Last revised: 26-1-2009

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Spyker 1898-1904

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The Spyker company was founded in 1880 by two brothers: Hendrik Jan and Jacobus Spijker, blacksmiths by profession. At first the ambitious brothers concentrated on building and maintaining carriages in Hilversum and soon they made a name for themselves. Their business developed rapidly and in 1886 they decided to move their factory to nearby Amsterdam, the capital of The Netherlands.
In the following years carriage production expanded and part of the production was even exported to foreign countries, mainly to the Dutch East Indies. The company acquired a reputation for building high quality, durable products though lacking somewhat in finesse. By the end of the 19th century the Spijker carriage works in Amsterdam was highly mechanized and for export reasons the name "Spyker" was used as brand name (Spijker, meaning "nail" in English, is pronounced as "spaiker" in Dutch, but "Spyker" looked better internationally). The company experienced its first peek, and also a turning point, in 1898 when the famous and opulent "Golden State Coach" was delivered to Her Majesty the Queen of The Netherlands Wilhelmina. It was ordered by the people of The Netherlands for her inauguration and extremely expensive (it had a price equivalent to about 960,000 hours of schooled labor). This gold covered neo-classicly styled carriage is still being used by the Dutch royalty for special occasions to this day, and probably the best known Spyker product of all.
1898 was also the year in which the Spijker brothers were confronted with automobiles. The cars arriving in Amsterdam for the 1898 Paris-Amsterdam-Paris race made a big impression on them and later that year they bought their first car, a Benz. It was in that year that they decided to start building cars.

1904 Spyker 60/80 HP racer: 6 cylinder and four wheel driveTo learn how to manufacture cars they first made a deal with the German Benz company to import and assemble Benz cars and sell them as Spyker-Benz. A new factory was built for car production; it was constructed over the old historic foundations of the Trompenburg manor in Amsterdam. As a result the company was renamed to "Industrial Company Trompenburg", because the management felt that Trompenburg sounded more impressive than Spyker.
 In 1899 the first cars were built and in 1900 the Spyker cars were presented to the public on the RAI exhibit in Amsterdam. There were two models: the Spyker-Benz 3 HP Comfortable (based on the Benz Vélo) and the 5 HP Duc (similar to the Benz Victoria). The first real Spyker appeared in 1900, it was a 5 HP model based on the American Duplex 2-cylinder boxer engine and a design of the Spyker brothers themselves. It wasn't a success and no more than a few have been made.

On the RAI exhibit of 1902 a new 6 HP model was presented, now with an water cooled mono-bloc 2-cylinder engine which was patented by the Spijker brothers. Still not very successful at car manufacture the brothers turned to appoint foreign constructors, of which Belgian Joseph Laviolette was the most eminent. This marked a step up for the company as important new developments could be introduced and applied.

1903 Spyker 60/80 HP racer: 6 cylinder and four wheel driveNew cars were introduced rapidly. In 1903 the small 10/12 HP with 2-cylinder bi-bloc engine and the big 20/24 HP with an engine constructed out of 4 separate cylinders appeared. These cars found some international acclaim and some of them were exported to England, which was to become an important market for Spyker cars.
Spyker's first masterpiece however was the 6-cylinder 36/50 HP of which the construction had started in 1902. In 1903 it was presented at the Paris Autosalon. The first designs of this extremely advanced car were made by French constructor E.G. Drouard and Joseph Laviolette developed and improved it. It featured such novelties as the first ever 6-cylinder car engine, an all wheel drive system and brakes on all four wheels.
This model was meant as a racing car to establish Spyker as a prominent car manufacturer. It was ahead of its time in many ways but it lacked the engine power to competitive. In 1903 the engine capacity was enlarged from 5,073 cc to 8,821 and by that it became the 60/80 HP model like you see here. Unfortunately it never was successful in road races due to lack of top speed, but it was quite potent in hill-climbs because of its unsurpassed traction. The qualities and novelties of this car did however attract enough international attention to enter Spyker into the realm of luxury car manufacturers. The 60/80 HP 6- cylinder model became available to the market as a normal road car and its chassis could be fitted with all styles of bodywork. In 1904 it was one of the most expensive cars on the English market and it was available up to 1907.

1904 Spyker 14/18 HP open tourer: as seen in the movie "Genevieve"Next to the 60/80 HP 6-cylinder model stood the new 16/20 HP 4-cylinder bi-bloc model at the Paris Autosalon of 1903. It became notorious as the "Boiler-type" because of its novel but insufficient water cooling system which tended to overheat when the engine was pushed. Its lesser known brother was the 30/36 HP, also present at the Paris show. Both cars featured the first versions of the famous Spyker "dust shield" chassis, a chassis fitted with a streamlined undertray that prevented the car from making dust on unpaved roads. This became an option on Spyker cars for years to come.
In 1904 another important model was introduced: the 14/18 HP, probably one of the best known early Spykers. It was available with factory produced Tonneau or "Roi des Belges" open tourer bodywork (like you see here). The latter body style was also known as "double phaeton".

1904 Spyker 14/18 HP open tourer: as seen in the movie "Genevieve"This particular 18 hp model is world famous for its role in the classic 1953 movie "Genevieve" about the London to Brighton Run. It was co-star to the Genevieve-named Darracq.
Early 18 hp models were also known as Type 28. Engine was a 4-cylinder bi-bloc of 2,544 cc capacity. It had a pressed steel chassis with solid axles and 5 half elliptic leaf springs, one placed transverse in the rear. Top speed was about 60 kph.
The new round radiator front (actually introduced in 1905) was to become a Spyker trademark and followed the luxury-class fashion of that era. The radiator itself was of the modern honeycomb-type.

Other new Spyker cars introduced in 1904 were the 20/28 HP which replaced the 20/24 HP of 1903, the 25/36 HP which was a 7,964 4-cylinder available with all wheel drive as an option and the 32/40 HP, again a 4-cylinder available with all wheel drive. From 1905 these models were available with double ignition systems for more efficient combustion. Maximum speeds ranged from 75 kph for the 28 hp model to over 85 kph for the 36 and 40 hp models.

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