Mercedes-Benz Classic is bringing the legendary C 111 back on the road as part of the 2014 Silvretta Classic rally in Austria. This exciting research vehicle will be taking part in the regularity race through the Montafon valley as a unique V8-engined variant.
The 3.5-litre V8 C 111 dates from 1970, one year after the Gullwing sports car designed to test the Wankel rotary engine made its début at the International Frankfurt Motor Show IAA. Being held on the Silvretta High Alpine Road and other mountain routes in Austria’s Alps during July 2014, the 17th Silvretta Classic will see the C 111 and other outstanding vehicles from Mercedes-Benz representing the ongoing interplay between sportiness and innovation throughout motor racing history. To celebrate 120 years of motor sport history at Mercedes-Benz, the exclusive line-up at the Silvretta Classic rally will include a 1928 SSK racing sports car driven by brand ambassador Karl Wendlinger and a Mercedes-Benz 300 SL Roadster (W 198).
First held in 1998, the Silvretta Classic rally in Montafon is one of Europe’s most important events for classic and vintage cars. On 3 July 2014, more than 150 selected vintage vehicles will be setting off from the village of Partenen in Austria for the 17th regularity race here, which finishes on 6 July.
This summer, the C 111 from the Mercedes-Benz Classic collection stands out in a high-calibre field of participants: 45 years since the research vehicle was premiered, this visionary Mercedes-Benz gulling sports car designed to field-test the Wankel rotary engine will be returning to the road for the Silvretta Classic.
In contrast to the other C 111 vehicles that Mercedes-Benz constructed with the rotary engine invented by Felix Wankel (six with a three-rotor engine in 1969 and six with a four-rotor engine in 1970), this C 111 has a rear-mounted reciprocating engine. When building the prototype in 1970, Mercedes-Benz engineers in Sindelfingen implanted a 3.5-litre, V8 production engine into a second-generation C 111 chassis to enable direct comparisons to be made with the four-rotor Wankel engine. This V8 engine was first used in 1969 in the luxury Mercedes-Benz 300 SEL 3.5 (W 109) and 280 SE 3.5 Coupé and Cabriolet (W 111) models, and also delivered a sporty driving experience in the 350 SL (R 107) launched in 1971.
The engineers who built the prototype in Sindelfingen have now repeated this move by installing a 3.5-litre M 116 V8 engine in the original chassis from 1970. As well as bringing the excitement of the technologically and aesthetically ground-breaking C 111 back on the road, this genuine reconstruction of a one-off vehicle from 1970 represents the interplay between sportiness and innovation which has always been a hallmark of the Mercedes-Benz brand. Successful racers from 120 years of Mercedes-Benz motor sport history embody this key theme, as do visionary research vehicles like the C 111 and exclusive production sports cars such as the 1957 Mercedes-Benz 300 SL Roadster and the upcoming Mercedes-AMG GT (C 190).
Innovation and a tradition of sporting excellence
“The Silvretta Classic rally in Montafon exemplifies in a special way the close link between innovative technology and sporting excellence in the history of the Mercedes-Benz brand,” says Michael Bock, Head of Mercedes-Benz Classic. “During this rally, the C 111, a 300 SL Roadster and an SSK from the Mercedes-Benz Classic collection will travel the beautiful, high alpine roads of the Montafon valley as testimony to the outstanding feats of engineering and race successes of previous decades. The 5th Silvretta E-Car Rally is taking place at the same time on the same route. This event is for the latest vehicles with alternative drive systems. Mercedes-Benz is thus supporting a unique platform for dialogue between the motor car’s fascinating past and its exciting future,” adds Bock.
Automotive “summit meeting”
The Silvretta Classic stands out on the calendar of exclusive events for classic and vintage cars not least due to the unique landscape of the Austrian Alps. Back in 1956, Hans Eberhard Friedrich was full of praise for the view from the Silvretta High Alpine Road in his Mercedes-Benz travelogue about rallies in Austria and the Eastern Alps (Sternfahrten Österreich und Ostalpen): “This famous road terminates […] at an altitude of 2,032 metros at the Bielerhöhe Pass where one enjoys a view that is reminiscent of the most beautiful in Switzerland, taking in the gigantic peaks of the Silvretta Group and the Rätikon mountain range.”
The Silvretta Classic, which was established by special interest publisher Motor Presse Stuttgart as a regularity race and a test of reliability, begins on 3 July 2014 (Thursday) in Partenen. From there, the first stage of 110 kilometres takes Friedrich’s high alpine road up to the Bielerhöhe Pass and onwards to Schruns. On 4 July (Friday), the rally covers the 290 kilometres to Gaschurn. Day three (Saturday, 5 July) is a 127-kilometre stage through the state of Vorarlberg culminating in the Grand Prix of Vandans. The rally concludes with a programme of supporting events on 6 July (Sunday). In total, some 150 classic cars in six classes are set to line up at the start.
Source: Mercedes-Benz Classic