C8 Spyder - note the clean windshield, the absence of a header allows unobstructed views.
Stunning. Unique. Those are the two words that come immediately to mind when considering the design of Spyker cars. The intricate and perfectly executed mix of glass and metal details in that smooth bodywork is simply astounding. This is a design fairly pure in outline but between the ends is a fantastic body that transcends automotive design. The polished metal accents forming various scoops in those dark green Aluminum panels, the vast extent of glass used even on the hardtop model, and the riveted aluminum wheel well flares on the higher performance variations, combined with the exposed shifter linkage and the diamond pattern stitched into the dark red cloth on the interior give the Spyker the look of a Renaissance-era villa, a magnificent hall full of delicate artwork and perfectly polished metal tools of war. The Spyker C8 is, in all its variations, exquisite. Designer Maartin de Bruijn is to be commended for a proper choice of materials, lines and functional form, from the fabulous chassis to the extremely pure body.
2805 lbs + 400 hp + aluminum body-chassis = pure fun!
The four spoke steering wheel design consists of shapes representative of the aviation history behind the Spyker name; the optional 19” Aeroblade® wheels with the propeller fin shaped spokes, which actually help cool the brakes by propelling the passing air innboard, further support this heritage. Although the Spyker we see here is a brand new car from a brand new company, the Spyker automotive name is nearly a century old.
Aeroblade wheels that direct air inwards to help cool the brakes
Where China is just becoming the next big thing in the automotive industry, Spyker has a long history there. A Spyker was the first automobile ever in China. In an early century race that featured Beijing pitted against Peking, a grueling race which took off across the desert and extended all the way to Paris, a Spyker came in second.
1922 Spyker C4 with a Maybach six cylinder engine broke the Brooklands 24-hour endurance record, over two 12 hour daylight stints; hence the Spyker Double 12 trademark.
June 7th was the starting date for that race, and it was on that date last year when Spyker made its triumphant return into the billion-person strong nation. Significantly, the Spyker was driven in by the Dutch-Chinese formula star Hopin Tong, who has seen some significant formula success. Hopin, whose major nationalities unite the headquarters of the car company and the country to which it returns its presence, is the first Chinese person to test a Formula1 car. He is a significant man in China, and certainly an appropriate figure to reintroduce Spyker to his home. Spyker is back in a big way. They are hitting all the major markets where their competition (Ferrari and Lamborghini) is – including the U.S. and China. They recently received U.S. certification from the EPA and the NHSTA for the C8 short wheelbase models: the Spyder, the Spyder T, and the Laviolette – no small task for the little car company. But by their slogan – Nulla tenaci invia est via, or For the tenacious no road is impassible – they tackled the certification project at the waist, floored it and drove on through.
Spyker's motto; "for the tenacious no road is impassable" artfully carved into the polished tailpipe(s).
C8 Laviolette comes fitted with made-to-measure Hulshof leather suitcases.
The new cars are based on a hand-crafted aluminum chassis and body. Coventry Proto Panel, once a 8-9 person company that built the occasional prototype for Aston Martin, Jaguar, or your average rich nut job, was the original crafter of these fine chassis (a recent production agreement was struck with Wilhelm Karmann GmbH of Osnabruck, Germany, to deliver “body in white” units to Spyker starting this coming September). Now CPP is 45 people strong and they do the grilles for Rolls Royce. They have 7 people doing just hand stitching, and this is now a sizeable custom coachwork operation. They build a fantastic chassis. Spyker’s design incorporates a perfected TIG weld that was developed in conjunction with a local university. The resulting chassis of aluminum extrusions formed to box sections has displayed remarkable strength and durability under fire; a single chassis was used for crash certification, including the 30-degree frontal offset, head on and side impact tests. The Spyker C8 received a 5-star crash rating all around. For the Spyder, the hard top even stayed in place after impact.
