Vehicles | December 17, 2020 8:30 am

The Best ’90s Comeback Is This One-of-One German Hypercar Heading to Auction

Isdera’s Commendatore 112i is a Frankensteinian, gullwing-bodied dream machine

1993 Isdera Commendatore 112i car auction
This is the Isdera Commendatore 112i. There's a reason you've never heard of it: it's the only one ever made.
Rémi Dargegen © 2020 RM Sothebys

Jaguar made a pretty remarkable announcement this week. Not only did they design an all-electric race car for a new version of Gran Turismo — a design process that’s fascinating in its own right — but they actually went through the trouble of building a full-scale model of the vehicle in real life, which they’re calling the Vision Gran Turismo SV.

Unfortunately, the normal concept-car pitfalls are present, and even exacerbated, in this situation. That is, you’re probably never going to see it in person (though it may be trotted out at an auto show or two in the future) and you’re definitely never going to drive it (outside of your PlayStation). So while we’ll gladly tip our hats to Jaguar here, the one-off video-game car that’s in pole position in our hearts this week — and the one that’s pushed us onto the ‘90s nostalgia train alongside all the people listening to the new Goo Goo Dolls Christmas album — is something called the Isdera Commendatore 112i.

That’s a mouthful of a name, but appropriate for a hypercar that’s part Porsche, part Mercedes-Benz and part Ferrari, and yet somehow also a complete original. 

Never heard of Isdera? Why should you? The niche German supercar outfit started in the early ‘80s and is still around in a limited capacity today — apparently they announced an EV with a production run of two in 2018 — but they were never a major player. All told, production of their Spyder and Imperator 108i models could be counted in the dozens. And the crème de la crème, the 1993 Commendatore 112i, exists solely in the lot that’s headed to RM Sotheby’s Paris auction in February.

1993 Isdera Commendatore 112i car auction
If those headlights look familiar, you’ve probably seen them somewhere before…
Rémi Dargegen © 2020 RM Sothebys

The fact that this rare hypercar is headed to sale at all, in the condition it’s currently in (which is as close to original ‘93 spec as possible), is pretty momentous, and should be on the radar of any collector looking to buy a car that embodies the spirit of the ‘90s. Which leads us to why we described the Commendatore as a “video-game car” before: if it looks familiar to you, you may have seen it when it starred in the 1997 racing video game Need for Speed II.

If that doesn’t mean anything to you, then maybe the myth of its designer will entice you to bid; Eberhard Schulz worked for Porsche and Mercedes-Benz before striking off on his own to form Isdera, and he originally got a job in the business after showing up in his homemade Ford GT40 replica, which he called the Erator. Or maybe the ingenious amalgamation of disparate parts on the hypercar will draw you in, from the name being an homage to Enzo Ferrari to the Mercedes-Benz 6.0-liter M120 V12 engine to the Porsche 928 headlights and suspension. But what we love about this car, and hope you do too, are the moments of eccentricity, like the four gullwing doors (two for the cab, two for the engine), the custom stick shift and windshield wiper, and the submarine periscope rearview mirror, which seems impractical but also endearingly nutty in a Wes Anderson way.

RM Sotheby’s has the full story behind the car and any serious buyers can no doubt get even more information before the 2021 sale. There’s no reserve, so we don’t have an estimated price it may sell for (though in Need for Speed I think they listed it at $450,000), but if we were to ask after it, we’d want to know more about Isdera’s updates, as the company itself bought it back in 2016 and converted it to original spec, which makes it even more desirable. 

For those who did drive it into the ground on their PlayStation or desktop computer back in the day, I can answer your most pressing question: yes, this car has been driven by its previous owners, to the tune of about 6,500 miles. According to the auction house, it’s currently registered in Germany and “best enjoyed on the open road,” which is good news for anyone who’s wanted to make their ‘90s video game dreams come true.

We’ll update the rest of you when SpaceX develops a Star Fox spaceship.