Mercedes Sauber C11 Group C Racer Is So Rad It Hurts
A dominant player in sports car racing three decades ago, the Sauber-Mercedes C11 is still an incredibly competent vintage racer.
It was almost 30 years ago that Mercedes introduced their C11 Group C racer, a phenomenal machine weighing just about 2,000 pounds and getting its shove from a 730-horsepower and 605 lb-ft of torque twin-turbo 5-liter V8. For the 1990 season, the Mercedes-powered Sauber team entered three cars in the World Sportscar Championship, and they absolutely cleaned house. With six drivers — Mauro Baldi, Jean-Loius Schlesser, Jochen Mass, Karl Wendlinger, Heinz-Herald Frentzen, and Michael Schumacher — split two each to a car, they teamed to win an incredible seven of nine rounds that year. And they weren’t competing against also-rans and nobodies; No, Mercedes was competing against Jaguar, Nissan, and Toyota factory efforts, as well as privateer-entry Spice SE90Cs and Porsche 962s. When this car came to the race track, it came to win. This V8 doesn’t just sound incredible, it sounds like a winner.
The fourth round of the 1990 season, Spa was won by Mass and Wendlinger’s #2 Sauber-Mercedes. That same race saw Mercedes’ C11 storm to pole position with a time of 1:59.350, only about ten seconds off the circuit’s Formula One track record. In the video above, the supreme C11 is back at Spa-Francorchamps in Belgium to re-conquer one of the tracks it dominated back in 1990. It looks about at home on track today as it did all those years ago, because there are plenty of passing opportunities to see in the video.
We really love the properly Mercedes V8 growl that this racer lets out, especially in combination with the turbocharger whistle. There’s plenty of straight-cut gearbox whine to hear as well, which is the sign of a truly great sports prototype. If you’re a fan of any of Mercedes V8s from the last three decades or so, you’ll appreciate the sound of this one.