The past 15 years have seen a revival of small engineering firms specialised in making state-of-the-art sports cars – some even reviving great racing names such as Bugatti and Ascari. Among the finest of these mostly British, Italian, German and French marques, comes a manufacturer of sumptuous bespoke sports cars: Spyker.
Handmade to every individual owner’s preference, the luxurious Spyker super cars revive the grand tradition of Holland’s finest carmaker, once known as the ‘Rolls Royce of the Continent’. The founders of the marque, Jacobus and Hendrik-Jan Spijker, were leading coachbuilders, their craftsmanship culminating in the golden state coach built for the coronation of Queen Wilhelmina in 1898, and still in use today. 1898 was also the year in which they built their first motor vehicle. By 1903 their advanced 60/80 HP model became the first car with a six-cylinder engine, permanent four wheel drive and independent brakes, setting the tone for a twenty-year period that was to make Spyker synonymous with quality, technological innovation and legendary racing successes.
Characterised by their circular radiators, the cars were especially popular in the Dutch East Indies and Great Britain, where they earned fame along the grandest makes of the day. The onset of the First World War led to a merger with the Dutch Aircraft Factory N.V., and saw the company branch out into aeroplane manufacture, adopting its new logo – a spoke wheel with horizontal propeller across it – and slogan: Nulla tenaci invia est via (For the tenacious no path is impassable). Both are once again proudly borne on today’s Spykers. The aeronautical connection was clear in the design of the new, post-war cars, which featured both aviation technology and aerodynamic design.
Perhaps the most famous classic Spyker of all is the C4, a highly advanced luxury car that set new endurance and speed records across Europe. It was to be a grand swansong, as the company ceased trading in 1925 and a legendary marque faded from the scene until revived by the visionary Victor Muller in the late nineties.
Spyker’s slogan seems made for Victor Muller, the man who not only revived the famous name but also ensures the new company is the embodiment of the original marque’s philosophy. For that reason, every Spyker is a bespoke, handmade work of engineering art in an age of mass-production and standardisation.
With an almost frightening dedication to perfection and excellence, Muller has created a scuderia where engineers, designers, coachbuilders and craftsmen come together to produce super cars that are as luxurious as they are fast and powerful. True to their innovative heritage, today’s Spykers continue to feature uniquely ingenious engineering, tuned to perfection and coupled with voluptuously crafted brushed aluminium dashboards and stitched leather trimmings that marry aeronautical cues with modern design. Inside a Spyker, be it a C8 Spyder or the new C12 Zagato, opulence does not detract from the true racing credentials and performance of these road-going racing cars.
The success of the Spyker Squadron racing team, which uses the slightly modified Spyker C8 GTR2, in endurance races such as Le Mans and Sebring, is building an impressive racing pedigree that feeds straight back into the mainstream C8 and C12 models. Although it only raced during the 2007 season, the Spyker Formula One car adds immeasurably to that body of expertise.
Most of all, however, this is an exclusive car with beautiful lines, built as the company says: ‘By motoring enthusiasts for the most passionate of car lovers; people who do not only want to have the best car money can buy, but who want to have it built especially for them, to their exact specifications.’ This much is clear from the almost free palette of colours, finishes and additional options, which range from personalised inscriptions to matching sets of Louis Vuitton luggage specially designed for a perfect fit. A personalised web page is created for each car, enabling the owner to watch the progress during manufacturing and to record its history from thereon out.
One point on which Spyker does not compromise is its design ethic, in which no parts bins are raided and everything is developed from scratch. The ultra-stiff space frame and handcrafted body panels are manufactured from aluminium, sculpted in sensual rounded forms that reflect a desire to create a harmony of proportions in which the car looks right from all angles. Voluptuously styled details such as aluminium air intake tubes and mirrors reflect a design ethos in which detail adds to the basic shape – but only if it also performs a practical function. Form and function are moulded in this almost architectural purity of design.
Not surprisingly, the Spyker C8 Laviolette won the award for engineering excellence granted by the Institute of Vehicle Engineers when it was unveiled at the British Motor Show in October 2000, and subsequent models have attracted an equally long list of honours. Other acclaim has come from the likes of the duPont Car Registry’s Exotic Car Buyers Guide 2005, which proclaimed the Spyker C8 Spyder as ‘Best New Exotic Car 2006’. Naturally, this is a vehicle reserved for the very rich, but for those who can afford it the Spyker is an expression of personality almost as individual as the owner itself.
The exotic looks of the Spyker have attracted the attention of the film industry. To date, Spykers have featured in Basic Instinct 2: Risk Addiction, and ROGUE.