The Spyker Aileron belongs in Monaco, Beverley Hills Dubai and the wealth centers of the world. So invading a trailer park in Scottsdale, Arizona was about as politically correct as running through the slums of Kolkata flashing your Rolex and wads of cash at the locals. And yet even the poorest residents of this ramshackle mobile home community couldn’t resist a bemused smile and a quick enquiry about the power, provenance and price.
Had we rolled up in a Ferrari, I suspect we may not have emerged alive. That is the power of the Spyker Aileron, the new Dutch supercar that magically captures the sprit of fun, decadence and wanton excess and serves it up in a package of growing, friendly warmth.
We meet the car at the Barret-Jckson auction, where John Dillinger’s gateway car is up for sale and literally thousand of classic icons went under the hammer over five days. Even here, the crowds gather round, I hear a ‘Hotdang’.a couple of cowboy whoops and the white heat of camera flashes. Company boss Victor Muller cannot join us, he’s off buying Saab from GM and preparing to enter the world of mass manufacture, but this is his passion laid bare.
it is a pure visual orgy of details, its like a kid’s crazy drawing of a supercar made real-a concept car that never quite makes it to production reality. And yet here it is in the flesh, running, with a license plate, an order form and the most stunning orange paint dancing in the Arizona sunlight through the heat haze emerging from the Audi-sourced V8.
This is prototype number four and is not yet the finished product, even though it looks and feels perfect to the naked eye. All the aluminum panels onm this car that weighs just 1200 kg were produced entirely by hand, but that will change. The company is moving production of the Aileron from its Dutch base to Coventry in the Uk, where the all-aluminum structure will be stamped out on its behalf. That will keep the cost down to a relatively sane $218000,but this prototype is estimated at $2 million worth of metal.
Company founder Victor Muller penned the car and wanted to create a timeless beauty, a modern classic car with epic presence and a sense of fun. And while it always looked too much on the show stand, everyone that sees this car in the flesh falls in love.
That gaping, round front end and blindingly shiny front splitter announce their presence and then there are the LED lights, the incredible plunging bonnet and the central air intake on the equally shiny trip of aluminum across the front of the roof, all of which are just impossible to ignore.
The side profile is equally impressive, with two air intakes, the gurney flap and the turbine-shaped wheels that pull hot air from the brake disces. In fact the jet engine theme runs deep through the car and intakes, vents, pretty much everything that can follows the turbine design ethos and ties in to the company history that is intertwined with aviation.
It’s the back end that provides perhaps the most dramatic view of all, externally at least, with the engine peeking through the glass panels, Ferrari-style, to the stainless steel rear diffuser and wraparound apron. The exhaust pipes eve with the company logo and motto: ‘Nulla tenaci invia est via’(For the tenacious. no road is impassable.)Its a fitting catchphrase for a near impossible company .Spyker in its first incarnation started out as a carriage builder in the late 1800s and became a full-fledged motor manufacturer in 1898.The first World War brought a merger with an aircraft company, which helped shape the future. But it wasn’t enough to get them through the lean times ahead and Spyker files for bankruptcy in 1925.That was the end of the stiry for a full 75 years, until Dutch lawyer, businessman and car nut Victor Muller dusted off the name in 2000 to give it a second chance.
Since then the firm has launched a bewildering number of models at motor shows around the world, yet delivered just 250 of the hardcore, short wheelbase C8 Spyker and Lavallette models. In truth this was a mistake, as the prototypes began to look like wishful thinking and Spyker was written off in many quarters as a simple pipe dream from a heavy smoking Dutchman.
Yet despite the knocks, the company has grown and now Muller counts the royal family of Abu Dhabi amongst his investors. He also put the short wheelbase sport car through the nightmarish American crash test and amissions regulations first, which takes time and money. Its a market many supercar manufactures shy away from completely but Muller went full bore and has been rewarded with a rich seam f sales and starring roles in several movies-including the god-awful Basic Instinct 2 where the car was sexier than the aging leading lady. It didn’t always look like it, but Spyker has been learning to fly the whole time.
The Aileron looks like an evolution of the C8, and indeed it is. It’s six inches longer and wider and comes with a whole new structure, though, and will be treated as a new model line. It’s a GT car compared to the sportier short wheelbase’s balls-out aggression, and Spyker is confident this is the car that wall take this small Dutch cottage company on to the world stage with an unapologetically eccentric car.
And if the outside of the car messes with your head, you haven’t seen anything yet. Poke your head into the cockpit of the Aileron on a bright day without sunglasses and you could go blind. The whole dash is coated in tortoiseshell aluminium that catches the light, and as my seared retinas acclimatise to the savage assault I’m confronted with 1950s science fiction.
