1978 Mercedes-Benz Study CW311

Posted by Scott

I’ve been on a car kick lately. Not only are they excellent examples of functional design, there’s something about the quality of 60s-70s concept car photography that always gets me. This latest entry is the 1978 Mercedes-Benz Study CW311. Designed solely as a concept by Eberhard Schulz Isdera for Mercedes Benz, it was later put into production as the Isdera Imperator 108i. You may recall the post on the Mercedes Benz C111, a concept which Shulz also developed.

I feel like this was the era right before everything started looking like alien technology or some sort of bird. It seems like in high end conceptual situations like with supercars, the designers are always trying to envision some object from the near future. I guess I prefer the near future imagined in the 1970’s over that of today.

I love the lines, really aggressive but the overall vibe is softened by the sort of roundness of the thing. I’m definitely getting an Italdesign/DeLorean vibe off the windows. Also, picture kicking it with a Lufthansa airliner? Classy. And I’m loving the roof mounted rear-view; something very utilitarian about that. On a side-note, I feel like if a car could be a typeface, the CW311 would be Trade-Gothic Bold Extended.

And to top it off, a very VHS-ish video featuring the CW311 (with poor choice of substitute wheels):

Special thanks to AJJB for turning me on to Shulz’s work back in the C111 post. AJJB also pointed out that Shulz is now “selling cheesy oil paintings out of a small town in Germany”. Interesting and sort of sad too…

Images via

22 Comments Leave A Comment


Bramus! says:

June 3, 2010 at 5:24 am

“Remember: As long as you hit that wire with the connecting hook at precisely 88mph the instant the lightning strikes the tower… everything will be fine.” ;-)


Chris says:

June 3, 2010 at 10:50 am

The sound of that engine doesn’t seem to fit for me. Sounds too much like American muscle, however that car is bad ass!


Tyler says:

June 3, 2010 at 12:03 pm

I don’t know, I do enjoy these late 70s type concepts, but I feel like they’re born from the same spirit as today’s supercars. The difference being strength and size of materials available today; I think that if the methods of production we have available today were at their use back then, we’d see more Bugatti Veyron types.


NAVIS says:

June 3, 2010 at 12:26 pm

I dunno… that Bugatti is pretty sexy if you ask me.

I’m rebuilding a 1972 International Harvester Scout II with my dad. It’s kind of like a Bronco but way cooler.


Pegasus says:

June 3, 2010 at 2:35 pm

Nope, gotta disagree about the mirror. I looks like a forehead slapping last minute addition ” … OMG we forgot about site lines when we designed the engine placement. OK, lets cut a hole in the roof …” Even twin side mirrors would have improved the look (but maybe it wouldn’t have fit in someone’s garage?)

Today they’d get around that by adding a rear facing video camera and a digital monitor on the dash.


Dan says:

June 3, 2010 at 7:40 pm

Looks a bit like that James Bond car used in one of the earlier movies… Any one know the car/model i’m trying to think of?


pegasus says:

June 3, 2010 at 10:47 pm

Dan, you might be thinking of the white Lotus Esprit S1 Bond used in The Spy Who Loved Me. Esprit’s lines were a bit cleaner, in my opinion, (… makes the Merc pictured above look as if it’s having a bit of a bad reaction to a bee sting) but definitely in the same class of vehicle.

(Also doubt the Merc can turn into a submarine)


themark says:

June 3, 2010 at 11:03 pm

I know that Schulz worked on this, but I think he did it while working for Rainer Buchmann and his tuning house b+b Auto-Exclusiv-Service. You can see the bb logo on the hood. I’m not big on the mirror either… too high up, taking your eyes away from the car in front who’s driver is texting while having a coffee on the freeway


AJJB says:

June 5, 2010 at 3:02 pm

@Scott: don’t mention it.

The whole mirror thing is a signature of Schulzes work. At first I thought it must be far more dangerous compared to conventional mirrors, but if you look closely at the video you’ll notice very little headroom. Apparently you can sit in the car, look straight ahead and the view out back will be in your line of sight. Pretty nifty.

And maybe he likes to paint and is, contrary to my assumptions, a happy guy. I like to think so.


Petar says:

June 9, 2010 at 2:37 am

Could not agree more old cars always PWNED the new ones…its really nice example of simplicity …a real looker of note..


Petar says:

June 9, 2010 at 3:04 am

Dude the story of the designer is tearing my heart apart here…very sad being a designer myself I am myself a bit of a purist-extreemist I connect to that one….

on another note one of the nicest cars to add to that list would be the – nicest looking “Porsche” – the Renault Alpine 110 of coarse…


Tyson says:

November 12, 2010 at 2:45 pm

Speaking of James Bond and tricked-out spy cars, the car in-game and on the cabinet graphics for the original arcade version of Spy Hunter was based on the CW311/Imperator.


Andre G. says:

January 29, 2011 at 11:42 am

This superbe car was in a Movie….. some body can tel me the name of the movie ?? ( sorry about my english…. it is not my language )