Last revised: 26-1-2009

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Spyker 1999-2001: a new era

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1999 Spyker Silvestris V8 prototype - front-side viewIn 1999, 73 years after the demise of the Spyker factory, the famous name reappeared on a car, much to everybody's surprise. A young Dutch town and country planner by the name of Maarten de Bruijn, from a metal working and inventors background, had designed and constructed a modern sports car. The prototype, which he had built himself, was named Silvestris. His dream was to start a small sportscar factory and for that he needed an appealing brand name, one that attracted attention.
The one he came up with was Spyker. He bought the rights to the name and the original logo etc. from the Dutch brand name registry and introduced his car as the Spyker Silvestris V8. His lightweight coupe was received very well and soon he found financial backing for further development into a production model.

1999 Spyker Silvestris V8 prototype - side viewThe compact Silvestris weighed only 940 kg and was powered by an Audi V8, placed behind the seats. This 3562 cc engine delivered 265 hp @ 5800 rpm and was connected to an Audi 5-speed close ratio manual gearbox. Maximum speed was claimed to be about 250 kph and acceleration from 0 to 100 kph could be done in 4.5 seconds. All impressive figures.
Not only was the car fast, it also looked pretty good for a home grown design. It measured 405 x 188 x 117 cm (length x width x height) and its body was formed out of sheet metal by hand. Although not quite elegant it looked aggressive and powerful.
The construction consisted out of a central monocoque with a simple tubular frame attached to it in the front and the back. The monocoque was made from galvanized sheet metal, just like the body, and the whole thing proved to be remarkable rigid yet uncomplicated.

Strengthened by all the positive comments on the prototype and with the backing of entrepreneur and car collector Victor Muller, Maarten went on to realize his dream. Started as a one man operation the new Spyker company was professionalized rapidly and more people and specialist firms became involved. The Silvestris design ripened to a model ready for production.

Spyker C8 Laviolette at the 2001 AutoRAI in Amsterdam - front side viewAnd this is the result of all that hard work. The production version of the Silvestris coupe was renamed to C8 Laviolette and introduced to the public at the 2001 Amsterdam AutoRAI. The new name connects directly to the Spyker heritage; C8 is a continuation of the last Spyker designation, the C4, where the 8 indicates the 8-cylinder engine. Laviolette was the Belgian engineer who was responsible for many of the Spyker innovations and designs at the start of the 20th century, and is honored by naming this car after him.
It's amazing what some optic retouches can do for a car. Though it's still true to its original design the car has changed from looking potent to a real eye-catcher. The polished metal parts, the glass top, the more balanced proportions in combination with the beautiful black paint job makes it look very pleasing. Beyond the looks however it's quite a different car from the galvanized sheet metal prototype: the C8 is a completely aluminum construction.

Spyker C8 Laviolette at the 2001 AutoRAI in Amsterdam - rear side viewThe rear of the C8 Laviolette shows the most differences from the prototype: the roofline has now more of a hardtop style to it in contrast to the original coupe shape. This is probably a result of making it more similar to the Spyder model which was introduced first.
The original uncomplicated but effective monocoque construction has been replaced by a more intricate state-of-the-art aluminum frame and panel construction which is extremely rigid. On this frame the hand formed aluminum body panels are fitted. The whole design is inspired by aircraft, in true Spyker tradition.
Both length and width are identical to that of the prototype, but the height was enlarged by 7.5 cm. to 124.5 cm. In spite of the aluminum construction the car also gained some weight; it's now 1070 kg, 130 kg more than the prototype. The C8 is still powered by an Audi V8, but now it's the aluminum 4172 cc unit from the S8 and it can be ordered in different tuning levels. The most powerful Stage II version turns out a massive 450 hp @ 7500 rpm, providing a top speed of over 300 kph. 0-100 kph acceleration is still done in 4,5 seconds. The manual 5-speed transmission has been replaced by a sequential 6-speed gearbox. All in all it's loaded with advanced technology, again in true Spyker tradition.

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