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Mercedes resurrects the C111 with the stunning Vision One-Eleven

This futuristic vehicle recalls one of the brand’s wildest concepts ever

The C111 had multiple engine choices and broke records. PHOTO FROM MERCEDES-BENZ

Back in the late 1960s and the early 1970s, Mercedes-Benz stunned the world with an automotive test bed called the C111. This futuristic-looking machine was used to experiment with various engine types such as Wankel units, diesels, and turbocharged powerplants, and a total of 16 of them were made.

They managed to set a number of world records, but never made it into series production. Back then, the planet simply wasn’t ready for a Mercedes supercar. Now, the Germans have resurrected this still modern-looking machine with the even more spaced-out Vision One-Eleven, an electric concept car that gives us another taste of what to expect from the brand in the future.

It has a lot of the original vehicle's design touches, just modernized. PHOTOS FROM MERCEDES-BENZ

The resemblance between the original 111 and the One-Eleven is uncanny, and really highlights how far ahead of its time the car was 50 years ago. Its new sibling copies many of the original features, including the huge gullwing doors, the bright-orange paint job, and the streamlined silhouette, but there are still worlds between the two.

Where the original features a classic Mercedes cabin and cockpit, the Vision One-Eleven offers a futuristic world of luxury designed for an autonomous future. The seating area of the two seats forms part of the structure, and only the pedals, the steering wheel, and the backrest move, and do so depending on the driving mode.

The Vision One-Eleven fuses retro and futuristic luxury in its cabin. PHOTOS FROM MERCEDES-BENZ

If you want to be hands-on and sporty, the backrest can be set upright, but if you prefer autonomous laziness, then the seats turn into proper lounge chairs for relaxed traveling. There are a number of wonderfully contrasting design aspects to this machine as well.

Displays showing pixelated graphics meant to remind you of the 1972 Munich Olympics are integrated into the front, the rear, and also the cabin, where they sit side by side with an ultra-modern F1-style yoke used to steer this machine.

The silver accents in the cabin also bring back memories of the 1970s, and come complete with a matching luggage set. This, unlike the car, can actually be bought from the Mercedes accessory shop later this year.

Despite being a concept car, it has a Formula 1-derived powertrain. PHOTOS FROM MERCEDES-BENZ

Just like its groovy predecessor, the new One-Eleven is being used to experiment with futuristic powertrains except this time, there are no fossil fuels involved.

Two rear-mounted axial-flux electric motors provided by British firm Yasa are fed from a liquid-cooled battery with cylindrical cells and a new cell chemistry designed for use by AMG’s Formula 1 department.

There can be little doubt that this setup is giving us a glimpse of AMG’s electrified future, and even if the power output is not being mentioned anywhere, it’s fair to say that this machine is probably quite rapid.

You can't buy this concept, but at least you can get accessories that are inspired by this car. PHOTOS FROM MERCEDES-BENZ

If it could beat the speed records of the Bruno Sacco-designed 1970s version is unknown, but seeing that Rimac recently managed 412km/h, we think Mercedes might well be out to improve the C111’s figure of 403.78km/h achieved back in 1979.

The aerodynamics certainly won’t be in the way of high speeds, with the concept car cutting a sleek silhouette and featuring all the aero help you would need to cut through the wind at crazy speeds.

Now, all we have left to hope is that the firm might turn this—or a car like it—into a production vehicle. Back in the 1990s, they came close. The successor of the C111, the C112, featured a V12 engine and was meant to go into limited production.

Mercedes is even said to have already taken a few hundred deposits from interested buyers when company bosses decided to shelve the project. Let’s hope they won’t make that mistake again.

Frank Schuengel

Frank is a German e-commerce executive who loves his wife, a Filipina, so much he decided to base himself in Manila. He has interesting thoughts on Philippine motoring. He writes the aptly named ‘Frankly’ column.