Is this the end of the road for Spyker?
If you like rare, exotic and/or unusual cars, you’ve probably heard of them, and you probably also know about their… rather complicated history.
In this article we’ll take a look at the Dutch marque’s history, from its foundation to its current situation. Let’s start from the beginning.
The Dutch company was founded in 1999 by Victor Muller and Marteen de Bruijn, inheriting the name, logo and motto from the historic Spyker company (1880-1926), which became particularly notorious for manufacturing both cars and aircraft during the early 20th century. That same year, they presented their first car, the Spyker Silvestris V8 prototype.
Their first production model, the Spyker C8 Spyder, was launched the following year, in 2000.
It shared some styling cues with the Silvestris V8 prototype, but was otherwise a completely different vehicle.
The C8 was powered by a 4.2L Audi-sourced V8 engine with a power output of 395 bhp, all of which was sent to the rear wheels only through a 6-speed manual transmission with exposed gear linkages. No automatic option was available. Top speed was around 300 km/h (186 mph).
A second version of the C8, the C8 Laviolette, was presented in 2001.
It replaced the Spyder’s retractable soft top with a fixed glass canopy and an integrated roof air intake.
It was mechanically identical to the Spyder, sporting the same 4.2L Audi V8.
Other special version of the C8 became available in the following years.
The Spyker C8 Double 12S, launched in 2002, was a road legal version of the Double 12R race car and used a 4.0-litre Audi V8 that was offered in five different stages of tune, ranging from 400 bhp all the way up to 625 bhp a Spyder version of the 12S was also available.
The Spyder T, presented in 2003, was identical to the regular Spyder, but was powered by a twin-turbocharged version of the 4.2L Audi V8 engine, making 518 bhp.
Starting from 2008, Spyker began offering the C8 Laviolette LWB, a long-wheelbase version of the regular Laviolette with increased interior space.
Additionally, the C8 Laviolette LM85 became available in 2009 as the road-going version of the GT2-R race car. The name was a combination of “Le Mans” and “85”, Spyker Squadron’s favourite racong number. Only 24 were made.
That same year, Spyker launched the second generation of the C8, named Aileron.
The Spyker C8 Aileron was immediately distinguishable from its Laviolette predecessor thanks to its completely redesigned body, which was both longer and wider than the previous generation.
That same year, Spyker launched the C8 Aileron Spyder, which replaced the old C8 Spyder.
Powering the Aileron and Aileron Spyder was the same 4.2L V8, mated either to a 6-speed manual transmission or, for the first time ever, an optional ZF automatic transmission.
Unlike the C8 Laviolette, only one special version of the C8 Aileron was ever released; the Spyker C8 Aileron LM85, inspired by the previous Laviolette LM85, was built in just 3 units to celebrate the end of the C8 Aileron’s production in 2018.
In 2006, the new Spyker C12 La Turbie was presented, sporting revised bodywork and a new 6.0L V12 engine sourced from VW with a total power output of 500 bhp and 600 Nm of torque, sent to the rear wheels via either a 6-speed manual transmission or an optional F1-style automatic transmission with paddle shifters that was undergoing development at the time.
It was Spyker’s third long-wheelbase car, after the similar C8 Double 12S and C8 Double 12S Spyder.
The following year, Spyker presented the C12 Zagato. It was mechanically identical to the C12 La Turbie, but featured a new coupe body designed by Zagato.
Spyker planned to build 25 C12 La Turbies and 24 C12 Zagatos at a starting price of €495,000, with deliveries set to begin in 2008, but plans to produce either version were abandoned in October 2007 after being delayed a couple month earlier, so that Spyker could concentrate its resources on the C8 and the upcoming D12 Peking-to-Paris SUV.
The Spyker D12 Peking-to-Paris was presented in 2006 at the Geneva Motor Show, whiere it quickly gained over 100 orders. Despite being an SUV, it shared many styling cues with Spyker’s traditional sports cars.
The D12 was to be powered by the same 6.0L W12 found in the C12 La Turbie, which would’ve given the 1,850 kg SSUV a 0-100 km/h time of just 5.0s.
