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Video: Pagani From The 80s: He Made Mercedes While Working For Porsche
2023 Author: Natalie MacDonald | [email protected]. Last modified: 2023-05-21 02:36
The days when it was possible to assemble a car with the help of a mallet, a rasp, a sheet of iron and a motor from a tractor, come with it to a more or less well-known race, get to the finish line alive and turn this simple scheme into a successful business model are long gone. Small manufacturers of fast cars must offer something out of the ordinary in order to gain a foothold in the market and attract the attention of people who can afford such equipment. However, even this does not guarantee success.
Take, for example, Gumpert, founded by former Audi Sport director Roland Gumpert. He built so many rally winning cars that a recipe for a fast car could be cited even if pushed around at two in the morning. So he made Apollo, a supercar that became one of the main tracktools of its time. However, Gumpert did not receive worldwide recognition, the company went bankrupt and now belongs to the Chinese.
At the other extreme is Pagani. Horatio Pagani's firm has created a truly unique car - the Zonda. He was good enough to break the timekeepers' stopwatches at the racetrack in the morning, and come to a social event in the evening, making the parking lot employees tremble and score their Instagram selfies against the backdrop of a carbon monster.
It is all the more surprising that the Isder company could not write its name in the history of the automotive industry in bold letters like Pagani, although many call it “Pagani from the 1980s”.
The history of the office began in 1968. It was then that its founder, 28-year-old German engineer Eberhard Schulz, created his first machine in the laundry of his parents' house - the Erator. Naturally, it was a sports car styled after the legendary Ford GT40 - the same one that destroyed competitors in the 24 Hours of Le Mans in the mid-to-late 1960s.
The car was built in a single copy and served more as a showcase of the abilities of Schultz, who modified and reworked it three times. It all started with a tiny engine with a working volume of one and a half liters, and ended with a five-liter V8, which allowed Erator to accelerate to 315 kilometers per hour!
By the way, the car is still alive! In 2014, the car was photographed in the parking lot of the German Filderstadt. You can make sure that this is the Erator, and not a detailed replica, and even less the GT40 itself, by looking at the rear-view mirror installed on the roof above the driver's seat. Schultz will later use this trick on his projects …
In 1971, Eberhard went to work at Porsche. There was only one nuance: Schultz's heart belonged to neighbors in Stuttgart - Mercedes-Benz. And this heart was broken when Mercedes abandoned the serial implementation of the C111 project, which was implemented in the form of several prototypes, but in the end went to the archive.
In order to at least slightly smooth out the sediment from this unfortunate misunderstanding, Schultz, in his free time from work, was engaged in creating a new model of his own, and in 1978 a mid-engined supercar CW311 … In fact, this was close to the serial incarnation of the Mercedes-Benz C111. Schultz's partner was Rainer Buchmann, the founder and head of the bb tuning studio, which specialized in refining expensive and fast cars.
Only the finest parts and components were used to create the prototype, although the overall design was unassuming - a steel frame hung with bodywork. But the dashboard and steering wheel were taken from the Porsche 911, the suspension elements were borrowed from the 928, and the engine was Mercedes - a modified AMG V8 unit with 375 horsepower. The prototype accelerated to a hundred in just 4.8 seconds and gained 319 kilometers per hour!
Schultz and Buchman wanted to impress Mercedes-Benz so badly that a three-pointed star flaunted on the front of the prototype. The car with the legendary logo and the adjacent bb emblem was filmed for the press, Niki Lauda posed next to it, and in a Mercedes … we weren't offended! The automaker did not impose any sanctions on the creators of the CW311, so the car to this day remains the only Mercedes-Benz concept that was developed without the participation of the company.
However, Mercedes did not plan to finance the development of the CW311 (the name reflects the value of the drag coefficient of the concept car - 0.311). Therefore, Schultz had only one way - to create his own company, which could make the CW311 serial.
This is how the firm appeared Isdera (abbreviation from Ingenieurbüro für Styling, Design und Racing) based in Leonberg, near Stuttgart. It officially launched in 1982, and its first model was the Spyder Roadster. Although it was a derivative of the CW311, it was inferior to the prototype both in power and dynamics. At first, the two-door was equipped with a 136-horsepower engine from the Golf GTI! Later, of course, this unit was taken out of the Spyder, replacing it with Mercedes-Benz “sixes”, and a total of 17 copies were produced.
