that became so famous and iconic over the years when people say c-111 this is the car they are talking about the c-111 ii the first car was finished before christmas 1969 and five more were following quickly in march 1970 they had their first public appearance
09:55
at the geneva motor show this orange gullwing coupe was the undisputed star of the show and immediately became the most desired supercar of a whole generation and the first test drives with journalists met all the expectations with all the enthusiasm and excitement it triggered it was clear that mercedes had to think about a small serious production version people were dreaming of a worthy successor to the 300sl galwin coupe and this car seemed to tick all the boxes and there was actually a boat meeting to discuss all the options
10:25
but mercedes remained totally focused on testing and improving the main technologies the wankel engine and the fiberglass body and with both they were far from satisfied during intense testing the engine showed insufficient reliability and the exterior did not meet the high standards of mercedes-benz quality so they continued to test and improve and test and improve and test and improve until 1973 when the technology finally reached the required maturity and that was when the oil crisis hit the
10:58
markets within half a year the price for one barrel had risen from 3 to 12 us dollars at the same time the worldwide regulation of vehicle emissions became more and more strict these circumstances killed all the hopes to see a mercedes supercar be released into serious production especially not with that wonka engine that always had disadvantages in terms of emissions so mercedes pulled the plug out of the whole rotary engine program and turned the final c1112 into something very different the fastest diesel car in the world
11:29
diesel engines were starting to become on vogue in the 70s for obvious reasons they were fuel efficient reliable and durable but they were certainly not considered sporty or sexy to change their public opinion of diesel engines mercedes took their all-new five-cylinder three-liter om-617 and implemented it into their orange gullwing laboratory and here it was the c-1112 d to prove its performance they took it to nado on the biggest high speed test track you could find
11:58
a 12.6 kilometer benched circle in the very south of italy besides the new engine the car received bigger fuel tanks covered headlamps closed wheels for lower drag in june 1976 they started their legendary racket chase running a circus day and night refueling every 2.5 hours 60 hours later the mission was accomplished 16 world records were shattered the
12:52
average speed was above 250 kilometers per hour that demonstration could not have been more impressive the good old workhorse diesel engine turned out to be a rocket and mercedes discover their joy with record runs so they've given themselves a new challenge to be the very records that they've just set up chapter three the ambitious target was to increase the
13:24
average speed to over 300 kilometers per hour this of course required a completely different kind of vehicle instead of the spacious two-seater gran turismo they were to build a true record car with reduced frontal area and outstanding aerodynamics design work on the third stage c111 began in early 1977. to optimize high speed stability the wheelbase was increased by 10 centimeters at the same time the width was reduced for lower drag as a consequence the seat for the co-driver had to go
13:55
also because a huge duct went from front to rear to feed the charge air cooler not particularly passenger friendly several scale models were built and tested and improved in the wind tunnel the final result was a stunning design an extremely slim and streamlined body something similar to a volkswagen xl1 just some 36 years earlier the drag coefficient was at an incredibly low 0.183 which even by today's standard is sensational underneath that body there were also
14:25
some major upgrades to reach the target of 300 kilometers per hour mercedes wanted to stick to the diesel for marketing reasons so basically it was still the three liter five-cylinder engine from a production 300d but this time they've increased the boost pressure modify the camshafts and optimized piston cooling from 190 horsepower in the c-1112 we were now at 230 horsepower in the c-11133 together with a low drag body this should be good enough for the record the rear fin was ultimately added to increase crosswind stability
14:55
two vehicles were built and in april 1978 centenardo this was the big moment for the team even the head of research and development professor vanna breitbart was there to supervise the whole event at half past midnight the record run was started on the 12 kilometer circle it took two laps to reach top speed once that acceleration phase was completed they were cruising along at around 325 kilometers per hour everything went as planned except for a minor incident with a hedgehog
15:25