Unfortunately, production of the D12 never started. Instead, in 2010, Spyker presented the D8 Peking-to-Paris, which was going to use a V8 engine, either from the Cadillac CTS-V or the traditional Audi lump, and was to enter production in 2013 with the help of Saab, which had recently been purchased by Spyker, but even this model ultimately wasn’t followed by a production version.
The D8 Peking-to-Paris was featured in the 2011 video game Test Drive Unlimited 2, along with the C12 Zagato, C8 Aileron and C8 Aileron Spyder.
There was also talk of a Maserati Quattroporte / Porsche Panamera rival, known as the Spyker E12 / E8, that was going to be powered either by a W12 or V8 engine, but nothing came out of it, partly due to the difficulties encountered while attempting to put the D12 / D8 into production.
In 2009, it was announced that Spyker would be moving production from their headquarters in Zeewolde (Netherlands) to Whitley, Coventry (UK) in 2010, where their cars would be produced with help from UK-based firm CPP Manufacturing.
In February 2010, Spyker purchased Swedish car manufacturer Saab Automobile from GM, with both companies operating under parent company Swedish Automobile NV (also known as Spyker NV). However, Saab quickly ran out of money and, as a result, Spyker CEO Victor Muller made multiple attempts at securing funding, but all proposed deals eventually fell through, resulting in Saab filing for bankruptcy in late 2011.
Spyker NV also tried selling Spyker, first to former Spyker chairman and shareholder Vladimir Antonov, and later to American private equity and hedge fund North Street Capital, but both attempts were unsuccessful.
This would be the beginning of a difficult era for Spyker.
The Spyker B6 Venator was presented at the 2013 Geneva Motor Show, with a production version expected to arrive in 2014 as the brand’s entry-level model, with an estimate price of €125,000-150,000. The convertible B6 Spyder was unveiled at that year’s Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance.
Rumored to be based on the Artega GT, the B6 Venator was going to use a Lotus-built, transverse-mounted V6 engine with a claimed power output of 375 bhp, mated to a 6-speed automatic transmission.
Unfortunately, more difficulties started plagueing the Dutch manufacturer not long after the B6’s introduction
On November 5, 2014, the Dutch Court “Midden Nederland” ordered Spyker to leave the factory they rented within seven days and to pay €152,000 in overdue rent. Despite this, CEO Victor Muller insisted the company would be able to pay its bills “in a matter of days.”
On December 2, 2014, Spyker NV was granted a moratorium of payment (financial restructuring) by the Dutch court “Midden Nederland”. Spyker needed protection from creditors for its liquidity problems. Victor R. Muller, Spyker founder and chief executive, had this to say:
"Over the past few years, Spyker has faced a number of serious difficulties and challenges resulting from, among others, the legacy of the F1 era and the acquisition of Saab Automobile AB,"
Unfortunately, the Dutch court declared Spyker bankrupt just a couple of weeks later on December 18, 2014.
"In 2000 our objective was to found a global sports car manufacturer, and we did just that. During this time we deployed several challenging activities. These have affected the company, and contributed to our decline,"
However, on January 29, 2015, Spyker successfully appealed the court’s bankruptcy declaration, allowing Spyker NV to be protected from creditors and to solve its financial difficulties, while Muller pursued plans to merge the car manufacturer with a US-based manufacturer of high performance electric aircraft, later revealed to be Volta Volare.
Finally, on July 29, 2015, Spyker exited moratorium of payment, and resumed regular business operations, culminating in the presentation, at the 2016 Geneva Motor Show, of the prototype of the successor to the C8 Aileron.
Presented in 2016, the new Spyker C8 Preliator is the successor to the C8 Aileron. Its name is derived from the latin word “proeliator”, which means “fighter”. A convertible version, the C8 Preliator Spyder, was unveiled the following year.
The C8 Preliator was supposed to be powered by a new 5.0L V8 engine producing 600 bhp supplied by Koenigsegg as part of a deal between Spyker and the Swedish hypercar manufacturer. However, said deal fell through in 2018, forcing Spyker to revert to the old 4.2L Audi unit, this time with a power output of 525 bhp thanks to a supercharger.
Predictably, things didn’t go according to plan for the Dutch company. After the deal with Koenigsegg went bust, Spyker was once again facing financial issues, preventing them from putting any of their new models into production.
