Spyker boss Victor Muller is a certifiable car nut and, right now, his enthusiasm is banging against the rev limiter.
With good reason, because his company – the colourful maker of quirky, luxury sports cars – has new models under development and ambitious plans for the future, underpinned by a deal with Chinese company Youngman that has enabled Muller and Spyker to face the world with renewed vigour.
The situation is a far cry from two years ago, when the Dutch company was effectively in hibernation. Having bought struggling Saab in 2010, Spyker was almost dragged down as the Swedish company hit the financial skids in 2011.
At the same time, Coventry-based CPP Manufacturing, which created the aluminium bodies-in-white for Spyker’s C8 Aileron, went into administration, affecting production and sales. Spyker had to locate and acquire the tooling, parts and semi-built bodies in order to restart production in-house at its Zeewolde base.
The loss of Saab prompted a change of tack for Spyker’s parent company, which had previously sought to sell its sports car firm. In 2012, during which Spyker sold just four cars, the priority became securing the company’s future.
In April of last year, Muller reached an agreement with Spyker’s three main money-lenders to convert debt into shares, a deal that left the company free of bank loans.
The next step was to secure funding to pay creditors and restart production. A deal was struck with Chinese company Youngman, which made a cash contribution of €25 million to develop and manufacture an oft-mooted super-SUV called the D8 Peking to Paris.
A new Spyker
Now we’re effectively looking at Spyker version 2.1, a revival of the company that first built cars in the early 1900s and was resurrected by Muller in 1999 because he wasn’t satisfied with the standard of existing luxury supercars on the market.
“When I signed the deal with Youngman in December 2012,” says Muller, “I said to myself, ‘Now we need to make a statement. I will design a new car that I’ve had in my head for a long time’. I started drawing there and then, and 22 days later it was done.”
That car, the B6 Venator, is a compact two-door sports car that will sell for €125,000 (about £107,000), a lower price than the company’s previous offerings. It was revealed to the world at the Geneva motor show in March. The V6-powered car is the first road-going Spyker to feature an all-carbonfibre body atop an aluminium chassis, and an open-top version is being prepared for the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance.
“If the first few months since that introduction are representative of what we will see with that car, I wish we’d done it before,” he says. “For years, we’ve been asked by our clients and dealers, ‘Why don’t you introduce a car that has the design DNA, fit and finish of the products you are already making but at a more affordable price point?’. When we got ourselves back on track last year, we decided this was the time to do it.”
Muller is adamant that producing a more accessible car won’t happen at the expense of the brand’s reputation for luxurious quality. “We’re expanding without pillaging our own image,” he says. “If Spyker were to go mainstream, it would lose some of its appeal. I can assure you that as long as I’m in charge, we will never go there, because I think the proposition of a Spyker is to be an exclusive alternative, not a mainstream car."
The build of C8 Ailerons has restarted at Zeewolde, but the facility isn’t large enough to produce the B6 Venator in sufficient quantities, so that will have to be constructed elsewhere. Farther down the line, so will the D8 Peking to Paris.