1 – Mercedes-Benz CW311 (1978)
Okay, okay, strictly speaking this one was not developed by Mercedes. The CW311 is the brainchild of Porsche engineer Eberhard Schulz, who designed the car in his spare time. Schulz envisioned a modern version of the 300 SL ‘Gullwing’, but had not requested permission to use the Mercedes-Benz logo. The manufacturer condoned it. Due to the positive reactions to the CW311, Schulz decided to quit his job. He founded the company Isdera. The CW311 formed the basis of the Isdera Imperator 108i, of which about thirty units were built in the eighties and nineties.
2 – Mercedes-Benz Auto 2000 Concept (1981)
Oh well, the year 2000 … For decades that symbolized the distant future. In 1981 Mercedes thought it would be the luxury limousine of the future: the Auto 2000 Concept. The unusual rear is for aerodynamics, because the Auto 2000 has a cW value of only 0.28 (an average car is now between 0.25 and 0.30). Despite the focus on efficiency, there is still a V8 in the Auto 2000. The 3.8-liter block has an output of 150 hp and is equipped with cylinder deactivation. That makes it not particularly economical, incidentally, because the specified consumption is 1 in 10.7 and is in practice probably worse.
3 – Mercedes-Benz C112 (1991)
Would that Mercedes-AMG Project One ever come again? Or will the bizarre hypercar fare just like this C112? Both have been developed to market Mercedes-Benz’s racing success. The Project One has a link with Formula 1 and the C112 with the then popular Group C-class. The study model – of which Mercedes initially wanted to build 500 copies – was revolutionary. It had an active suspension system (found on more expensive Mercedes models these days) and active aerodynamics (which just about all modern super sports cars have). Its brand new 6.0-liter M120-V12 would later be used in the Pagani Zonda.
4 – Mercedes-Benz VRC Concept (1995)
Nice concept that never caught on: the modular car. Mercedes-Benz unveiled this VRC Concept in 1995. VRC stands for Vario Research Car, where the word ‘vario’ says enough. By changing the complete rear, the VRC Concept can be transformed from a coupe to a convertible to a pick-up to a station wagon. The loose parts are made of carbon fiber reinforced plastic and weigh between 30 and 50 kilos. According to Mercedes, it should be possible to convert the VRC Concept within 15 minutes. People could hire the large panels from special Mercedes branches, was the idea.
5 – Mercedes-Benz AAV Concept (1996)
So you are always bugged by car manufacturers. Because what did that Mercedes AAV Concept – AAV stands for All Activity Vehicle – look like: with a beautiful, almost coupé-like line, wonderful wheel arch extensions and such a cool spare wheel on the stern. We couldn’t wait for the production model. And it’s a good thing we didn’t in the end because the production version of the AAV Concept was quite disappointing. Don’t get us wrong: the Mercedes M-Class (1997 – 2005) is an attractive SUV. But the study model was really much more spectacular.
6 – Mercedes-Benz F200 Imagination (1996)
Did Christian von Koenigsegg sometimes work at Mercedes-Benz in the 1990s? Because this F200 Imagination actually has Koenigsegg doors. They swing upwards, forwards and outwards at the same time. The F200 Imagination anticipated the second generation CL, but was above all a showcase of all the new technology that Mercedes-Benz had in house: an electrochromatic roof, window airbags and Linguatronic voice control. Not for production was of course the double joystick on the center console. This allowed both the driver and the passenger to control the F200 Imagination.
7 – Mercedes-Benz Vision SLR Concept (1999)
You undoubtedly recognize these. After positive reactions from the press and the public, Mercedes-Benz decided to make the Vision SLR Concept. The manufacturer sought cooperation with its Formula 1 partner McLaren and came up with the SLR McLaren in 2003. Tastes differ, but in our opinion the Vision SLR is visually more balanced than the SLR McLaren, with its extremely long nose and short rear. The production version is also busier, mainly due to the oversized gills on the flanks. The powertrain is one of the best-sounding engines ever: a 5.4-liter supercharged V8 with 626 hp and 780 Nm.
8 – Mercedes-Benz Unimog U5000 Concept (2011)
Not a super sports car or luxury coupe now, but an extreme off-roader. Although we would not go into the terrain with those vulnerable wheels of the Unimog U5000 Concept. It was unveiled in 2011 as a tribute to the Mercedes-Benz Unimog, which turned sixty that year. The Unimog – a composition of UNIversal MOtor Gerät – dates from 1946 and was intended for farmers. Mercedes took over production in 1951 and expanded the Unimog range into a collection of heavy duty trucks for construction, military and various government services. In the 1980s, Unimog won Paris-Dakar twice.
9 – Mercedes-AMG Vision Gran Turismo (2013)
Mercedes actually built this AMG Vision Gran Turismo, but the company shouldn’t have. The concept car was designed for the fifteenth anniversary of the Gran Turismo racing game series on the Sony PlayStation. Gran Turismo 6 players were able to download and use the retro-modern Silver Arrow in-game. Since then, other manufacturers have followed Mercedes’s example. About thirty virtual concept cars have now appeared for Gran Turismo 6 (PS3) and Gran Turismo Sport (PS4). The most recent is the Mazda RX-Vision GT3, which was shown two weeks ago.
10 – Vision Mercedes-Maybach 6
A two-door monster coupé of … yes … 6 meters long: that fits the ‘brand’ Maybach. We write the word ‘brand’ in brackets because Maybach has now become a luxury label of Mercedes-Benz. Maybach was founded in 1909 and built opulent luxury cars between 1921 and 1940. At the end of the nineties, Mercedes breathed new life into the old brand, but that turned out to be a huge flop. Now the Maybach name is on the most luxurious S-Class and GLS. The Vision Mercedes-Maybach 6 (there was also a convertible) is spectacular, but nothing more than an exercise that got out of hand.