1914 merger of Spyker + Dutch Aircraft is illustrated by the wire wheel with propeller logo
Inside the cockpit, you will wonder how they fit the airbag deployment unit inside that tiny steering column. They don’t. Spyker gets a low-volume exemption from having to develop and implement this safety technology into their car, and use a 4-point safety harness as a trade-off.
Stunning setting, Villa d'Este in Como; stunning car, Spyker C8 Double 12 S.
These aluminum body panel on spaceframe chassis units receive the 4.2 L V8 that Audi uses in a variety of its automobiles; in March this year the C12 was announced which will feature Audi’s 6.0L W12 – look out world! It is an interesting choice for a Dutch company to choose a German engine for its car, but it is not illogical as there is historical precedent. Some of the original Spykers ran on Maybach engines – the first used a Mercedes unit - back when Maybach was just an engine building company. An old name revived once powered another old name now revived…except now a different German powerplant thrusts this hot Dutch body ever faster forward. Not being satisfied with the 340 hp Audi’s V8 puts out in stock form, Spyker has Cosworth, a respectable English race engine building firm who once built Ford’s F1 engines, has passed through a couple of hands, and was recently split, wring at least another 60 hp out of the motor. Cosworth’s involvement in the project may seem to be yet another oddity, but the confusion clears as you learn Cosworth was sold to Audi from Ford. Audi in the long run held on to the engineering department but sold the racing side of the business. Thus Cosworth’s involvement in this project is logical.
Aluminum 4.2 liter V-8 produces 400 hp - in the base model! And yes the stainless steel 4-into-1 headers are standard!
The horsepower bump for the base model is largely due to engine mapping. The Spyder T model gets an extra hand – two hands, rather – in the form of twin turbochargers that give it a big ole boost up to 525 hp…but like the headroom in the numerous topless versions of the C8, the sky’s the limit for power.
Exquisite hand-made Hulshof leather interior
Spyker cars have a history of racing that dates back to approximately the company’s inception. The first racecar in the new company, the C8 Double Twelve R, and its homologation street counterpart, the Double Twelve S, are named for a significant part of Spyker’s racing history. There is a well-known track in Brooklands where a 24 hour endurance race was held for many years starting in the dawn of the 20th century. A record was set there in 1907 and it stood for 15 years, until Spyker came along with its stock C4 model and driver Selwyn Edge broke the record in 1922. The track could only be run while it was light, for 12 hours per day. Thus, the record was dubbed the Double-Twelve. Spyker thought that sounded pretty cool, and so they decided to name a model or two after this significant event in their heritage.
1903 Spyker 60HP; the world's first six-cylinder four-wheel drive car
That race was a significant event in that it showed how automotive engineering had progressed such that then-modern street cars could compete with racecars only a decade and a half old. This is relevant today, too, as the race and street versions are very similar. The main difference, perhaps, is that the C8 Double Twelve race car is limited, by Le Mans regulators, to 488 hp.
The race effort is largely handled by two people: technical director Peter van Earp, and team manager Hans van Rennes. Hans served as our master story teller and general Spyker history guru when we sat down for an interview on Spyker, and among this storytelling we learned Hans has some respectable experience in race team management. He was the manager for a Porsche race team based in Atlanta, Georgia, so he knows how to make sure fast cars go fast and stay up front. In his spare time, Hans is one of the right hand men for Victor Muller, Spyker’s funder and re-founder. Despite the talent behind the team, the Spyker racecars, the C8 Double Twelve R and this year’s Spyder GT2 R, have not been successful in competition. They have proven their speed and fair-weather competitiveness, but have not earned anything near a podium spot. At the 7.5 hour mark if this year’s French enduro-classic, a broken oil line sent slippery fluid to the rear tires, inducing a spin and ensuing flames in fantastic fashion. The crowning moment to date has been the 2003 Le Mans, wherein the Spyker finished 18th in class and 30th overall.
