Review: 2009 Spyker C8

Jack Baruth
by Jack Baruth
review 2009 spyker c8

“Consultant” is the new way to say “unemployed.” But, from time to time, it can be quite lucrative to consult on various vague enterprises. Such was the case a few years ago when I found myself with the urge and the ability (temporary, alas) to add something truly outrageous to my personal Island of Misfit Cars. A racing buddy of mine mentioned to me that Spyker was bringing their “demo car” through Detroit. There might be a deal or two to be had. And that’s how I found myself opposite-locking a $296k car across two lanes of Troy, Michigan’s “Big Beaver Road” at the top of second gear, idly contemplating my personal liability in any potential collision while my corporate babysitter clawed feebly at his door like a kitten kneading its mother’s stomach.

A Spyker is like a really expensive, considerably faster Porsche Boxster. But that’s like Car and Driver’s characterization of the Rolls-Royce Silver Spur as “a really bad version of an Eighties Town Car.” The comparison fails to consider the fundamental reason people buy cars in this price range: boredom. A Spyker customer might be weighing the C8’s pros and cons against a motor yacht, a light aircraft, or a high-end tourbillon watch.

The C8 is an entertaining automobile, from its outrageously sexy polished-aluminum exterior detailing to the quilted-leather interior. The customization possibilities humble those of Porsche and Ferrari, exceeding the bourgeois predictability of color-matched seatbelts with such delicacies as “customer-spec widebodies,” riveted fenders, an “aerotail” meant to evoke the Le Mans prototypes of the Seventies, and a $36,500 Chronoswiss regulator watch engraved with the owner’s name and the C8’s serial number.

During a session with my Spyker representative, I settled on a “Double 12 Coupe” with a full glass roof, top-mounted air intake, riveted fenders, long tail, matching LV luggage and a stainless-steel Chronoswiss variant for a neat $377k. Sales tax up front would be $28k, with resulting sixty-month payments of $7,548.77. Yes, there are people who will sixty-month finance your Spyker, but make no mistake: most purchases are cash.

With the sales pitch and catalog perusal out of the way, it was time to drive the C8. Our tester had been driven by Carl Lewis in the “Bullrun.” It had 8,900 miles on the odometer. Despite the relatively high mileage and presumably abusive treatment, the Spyker was easily the tightest, most rattle-free droptop I’d driven, accepting the Detroit potholes with equanimity. “Of course, you will specify your own shock valving,” the Eurotrash-looking rep told me, clearly expecting that I would be impressed. Dude, come on. I specified the shock valving on my Plymouth Neon race car, but that doesn’t make it upscale.

The Spyker is light. Lighter than a Boxster, lighter than an S2000, lighter than a MINI Cooper Clubman. And it has power: 400+ hp from a tuned Audi V8. The resulting punch is outstanding, although not quite up to the level of a modern Viper SRT-10, and the combination of open top, aluminum flywheel, and the Audi mill’s natural desire to rev makes it feel faster than it really is.

There’s no hesitation to the power. Those of us who drive fast production cars on a regular basis have mentally “edited out” the brief pause that a Viper, Corvette, or Lamborghini imposes on you while the ECU figures out the emissions before the torque comes up to match the two-ton bulk of a modern supercar. The C8 has none of that. It feels like an American Iron race car. Press the throttle and move.

And Matt Farah was right, the shifter is “awesome,” as long as you’re willing to trade speed of engagement for aesthetic appeal. It has the weight, feel, coldness to touch, and solid “clunk” of a stainless-steel Colt Gold Cup. Unfortunately, the matching four-spoke aluminum wheel was missing, replaced by a DOT-approved leather model. For an appropriate sum, the original item will be supplied in a leather case for “off-road use”.

The steering has the darting, hypersensitive feel of a 911. The brakes require a firm shove to accomplish anything. At speed, the Spyker’s weight distribution shows in the initial lack of bite followed by a set-and-commit in the rear end. The controls are honest and predictable enough to permit a no-hands powerslide . . . although for the sake of our ride-along minder I didn’t do that twice.

