The big picture: Mercedes-Benz in 1996 created a concept vehicle to highlight innovations in passenger car design, control and comfort. Looking back on it more than 25 years later, the stylish coupe implemented a number of forward-thinking ideas that are only recently starting to find their way into production vehicles.
The 2-door coupe featured a unique control system that replaced the steering wheel and gas / brake pedals with joysticks. There's a dual stick in the center as well as individual sticks on each door, allowing you to drive from either the driver's seat or the passenger's seat. If anyone has additional insight on the door-mounted stick functions, I'd love to know more.
From the driver's seat, it looks more like the cockpit of a fighter jet than a mid-90s car but the rest of the interior is very minimalistic thanks to a clean dashboard mostly comprised of video screens.
The concept also replaced the traditional side-mounted mirrors with cameras and was outfitted with way more airbags than was standard for the period. Other cutting-edge tech for the time included electro-transparent panoramic roof glass, voice recognition for use with a mobile phone, a fully active suspension system, an electric-opening truck lid with a four-joint hinge and a headlight system with variable light distribution.
Under the hood is a naturally aspirated 6.0L V12. The electric butterfly doors and concept-style wheels won't appeal to everyone but otherwise, this is a very modern looking car given its age. The doors unlocked via a magnetic card kept in the owner's pocket, no swiping required.
YouTube channel TheTFJJ recently filmed the Mercedes F200 concept as it arrived at the London Concours car show. According to the description, the car is one of the few Mercedes concepts ever sold to a customer and reportedly fetched nearly $10 million. It debuted at the 1996 Paris Motor Show but has rarely been seen in public since.
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