While many may not be familiar with the Dutch automaker Spyker, the company name has an incredibly long history, dating back to the 1880s. From that decade and into the early 1900s, Spyker made a name for itself producing coaches powered by Benz engines that, for the time period, were very technologically advanced. Once World War I began, the company shifted production to airplanes. After the war, the company went through several bankruptcies and the nameplate was sold to British manufacturers. In 2000, though, the name was resurrected, and they have delivered one incredible supercar.
The Spyker C8 Spyder is a bit of a balancing act. On the one hand, the car doesn’t come with traction control or stability control, airbags are optional, and other high-tech gadgets are either options or not offered at all. On the other hand, the car is powered by a fantastically tuned all-aluminum Audi 4.2-liter V8 producing 400 horsepower that is the height of engine technology, and the ignition sequence feels more like a jet fighter than a simple key turn (you need to have a secondary key engaged in the glove box, plus throw the ignition toggle switch, before hitting the start button). The C8 Spyder is an old-fashioned supercar with a dash of modern technology thrown in to increase performance.
The interior also seems like something of a bygone era. Forget fancy carbon fiber and composite fabrics, the dash is made of machined aluminum (with a series of toggle switches controlling many functions, reinforcing the jet fighter feel), and the seats and doors (which are a gullwing design) are sheathed in an exquisite quilted leather. The circumference of the steering wheel is also trimmed in leather, but instead of an airbag casing in the middle, you get an aluminum cross that looks like an airplane’s propeller. Also, the shifter rises out of the center console and is exposed (no cloth or leather cover, or even a plastic or composite base), so you can see the linkages that connect to the six-speed manual transmission.
The aforementioned V8 is capable of rocketing this 3,000 pound car from 0-to-60 mph in a mere 4.4 seconds and non-boosted brakes will slow you down almost as quickly. Each disc has its own grill and duct work to provide the necessary cooling. The steering is electronically assisted, which seems odd in a car that features so many non-electronic systems, but the response is quick. However, going into a hard turn will result in you noticing the electronics, as the wheel resistance gets stiffer the further you go.
The overall effect of the Spyker C8 Spyder is, in a word, intoxicating. The rich tradition of the name is represented by the plush, but not overly ostentatious, interior, and the modern influence is felt every time you put your foot on the accelerator. For those truly brave and skilled drivers, there is even a Sport mode which adjusts the throttle response and changes the exhaust note to a truly magnificent roar. Just remember that there’s no traction or stability control before you try any outlandish maneuvers, as you don’t want to put even a single ding in this $300,000 rolling piece of art.