By on February 17, 2009

“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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24 Comments on “Review: 2009 Spyker C8...”

  • avatar

    I’m in love with that shifter.

  • avatar

    What does that dashboard do to your retinae in bright sunlight?

  • avatar

    Aww, you mean to tell me this car was being driven around Troy and I didn’t get to see it? That’s missing an opportunity as rare as a beaver in the Detroit River.

  • avatar

    the shift linkage on that car alone is worth $296k.

    can’t you get a Spyker with an Audi W12? I would think that would be more fun.

  • avatar

    can’t you get a Spyker with an Audi W12? I would think that would be more fun.

    I believe you could at one point but not anymore…They “reconsidered” their model range following the financial troubles that came out of the discontinuation of the F1 team and some other mismanagement. Personally I’m quite surprised they are still standing but I’m glad they are because it’s the only Dutch car brand left that isn’t Donkervoort. Amazing what some estonian money can do for you.

    Anyway, the W12 isn’t missed in the C8 because you can get the V8 with about 600HP if you’d like, 400 is just the base configutation. The W12 would only weigh things down.

    The D12 Peking-to-paris SUV that will (probably…hopefully) be on sale by the end of the year will have the W12 engine and something like 550-600HP. The interior of that car is really awesome too.

    I think the US-spec steering wheel is the same as in the Gallardo. It doesn’t look that good though, the original is much better, definitely worth the money.

  • avatar

    Love the review! Well written! Bravo!

    The dash .. er .. whoah. I can see the need for some seriously good shades – especially at night for all the truckers behind you.

    The exterior of that car is awesome! I love how it has the feel of moving water.

    Sounds like it’s a pretty fun car. Next time you’re in Troy be sure to look me up – I work on Big Beaver.

    And yeah, it’s exit 69 off the freeway. Cool, huh?

  • avatar

    It weighs less than an S2000? Wow. Do want.

  • avatar

    What does that dashboard do to your retinae in bright sunlight?

    Provides you with a novel excuse in traffic court!

  • avatar

    Wow, that interior! Holy.

    Reminds me of my first car. 1970 Datsun 510. Seriously. I padded everything in diamond quilted stuff and stamped stainless steel that I got from a surplus store for next to nothing.

    I wonder if it has a giant metal foot for the accelerator like my 510 did? No, no, that would just be too awesome…

  • avatar

    The shifter is nice but, have you seen the bicycle?

  • avatar

    Like the light weight, like that the interior doesn’t look Teutonic (although it’s too shiny for my comfort), not keen on the snowplow-blade ground clearance, and the styling is a shrug. Overall vote: yawn. I loathe convertibles, too… I might be more interested if it were a coupe.

  • avatar

    I feel so scared with that price. Half a million is nothing new, but I could retire for a very long time with that money. I feel like I’d be punished for spending that much on a car. I mean it keeps the economy going in way. I dunno. Its not that we don’t deserve, I’m a little confused I think.

  • avatar

    Spyker is my favorite car maker!

  • avatar

    The closest thing to automotice art for me save for the Alfa 8C. Attention to detail (and subsequent pricing) really show.

  • avatar
    Michael Ayoub

    My dream car.

  • avatar

    And the winged side mirrors. Such a thoughtful touch…when grocery shopping, you can hang all your plastic shopping bags on them. No need to open the trunk or mess up the back seat…this beats power-assisted cup holders all hollow!

  • avatar

    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.

    Hahahah! Awesome!

  • avatar

    Very nice review. Written by someone that really understands what this car is all about.

    I own Spyker #107. The one with Lewis in the Bullrun, and the car used in this article.

    There is a small Spyker Owner (Factory sanctioned) website with lots of info on these cars.

  • avatar

    Too bad there are no fun roads within miles of Big Beaver. I hate driving cars in that area.

  • avatar

    Thank you thank you thank you.

    This is why I read TTAC, to vicariously enjoy (or loathe etc) cars I don’t own myself.

    I may never own a Spyker (although it is now on my life list :) but I have some idea of whether I would want to…

    PS this beats the crap out of auto company bailout news

  • avatar
    Johnson Schwanz


    “Consultant” is the new way to say “unemployed.”

    I beg to differ.

    This management consultant got a bonus this year! REAL consultants still eat during economic downturns…

  • avatar

    very nicely written!

  • avatar

    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).

  • avatar

    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.

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