There’s this guy down the street from me. He’s a former Marine trained in electronic engineering. You know the big nose on the F4 Phantom? It houses a great deal of his electronic wizardry.
Dennis has outfitted his garage with every tool known to man. From multi-axis lathes to precision TIG welders, Dennis has it all. Most of the stuff he makes is wrought from aluminum or titanium. Even simple hinges are beautiful, each part fitting perfectly into the next.
I get the same feeling while I’m driving this new gen of Spyker supercar. Each piece, every bolt, even the tiniest switch is artfully finished, not just for looks but function as well. It’s not uncommon for people to simply sit in the cabin and marvel at the craftsmanship. Nothing this beautiful and complex can actually run, can it? No, these cars must be models. In fact, don’t touch anything; it may break.
Nothing could be further from the truth. Each and every Spyker that leaves the factory is literally as strong as the metal it’s carved from. I learn this after a few attempts to engage the open shifter. It takes a while to become smooth but once mastered, it’s second nature.
Though not as popular as say, a Ferrari, the Spyker nonetheless appeals to a select group who appreciate fine craftsmanship. Each piece appears to have been built by a craftsman who devoted his entire life to master that particular part. Anyone who owns a Holland & Holland firearm, Gerstner tool chest or Leica camera will appreciate the work.
The pair commissioned on these pages are based on Spyker’s C8 chassis, one a Spyder convertible, the other a hardtop Laviolette.
Although this C8 chassis has been replaced by a newer and longer chassis, this pair still represents what are arguably the finest in mass-produced, hand-built vehicles in the world. Moreover, their Audi-sourced 4.2-liter V8s have been augmented with VF Engineering superchargers, which transform these fast cars into extremely fast cars.
I learn this the moment I poke at the gorgeous aluminum pedal cluster. While a normal Spyker will pin your backside to the seat, these particular cars seem intent to rupture organs. Carly, my 19-year-old daughter, is riding shotgun. Though she was raised in cars like the Viper, C5 Corvette and assorted Porsche 911 Turbos, the pure shock of acceleration turned her eyes wide as saucers. She tries reaching for her phone (I’m sure in hopes of Facebooking the adventure) but can’t lift her arms forward. I let off a bit and the car virtually slams to a halt. It seems I left the handbrake on (it’s hidden at the base in left side of the passenger footwell). We’ll try this experiment again, maybe let her get some video. No such luck. A hard stab of the pedal and the phone is pressed to her face, saucer eyes filling the screen. Should make a good video.
The chassis is set up with independent suspension (horizontal front shocks) and coil springs all round; its frame is set up for the track, F1-style. Michelin tires and direct steering (no power assist) give the driver a firm feel on the road or track. There’s no finessing these brakes. The harder you stomp, the harder they grip. Brakes receive no vacuum assist to help apply pressure to giant AP Racing calipers up front.
Overall, the car is superbly set up for the racetrack but engine performance left one driver wanting more (see Black Spyker C8 Spyder sidebar). This is where VF Engineering steps in with a 6-psi supercharger system. With a sizable list of successful force-fed cars, VFE has been creating supercharger systems for German motors for many years. They couple a Magnuson roots supercharger unit to a cast aluminum intake manifold and slide in an air-to-water heat exchanger. The heat exchanger (known as an aftercooler) transfers heat out of the air charge to provide improved and consistent combustion performance. VFE neatly integrates a separate water reservoir (authentically matching the Spyker aluminum engine coolant tank) together with an electric pump and front-mounted water radiator to keep the aftercooler circulating with a constant supply of coolant.