Nürburgring Sightings – Isdera Imperator 108i & Spyder 033i-16


I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again… you can pretty much expect to see anything on four wheels when you get near the Nürburgring. One of the best examples of this limitlessness is the fact we were walking towards our parked car, and the words that came out of my mouth were “[expletive-laden exclamation deleted] Is that an Isdera?”

Of course it was. The car turning from the intersection was a silver Isdera Imperator 108i.

I was blown away.



Isdera, short for Ingenieurbüro für Styling, DEsign und RAcing, was given the task of building a production version of the late-1970s CW311 concept car with Mercedes-Benz backing. You could call it an outsourced BMW M1 competitor, if you will. The CW311 was designed by Isdera head Eberhard Schulz, so it was likely he got what he wanted out of the deal.

Judging by large slats above the front wheels and the covered headlights, I could later identify this car as the 1991-1993 model, with a 32-valve Mercedes-Benz AMG V8. I do not know whether the car here had the 5.6-litre or the six-litre engine, whose power outputs range from 243hp to 302 hp, with the latter achieving a 320km/h top speed and a 0-100 km/h acceleration in five seconds.


This photo, albeit shoddy in execution due to my enthusiasm, shows you the unique periscope rear view mirror.


So far, I consider this Isdera to be one of the best sightings I’ve reported for this site. I loved it.



Yet, it wouldn’t be Nürburgring if I didn’t spot yet another Isdera at the entrance of the track. This one, the Spyder, appears to be the 033i-16 version with the Mercedes-Benz Cosworth 2.3 16-valve engine from the 190E 2.3-16.


While both of the cars are somehow submarine-like, the dimensions of the Spyder are wackier than the fixed-roof one.



And despite being saddled with a four-cylinder engine, and not producing a V8 rumble, the car still stands out amongst the world of true supercar weirdness.


The interior is definitely one from a low-production sports car, and wouldn’t be far from something that utilized a Volkswagen Beetle basic structure.


You could fit a jet ski on that rear deck. Interestingly, Mercedes-Benz taillights could be seen also on the VW GTI-engined versions.




The guys paid for their laps, put on their helmets and headed for a couple quick outings on the ‘Ring. A thumbs-up was definitely deserved.

[Images: Copyright 2013 Hooniverse/Antti Kautonen]

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21 responses to “Nürburgring Sightings – Isdera Imperator 108i & Spyder 033i-16”

  1. dukeisduke Avatar

    The 108i looks like it has taillights from the W116, but what are on the 033i? Are they W123 lights?

    1. Closed 24/7 Avatar
      Closed 24/7


  2. Rust-MyEnemy Avatar

    Ever since I recieved a book called Dream Cars in 1987, the Imperator has been one of my favourite cars of all time, and its interior is just awesome. Fantastic spot, even if being at the 'ring was cheating somewhat.

  3. Scandinavian Flick ★ Avatar
    Scandinavian Flick ★

    Isdera is one of those companies I often forget exists. But I am always happy to be reminded.

  4. JayP2112 Avatar

    I need to go there.
    My brother is in Munich.
    With an Opel diesel.

    1. FЯeeMan Avatar

      That is a haiku
      No, no it really isn't
      Sure looked like it was

      1. JayP2112 Avatar

        Yea- I was getting a beer buzz going and ran out of syllables.
        Started out as:
        maybe we can live with it.

        1. FЯeeMan Avatar

          Subscribing to replies tells me you edited this…
          "Yea- I was getting pretty hammered and ran out of syllables. "

          1. JayP2112 Avatar


  5. Batshitbox Avatar

    New one on me. I don't imagine we had them on this side of the pond?
    What are the Lot Lizards like at Nürburgring?

    1. Van_Sarockin Avatar

      They'll cut you.

  6. longrooffan Avatar

    Sweet finds. I didn't even know this manufacturer existed but then again, their roofs aren't all that long. Or even existent. Another Bucket List visit for this olelongrooffan.

  7. smokyburnout Avatar

    Wow, I saw that EXACT SAME Isadera just the other day!
    …on my computer screen, in a gallery from someone else who was at the Ring last weekend. Looks like there were at least 4 in town.

    1. monkey_tennis Avatar

      A week ago Pistonheads ran a storywith footage of an earlier model running around the Belgian Spa circuit.
      The comments thread was unremarkabe until mid-way down page 2 where the owner contributed with the history and his own impressions of the car. Worth checking out (unless you already own an Isdera and so know all of this already).

  8. krazykarguy Avatar

    Those are SOOOOO cool.
    This is why I keep coming back to this site every day.

  9. Tomsk Avatar

    Awesome finds Antti! I wonder if anyone else spotted a certain striped-Miata-driving AutoWeek editor in Picture #6…
    But as sweet as these '80s Isderas are, I think I prefer the later Commendatore 112i. I probably put a few thousand miles on the one in Need for Speed 2.
    <img src="http://tuneman1.tripod.com/commend.jpg&quot; />

    1. chrystlubitshi Avatar

      I do, indeed, see one Blake "Zastrahui" Rong.

  10. BobWellington Avatar

    These cars are bloody fascinating. The first looks like a mix between a Countach, Esprit, and a Ford GT. Kinda cool.

  11. Van_Sarockin Avatar

    Those are simply amazing. For them, I'm not going to complain about their impossible rear visibility. Nice to know M-B still had a pulse beating somewhere deep down back then.

  12. Number_Six Avatar

    Holy eff. I need to breathe into a paper bag.

  13. zaddikim Avatar

    Isdera's are my unicorn car – Imperators and Commendatore's are all kinds of awesome.