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C8 Laviolette LWB
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  Spyker C8 Laviolette LWB
 

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Country of origin:The Netherlands
Introduced in:2008
Introduced at:2008 Geneva Motor Show
Author:Wouter Melissen
Last updated:March 26, 2008
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Click here to download printer friendly versionWhen the young town and country planner Maarten de Bruijn started to turn his ideas of a sportscar into aluminium in a shed in his parents' garden, he could not have imagined that it would lead to the re-establishment of one of the most famous brands; Spyker, which after a glorious history went bankrupt in 1929. When the Audi powered machine was nearing completion, De Bruijn bought the rights to the Spyker brand and logo to ensure his small effort would grab enough attention. In 1999 he surprised the automotive world with the unveiling of the Spyker Silvestris V8. While the mid-engined machine still looked a little rough around the edges, the two-seater machine received universal acclaim. Dutch industrialist and classic car collector Victor Muller was completely taken by the Silvestris and he joined forces with De Bruijn to turn the backyard special into a production ready luxury sportscar.

Little over a year later, the first production Spyker was unveiled in October of 2000 at the Birmingham Auto Show. Dubbed the C8 Spyder, it clearly resembled the original Silvestris, but many of the details were refined for production. The most beautiful touches of the C8 were no doubt the polished aluminium air intakes and the many references to the company's airplane heritage like the propeller shaped spokes in the steering wheel and the wheels. aluminium was used throughout to ensure the weight was as low as possible. The heart of the very compact two-seater was an Audi sourced five-valve V8 engine that pumps out 400 bhp in the base specification. Combined with a kerb weight of 1250 kg, this was certainly sufficient for competitive performance figures. Apart from the unique steering wheel, there were many more interior touches that stand out from the full-width aluminium dashboard to the fully exposed gearlever and linkages.

While the final assembly of the cars took place in the newly built Spyker factory in The Netherlands, all major components were sourced from specialist companies. Initially the chassis were produced by a local company and the body panels in England. Spyker later employed the services of German expert Karmann, who took on building all aluminium parts. Early in 2001 the range was expanded with a coupe version of the C8, dubbed Laviolette after the Belgian engineer Joseph Valentin Laviolette, who penned the very first Spyker car back in 1900. In search of customers, Victor Muller brought the cars to all important venues like Villa d'Este and Pebble Beach. Harking back at the company's racing career, the Spyker range was further expanded later in 2001 with the C8 Double 12 R competition and the similarly long-tailed C8 Double 12 S. In the following years Spyker launched a new C8 derived model at almost every motor show they appeared, ranging from various W12 engined 'C12s' to Turbo and supercharged versions of the V8.

Although intended for GT-racing, Spyker never managed to fully homologate the Double 12 R and as a result the striking bare aluminium racing car was forced to run with tighter restrictors and weight penalties. After two seasons of racing in events like the Sebring 12 Hours and the 24 Hours of Le Mans, the program was wisely abandoned. In 2005, Spyker returned to racing with a fully homologated racing car based on the original C8 Spyder. It was the first time since the days of the Shelby Cobra that an open GT-racer was fielded. Despite strong competition from Porsche and Ferrari, the C8 Spyder GT2 R managed to score several podium finishes. During its second season the C8 appeared with a hard top to lower the drag created by the open cockpit. Other compromises made were to replace the original aluminium parts by carbon fibre ones to lower the weight. After three seasons of racing with several notable results, the C8 Spyder was replaced by a C8 Laviolette based racing car in 2008.

During the first years of the revived Spyker company, there was nothing but good news, but after the Spyker went public in 2004, the company fell victim to the often very critical Dutch media. There were growing concerns about the quoted production figures and the company's quickly dwindling reserves. To add insult to injury Maarten de Bruijn left the company after a conflict with Victor Muller over the addition of a sports utility vehicle to the line-up. Despite the apparent financial difficulties, the company bought the struggling Midland (former Jordan) F1 team in 2006. Less than a year later, the team was sold again and few believed the company would survive. One of the main problems was that there was not enough capital to buy parts, so ordered cars could not be completed. Eventually another capital injection in December of 2007 saved the company from an early demise. Spyker proved that they were true to their slogan "Nulla tenaci invia est via", or "For the tenacious, no road is impassable."

Apart from the additional financial backing, the slimming down of the line-up was vital for Spyker's survival. During the second half of 2007 all forced induction and W12 models were removed from the range. What remained were the original C8 Spyder and C8 Laviolette, and the D8 Peking to Paris SUV. The C8 models are also available as a long wheelbase version, which was formerly known as th Double 12 S. At the 2008 Geneva Motorshow, Spyker showed it was ready to move ahead by introducing the C8 Aileron intended to succeed the existing C8 models. Although Aileron incorporates jet plane inspired features instead the propellor theme of the first generation of new Spykers, the original mix of high quality materials like aluminium and leather are carried over.

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