The same serial incarnation of the CW311 appeared in 1984. The model was named IsderImperator 108i. In the course of adaptation for legal driving on public roads, the body changed slightly: it became larger and, alas, lost in aerodynamics - the drag coefficient was already 0.38, not 0.311.
Schultz's signature trick did not go anywhere: the Imperator 108i did not have side mirrors, but there was a large mirror directly on the roof, which the driver had to look at through the embrasure in the ceiling. So the backward visibility was supposedly getting better.
The technique is standard for projects of this kind. At the heart of the 108i is a tubular space frame and the body panels are concocted from fiberglass. Early versions of the model were equipped with a five-liter V8 produced by Mercedes-Benz, which produced 235 horsepower. In Germany, the cost started at 250,000 marks. The basic equipment already included a stereo system and a telephone. And this is in 1984!
Over the entire period of its existence, and in some incomprehensible way it lasted right up to 2001, the Imperator 108i was updated several times. This mainly concerned the power unit: Schultz tried on various Mercedes-Benz units on the model, the largest and most powerful of which was a six-liter V8 with 420 forces.
However, there were also external changes. So, in 1991, a second version of the Imperator 108i appeared, which differed from its predecessor with a side exhaust, additional air vents, then fashionable hiding headlights, but most importantly - ordinary side mirrors!
According to various sources, there are about twenty copies of the IsderImperator 108i on this planet. And, it seems, all cars are in pristine condition, which is not surprising - they have long acquired collectible value.
But Izdera's most ambitious project appeared in 1993. The Commendatore 112i supercar was presented at the Frankfurt Motor Show. It is said that the inspiration for it was again Mercedes-Benz - the C112 concept car, shown two years earlier. His sons helped Schultz to build the Commendatore (it has nothing to do with Enzo Ferrari, it seems like the name), and in terms of modern money, it cost four million euros!
In keeping with the best traditions, the project has become a mixture of Porsche and Mercedes-Benz components. So, the tidy was taken from the W140, and the head optics were borrowed from the Porsche 968. By the way, in most of the photographs the headlights are in an inactive, lowered state. In fact, they could also climb.
But both the headlights and the branded roof mirror are far from the main features of the supercar. The 112 was also equipped with an adaptive suspension with the ability to automatically adjust the ride height, as well as an active aerodynamic brake with an angle of attack of 19 degrees. It was activated along with the usual brakes.
The design, as with other Isdera models, consisted of a space frame and fiberglass body panels. The Commendatore 112i was powered by a 6.0 V12 engine from Mercedes-Benz (well, what else) with the M120 index. The motor developed 408 horsepower and was combined with a Getrag six-speed manual transmission. Ironically, the same engine will then appear on the Pagani Zonda.
However, Schultz failed to pull off the same trick as with the 108i. To launch a monster like the Commendatore 112i into the series, the company required additional investments, and Eberhard even found them - in Japan. However, the financial crisis that broke out in this country in the late 1980s and 1990s discouraged investors from investing in a supercar that is unlikely to be released in large circulation, and new investors did not appear on the horizon. Therefore, Isder sold exactly zero copies of the 112th.
In 2006, Schultz's company once again reminded of itself, presenting the frenzied Autobahnkurier 116i retrocar, which Eberhard had conceived back in the 1980s, but was able to bring to life only after almost three decades. The car is equipped with two V8 engines from Mercedes-Benz at once. One turns the front wheels, the second turns the rear. In this case, both units are located under the hood in the front of the car. The circulation, as you might have guessed, is one copy.
In 2018, Isder provided another sign of life. The Commendatore GT electric sports car was shown in China. It has two electric motors, 402 horsepower and gull-wing doors: the love for Mercedes-Benz never left Schultz. However, it is no longer necessary to wait for bold and desperate projects from Isder: the company is now owned by the Chinese company Sinfoni and is much more specialized in engineering for others than for itself.
But the story of Isder and Schultz could have turned out quite differently if Mercedes-Benz had supported them in the late 1970s. How exactly do you fold? Alas, neither we nor Schultz will ever know this.