For those who may not be up to speed on this rather mysterious car company, allow me to shed a little light on Spyker.
By Anthony Crawford
The Netherlands based luxury sports car manufacturer Spyker has unveiled the C8 Aileron Spyder at this weekend’s Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance in the United States.
First off, this is no fly by night operation, but rather a company with a long history in coach building and aviation, which commenced way back in 1898 with two brothers, Jacobus and Hendrick-Jan Spijker.
They were commercially minded even in the 19th century, when the brothers decided to change their surname to Spyker, for better recognition in foreign markets.
Innovation and quality was hallmark of the brand from their very first car, the technically advanced 60/80 HP in 1903. This was the first car with a six-cylinder engine, along with four-wheel drive and four-wheel brakes. Around the same time, Spyker introduced the ‘dust shield chassis’, which was a streamlined tray on the cars under body, and was patented.
The image of Spyker cars was given a substantial boost in 1907, when a private entry stock standard Spyker 14/18HP Tourer finished in second place in the gruelling Peking to Paris race. They soon became known as the 'Rolls Royce' of the continent, such was their attention to detail and subsequent quality.
But with World War I imminent, there was a worldwide slump in the luxury car market, and Spyker merged with the Dutch Aircraft Factory N.V, and the new company developed and built fighter aircraft.
This new line of business also influenced a new logo and company slogan, which is still in use today. ‘Nulla tenaci invia est via’: ‘For the tenacious no road is impassable’ and the logo sported a spoke wheel with a propeller across the centre.
The Spyker name became even more famous with record-breaking cars like the Spyker C4, built by the legendary German engineer Wilhelm Maybach.
The C4 was an extraordinary car employing a double ignition system with Bosch high-tension magneto, and twin spark plugs per cylinder.
Unfortunately, the Spyker Company ceased trading in 1925, but like Bugatti, the brand was reborn in 2000 when the Spyker C8 Spyder was unveiled to the public at the Birmingham Motor Show.
They don’t mind racing these hand built super cars either, I was at Le Mans this year to see the fast moving, and utterly reliable Spyker C8 Laviolette GT2R finish fifth outright, with some great driving by Jarek Janis (CZE) and Tom Coronel (NLD).
The C8 Aileron Spyder pictured above, is a prototype for the open top model, which is expected to go into production early in 2010.
Although, I didn’t get to see the Spyder at Le Mans, I did get the chance to have a good look inside a C8 Aileron, which was parked in front of the company's hospitality centre, and the quality of the switchgear and materials looks to be first rate.
I was particularly interested in the fully exposed gear change mechanism in polished chrome, and the Pagani Zonda-like quality of the overall interior fit out.
An Audi 4.2-litre V8 engine, producing 298kW mated to a six-speed Getrag manual shift gearbox, provides power although, can also option a six-speed ZF transmission with paddle shifters.
Suspension is an all-independent double wishbone set up developed by Lotus engineering, and is said to provide excellent balance during cornering. Put that down in part, to the forged aluminium components, which reduce unsprung mass.
Brakes are courtesy of AP Racing, which has been a partner with Spyker from day one. Carbon ceramic rotors will be available as an option on production cars.