In August 2020 Spyker CEO Victor Muller announced he had found two new investors, who would help bring the struggling carmaker back to life: Russian oligarch Boris Rotenberg, owner of BR Engineering, and his business partner Mikhail Pessis, founder of Milan Morady SA and owner of R-Company GmbH. Rotenberg and Pessis also happen to be the co-owners of SMP Racing Monaco, and both own, or have owned, various Spyker models of the 265 cars produced so far.
Their plan was to start production of three new models (namely the B6 Venator, C8 Preliator and D8 Peking-to-Paris) in Germany in 2021 and open a new international Spyker store in Monaco, with a return to racing also deemed possible.
"With this new partnership, those days are definitely gone and Spyker will become an important player in the super sports car market segment”
Things, however, didn’t work out that way, and Spyker ultimately filed for bankruptcy yet again in January 2021, with Muller defining the company an “empty shell”. And that was the end of it.
Or was it?
A Welcome Surprise
About a year later, on January 3, 2022, Victor Muller finally announced that he, Rotenberg and Pessis, the same investors with whom he had failed to secure a deal the previous year, had confirmed a collaboration agreement that aims to put the dormant carmaker back in business.
The plan will involve a collaboration between three countries: the Netherlands, Germany and Russia.
Production of the cars is supposed to start in 2022, as soon as the parties formalize the agreement in writing and applicable trademark rights have been secured. The cars’ bodies will be manufactured in Russia, the engineering will be a joint-venture between Germany and Russia, while final assembly of the cars will take place in the Netherlands.
"The collaboration agreement which we confirmed today is the starting point to rebuild Spyker as a sports car manufacturer with a more solid foundation than ever before, and with ample access to better technical and financial resources than we ever had to achieve our ambitious business objectives"
The enterpreneur also went on to confirm that current Spyker models will retain the old-school ICE V8 engine for a many more years, and hybrid solutions will be offered sometime in the future:
"In a world dominated by electrification, there is an undiminished demand for real sports cars, the ones that tantalize all senses. We will continue to cater for that group of enthusiasts in particular. Of course we will offer hybrid solutions in our future models but the V8 ICE remains at the heart of every Spyker for many years to come"
And on that note, it looked like Spyker was finally on its way back! Or were they?
A Turn For The Worst
A massive event that could compromise, if not nullify the chances of Spyker making its long-awaited comeback, has just happened.
No, i’m not talking about the COVID-19 pandemic. I’m talking about Russia’s recent armed invasion of Ukraine. What does that have to do with Spyker, you may ask?
Well, once i heard that Russia was (rightfully) being sanctioned for their disgusting actions, i began wondering whether this could affect Spyker’s rebirth, since the comany’s new backers are both Russian. After doing a bit of digging, my suspictions were unfortunately confirmed.
As it turns out, one of Muller’s new business partners, Boris Rotenberg, is a close childhood firend of current Russian president Vladimir Putin. Because of that, his name has now been added to the UK’s sanctions list, which includes all the people who have either played a role in the invasion of Ukraine or have profited from their support of the Russian government.
This means that, since the company that currently houses the remains of Spyker, Spyker Ltd., is based in the UK, Rotenberg is now banned from doing business with them and vice-versa.
According to an article on RTL Nieuws, Spyker CEO Victor Muller had this to say:
"I didn't know that. That's new to me. But I don't find anything surprising anymore"
When asked whether this could mean the end of any plans for Spyker’s rebirth, Muller added:
"That could be true. Were it not that I do not only do business with Rotenberg"
He did not want to say much more about the consequences of Rotenberg’s disappearance, then went on to say that there was nothing wrong with Pessis, so there might still be a chance.
Regardless, what happened with Rotenberg was definitely a major blow for the Dutch company, and their future is once again uncertain.
Spyker is definitely in a tough spot right now. With one of their major backers forcibly gone, their chances for a successful relaunch are much lower than before.
But that doesn’t mean they don’t stand a chance. If they play their cards right, we might be in for the surprise of a lifetime. If they fail… well… at least they’ll have tried with everything they could.
I wish Spyker the best of luck.
"Nulla tenaci invia est via" - "For the tenacious, no road is impassable"
Thank you for reading this article! Did you enjoy it? Do you think Spyker will succeed? Let me know in the comments below!