That car was itself a development of what you see here – the 108i. Developed by Porsche engineer Eberhard Schulz and Mercedes-Benz engineer Rainer Buchmann as a successor to the C111 prototypes, the CW311 stuck a M100 6.3 liter V8 behind the driver and was pretty outrageous. When it came to market in 1984 in as the Imperator, the motor had changed to a 5.0 version of the M117 and later M119 motors. That was still good to push the Isdera to the best part of 180 mph in the same Road & Track test at Ehra-Lessien, Germany in 1987 that made the Ruf Yellowbird famous.
Somewhere around 13 of the later ‘Series II’ Imperators were made with the M119, and this one is coming up for sale soon – though, the location will probably give you a clue as to the expected price:
Around this time each year it’s nice to draw up a ‘wish list’ of things that, were I obscenely rich, I’d love to get myself as a holiday present. And if you’re Jeff Bezos, bored, reading this blog, and feeling spendy for some reason, this one is top of my list. What you see here is a car that not many are very familiar with. It comes from the firm Isdera, which doesn’t sound particularly German at all. But Isdera is an acronym for Ingenieurbüro fur Styling, DEsign und RAcing, which does seem particularly German. In fact, I’m surprised it’s not just one word. Anyway, Isdera was the brain child of Eberhard Schulz, who started off by building himself a sports car called the Erator GTE that looked very similar to the GT40, but had gullwing doors. Shulz worked for Porsche and Mercedes for a bit as a result of this impressive prototype, and later moved to the tuning firm B&B which ultimately led to the CW311 show car in 1978. Based upon Mercedes-Benz mechanical components and stylistically the successor to the Mercedes-Benz C111 rotary prototypes, Isdera then launched his own topless form of the CW311 called the Spyder 036i, 17 of which were made, and finally a ‘production’ version of the B&B CW311 called the Imperator 108i.
Not stasfied with 20-odd 108is produced through 1991, Shulz then dropped a 6-liter V12 in the middle of the chassis and hooked it to a Ruf-modified gearbox, Porsche suspension, a windshield wiper yanked from a Japanese Skinkansen bullet train, and a name befitting the founder of a certain Italian supercar maker. The result was stunning in 1993, and I’d argue it’s still pretty stunning today. And if you can pony up a whole lotta cash, the one existing example can be yours early next year.
ISDERA, short for Ingenieurbüro für Styling, DEsign und Racing, is a small Germany company that you may have never heard of. They are producers of some low volume sports cars, usually packing Mercedes-Benz power. The Imperator 108i was a sports car that was inspired by the Mercedes-Benz CW311 concept car of 1978 and was in production from 1984 through 1993 with a grand total of 30 units produced. This particular 180i for sale in the United Kingdom was owned by Formula 1 driver Mike Thackwell and could best be classified as a museum piece, with only 3,000 miles on the clock.
I’m still keeping up with this unique Mercedes gullwing theme I’ve had going on. If you thought the Styling Garage SGS or the Sbarro were scarce finds, this ups the ante once more. This fantastically rare find comes from reader Victor, awesome catch.
Isdera’s are one of the rarest cars in the world and you hardly ever have the opportunity to see one come up for public sale. For one reason or another this one has popped up on the Japanese Yahoo Auction site. These cars go beyond the standard supercars you people dreamed about. Isdera falls in with brands like Vector and the Cizeta in terms of early 90s exclusivity.
The 108i was built from 1984-1993, according to the auction this one has a date of 1991. The Imperators had their origins as a Mercedes concept car before being turned over to the Isdera company to develop privately. The name means commander in Latin stemming from Roman times. The seller states that this is one of two that was imported to Japan. With such a long, but limited production run, apx 30 cars, several different Mercedes power plants were used. The seller states that this one has a Mercedes 5.0. The engine cover looks like this is the 32 valve version found in the 500SL of the day. With Isdera modifications, 400 horsepower could be lurking in there. These cars were known as potent performers.
The seller is looking for 58,000,000 Yen which is about $650,000, half of the initial cost of 120,000,000 Yen. That makes the cost of that $90,000 Sbarro look pretty good.
Here are a couple of videos showing similar vehicles, you can see there is some variation. Note the roof mounted “periscope” mirror for backup driving on both these cars. Note that both videos show the car wearing the same license plate badge, with letters bb and CW311. CW311 was the name of the initial Mercedes prototype styling study, b+b is one of the German Mercedes tuning firms. Also pay attention how in one video the car is wearing all 3 pointed Mercedes star badges, but in the other these have been replaced with Isdera flying eagle badges.
First is an advertisement from Isdera for the 108i.
Second here is one out on the street. This one appears to have an earlier 5.6 Mercedes engine, it sure sounds fine.
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