The history of Formula One racing's newest team owners
Prior to last weekend, few but the hardened car enthusiast knew the name Spyker. All that has changed, however, after the companys purchase of the Midland team, making the Dutch sportscar maker the latest auto manufacturer to enter Formula One racing. But the Spyker name is far from new to motorsport - indeed its involvement in racing dates back almost a century.
It was in 1898 that brothers Jacobus and Hendrik-Jan Spijker, coachbuilders in Amsterdam, built their first Benz-engined motorcar. The craftsmanship of the cars bodywork won immediate acclaim and from that moment on the Spijker brothers changed the focus of their company. The pair committed fully to producing motorcars, changing the name of the company to Spyker to ease recognition of the brand in foreign markets.
The brothers were inventive and from the start the company pushed back technological barriers. In 1903 Spyker introduced the extremely advanced 60/80 HP, the first car to boast a six-cylinder engine, as well as permanent four-wheel drive and four-wheel brakes. In the same period the company devised and patented a special chassis fitted with a streamlined under tray which prevented the car from making dust on unpaved roads. It was innovations like these that came to characterise the Spyker brand, quickly making it famous for quality and engineering ruggedness.
In 1907 a privately entered standard model Spyker 14/18HP Tourer successfully competed in the infamously gruelling Peking to Paris raid. After the car arrived back in second place, the Spyker name became even more fashionable. The companys models, with their characteristic circular radiators, were especially successful in the Dutch East Indies and in Britain, where Spyker became known as 'the Rolls Royce of the continent'.
The period preceding World War One saw a worldwide slump in the luxury car market and Spyker was forced to diversify its production. The company merged with Dutch Aircraft Factory N.V. and started to develop and build fighter aircraft. In all, the Dutch firm produced 100 planes and 200 aircraft engines for the war effort. The merger also prompted a new slogan - 'Nulla tenaci invia est via (meaning for the tenacious no road is impassable') - which is still used by the company today.
After the armistice, Spyker resumed car production and true to its motto, continued to build record-breaking cars. One of the most innovative examples was the Spyker C4. Built by the famous German engineer Wilhelm Maybach, the car boasted a special engine with a double ignition system. In 1921, one example established a new endurance record, after driving continuously for 36 days and covering a distance of 30,000 kilometres. And a year later British driver Selwyn Edge broke the Brookland's Double-Twelve speed record in a C4, clocking an average speed of 119 km/h.
Although the original firm ceased trading in 1925, the name was never forgotten and 75 years later, the Spyker brand was re-established by two Dutch businessmen, Victor Muller and Maarten de Bruijn. In October 2000 the pair unveiled the new Spyker C8 at the UKs Birmingham Motor Show and since then the brand has experienced a renaissance both in terms of commercial success and sporting achievement.
Since 2002 Spyker have made regular appearances in the Le Mans 24-hour endurance race and this year fielded a two-car line-up for the first time. It followed a successful 2005 campaign for the companys Spyder GT2R machine, including a podium finish and second in class at the Nurgburgring 1000 kilometre race in Germany.
And the Spyker brand is even becoming known to cinema goers, Basic Instinct 2 and upcoming title Rogue just two of the movies in which a Spyker car has featured. All thats needed now is a starring role in Formula One racing