Lust and Alloy Symbiosis
About the same time last year I got into the Spyker C8 Spyder with the hilarious Hans Van Rennes. I was very impressed with the details and the overall design of the car but it was still a pre-production unit so it had its loose ends. Hans had already excitedly told me about the Spyker C8 Laviolette appearing in the upcoming Basic Instinct 2 movie in full detail. The Laviolette version of the C8 was really the car that caught my attention in the very first Top Marques Show the year before the test of the spyder.
In a year’s time since then, Spyker has grown very successfully worldwide. In China it has been ranked as the second most favored sportscar brand and its sales reflect that, even if their customers need to undergo some serious driver training just to be competent enough to marginally drive the cars. In fact, their sales in Europe and North America (they got their US clearances back in June 2005) are through the roof. They are backlogged by almost a year now. In 2005, Spyker sold over 50 units in various trim, by the end of 2006 they hope to be able to deliver 100 units to very happy customers. The actual backlog includes 166 C models and 120 Spyker D12 Peking-to-Paris SUV vehicles.
Vitor Muller, CEO Spyker Cars, commented that he was convinced that the fact that Spyker was the first car to set a wheel on Chinese soil in 1907 for the Peking-to-Paris runs had contributed to the renewed interest in his brand and the cars. The fact that the craftsmanship with which the cars are manufactured and the obvious quality of the material used are convincing arguments. Spyker has expanded their product line to include their new SUV and very special bicycle called the Aeroblade with Koga that won the prestigious international Red Dot Award for Best Production Design 2006. They also have a mutually beneficial/design arrangement with thr important watch company Chronoswiss. Chronoswiss has a new Spyker watch in its lineup (reviewed in C! Magazine’s new title, Calibre) and also lends its designs for the Spyker cars dials and switchgear for and added touch of distinction.
Our test unit was actually chassis 15, the very car that was used in the Basic Instinct 2 movie where Sharon Stone sat bare-assed on the red lipstick colored leather sport bucket seats. The Spyker C8 Laviolette is an elegant two-seat sports car with an aluminum construction and glass canopy reminiscent of a modern jet fighter. Missed in the Spyder is the functional overhead air scoop that feeds a retuned all aluminum Audi 4.2-liter 40 valve V8 engine with power raised to 450 bhp, a top speed of 307 km/h and acceleration from 0-100 km/h in 4.3 seconds. Because of the movie, a special addition with the same trim execution, turned aluminum dashboard fascia and fitted with the elegant five-propeller magnesium alloy 19” Aeroblade wheels was produced. Only 25 cars will be made in this custom format, 20 of them are already pre-sold. Like all Spykers, the Spyker C8 Laviolette is completely hand built and custom built by only the best craftsmen of our time using bespoke materials. This spectacular performance car combines state of the art technology, unique design features, and engineering excellence. The winged doors are pneumatically operated by the key fob. A blip on the key and the doors pop up on their own, though you do have to manually pull them down to shut them. The default start button is in play but the unique bit is the kill switch that is consistent with the aeronautic theme; a red flip switch. You can’t possibly get tired of that. The exposed transmission does need some getting used to, it’s notchy and very mechanical. I wonder if an owner would have to lubricate the joints by hand like a firearm. To get to reverse you have to press hard on the solid aluminum button at the top of the gear knob, then shift up on a left dog leg.
Low Speed handling is a bit of a handful; reminds me of driving an old Ferrari, however, there is power assist, it’s just that it seems to be more suggestive than cooperative. Still, the sensations are wonderful. All your senses are bombarded with euphoria at different levels. My hands and feet feel and actuate all the controls with a tingling, while my ears absorbed the unrestricted roar from the mid engine Audi V8. My gutt and chest feel the powerful acceleration while my eyes can’t stop racing ahead and around the car, there is so much to take in.
The Laviolette is a fantastic car, so distinctive and visceral conjuring feelings that usually only emerge when driving an exotic like a Pagani or Ferrari. We drew a crowd everywhere we went on the French Riviera, and I assure you that they usually only take notice when royalty and top celebrities decide to display themselves in their birthday suits. And yet, the Laviolette is still practical; its got ABS, it’s tall for a sportscar, climate control is excellent, the headlights are HID, it actually has boot space (there is an exclusive line of custom designed matching Louis Vuitton luggage), and amongst all else, you can service the car at any official Audi dealer.
Spyker also has a strong program for motorsports both for marketing purposes as well as R&D. They’re called the Spyker Squadron and have participated with a two car line-up in the 12 Hours of Sebring last March. Both cars completed therace and finished 8th and 11th. They also raced in two GT events with two Spyker C8 Spyder GT2Rs and finished. They also fielded two cars last June at the 24 Hours of Le Mans, both GTR2s finished 31st and 47th overall.
With the international interest prioir to and following the release of the movie Basic Instinct 2, Spyker signed on again to hit the sliver screen. Its next movie is Jet Li’s upcoming movie: ROGUE.