The wheel is sourced from an Audi R8, but even that is trimmed with leather and we had to go on a hunt to find just three pieces of bare plastic in the whole interior. Everything else is leather trimmed and aluminium; the tactile toggle switches cost $50 apiece compared to the $1 parts bin specials that fill out most boutique supercars. And the new mirror assembly they’re working on, fitted to the demo Spyder at the Barrett-Jackson base, costs an eye-popping $2,300 just to make.
The Recaro seats are trimmed with trademark quilted leather and then there’s the gear linkage, exposed to the world and inspired by the flight controls of olde world planes. The piece de resistance are the glass panels running the length of the roof that help that letterbox of a shallow rake windscreen get enough light into the cockpit.
It’s a rolling work of art, and it’s here that the Spyker marks itself apart from the undoubtedly faster Italian opposition. Even the key is special, it’s a hockey puck-style milled aluminium disc that feels heavy in the hand and forms part of the intricate start-up procedure. The puck remotely unlocks the car, a hidden button under the mirror pops the scissor door and I have to flick the fighter jet-style red covered toggle switch, then press the starter button. And that’s when we get the first minor disappointment.
There is no savage explosion, no vicious burst of flames from a car that looks like a jet fighter in full flight. This is, when all is said and done, a mildly tuned Audi V8, and it simply coughs into life and settles into a steady rumble. Muller has already spec-ced a louder exhaust that will bring the characteristic V8 burble back into play. There are bypass valves that help make the note, but even on its loudest setting it falls far short and fails to drown out the transmission whine from the Audi-sourced ZF torque converter auto box that will form the only transmission in the early days.
That, too, needs to change. Spyker reasonably argue that 100 per cent of its orders in recent years have been for automatics, so they had to go this route first. The US, Middle East, Russia and Far East are the big markets right now, and everybody seems to want the more - relaxed transmission. But the chassis is crying out with potential and this package barely scratches the surface of its sporting aspirations.
With a full aluminium chassis tweaked by the company’s in-house racing team, a 1,200 kg kerb weight and the exact same suspension setup that has starred this year on the Lotus Evora, the Aileron sounds like a dream sports car, and it could be. It isn’t, but that’s a conscious decision to turn this big two-seater into a Grand Tourer and differentiate the two- model line-up. The C8 Laviolette and Spyder are the bad boys in the line-up, this is the elder statesman. So comparing the 0-100 time of 4.5 seconds to the not too dissimilarly priced Lamborghini LP560-4, Ferrari 458 Italia and Audi R8 VI0 is more or less pointless, although its 300 kph top end speed is far from shabby, even in this company. Pure speed is only part of the Spyker equation and its niche lies somewhere between these balls-out supercars and the luxury offerings from Aston Martin and Bentley. It’s a balls-out Aston or Bentley, with a truly unique identity.
The ride is sublime, on the highway the car registers expansion joints with a dull thud, but there isn’t even a tug on the wheel. This is a perfectly composed machine with near perfect poise, and in auto mode it is so utterly relaxed, and so utterly nuts on the aesthetic front, that you could easily imagine buying one for the cruise factor alone. On the backroads, it is slightly less convincing. The Lotus-tuned suspension is magical and Spyker has produced a zero understeer car with massive mechanical grip at the rear thanks to 19″ wheels wrapped in 235/35 and 295/30 Michelin Pilot Sports. This diamond, though, is not without its faults.
There is no traction control, just electronic brake distribution, which goes against the gentle giant grain of the car and could catch unwary owners out. I’m not sure how to reconcile that with the GT angle, especially as it’s a racing touch on a car that is categorically not a race car.
Because even in Sport mode, the ZF box always feels a fraction of a second behind the rest of the car and I can’t quite trust it enough to hold the gear to really launch at the apex. Development will help toughen up this gearbox, but it needs a six-speed robotised manual for my money for true immediacy and ultimate faith. The drive is not helped by the development AP Racing steel brakes that aren’t completely progressive just yet and tend to grab halfway through the travel. Those stoppers should be silky smooth come sale time, the manual ‘box is on its way and a bigger power version is in the works, too. When those things come the Aileron will be a genuine supercar contender, but even now it works in its own way. Spyker says their car is an ‘and’ car, not an ‘or’ car, meaning owners generally have a Lamborghini and a Ferrari, and possibly a Pagani, in the garage already. So when the owner wants to go flat out they should take one of the other cars from the collection.
The Spyker competes on a different playing field, it’s a relaxed, spectacular looking super GT that will stand out in a crowd and bring a smile to the face of everyone that sees it. For those with $218,000 to spend on a second, third or even fifth supercar, this child’s dream made real could prove just too tempting. It’s a flawed underdog that has wilfully gone swimming in a sea infested with conglomerate owned Italian and German sharks. You have to love the sheer audacity of the plan and on his second attempt Muller has created a car that is a slug of power and a manual gearbox away from greatness in the supercar ranks and is already a fantastic GT car in its own right. For the tenacious, it seems, no road is impassable.