About 10 years ago, Spyker seemed like it was on the verge of becoming one of the next great European supercar companies. Taking its name from an automaker that built fighter planes in World War I, its mid-engined $200,000-plus C8 supercar was generally considered to be one of the most interesting cars in the world. It acquitted itself well on Top Gear, and with its quilted leather, exposed shifter linkage, and engine-turned aluminum interior, it quickly became the poster car for steampunks everywhere.
In 2004, the Dutch company went public, and was traded on the European Stock Exchange. In 2005, it bought the Midlands Formula 1 team, and competed using Ferrari engines. Even during the global financial crisis, the company continued to thrive, at least by all outward appearances. In January 2010, the company negotiated to by Saab from General Motors for $74 million, vowing to launch a new line of vehicles to take the iconic Swedish brand back to its roots. But it wasn’t to be; within a year, it became apparent that the tiny company wasn’t equipped to run a struggling mass-market brand, it defaulted on paying suppliers, production shut down, and Saab was sold off. Spyker seemingly never recovered, and in December, 2014, it filed for moratorium of payment status (the U.S. equivalent of Chapter 11 bankruptcy) in a Dutch court.
But in an unexpected turn of events, bankruptcy wasn’t the end for Spyker. The company has announced that it has emerged from the proceedings with a new partner, and a new purpose. In a statement to the press, company founder and CEO Victor Mueller announced the company has partnered with Volta Volare, a Portland, Oregon-based electric aircraft manufacturer to begin developing a new lineup of electric cars – and planes.
While Spyker’s return from the brink was a surprise in and of itself, its plans to go into aviation are even more unexpected. The original Spyker was one of Europe’s first aircraft builders, but they went out of business 89 years ago, and there’s no direct connection between the two companies. Volta Volare, a company that’s betting on electric planes to make flying more accessible to millions, is hoping that it can turn Spyker into what it could’ve been, and that its Jules Verne-inspired designers can spruce up the e-plane of the future. In return, the automaker will get Volta’s 300 horsepower electric motor used by its aircraft, something Mueller is understandably excited about. In the press release, Muller said:
“Spyker is back with a vengeance and we look forward to a bright future for the company I founded 15 years ago and which is now set to build sensationally elegant and classy (electric) motorcars and electric planes for decades to come.”
This announcement carries extra weight considering that Tesla announced just weeks before that a new Roadster will be arriving before the end of the decade. The original ’08-’12 Roadster had very little competition in its day, but if Tesla continues to grow, and Spyker can rebound, we might be just a few years off from the the first truly great electric car rivalry.
So Spyker is back, but there are still a lot of big ifs. Volta Volare isn’t exactly a titan of industry, and if anything happens to it, Spyker could easily go right back into its state of suspended animation. And even if it can rebound, we’ll be interested to see what kind of lineup it can field. The C8 was great with its Audi V8, and its C6 Venator concept was gorgeous, but its EV is unlikely to be taken as a serious Tesla competitor with a $200,000-plus price tag. Regardless of what happens, Spyker was one of the most unique automakers to come along in decades. The automotive world is richer for having it back.
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