Another year, another car Spyker management must have thought. At the 2007 Geneva Auto Show the limited edition Spyker C12 Zagato was presented. Based on the C12 platform it features a wild new body created by Italian coachbuilder Zagato and built by Coventry Prototype Panels in the UK. Only 24 of these cars are planned to be made.
Zagato, a typical Italian carrozzeria, had its heyday during the 1950s and 1960s producing special sportscar bodies on Alfa Romeo, Aston Martin, Lancia and Fiat chassis. These were usually characteristic and neat designs which became sought after classics. One of the enthusiasts collecting Zagato bodies cars is Spyker CEO Victor Muller.
After a difficult period Zagato has enjoyed a revival at the start of the new millennium, especially after the introduction of a few tastefully designed limited series Aston Martins during 2002-2004. Also new production methods have made custom bodied cars more feasible, together with an increasing demand from the very rich for unique or rare designs.
(picture by Nicolas Meunier, used with permission)
All these factors lead to an agreement between Victor Muller and Andrea Zagato. At one hand the desire of Muller to create a new Zagato classic based on the products of his own factory, at the other a perfect time to introduce a car like this and as a result lots of publicity and a raised brand image for Spyker, since some of the heritage of Zagato might rub off. It had the makings of a good plan.
And indeed, the C12 Zagato attracted a lot of attention and induced a wave of publicity. Yet the Zagato design met with some controversy. After the relatively straightforward looking Spyker designs this car looked a bit too much. More important, it didn't really recall the classic simple elegance of traditional Zagato designs. This design appeared wild, with lots of lines, fins, humps and air-intakes.
From the rear it might as well be a space ship. If anything, this must be unique. Well almost, because the shape of the car has a lot in common with a showcar Zagato presented back in 1996: the Lamborghini Raptor, a Diablo-based one off.
As a result some have bashed this Spyker as an old hand-me-down from Zagato. But this is not quite fair; it's better to think of it as a typical Norihiko Harada design. This former Anime artist from Japan who became head of design at Zagato has very much his own style. Both the Raptor and the Spyker seem to be an expression of his personal style, where the Spyker is the more evolved and refined version. Possibly the mid-engined lay-out of the Spyker and Muller's desire to incorporate F1 elements in the design lead to this choice. Also the limited amount of time between conceiving and presenting the car, less than a year, may have been a factor.
It's not that Harada neglected traditional Zagato trademarks like the double-bubble roof, the cut-off rear end and the flowing shapes. But in this case it didn't render the car the classic shape which the Diatto Ottovu prototype, another Zagato project unveiled at the same Geneva Auto Show, showed and some may have liked better.
Be that as it may, the Spyker C12 Zagato is an exciting sportscar with a totally different appeal from the "regular" Spyker models. It could do without a few of the bells and whistles the exterior of this car features but no doubt it will become a classic in its own right.
Underneath its fancy skin the C12 Zagato is similar to the LaTurbie model and features the 6-litre W12 Audi engine with 500 hp. Top speed is rated at 310 kph, supercar territory, and 0 to 100 kph acceleration is finished in 3.8 seconds. The body is made from aluminum with stainless steel roof rails. This lightweight construction keeps the weight down to 1480 kg. Measurements of the car are 450 x 202 x 125 cm (length x width x height).
One last special feature is found in the interior: the traditionally opulent Spyker trim and finish is enhanced by a brushed aluminum dashboard with Chronoswiss instruments for both driver and passenger. Clearly all this doesn't come cheap: the indicated price for the C12 Zagato amounted to nearly twice as much as that of the C8 Double 12S, or almost the same as three Ferraris 612 Scaglietti..
Unfortunately 2007 proved not to be a happy year for Spyker. Problems with suppliers, investments in new models and funding of the ambitious racing exploits resulted in production delays and increasing losses. CEO and cofounder Victor Muller stepped down and was first replaced by major shareholder Michiel Mol and later in the year by Hans Hugenholtz. Businessman and racing driver Hugenholtz (son of the designer of the Suzuka, Hockenheim and Jarama race tracks) acts as an interim with the responsibility of refinancing and reorganizing the company in order to secure the future for Spyker.
Only a few dozen cars were produced in 2007, while at least 500 were needed to be profitable. Obviously this called for drastic measures: the C12 LaTurbie is cancelled (only one or two were made), the production of the C12 Zagato is postponed and that of the C8 Double 12 stopped. A replacement for the latter is scheduled to appear in 2008 as the C8 Laviolette LWB. So only the original models which marked the revival of Spyker in 2001 remain: the C8 Laviolette and the C8 Spyder. The fate of the D12 Paris-to-Peking SUV design, a model which very well could have given Spyker the desperately needed boost in sales, remains unclear.
At the closing stages of 2007 Spyker management again made some headlines. Victor Muller stepped back up as CEO and announced that the company was refinanced with the help of a new stock emission and financial backing by the Lithuanian Snoras Bank. Chairman Vladimir Antonov of Snoras is a big car enthusiast and takes a personal interest in the continuation of Spyker. Though the fact that the new rich in Eastern Europe and Russia form a lucrative market for Spyker will have something to do with it as well. With fresh capital and a slimmed down program Spyker regarded the future with optimism once more.