All in all, I was charmed by the Dutch supercar. It’s small and light, which earn it bonus points in an era of two-ton Murcielagos. It looks like nothing else on the road, and it can be customized to a fare-thee-well. It wouldn’t challenge a well-driven 911GT3 on a road course, but to drive this car on a track misses the point. In a world of airbag-equipped Ferraris with five-mode stability control, the Spyker stands apart. For some, it’s enough.

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  • Rudiger Rudiger on Feb 21, 2009
    NickR: "Provides you with a novel excuse in traffic court!"I cannot envision anyone with the wherewithal to purchase a Spyker C8 ever having to appear in traffic court. If someone can afford a car where a matching watch costs $36.5k, well, they're easily wealthy enough to be able to get out of something as frivolous as a traffic citation (or two).

  • CommanderFish CommanderFish on Feb 22, 2009
    Dude, come on. I specified the shock valving on my Plymouth Neon race car, but that doesn’t make it upscale. And the laughter began.

  • SCE to AUX Historically, the Land Cruiser sold ~3000 units annually in the US for its last 15 years, so the answer is no.
  • Theflyersfan Oh boy - the sequential manual transmission. Otherwise known as "Your 16 year old driving stick the first time is smoother" transmission. I know automakers were trying new things out around this time and seeing what would stick (hint: the dual clutches won out), but even in testing, the Toyota engineers should have said いいえ、ジャンクです。(No. It's a piece of junk.) Is this seller going to get $8500? Doubt it. Way too much interior work is needed and it just looks worn out in there. St. Petersburg - salt air year round can do some wonders under the cover as well. But the exterior still looks good which makes me thing it was garage kept. So, for $8,500 - no chance. But for maybe $5,500 to $6,000 and the buyer doesn't mind some extra work to clean up the interior, maybe a decent top down sun down fun car. Just hope the transmission holds up.
  • Dukeisduke Only if there's a significant price difference between it and the Lexus GX. Otherwise, no. If they do bring it over, they'll have to ditch that ugly grille.
  • Theflyersfan Chris here just gave me a big old dose of nightmare fuel with this. Let me explain... This past Saturday, driving home after doing some furniture shopping. I-64 Westbound is closed for extensive repairs in my part of Louisville so I had to take surface streets home. No problem as it's basically a straight shot from said furniture store to my domicile. Now, I had that recent spinal fusion surgery in my neck complete with four screws, some plates, artificial bone, and the chance that things might not have healed correctly so things are a bit tender and sore still. Driving home in a part of the area named St. Matthews when I pass a Walgreens. Barreling out of this Walgreens and totally ignoring the stop sign, and situational awareness of ANYTHING around him is a truck, very similar to the one shown above. Same color even. It's a four lane road - main drag through town. I'm in the inside lane and this 7,000 pound monstrosity is suddenly feet from turning an MX-5 into shrapnel. Top is down, had my wits, quickly downshift and manage to do a wild u-turn like move into the oncoming traffic lanes but avoided the hit. The neck, however, didn't like the strain and trauma and sent parts of my body into fits of limited sensations and pain. The truck driver, realizing what he's done suddenly stops. My top is down, windows are down, and we make eye contact as I pull alongside the person I have suddenly wished death on inside a flaming pit. And if I repeat the sentences of what was yelled at that jack***es face, I'll be on insta-ban here in milliseconds. He yells over, "Man, I'm sorry...I didn't see ya!" Well, ***face, learn what a stop sign means and scan the scene first. And get something that you can see over and in front instead of the blind spots that hide everyone under the age of 14 in front of the truck. So, I'm all for forcing these overdone, oversized, overfed, overstyled, guzzling, tiny-genital compensating redneck wannabe road monsters taken out back and put to rest and we return to normalcy. Made it home hurting like hell and tests were done today to check for further injury. And that Mazda can turn and spin on a dime... Try that move in that Sierra AT4XBZQZW8! whatever.
  • Dukeisduke I've read stories about that air suspension system - insanely high pressures, and crazy expensive to repair. I loved the Mark VIII's styling back then, but it definitely hasn't aged well.Also:"Mark VII was the first Mark available with dual front airbags..." Did you mean Mark VIII?