Two 17th century coachbuildesrs, Jacobus and Hendrik-Jan Spijker went into business together in 1880. After tiring of correcting the pronunciation of their company name for customers outside their native Netherlands, they changed the spelling to Spyker, so people could get it more readily. The most noted Dutch coachbuilder of their time, the Spijker brothers produced one of the most famous carriages in the world.
The Dutch queen’s Golden Carriage was built by Spyker in 1898, and is still in use to this day. The brothers built their first car in 1899, first offering automobiles for sale in 1900. Employing two-cylinder engines, the automobiles produced five horsepower. By 1903 they were producing cars with four-cylinder engines and in 1903 they produced the world’s first four-wheel drive car with a single engine, as well as four-wheel brakes. They are also credited with producing the world’s first six-cylinder engine.
Hendrik-Jan Spijker was killed in a ferry accident in 1907. Without him, his brother struggled mightily to keep the business going but eventually ran into insurmountable money problems. A group of investors was assembled to save the company, but Jacobus Spijker was pushed out of Spyker as part of the deal. For the first time, the business was in operation without the two brothers at the helm. The new management team continued operating the company until 1913, when financial difficulties surfaced again.
In 1915, Spyker was reorganized as Nederlandsche Automobiel en Vliegtuigfabriek Trompenburg. This translates into English as the Dutch Car and Aircraft company. Seven years later the company got into trouble again, and was acquired by an English concern. This predicated the change of the name of the company to Spyker Automobielfabriek. This iteration of the company was successful for a while until the money ran out yet again in 1926.
This time the business was shuttered for 73 years.
In 1999, Victor Muller and Maarten de Brujin acquired the rights to the name to brand their C8 Spyder and the glass-roofed C8 Laviolette mid-engine exotic sports cars. Powered by a 400-horsepower Audi V8, these modern Spyker machines were fast, elegant, and very engaging to drive. They were capable of accelerating from zero to 60 in 4.5 seconds and could attain a top speed of 190 miles per hour.
Victor Muller was born in September of 1959 in Amsterdam. A graduate of Leiden University, Muller holds a degree in law. Maarten de Bruijn is a Dutch engineer born in 1965 in the Netherlands city of Naarden. A graduate of the University of Amsterdam, de Bruijn also holds a Master’s degree in City Planning. With Muller minding the money, and de Bruijn designing the product, the two relaunched the storied brand in 1999.
The C8 was followed in 2002 by the C8 Double 12 S. This model was available in various stages of tune, with outputs ranging from 400 to 620 horsepower. The next model was the 2003 C8 Spyder T. This time, with help from Cosworth Engineering the V8 was twin turbocharged and output was upped to 525 horsepower.
In 2005, the Spyker C8 gained approval for sale in the U.S. market. However, de Bruijn also left the company that year. Muller stayed on as chief executive until 2007, when Michael Mol replaced him as CEO. The next Spyker model to emerge was the 2006 Spyker C12 La Turbie, powered by a 500-horsepower V12.
Spyker, as a way to promote the performance of its road cars bought into Formula 1 toward the end of the 2006 season by purchasing the Midland F1 Team. That organization was renamed Spyker MF1 and finished out the final three races of the season. For the 2007 season the Spyker MF1 team returned, but this time with Ferrari engines. The operation of the F1 team was split off from the management of Spyker Cars and Mol went with the racing team. To fill the void, Muller returned to his post as CEO of Spyker Cars.
The all-aluminum, mid-engined, rear-wheel drive Spyker C12 Zagato debuted in 2007, featuring a 500-horsepower 6.0-liter W12 Volkswagen Group engine. The model was capable of acceleration from zero to 60 in less than four seconds. The Zagato was, of course, styled by the Italian design firm Zagato in Milan. Design cues included that firm’s trademark double bubble roof. Top speed was estimated at 195 miles per hour for the super car.
Up until February of 2010, all Spyker production had taken place in the Netherlands town of Zeewolde, in the country’s Flevoland province. That year, manufacturing operations were moved to Whitley, Coventry in England to better facilitate the constructing partnership with CPP Manufacturing.
Meanwhile, Spyker had been involved in talks with General Motors to take over Saab Automobile since November of 2009. After considerable difficulty, Muller finally got control of Saab in January of 2010 for $400 million. This predicated a name change for Spyker Cars to Swedish Automobile N.V. After more problems surfaced, Swedish Automobile was sold to National Electric Vehicle Sweden. The company’s name was then changed to Spyker N.V.
The company’s logo reflects its heritage both as a manufacturer of both cars and aircraft. The Latin inscription is the Spyker motto: “Nulla Tenaci invia est via” This translates in English to mean, for the tenacious no road is impassable.
In June of 2013, Spyker entered into a partnership agreement with the Chinese car manufacturer Zhejiang Youngman Passenger Car Group Co, Ltd. Youngman purchased a 29.9 percent equity position in Spyker N.V. The two organizations also agreed to create a new company called Spyker P2P, of which Youngman will own 75 percent. Current plans have that new company building a Spyker SUV, which will be built in the Netherlands.
There are also plans for a Spyker/Phoenix joint venture to take advantage of the Phoenix platform, originally developed for Saab. Using it, the combine plans to produce a line of luxury cars to be assembled in China. The final piece of the deal was the creation of the Spyker Trademark Company, of which Youngman owns 75 percent. This joint venture was established to award the other joint ventures the rights to use the Spyker name and trademark.