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BMW M1, Mercedes C111 and Porsche Carrera RS 2.7: Sports car dreams of the 1970s

Hans-Dieter Seufert
BMW M1, Mercedes C111 and Porsche Carrera RS 2.7
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The first cover story by Motor Klassik was about three super sports cars from the 50s. Analogous to this, we are now presenting three icons from the early 1970s: BMW M1, Mercedes C 111 and Porsche Carrera RS. For the premiere of M otor Klassik in the late summer of 1984, editor-in-chief Dirk-Michael Conradt was not satisfied with the VW Beetle and Goggomobil as title heroes, but offered something More horsepower: Under the heading “Glanz und Gloria”, three German dream sports cars from the 1950s were compared, which are now among the world's most valuable classics - BMW 507, Mercedes 300 SL Gullwing and a Porsche 356 A 1600 GS Carrera GT with the legendary Fuhrmann four-camshaft engine.

On the 30th birthday of Motor Klassik , three younger sports cars from the same manufacturer are now taking on the roles of photogenic supermodels. They should have a similar status as a high-horsepower, automotive masterpiece as the three athletes from the 50s. After extensive discussion, the editorial team came to the conclusion that three sports cars from the 1970s come closest to the icons of that time: BMW M1 from 1978, Mercedes C 111 from 1970 and Porsche Carrera RS 2.7 from 1972.

The Porsche Carrera RS already looks good on riot

Just like their predecessors 507, 300 SL and 356 Carrera GT, the BMW M1, Mercedes C 111 and Porsche Carrera RS 2.7 each represent a top product from the brand, whose importance as an exclusive, high-performance sports car in recent years even increased. The C 111, which was built in many variants, remained just a test vehicle, but with its radical conception and extravagant gullwing doors it cannot deny its relationship to the 300 SL.

Let's start with the Porsche Carrera RS 2.7, the first Sports car from Zuffenhausen equipped ex works with eye-catching front and rear spoilers. The opulent “Carrera” lettering above the sills and the aluminum rims that can be matched in color upon request also testify to the new self-confidence of the aspiring sports car manufacturer. And rightly so.

Porsche Carrera 2.7 as a Ferrari scare

Actually, the extra power of the Porsche Carrera RS designed for racing is visually discreet and luxurious held 911 S just 20 hp. But the enlarged engine from 2.4 to 2.7 liters, the significantly improved aerodynamics, the reduced car weight and the voluminous 215/60 rear tires under the widened fenders enabled even better acceleration values ​​up to 160 km /h than a Ferrari 365 GTB /4 Daytona with twelve cylinders and 348 hp.

In leisurely everyday operation, the Porsche Carrera RS pleases with the same virtues as any 911: relatively easy entry, a good sense of space and a comfortable seating position away from the windshield. You quickly get used to the somewhat stiff clutch and the long gearshift travel. Also of the typical background noise of the air-cooled boxer, which grumbles pithily when accelerating and rushes a bit when releasing the gas. The nimble turning behavior in curves and the powerful engine thrust from 3,000 rpm, which is accompanied by a hurricane from 5,000 rpm, make driving in the Carrera RS a unique pleasure.

The beautiful M1 had many fathers

But in direct comparison to the BMW M1 the body design of the Porsche looks outdated. At least from the perspective of the late 1970s, when body lines, lamellar decorations, pop-up headlights and flat windshields were all the rage. The M1 super sports car drawn by Giorgio Giugiaro and his Italdesign team was based on the Turbo mid-engine concept car from 1972, designed by Paul Bracq. There was already a contract with Lamborghini for the construction of 400 units, which were to receive a six-cylinder, four-valve engine from Munich with a displacement of 3.5 liters and 277 hp.

But the Italians had enough problems with their own cars so that they couldn't even produce pre-series cars for BMW. After the contract with Lamborghini was terminated, Italdesign delivered the tubular steel chassis plus plastic body and interior to Baur in Stuttgart, where the BMW technology was installed. The final acceptance took place in Munich, which means that the mid-engine coupé was actually considered a child of BMW Motorsport GmbH, founded in 1972 and headed by ex-racing driver Jochen Neerpasch. The BMW M1 was originally designed for racing, but could not hold its own against the smaller turbo units from Porsche and Ford. This resulted in a total of only 454 examples, 48 ​​of which were racing versions.

The BMW M1 is Giugiaro's masterpiece

Even today, the BMW M1 impresses with its sleek and dynamically designed body, which is still there after 36 years looks as modern as it did back then. One hason the other hand, when seated in the driver's seat, the flat Bayern athlete shows its peculiarities typical of the time: the driver has to move far forward to almost under the windshield to make room for the row six, which is mounted lengthways. In addition, the left wheel arch narrows the driver's footwell. The completely black interior dispenses with any decorative element and actually works, if there were no heating, radio and electric windows, as in a GT racing car.

We are now starting the large-volume six-cylinder and will initially be quiet Surprised appearance. Only above 4,000 rpm does the former racing engine report itself from behind, initially with a gentle growl and from 5,000 rpm with a grim trumpet. Driven with virtuosity, the BMW M1 sprints from zero to 100 km /h in 5.6 seconds and can easily follow the Carrera RS 2.7. At top speed, the M1 beats the compact Porsche (245 km /h) more clearly with its 265 km /h.

Wankel Mercedes -Mut

But in direct comparison to the Mercedes C 111-II from 1970, whose four-disc rotary engine developed 350 hp and the mid-engine wedge accelerated up to 300 km /h, BMW and Porsche look like two underpowered boulevards -Boliden. Ironically, Mercedes, which at that time had the 250 hp luxury four-door 300 SEL 6.3 in its range as the sportiest car, shocked the automotive world with a mid-engine sports car that could drive any Ferrari on and off. The Stuttgart-based company seemed to be surprised by their “fantastic” creation themselves and therefore declared in an advertisement: “The C 111 has what it takes to be a car that has never been seen before. Almost too fantastic. That is why it will remain a test vehicle for the time being. ”The justification continues:“ It is absolutely impossible to say when your ideas will be ready for series production. ”

The ideas implemented in the Mercedes C 111 include the rotary engine who have favourited Plastic body, pop-up headlights and side tanks. To this day, none of this has been implemented in a series-produced Mercedes. The chic Wankel Coupé was also transformed into an unattractive long-distance record-breaking vehicle with a diesel and later a V8 biturbo gasoline engine. For a real Ferrari competitor - even with a 6.3-liter V8 - there was no courage at the time.

3.5- Liter V8 instead of Wankel engine

But now the original, ready-to-drive Mercedes C 111-II is back thanks to Mercedes-Benz Classic, with 3.5-liter V8 and 200 hp. This variant existed as early as 1970 to determine the advantages and disadvantages of the rotary engine in a direct comparison. Man, how does the gullwing car painted in “Weißherbst” still look attractive and modern. During the photo session at Solitude Castle, young cyclists are amazed at the “new Daimler”, which is 44 years old.

A tall and broad oneSide skirts make entry difficult - as was the case with its predecessor, the 300 SL Gullwing. Finally, you slip into the perfectly shaped bucket seat and feel like the car has grown together. Of the athletes presented here, the Mercedes C 111 looks the most ambitious from the driver's perspective.

The V8 of the Mercedes C111 shines with powerful draft and a rich babble sound. The low mid-engine coupé masters any traffic situation with ease, can be steered precisely and is not stingy with driving comfort. Almost like a modern car. So you can enjoy the wow effect of the Mercedes in the long term: people look as if a popular movie hero has returned to the screen after years.

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