Mercedes VRC - the concept that time forgot

This is a unique car that unfortunately never got to the mass production stage. Here is its story...

When we buy a car, we have a wide range of choices of what type of car we want; maybe an estate for extra luggage space, or a saloon if you are businessman/woman, a pickup if your name is Richard J. Cheeseburger Hammond III or a cabriolet if you want to soak up some sunshine (although I really doubt you can find out some in the UK).

Back in 1995, Mercedes decided to solve the problem of having to choose the type of car you want by creating VRC (Vario Research Car), a concept car which could be transformed in four various ways through changing of modules, and subsequently presented it at that year's Geneva Motor Show. Mercedes claimed that the modules could be changed in just 15 minutes.

What made the VRC ahead of its time was its car-sharing aspect, as Mercedes expected VRC drivers to take their car to a rental station where it would be converted to the body style of their choice, instead of having the drivers own and store each superstructure.

This is also seen in how Mercedes predicted the future of car ownership back in 1995:

"…people will have more leisure time at their disposal and spend this leisure time by engaging in very different activities. And they will want to select their cars with leisure time activities and everyday use in mind. Keeping one's own small fleet would, however, be uneconomical. This is where the Vario Research Car from Mercedes-Benz comes into the picture."

Another unique thing about the VRC was some of the technology that it employed; this included the use of the superstructures made from carbon-fiber-reinforced plastic (CFRP), the VRC was the first Mercedes to use drive-by-wire tech, having no mechanical connections between its steering wheel, brake pedal, and each respective system.

If this was so brilliant, why wasn't it put into production? Well, it wasn't because it was primarily used for testing of Mercedes' new technology; for example, it was used to test the company's front-wheel-drive technology which was later seen in action on the 1997 A-Class, and the latter also employed VRC's Active Body Control tech.

Overall, the VRC was a unique concept car that if put into production, would have completely changed the way we think about cars. Pity that it never got to the showrooms.

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