Interview

Exclusive: Spyker Building V12 Supercar, Puts Pagani On Alert

CEO Victor Muller spoke to CarBuzz about Spyker's future plans.

Around the turn of the century, three European boutique performance sports car companies launched their first models. Expectations were low. Pundits believed their owners to be child-like dreamers who stood no chance against the supercar establishment. But Horacio Pagani, Christian von Koenigsegg and Victor Muller didn’t give a rat’s ass about those pundits’ opinions, or anybody else’s for that matter. Having balls of steel always helps.

Jump forward a decade and a half and all three are still selling cars, though Spyker has had the toughest journey by far. Dutch businessman Victor Muller founded the now Coventry, UK-based Spyker in 1999, the same year Horacio Pagani unveiled his C10. Christian von Koenigsegg, a good friend of Muller, revealed his first CC production prototype the following year. For Muller, the C8 has been the definitive Spyker model since its 2000 introduction. The latest iteration, the C8 Preliator, was unveiled last month at both Geneva and New York. What were the source of Spyker’s troubles? It once had its own Formula 1 team, tried and failed to buy Saab from GM, and, most recently, managed to emerge from bankruptcy.

Running a small car company has been known to cause a few headaches. Despite those hardships, Victor Muller has refused to give up. Oh, and he also serves as chief designer. More recently, Spyker entered a partnership with Portland, Oregon-based Volta Volare, a manufacturer of high-performance aircraft. What does that have to do with cars? We spoke to Muller at New York about the future of his company, new projects, and about the mistakes he’s made along the way. CarBuzz: You’re currently at the New York Auto Show. Does this mean the new C8 Preliator is coming to the US despite only 50 examples planned?

Victor Muller: Yes. A total of 50 C8 Preliator coupes will be built, 25 of which will be sold in the US. But there will be a total of 150 C8 Preliators in all; 50 coupes, 50 spiders, and 50 special editions consisting of 25 coupes and 25 spiders. CB: Has the new C8 met your objectives? VM: Yes, very much so. It has exceeded my expectations. I expect (the coupe) will be sold out by the end of the month. By the way, the C8 Preliator doesn’t have a single panel in common with its predecessor, the C8 Aileron. It’s a completely new body. The interior is very elegant, very nice to sit in.

(continued) What’s also important (for buyers) is for their wives to be comfortable when sitting inside. Now, compare the C8 Preliator’s interior to, say, the Lamborghini Aventador’s. The C8 is much more comfortable and elegant and therefore an easier purchase to justify. CB: How many US dealerships are you planning? VM: We’re starting with 10 serious dealerships, including Manhattan Motors, the first dealer to sell Spykers in the US. We’ll also have dealerships in San Francisco, Los Angeles, Miami, and Tampa, among other cities.

CB: You’ve had a long standing relationship with Audi and its 4.2 V8 engine. Will this continue? VM: Yes, we will continue working with Audi for the C8, but at Los Angeles this November we’ll be announcing something very special – a four-door. Think of it as a C8 Preliator on steroids. CB: Could this be an updated version of the D8 Peking-to-Paris from 2006 that never happened? VM: That would be a very good guess. CB: What about a C8 successor?

VM: The C12 is coming up next, and it'll be powered by a V12 engine provided by a European brand I won't mention right now. CB: Are you planning a move to hybrid/EVs/alternative powertrains, and would that involve your partnership with Volta Volare? VM: I will only say this: Electric propulsion is coming and you’ll see more this November. CB: Lotus has been your longtime suspension development partner. Will this relationship continue?

VM: Yes. Absolutely. Lotus is the industry leader for suspension tuning and refinement. CB: Looking back at your 15+ years in business, are there any specific mistakes you’ve made? VM: We started with an F1 team (now Force India) back in 2000 but we made the mistake of not securing proper sponsorships. This caused a major cash shortage. CB: What new venture would you do right now if you could? VM: Go back to F1!

CB: Will that ever happen? VM: I hope so but we have to prioritize. We need to get our act together first but it’s extremely high on the wish list. CB: Any plans to buy another automaker? You know, like Saab? VM: (After much laughter) No! I would never buy a company wholly dependent on government again! You’re simply not in control of your own destiny. It’s really a shame what happened to Saab. I hired (former Pininfarina and Ferrari 599 GTB designer) Jason Castriota as Saab’s Design Director. He designed an absolutely beautiful new Saab 9-3. Sadly, it’ll never happen.

(continued) It was a true "Saab Saab", not a “GM Saab” like the Chevy TrailBlazer-based 9-7X. CB: By the way, what cars are in your personal garage? VM: Two Aston Martins. A DB7 Volante and an original Vanquish. I’m a big Aston Martin fan. CB: So what’s the next big show for Spyker? VM: Pebble Beach, and we hope to see you there.

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