Mercedes-Benz Vario Research Car (1995)
Mercedes-Benz introduced a four-in-one concept named Vario Research Car (VRC) at the 1995 Geneva show. At its core, the VRC was little more than a chassis with a C-Class-esque front end. Users could transform it into a coupe, a station wagon, a convertible, or a pickup in just 15 minutes by swapping removable body panels made out of carbon fibre.
The world had never seen a Mercedes like the VRC before. But while the idea of condensing four cars into one was clever, what hid under the skin made the concept stand out on a second, more lasting level. The engine’s power flowed through a continuously variable transmission (CVT) to spin the front wheels. The original A-Class launched in 1997 became the first production front-wheel drive car from Mercedes, and the second-generation model offered an optional CVT.
Mercedes packed other innovations into the VRC. The concept showcased the navigation system that became available on the S-Class later in 1995, the active body control technology introduced by the CL in 1999, and an early traffic sign recognition system.