Innovation & Design

Spyker's Super SUV Knows Its Roots


The prototype is the creation of Spyker, the Dutch auto maker founded in the late 19th century by two brothers, coach builders by trade. Between 1898, when they fabricated their first car, and 1925, when production ceased, Spyker cars broke numerous endurance and speed records. The brand was reintroduced in 2000 with the Spyker C8 Spyder, a lightweight mid-engine two-seater with an Audi-sourced V-8, and since then, the company has had three entries in the grueling 24 Hours of Le Mans. (Spyker has also broken onto the big screen: Sharon Stone drove a Spyker Laviolette in Basic Instinct 2.)

The D12 Peking-to-Paris -- named for the territory covered in an exhausting three-month race in 1907 through unexplored territory in which Spyker placed second -- pays homage to Spyker's roots in endurance racing. It also reflects the company's history in aviation design -- during WWI, Spyker built engines and fighter aircrafts. The four-door off-roader boasts suicide doors, and its instrument panel, controls, and dashboard mimic the interior of an airplane cockpit. The glass canopy roof is a reference to modern fighter jets, as are the small character lines above each fender.

Victor Muller, Spyker Cars' CEO, is positioning the SSUV as a logical progression of the 1903 60 HP Spyker Grand Prix car, which featured the world's first six-cylinder, full-time AWD set up. "Spyker's heritage as a four-wheel drive pioneer and the tremendous benefits it would bring to the motor car laid the foundation for the D12 Peking-to-Paris," says Muller.

LEAN AND LIGHT. The D12 Peking-to-Paris is an exotic Super SUV, built of the finest materials and plated with serial numbers to verify absolute authenticity for those classic car auctions down the road.

The overall proportions would put this Super SUV in the midsized category, but the high ride height and relatively short overhangs give it a compressed appearance. At 194.9 in., the D12 Peking-to-Paris is about 11 inches shorter than a BMW X5. Weight is light by SUV standards -- 4078.5 pounds -- almost 2,000 pounds lighter than the X5 4.8. The car sits on a lightweight aluminum space frame, composed of aluminum extrusions and folded sheet. The body is aluminum too, with stainless-steel skid plates and side sills.

Typical of many premium SUVs, its suspension is adjustable. Unlike many, the D12 Peking-to-Paris suspension system is speed sensitive. The vehicle's center of gravity shifts lower at higher speeds to maintain stability and higher for low-speed off-road travel.

TRADEMARK WHEELS. The power is nothing to laugh at -- the car boasts a top speed of 180 mph. A six-speed automatic gearbox, with F1-style paddle shifters, routes power to all four wheels permanently. The familiar 6.0-liter W-12 (W formation of cylinder banks as opposed to a V) power plant that Volkswagen employs in its Phaeton, Audi A8, and Bentley Continental GT/Flying Spur is tuned to develop 500 horses in the D12 Peking-to-Paris.

Carbon ceramic disc brakes help to dissipate all the heat created when the massive six-piston calipers bring all that mass to an immediate halt. The wheels -- which Spyker has trademarked Aeroblade -- have 11 spokes that may also provide some sort of propeller effect in cooling the brakes.

Spyker claims to have 114 pre-orders for the D12 Peking-to-Paris, which is slated to go on sale in late 2007 for $287,500.


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