The cover comes off the C8 Preliator
Victor Muller, the man behind ultra-premium sports car maker Spyker who later went on to attempt to unsuccessfully revive the Saab brand after it was sold off by GM, has been in Geneva at the Motor Show launching a new post-administration Spyker model. just-auto caught up with him just ahead of the unveil.
Unsurprisingly perhaps, Victor Muller doesn't want to dwell on what happened with Saab. "When Saab went under, it almost dragged Spyker with it," he told just-auto. "We managed to escape that fate by bringing on board Youngman, the bus maker from China. But they didn't live up to their commitments, so by the end of 2014 we had really come into heavy weather. We went through what the Americans would call Chapter 11, a moratorium, and that was converted to bankruptcy and I appealed the bankruptcy and I managed to get out, I won – which never happens. It so happens that I am a lawyer by profession."
The company, he says, went back into moratorium and could be restructured. "We went through a process of concluding settlements with all of the creditors so that by July of last year, we were clean – absolutely clean. The debt wasn't operational debt, it was legacy debt from the Formula 1 team and the Saab days. But by the middle of last year, we could start all over again."
He is clearly enthused by the process of restarting. "We have a lot of experience under our belts and a fantastic new car. We started to re-hire our best employees and by the end of November I was in touch with the [Geneva] show organisers. We had missed deadlines for reservations, but the wonderful people of the Salon said 'of course we don't have a spot but we will see what we can do'. And they created one for us. And now we are here. We knew we had to immediately start building the car, and it was here by Sunday afternoon. It was a race against the clock but I hope you like it."
Spyker is planning a limited production run of fifty for the new 'C8 Preliator'. It's a curious business model perhaps. "We have 267 cars in the market, ever made. Many are in collectors' hands with prices 1.5 times the new price. The residual values are through the roof. So we are basically making collectors' pieces; very high-end luxury items. Many of the fifty have already been spoken for, which means you have a very smooth programme of production."
And the company's recent tumultuous history hasn't impacted the market in a negative way? "It seems [he pauses] that it has not affected our customer base in any shape or form. We have plenty of customers who are repeat customers. We have shed that legacy debt and that has emboldened them in their conviction that we will make it and we will. We have shown great resilience and there is no lack of confidence."
The Spyker C8 Preliator is described by Muller as Spyker's third generation super sports car, with a 'much improved chassis', 525 horsepower (supercharged Audi V8 engine) and manual gearbox. There is no shortage of aviation cues in the design (Spyker made aircraft in 1914-18). The name Preliator means warrior in Latin. "A logical name, when you come to think of it," proclaims Muller. "The Spyker logo has a Latin axiom in it and if you bear in mind the trying times our company has gone through, the name is very appropriate for us being here today. A small team of ten people has accomplished this in a few months. I am extremely proud of that and I thank our suppliers, too."