Carole Nash
Content Writer
Published: 7th May 2019

Rare classic cars are some of the most beautiful vehicles in the industry. Often built in limited numbers, rare classic cars are famed for their design and performance. One of the rarest cars is the Isdera Imperator 108i, which was based on the Mercedes CW311 concept vehicle. Only 30 were produced, giving the Imperator a level of prestige that’s worth knowing about. We’re looking into the history of the machine.


In 1969, Mercedes worked on a concept car that featured a fibreglass body and Wankel engine. Named the C111, the prototype was upgraded with a 5-litre twin-turbo V8. It wasn’t long before people were demanding the car be put into production but it never got past the prototype stage.

Designer Eberhard Schulz decided to make his own version of the car because Mercedes has no interest in commercially producing it. Schulz founded Isdera and created the CW311 in partnership with tuning house BB. The CW311 acted as the blueprint for what the Imperator would become.

One of a kind

In 1984, Isdera introduced the Imperator to the world. It came with a fibreglass body, 5-litre Mercedes M117 V8 engine and pop-up headlights. The engine allowed the Imperator to reach a top speed of 176 mph. The luxury interior sourced many components from the Porsche 928. Other notable features were the rear-view periscope and gullwing doors.

Isdera specialised in creating boutique vehicles, with each Imperator being tailor made. Over time, Mercedes developed more powerful engines and they were incorporated into the car. The engines included a 5.6 litre M117 V8 and AMG V8.

For years, the Imperator remained the same until it was updated in 1991. The new features involved improved aerodynamics, bigger wheels and drop-down headlight covers. Production ended in 1993, with only two of the 30 being exported to Japan.

The Imperator may have only been produced in limited numbers but its beauty is undeniable.

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