Featured: Looking Back At A Forgotten Mercedes-Benz Gullwing Supercar

Looking Back At A Forgotten Mercedes-Benz Gullwing Supercar

By Petrolicious Productions
July 15, 2015

Mercedes-Benz’s return to motor-racing in the late 1980s proved to be very successful, very quickly. By the turn of the decade, the collaboration with Sauber had yielded many successes, including the World Sportscar Championship in 1990 with the C11 sports prototype.

Encouraged by its on-track exploits, the engineers at Stuttgart set out to construct a road-legal counterpart to the C11. The result, which was unveiled at the 1991 Frankfurt International Motor Show, was the C112.

At its heart was a 6.0-liter V12, producing 408 horsepower and 427 ft-lbs of torque. However, in typical Mercedes-Benz fashion, the car boasted several trick driver aids and safety systems. The newest and most important of these was ABC, or Active Body Control. Using a sophisticated electromechanical control system, it provided active suspension, which in combination with active rear-wheel steering ensured optimum handling under all conditions.

ABC was supported by the latest iterations of ABS (Anti-Lock Braking System) and ASR (Acceleration Skid Control). Another important innovation on the car was an active rear wing that altered its orientation to provide the best aerodynamics at different speeds, and the wing also doubled as a braking device. Such devices are now common features on many high performance cars, and it’s interesting how far ahead of the curve Mercedes-Benz engineers had been thinking. The car also packed other bits of technology, including Electronic Brake power Distribution (EBD), an electronic Tire Pressure Monitoring System (TPMS) and a distance radar for intelligent cruise control. All of these—more than 20 years on—are now standard or available as options on many production Mercedes-Benz vehicles.

The C112’s most obvious claim to fame, though, was that it was the first three-pointed star to sport gullwing doors since they were pioneered on the 300SL in 1954. However, despite nearly 700 firm orders, the C112 remained only a test bench for active handling systems and was never put into production.

The company’s SLS AMG was the next and only other gullwing-equipped production car from Mercedes-Benz, and is now out of production as well. Let’s hope we don’t have to wait another few decades before another gullwing technological tour de force is teased…

Image sources: carfolio.comseriouswheels.comtopcarrating.comtopcarrating.com

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3 years ago

The inspiration from the NSX is absolutely clear, but looking closer I see some XJ220 and the front end has some heavy McLaren F1 influence as well. Can’t remember exactly in what order each debuted, but the three all shared some styling ideas.

Mac McGee
Mac McGee
3 years ago

What about the C 111 in the 70’s, it had gullwing doors…..

Stav Morris
Stav Morris(@joinedtrill)
5 years ago

It’s no NSX. It’s bigger, less sculpted. It’s basically the C11 with street bumpers and an aesthetically pleasing wing on the back. The interior is a bit w124. If you can find the copy of Australian WHEELS magazine, probably from late ’91, it has an artist’s rendition of what the C112 might have looked like, a bit Peugeot Quasar looking. Very beautiful.

Krzysztof Pogłódek
Krzysztof Pogłódek(@apach-com)
6 years ago

One remark. C112 was not equiped with ABC (Active Cody Control). It has Adaptive Damping System (ADS) instead 🙂

Owen Stride
Owen Stride(@brown5tar)
6 years ago

That’s rather fugly

Mike Joy
Mike Joy(@joysterm)
6 years ago

I was fortunate to visit the museum last year during an Octerfest visit. What an incredable experience….on both fronts. Make sure you give yourseld lots of time to take in all the exhibits. The history that is on display is remarkable, the design of every car is truly timeless.

Here are a few favs….

CHRIS DAGNOLO(@cdagnolo)
6 years ago

I have to agree with the NSX comments. I also looked up the time line. According to Wiki, the NSX was unveiled at the Chicago Auto Show in 1989. The Mercedes was unveiled 2 years later in ’91. It’s hard to imagine it not being a bit of a styling rip off but, if it is, it’s a rare thing for the theft to be going in that direction! 😉

Guitar Slinger
Guitar Slinger(@gtrslngr)
6 years ago

Nope ! Gonna have to go with Thor on this one hands down gents . Thats almost pure NSX from stem to stern . The Consulier came close .. but no banana being the fugly as sin disparate mash up that the Consulier was . Jeeze that thing was hideous ! Like a LEGO kit car gone very very bad !

On this Mercedes though I’m gonna have to admit to yet another Stump the Grump victory on behalf of the Petrolicious staff . Y’all got me big time on this one despite my being a Benz aficionado . Shame on me !

But hey … got one to stump you in return if I may Petrolicious . The year . 1986 . The company . Audi . The car . Audi’s mid engined Quattro prototype known as the Phantom Quattro they were developing for the dead in the water WRC Group S which only Walter Rohrl had ever driven and was only recently revealed to the general public after Rohrl’s biography ” Diary ” included a photo and write up about the car which later served as the framework for the current R8 road cars and AudiGhini’s .

Willam Giltzow
Willam Giltzow(@billgiltzow)
6 years ago

It looks more like Warren Mosler’s Consulier than anything else I have seen. It is later by about three years too!

Philip Todak
Philip Todak
6 years ago
Reply to  Willam Giltzow

I was thinking the exact same thing! The side profile towards the rear is what reminded me of that car.

Thor Mentor
Thor Mentor
6 years ago

It’s a nice looking car but it looks like a copy of the NSX.