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The history of the Spyker brand is almost as exciting as the cars themselves. Established by two brothers in Hilversum, Netherlands, Spyker was one of the pioneer car brands in Europe, producing its first vehicle in 1899. At the time, it was a respectable manufacturer, successful in competition and even venturing into aviation. However, by the mid-1920s, Spyker was gone and went into hibernation until 1999, when two Dutch businessmen decided to revive the brand and turned it into a sports car company. And just like that, after more than 80 years, Spyker gloriously returned and introduced one of the most unique sports cars the world has ever seen. Even though the modern history of the company is filled with ups and downs, controversies, the takeover of SAAB, F1 racing, and financial problems today, we will concentrate on their most popular model – the fantastic Spyker C8.
Exactly 119 years after it was first established by two brothers, the Spyker company was reborn in 119 by two friends, Victor Muller and Marteen De Brujin. Both automotive enthusiasts realized that there is a space for exclusive and well-engineered sports cars on the market and that the Netherlands doesn’t have a national car company that could represent the country in the global industry. Even though the Spyker name wasn’t relevant or known as Bugatti or Delage, for example, it still possessed certain mysticism, heritage, and prestige, which was precisely what the two friends wanted. So, in 1999, they bought the rights to the name, and the next chapter of the Spyker journey began 75 years after the first one had ended.
As an engineer, De Bruijn constructed the first prototype in 1999 called Spyker Silvertris V8 Silvertris. With odd proportions and a rough finish, it was made to test the chassis and the powertrain. It had a steel monocoque with space frame add-ons on the front and rear, on which suspension components were mounted. With very compact dimensions and Audi’s 3.6-liter V8 behind the driver, it delivered a surprising performance with 4.5 seconds to 60 mph (100 km/h). Even though the V8 wasn’t particularly powerful at 265 hp, the Silvertris weighed just 950 kg (2,000 pounds) and was very agile. However, although very convincing and fueled by the enthusiastic reception from European sports car fans, the V8 Silvertris was just a crude prototype that needed a thorough development process to become a proper road-going sports car.
With Muller’s financial backing, the Spyker revival officially started in 2000, and the primary direction was established. The idea was to offer exclusive and highly stylized sports cars with unique features, incredible interior design, and supercar chassis technology. The Silvertris showed that way, but De Bruijn needed to re-engineer the vehicle for the road-going model. The steel monocoque design with space frame suspension mounts was retained, but the chassis was enlarged to accommodate a more modern V8 and provide more passenger comfort and even some luggage space. But, instead of the old 3.8-liter, Spyker installed the new 4.2-liter Audi V8, which was chosen for its lightweight construction and compact size.
Spyker needed just a year and a half to go from the Slivertrix prototype to the pre-production version of the C8, which was presented in late 2000. With very recognizable styling, a wide stance, and an impressive spec sheet, the C8 was immediately one of the stars of the Birmingham Motor Show. Even more impressive was the announcement of the price and that the first deliveries would be in 2001.
The Spyker C8
The first Spyker model was the C8 Spider. The company was confident that the roadster model would have structural rigidity since De Brujin constructed an immensely strong and relatively light steel chassis. Powered by a 400 hp Audi V8 and sending power to the rear wheels over the Getrag 6-speed manual, the C8 Spider could reach 60 mph (100 km/h) in just 4.5 seconds and top 186 mph (300 km/h). At the time, it made it one of the fastest sports cars around and even venturing into supercar territory. Extensive use of aluminum in body construction and suspension components paid dividends since the road-ready C8 Spider weighed just 1.250 kg (2,600 pounds). Another very advanced detail was the pushrod suspension, which was the pure racing solution that kept the profile low and increased wheel articulation. It provided the C8 with fantastic handling, as noted by the magazine testers of the day.
As impressive as they were, the new sports car’s specs were pale compared to its design, especially the interior. The Spyker C8 Spider had a unique presence, expensive chrome details, and an aggressive stance, but the overall design showed that this was a very exclusive and advanced car. But then you open the doors and see an interior that nobody had ever seen before or since. With a brushed aluminum dash, analog gauges, leather seats with special stitching, and a glorious aluminum gear lever with an exposed shifting mechanism, the inside of the Spyker was another dimension. The retro influences were evident in the interior, but even though it could quickly look like something from the 1930s, the interior is ergonomically superb and filled with modern amenities.
However, as you might imagine, the C8 Spider arrived with much praise and a high price tag. In the early 2000s, this model retailed at around $270,000 ($460,000 in 2023, adjusted for inflation), which made it significantly more expensive than the competitors from Porsche or Ferrari. The meticulous production process and high price limited the sales figures. So, in order to expand the range, Spyker presented the coupe version of the C8, called the Laviolette, in 2001. The C8 Laviolette shared the same mechanicals, design, and interior but got a gorgeous glass roof, like an airplane canopy, with an air intake. It was more comfortable and slightly faster than the Spider due to better aerodynamics.
Back in the early 20th century, when the original Spyker brand was active, their cars were often successful in competition. So, in the early 2000s, Spyker wanted to go racing again, this time in LM GT class. For that purpose, the Spyker C8 Double 12 S was introduced. It was utterly modified and significantly lightened C8 with a coupe body and aluminum roof. Interestingly, it didn’t have the Audi V8 but the Mader-BMW 4.0-liter V8 engine with the same 400 hp rating. At the same time, the company offered the C8 Double 12 R, which was a road-going version of the race car, but very few cars were actually made.
