Currently reading: From the archive: Mercedes cancels new C112 hypercar
Nearly 30 years before the AMG One, Mercedes came tantalisingly to unleashing a V12 supercar on the streets

After five years of battling to get the Formula 1-derived One into production, Mercedes-Benz must at times wish that it hadn’t bothered. Thankfully for us petrolheads, it has persevered – unlike previously. 

In 1991, we saw the death of the C112, a Jaguar XJ220 rival inspired by the 1990 World Sportscar Championship-winning C11. It had an aluminium monocoque hosting the 600 SEL’s 6.0-litre V12, a six-speed manual gearbox, an aluminium body with adjustable aerodynamics, adaptive body control and rear-wheel steering. 

It weighed 1570kg but produced 408bhp and 427lb ft, so its power-to-weight ratio almost matched that of the Lamborghini Diablo

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The car featured a number of features that were incredibly advanced for the time. Retractable front and rear spoilers formed an active aerodynamic system, with electronic rear-wheel steering also being featured - an almost unheard of piece of technology in the early 1990s. 

The C112 wasn't a stripped-out track special, though. It featured a leather interior similar to the one found in the S-Class, with automatic climate control and in-car entertainment provided. Hydraulically-assisted gullwing doors harked back to the 300SL.

After the car was first revealed, Mercedes recieved orders from more than 700 potential customers, so such a model clearly had sales potential, but it was unfortunately not to be. The official reason stated for the C112’s production cancellation, despite such a large bank of orders, was political pressure from the greens.

Don't feel too bad for those deep-pocketed would-be buyers, though: eight years later, Pagani would fill the void with its Zonda supercar, which used the Mercedes V12 as its beating heart.

Mercedes' own supercar efforts would eventually include the V8-powered SLR, created in partnership with McLaren, and the gullwing-doored SLS.

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5cylinder 2 December 2021
A shame. I still think this is a great looking car 30 yrs on.
martin_66 2 December 2021
I know it is supposed to be a Mercedes C112, but why do I keep seeing a Honda NSX every time I look at it?