1991 Isdera Imperator 108i

Series 2 Coupe
€690,000 ($832,761)
Sale Price
€500,000 - €700,000
Est. Range
Yes
Reserve
23 April 2021
Sold Date
112
Lot Number
#2-
Unrestored original
Bonhams
Auction House
Chassis no. W09108215KWJ02021, Silver over black leather, LHD, 5.0-liter Mercedes-Benz V-8, ZF 5-speed, side exhaust, BBS wheels, Pirelli tires, gullwing doors, power steering, VDO gauges.

Evaluation: Showing 893 km (555 mi). One of an estimated 13-17 Series 2 Imperators built. Sold new to Japan, but first registered in the UK in 2016 and subsequently went to Germany. Partially restored under the current ownership. Tidy but not spotless engine bay. Light general age to the interior surfaces and at least one of the wheels looks messy. This car clearly spent a long time sitting, but it has gotten a lot of recent attention and it’s hard to nitpick a car this rare and cool.

Bottom Line: Isdera is just one of many upstart supercar companies with big ambitions that came and went without making too big a splash (technically Isdera is still around, building a 2+2 aimed at the Chinese market). That’s a shame, because Isdera built some of the quickest, wildest-looking, and most expensive cars of the 1980s. Although we can’t help but read it in an Italian accent, Isdera stands for Ingenieurbüro fur Styling, DEsign und Racing, or “Engineering Office for Styling, Design and Racing,” and was founded by Eberhard Schulz. After working at Porsche for a few years, Schulz designed a mid-engine concept car with gullwing doors called the CW311 with Mercedes V-8 power, a tubular steel spaceframe, and a fiberglass body. It was supposed to be a sort of “spiritual successor” to the Mercedes 300SL. Mercedes was impressed but didn’t take the bait to actually build the car, so he went off on his own to do it.

The Imperator 108i is a development of the CW311 concept. Each one was built to order and took months to complete, so it’s no wonder that so few were completed. Thirty-plus years on and the market for such cars as this is still small, but the Imperator in Monaco sold well even at a price that’s lower than most of the better known supercars of the period. The one-off V-12 Isdera Commendatore also just sold in Paris this February for €1,113,125 ($1,349,775), so it will be interesting to see if more of these German oddballs come out of the woodwork.

by Andrew Newton
27 April 2021

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Condition definitions
Condition #1: Concours
Condition #1 vehicles are the best in the world. The visual image is of the best vehicle, in the right colors, driving onto the lawn at the finest concours. Perfectly clean, the vehicle has been groomed down to the tire treads. Painted and chromed surfaces are mirror-like. Dust and dirt are banned, and materials used are correct and superbly fitted. The one word description for #1 vehicles is “concours.“
Condition #2: Excellent
#2 vehicles could win a local or regional show. They can be former #1 vehicles that have been driven or have aged. Seasoned observers will have to look closely for flaws, but will be able to find some not seen by the general public. The paint, chrome, glass and finishes will all appear as excellent. No excessive smoke will be seen on startup, no unusual noises will emanate from the engine. The vehicle will drive as a new vehicle of its era would. The one word description for #2 vehicles is “excellent.“
Condition #3: Good
#3 vehicles could possess some, but not all of the issues of a #4 vehicle, but they will be balanced by other factors such as a fresh paint job or a new, correct interior where applicable. #3 vehicles drive and run well, but might have some incorrect parts. These vehicles are not used for daily transportation but are ready for a long tour without excuses, and the casual passerby will not find any visual flaws. “Good” is the one word description of a #3 vehicle.
Condition #4: Fair
#4 vehicles are daily drivers, with flaws visible to the naked eye. The chrome might have pitting or scratches, the windshield might be chipped. Paintwork is imperfect, and perhaps the body has a minor dent. Split seams or a cracked dash, where applicable, might be present. No major parts are missing, but the wheels could differ from the originals, or other non- stock additions might be present. A #4 vehicle can also be a deteriorated restoration. “Fair” is the one word that describes a #4 vehicle.
Condition #5: Poor
Running, but battered, incomplete, and perhaps rusty.
Condition #6: Parts car
Parts car.
N/A
Hagerty only assigns condition ratings to vehicles we can inspect in person or, for online listings, via high-quality photography.