The next step in the evolution of the original C8 Spider was the Spider T, introduced in 2003. It had the same 4.2-liter Audi V8 but with the addition of twin turbochargers, which significantly increased the power to 525 hp and reduced performance. The C8 Spider T also has a stiffer suspension, a buffed-up gearbox, a wider track, and more powerful brakes, along with exterior upgrades and a new aerodynamic kit. Unofficial performance figures state that the C8 Spider T could sprint to 100 km/h (60 mph) in just under 4 seconds, which made it one of the fastest sports cars of the era.
Although undoubtedly luxurious, expensive, and exclusive, the C8 was also very compact and small, which some customers found problematic. So, in order to accommodate those requests, Spyker introduced Laviolette LWB (long wheelbase) in 2008. With 10 cm added to its wheelbase, the Laviolette LWB was noticeably more comfortable, slightly better to drive, and had more interior space, which customers appreciated.
The Spyker C8 Alerion
By 2010, Spyker car company had run into financial trouble, which will follow until today. Due to the acquisition of the SAAB brand, the global recession, and a sharp decline in sales, Victor Muller, as the business part of the duo, was looking to sell the brand. However, despite the money problems, the company still managed to introduce the brand-new generation of their C8 model in 2009. The first model was Alierion, a coupe version envisioned as a replacement for Laviolette. The new C8 model had a recognizable design with the same astonishing interior but featured a unique steering wheel with four propeller spokes, a tasteful nod to Spyker’s aviation history. The second-generation C8 was broader and longer than the predecessor but retained the 4.2-liter V8 from Audi with 400 hp ratings. Interestingly, Spyker offered a ZF automatic as an option for this model, which was the first time such a transmission was available.
Since the Alerion was the coupe, Spyker also introduced the Alerion Spider in 2009. Technically, it was the same as the coupe but featured a canvas top, lower height, and the same performance. However, even though the second-generation cars were competent, the market didn’t react the way Spyker hoped it would, so the company announced bankruptcy in 2014.
The Spyker C8 Preliator
Despite the grim financial situation, Spyker managed to get a hold of the funds to get back in business by 2015 and, a year later, introduced a brand-new model called Preliator. It was an even more elegant design with a coupe body, improved ergonomics, a more luxurious interior, and, more importantly, better performance and power. After over a decade of using a 400 hp Audi engine in most of its models, Spyker was looking to make a deal with Koenigsegg and obtain a modern 5.0-liter V8. The 600 hp unit will undoubtedly upgrade the potential of the Preliator, and the car was introduced with such an engine. However, the deal fell through, and Spyker was back at Audi, which meant the Preliator got the same 4.2-liter V8 but was equipped with the supercharger and was delivering 525 horsepower. It was enough for 3.7 seconds to 60 mph (100 km/h) and just 190 mph (305 km/h) top speed. In 2017, Preliator Spider was introduced with the same technical specs and design.
Spyker C8 The Production Numbers
Even though the Spyker cars are stellar machines that captivate the audience with their design, performance, and interior, the turbulent company history, high price, delays in production, and various other circumstances limited the production number. So far, only about 400 Spyker C8 models have been produced, making it even more exclusive and sought after. In 2013 and 2014, Spyker didn’t produce a single car, and the best year was 2006 when precisely 94 vehicles left the factory in Zeewolde. Although you can currently buy a Preliator, it is an eye-wateringly expensive proposition at $450,000. During its history, the Spyker company filed for bankruptcy several times, the last time in 2021, but miraculously returned to the market in 2022. Due to turbulent company policy, Marteen De Brujin left the company in 2005 and concentrated on its own production of aluminum boats and car components. It is widely believed that complicated business ventures, the acquisition of SAAB, entry into Formula One, and other things affected the company balance and moved the focus from car making itself.
Besides all of that, it is clear that the Spyker C8 is one of the most exciting sports cars of the 21st century. With supercar design and engineering process, unique design, impressive and unforgettable interior, and convincing performance, it was and is highly sought-after by collectors. It is evident by the prices the cars achieve at auctions. Fueled by the vision of two talented individuals, Spyker presented a new take on the idea of the ultimate sports car and, for a brief moment, at least, became a formidable competitor to the likes of Ferrari or Lamborghini. The resilience of the C8 as a concept and model and its ability to remain fresh and competent after over 20 years on the market is a testament to the excellent engineering and vision behind this car.
Spyker C8 FAQ
When was the Spyker C8 first introduced?
The Spyker C8 was first introduced in 2000. Over the years, it has seen various iterations and special editions, each reflecting the brand’s commitment to craftsmanship and performance.
What makes the Spyker c8 Special?
The C8 is renowned for its aviation-inspired aesthetics, featuring a distinctive propeller logo, aircraft-style switches in the cockpit, and an interior rich in aluminum and leather. The car’s design also includes a transparent engine cover and unique door mechanisms.
What is the production number of the c8?
In the low 100s. There is no hard figure available, but the word is that around 400 Spyker C8s were built.
What is the price range for a Spyker C8?
The price of a Spyker C8 can vary significantly based on the model, year, and condition. Newer models like the C8 Preliator were priced around $350,000 to $400,000 when new. In the secondary market, prices can range widely based on the car’s rarity and history.
Has Spyker been involved in motorsport?
Yes, Spyker has participated in various motorsport events, including the 24 Hours of Le Mans. The C8 Spyder and C8 Laviolette GT2-R versions were specifically designed for racing.
What is the significance of Spyker’s propeller logo?
The propeller logo pays homage to Spyker’s early 20th-century history as a manufacturer of aircraft and aircraft engines, reflecting the brand’s aviation heritage.