In the fall of 1973, a boycott of the oil-producing countries brought about the so-called oil crisis and crude oil, hitherto an inexpensive commodity, became a precious resource. In 1976 engineers installed low-consumption diesel engine with five cylinders in the C 111-II for the first tests. In the car, now called C 111-IID, the OM 617 LA engine developed as much as 190 hp, thanks to turbocharging and intercooling.
With this powerful diesel engine under the bonnet of a spectacularly styled gull-wing model, painted in bright orange, Mercedes-Benz was soon geared up for some record-breaking drives. The C 111-II D powered its way to some sensational records at the Nardo circuit in southern Italy in 1976. For a whole hour, for example, it circled the high-speed track at anaverage speed of 253.770 km/h. It went on to collect further records in all categories – over distances of 10 to 10,000 kilometres and over periods of 6 to 24 hours.
No one had previously thought a diesel vehicle capable of such performance.