History of Spyker

Written by Esmée Koppius, Edited by Scarlett Stewart

In lieu of the Heineken Dutch Grand Prix this week, we take a look at a Dutch Car Manufacturer which has some ties to F1 paddock, as well as other forms of engineering. Seeing as there are few Dutch car brands, let’s look at what the lowlands have brought forward.

A short view back to the past..

Spyker was founded in 1880 by brothers Hendrik Jan and Jacobus Spijker. Both formerly blacksmiths by profession, they wanted to build and maintain carriages in Hilversum, the Netherlands. By 1898 they built their first motorcar, powered by a Benz engine. They immediately get the rights for the craftsmanship and its bodywork.

They had to wait until the new century rolled around, however, before they got a big breakthrough in their career. In 1901 they delivered the “Golden State Coach” to Queen Wilhelmina of The Netherlands, a coach still used to this day for ceremonial events. For example, you can see the coach on Prinsjesdag (Prince’s Day, the day the governmental plans of the year are announced by the King). It was also used in various weddings, most notably the wedding of the current King Willem-Alexander in 2002 to Máxima Zorreguieta.

The racing pedigree of the brand was made in 1903, when Spyker launched its 60HP Grand Prix Racer, the first six cylinder four-wheel-drive car in the world. An impressive feat, seeing as the brand hadn’t been involved in racing before.

Then, in 1907, Frenchman M. Goddard entered the Peking to Paris race with the Spyker 14/18 PK. The race spanned a whopping 15000 kilometres, enveloped over 6 months of driving. Goddard finished second.

In 1914 Spyker merged with Dutch Aircraft Factory N.V. and they adopted a new motto together. Nulla Tenaci invia est via, meaning For the tenacious, no road is impossible. During the First World War, Spyker produced 100 aircraft and 200 aircraft engines. (Keep in mind that The Netherlands was neutral in the First World War.)

After the devastation that was the First World War, Spyker launched a new car in 1919. The C1 Aerocoque was a two seater that was solely intended as a show car, but a small number of these cars were produced.

A year later, in 1920, the Spyker ‘Tenax’ broke endurance race records. Originally named the C4, it demolished the previous record of Rolls-Royce by completing 30360 kilometres in just over a month during the cold Dutch winter.

1922 was a great year for Spyker, breaking a speed record that year. Using a Spyker C4, Selwyn Edge drove an average of 120kph (or 74.5 mph) over the course of two 12-hour periods. Sadly, this would be the last notable achievement before the Spyker company ceases trading in 1925.

The start of a new century

At the turnover of the century, in 2000, Spyker had it’s renaissance. Launching a new car and unveiling it at the Birmingham Motor Show on the 17th of October. Seventy-five years after the original company ceased to exist, a new Spyker was born. It was called the Spyker C8 Spyder.

In 2001 it launched two new cars, although one was just a concept. The Spyker C8 Laviolette was launched at the Amsterdam Motor Show, whilst the C8 Double 12 R was launched at the Frankfurt Motor Show. A street legal version of the Spyker C8 Double 12 R was later launched in 2002.

Between 2002 and 2006, there was only one concept car, the Peking to Paris concept of the D8. It was never produced.

Change came in 2007, as Victor Muller (CEO of Spyker Cars) unveiled the C12 Zagato Concept at the 77th Geneva International Motor Show.

Then, in 2009, Spyker started the production of the C8 Aileron, along with presenting it at the Geneva International Motor Show that year. It also launched a concept version of a Spyder C8 Aileron in August.

After 2009, Spyker only launched two Concept Cars and one production car. The Spyker B6 Venator and Venator Spyder concepts were launched in 2013, and the last Spyker to be produced was the C8 Preliator. After that, production halted and as of 2021, the car manufacturer has quit altogether. A sad end to a company of rich history.

Formula 1

In 2006 the Dutch car company acquired the Midland Formula One team and entered the pinnacle of Motorsport: Formula One. Sadly, it only lasted one season. Led by Colin Kolles, it later on became Force India F1 team. Adrian Sutil scored 1 point for the Dutch team, in the Grand Prix of Japan. He originally finished at 9th, but because Vitantonio Liuzzi received a time penalty of 25 seconds because of overtaking during a yellow flag, Sutil became 8th overall.

It started the 2007 season with Chirstijan Albers and Adrian Sutil as drivers, but Albers was quickly put on non-active terms as his sponsors failed to provide the money. After the Grand Prix of England, which was raced by the reserve driver Markus Winkelhock, Sakon Yamamoto finished the season with the team.

24H de Le Mans

Spyker competed in the 24 hours of Le Mans with a C8 Laviolette GT2R, finishing fifth in its class in 2005. It still continues to race in the FIA GT class and the Le Mans Series with a car based on the Spyker C8. The team is called the Spyker Squadron and it races with two cars. 

And Clarkson’s been driving it

Spyker made an appearance on Top Gear with the C8 Spyder. Jeremy Clarkson tested it and said the interior was absolutely stunning, and that the car was, at the time,  the ‘latest testament to the Dutch schizofrenia’ referring to two types of Holland, one where there’s caravans and tulips and one where there’s drugs and prostitution. Jeremy Clarkson also said it was a car you wear, rather than drive, as it’s stunning. The review is on YouTube, if you are interested.

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