Le Mans 2003, Spyker C8 Double 12 R at the finish
At a standstill, however, the Spyker has proven itself a champion. Rap/hip-hop star Busta Rhymes managed to find his way to the Spyker factory in Holland, creating quite a stir among the mellow Dutch with his entourage. Busta was thoroughly impressed with the car and soon made a purchase. In a scramble, Spyker rearranged the paperwork on their show car and got Mr. Rhymes the keys for an annual hip-hop car show taking place in New York. Mr. Rhymes’ beautiful new exotic made a huge impression sitting amidst the Lamborghini Diablo/Hummer-studded field and won a prestigious design award.
Roof mounted air inlet, Spyker C8 Laviolette
The Spyker models were designed around the convertible platform, and as such the Spyder models look complete, well thought out, proper, perfect. The top of the windshield with its lack of upper structural member and the back of the car just look right, as if there never was supposed to be a top in the first place and thus as if no top was hastily chopped off. The coupe model, named Laviolette after former Spyker designer Joseph Valentine Laviolette, features a roof of made largely of clear glass. As Laviolette’s Spyker 60/80 HP design, the world’s first six-cylinder car equipped with four wheel drive and four wheel brakes (all in one package) was beautiful in its drivetrain, so the Spyker Laviolette is beautiful in its upper carriage, with its “almost a convertible” glass roof and flowing upper outline. The Laviolette of course has the same mechanical beauty underneath with its 400 hp motor routing torque through a Getrag 6-speed manual to an optional limited slip differential, all supported by an exquisite aluminum frame and sprung on F1-style suspension. It’s easy to repeat what a marvelous package this car is in the execution of all its components.
Spyder C8 at Villa d'Este
On the road, in any of its various forms, the Spyker has few equals. From the base output of 400hp in models such as the 2750 pound C8 Spyder and the Laviolette, good for a 0-60 run of 4.5 seconds and a maximum velocity of 185 mph, through the 2850 pound Spyder T with the twin-turbo V8 which is capable of taking the same acceleration run in less than 4 seconds and a top speed of 200 mph thanks to its 525 hp muscle, to the top tuned version of the Double Twelve, the Spyker is a definitive supercar. The Double Twelve street car starts at 400 hp, which will take the 2970 pound car from 0-60 in 4.5 seconds (for the base power option) and push the car up to 187 mph. The V8 can be tuned past 600 hp, which will yield a 215 mph top speed – that’s Enzo territory.
Fantastic detail: polished aluminum engine cooling duct
All Spyker models feauture stainless steel springs and F1-style inboard Koni shock absorbers. The suspension is fully adjustable, allowing both a streetable and a race-ready setup. It’s a comfortable race car for the street.
The twin-turbo C8 Spyder T. Cosworth Technology (an Audi subsidiary) modifies the 4.2 liter V-8 with resulting 525 hp!
The seating positions are low inside the cabin, which keeps the center of gravity low and which helps add a feeling of security to the ride in this very open car. It looks, inside and out, like both a classy GT cruiser and a race car. It helps that the racecar looks just like the street car, but the Spyker Spyder really does play both visual roles well. The Spyker C8 just looks great no matter what specific body it is wearing. It’s a magnificent addition to the automotive world. They have conquered everything on the street, and have proven their capability to finish races – all that is left is to add reliability to the sleek, powerful package and show the world the Dutch now how to race.
The company’s founder, Victor Muller, is a bright business man with a heavy duty bank account and a great knowledge of how to build a brand. His presentation of the company has been impressive with competition in Le Mans following very shortly the debut of the street cars and he has led a respectable foray into multiple international markets, where Spyker’s well-established competitors already have presence. While they push towards an annual production of 100, they will not put anybody out of business, but they will certainly give the supercar world a run for their money. The business proposition of one basic model with such visually distinct models with equally stunning variations in power output makes this one rival no low volume manufacturer can compete with. It’s a true dream machine. But the dream has only just begun – more models are already on the way with the announcement that Audi’s (ok, Volkswagen’s) W12 will be used, and the U.S. market has only just been opened. Visit www.spykercars.com (not www.spyker.com, unless you want a ride-on lawn mower), and tune back in here at www.MotorSportsCenter.com for more on the Spyker story.