he survived one collapsed tire which led to a switch to the replacement car and the second incident with another hedgehog sadly this time the hedgehog i mean i don't know any details but certainly the car was driving irresponsibly fast you could blame the hedgehog for crossing a test track during a record run but ultimately the c1113 killed a hedgehog apart from that a total of nine world records were
15:59
shattered with average speeds of around 320 kilometers per hour particularly impressing and relevant for the diesel marketing story the average fuel consumption was below 16 liters per 100 kilometers which at these speeds is extremely efficient the accomplished record run was breaking news worldwide and a huge success for mercedes but they wouldn't be mercedes if they were completely satisfied they already had the next big step in mind to take this even further
16:27
chapter four [Music] mercedes was obviously addicted to speed at the end of the 80s and they haven't had enough yet there was this famous world record of mark donohue set up a few years earlier he topped an average of 355 kilometers per hour with this porsche 917-30 with a bit more power this should easily be within reach for the c-111 and records are there to be broken so
17:02
mercedes put their heads down and created the next level c111 the good old diesel clearly had reached its performance limits with the previous generation so they swapped it for something more powerful the m117 v8 engine known from the s-class and sl displacement of the series production engine was increased from 4.5 to 4.8 liters and two turbocharges were added the result 500 horsepower should be enough to beat the porsche but there were more headaches beyond the engine
17:33
top speed was expected to be north of 400 kilometers per hour which meant totally different challenges for the tyres and the aerodynamic stability of the car so michelin developed a special high-speed rubber and the team spent days and nights at the wind tunnel optimizing the exterior bodywork to realize the critical levels of downforce and drag a highly sophisticated design was developed with a huge front splitter an elongated rear overhang low mounted rear wings and pair of vertical fins the whole
18:04
setter was even slightly asymmetric to compensate the forces caused by the benched curve the stunning outcome despite producing much more overall downforce this body had even lower drag than the predecessor say hello to the c-1114 the rest of the story is quickly told in may 1979 the car broke five world records and most importantly for the ego of the mercedes engineers they've beaten that porsche ahead and this is a fabulous example of the significance
18:34
of aerodynamics the 917 needed more than a thousand horsepower for its record run the c-111 didn't even have half of that power and yet its top speed was 50 kilometers above the porsche setting up a world record with 404 kilometers per hour so next time you take your car to the autobahn make sure to take off that roof rack it does make you quicker regarding the c11144 this car had delivered as planned and completed all its tasks an astonishing achievement by that group
19:06
of engineers and designers now it was time to let loose and celebrate no not yet i'm not sure if many of you know this but there was actually a c11155 i've certainly never heard of it before i did the research for this video it was never published and there was never really a finished car but there was a full-scale design model and it was tested in the wind tunnel here's a few rare pictures that you won't find on the internet and i think they are very impressive what you see does not look like 1980 at all this
19:45
probably reminds you of group c cars from 10 years later or even some lamar prototypes from around 2010. and that shows you how far ahead of its time mercedes had gotten with this c111 thing it was just crazy and the engineers and designers had an insane level of freedom and obviously enjoyed using it but at the same time it had all gotten a bit out of control starting with the third generation this project was obviously more and more losing touch with the normal business of mercedes-benz it had become a chase for
20:17
records by a team of petrol heads with cars that had not much to do with the real world anymore fascinating machines for sure but frankly more and more out of place as far as their lights abstract internet so in spring of 1980 the mercedes board pulled the plug and the whole c-111 saga from one day to the next was suddenly over since then these amazing cars are sleeping in the mercedes museum
20:47
or in some secret places around stuttgart every now and then one version of the second series gets to drive a few miles with some journalists or celebrities it keeps the memories of this stunning orange gull wing alive which is absolutely fantastic i love closing this door obviously i would have preferred to see this thing reach serious production it would have perfectly filled the massive void between the 300 sl and the sls amg in which for more than 50 years we didn't have a gull wing from mercedes
21:19
but as things went after more than a decade and 16 experimental cars built the c-111 story was forever over let's all hope that the next skull wing gap won't take half a century thank you very much for watching i hope you enjoyed it

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