Isdera Autobahnkurier 116i

Car of the Day #49: 2007 Isdera Autobahnkurier 116i

Isdera Autobahnkurier 116i
Isdera Autobahnkurier 116i at speed • via auto motor und sport / Roos Engineering

Even though I joke about the Bugatti Veyron—and don't like how, if you squint, its body looks like a flattened tent—I do concede it’s a theatrical, if pointless, feat of engineering.

Some days I get cynical about super-powered cars, and mentally reassign obviously talented people to something that would benefit society more than, say, a 16-cylinder Bugatti and all of the pulp, paper, and power consumed in its wake as car enthusiasts and TV shows bent over backwards to believe the Veyron as something, anything more than a toy.

Couldn’t the engineers, with the mighty Volkswagen Group at their backs have applied their talents to, oh, I don’t know…cold fusion? World peace? A redesigned applicator for hemorrhoid cream?

An important distinction here: the Big Bad Bug was made to make money, whereas the Autobahnkurier 116i was made because founder of Isdera, Eberhard Schulz, had a longtime question that could not be answered within the confines of a sanely-sized car.

What if there was a way to indulge in a 16-cylinder supercar with distinctive looks and strong all-weather performance? A car designed for the open road but without the limitations—cargo capacity, fuel use, visibility, etc.—of a sporty car like the Bugatti Veyron?

Envisioned as an homage to the great “Art Deco” sports touring cars of the 1930s, the Autobahnkurier 116i looks like no other Isdera. 

Like every other Isdera, sorcery is applied to a potion of mainly Mercedes-derived ingredients.

It’s built around the mating together of two 300-horsepower 5.0-liter V8 engines as found primarily in the Mercedes-Benz W126 range. As translated from a profile of the car in Germany’s Auto Bild:

“The former Porsche development engineer also wants to prove that two independently working drives can work in one car. Correctly read. The Isdera, which ploughs through traffic like an autosaur, not only has an engine, an (automatic) transmission and a driven axle. But of all two.” –

• via auto motor und sport

As far as performance is concerned, Isdera says the car is both easy to drive and “still playful” at speeds up to 242 km/h (150 mph). It’ll go faster, of course, but Isdera tuned this car to easily dispatch long distances with ease.

Since it’s a much larger car than most, Isdera was able to fit a larger fuel tank than you’d find in most cars…period: a mighty 145-litre (38 US gallon) unit. 

Did you guess that fuel consumption isn’t great? Try an outrageous 21.7 L/100 km (10.8 US mpg) in mixed city/highway driving.

A concours walk around of the car from 2021

• via autobild

Inside, you’ll find all of the creature comforts of a modern luxury sedan, minus the infotainment, radar cruise control, or other more technologically advanced features you’d find in a brand new car. 

There is leather. There is wood. There is carbon. There is heat. And there is go.

Thing is, Isdera built only one and has no interest in selling it, or making more. If you’d like your very own very-steampunk supercar, you’d better make Isdera an offer they can’t refuse.

Just don’t act surprised when someone mentions that the body shell, doors, and windshield were taken from a Volkswagen Beetle and massaged into a long-hooded erection.

And on that bombshell, I end this article.

*If your German is decent or favourite Translate app is fired up, here are the two best resources for first-hand stories on this magnificent, pointless, car.

Fahrbericht Isdera Autobahnkurier - AUTO BILD
test spyder autobahnkurier isdera
Isdera Autobahnkurier 116 i Fahrbericht: Riesen-Käfer mit 16 Zylindern und 900 Nm
Eberhard Schulz führt mit Isdera eine renommierte Autofabrik für edle Unikate. Wie den 5,6 Meter langen Autobahnkurier 116i, der von zwei Fünfliter-V8-Motoren angetrieben wird - und auf einem VW Käfer basiert.