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Spyker 60 HP

Spyker 60 HP

Car: Spyker 60 HP / Engine: 6 Cylinder In-Line / Maker: Spyker / Bore X Stroke: 120 X 128 mm / Year: 1903 / Capacity: 8,676 cc / Class: Grand Prix / Power: 60 bhp / Wheelbase: 3100 mm / Notes: All Wheel Drive

in 1898, Jacobus and Hendrik-Jan Spijker, coach builders in Amsterdam built the famous golden state coach to commemorate the forthcoming coronation of the Dutch queen, Wilhelmina. That same year they also built their first Benz-engined motor car that won them immediate acclaim for the craftsmanship of their bodywork.

In 1903, the company now in Trompenburg near Amsterdam, recently appointed young Belgian engineer Joseph Valentin Laviolette designed and built the first car in the world to be equipped with a six-cylinder engine, the first petrol-driven car with four-wheel drive and the first car with a braking system connected to all four wheels. A racing version was commissioned by Jacobus Spijker for the Paris to Madrid race of 1903. However, the car was not ready in time for the race and was not launched until December 1903 in Paris. Two months later it was on display at The Crystal Palace in London.

The 1905 cars featured a round radiator grille which became a feature of many of the pre war cars. In 1913 the company was having financial problems again and in 1915 was taken over by new owners and renamed Nederlandsche Automobiel en Vliegtuigfabriek Trompenburg (Dutch Car and Aircraft company). Under the new owners, the previous complex model range was simplified and a new car, the 13/30 C1, introduced; sales were disappointing. In 1907, an 18 hp Spyker driven by an unknown Frenchman named Charles Goddard entered the Peking to Paris race.

The race was proposed in an editorial by the French newspaper Le Matin, which proclaimed in January 1907 that a man with a car could do anything and go anywhere. “Is there anyone who will undertake to travel this summer from Beijing to Paris by automobile?” The idea attracted great public interest and forty entrants, but in the end reality set in and only five teams shipped cars to Beijing. Charles Goddard was so taken with the challenge he momentarily forgot that he didn’t know how to drive a car, earning a living performing stunts on a motorcycle, it was suggested that it might be prudent if he learned prior to embarking on the ship bound for Peking. Another oversight was that he didn’t actually have the funds to participate so had to borrow his car and pay his way to China by playing the piano to the first-class passengers on the ship.

The route led from Beijing through deserts, mountain passes and steppes to Outer Mongolia and Ulan Bator, past Lake Baikal to Moscow and then across Russia, Poland, Germany and Belgium to Paris. Prince Borghese driving an Italia, had established such a lead that he made a detour to St Petersburg for a party. There were often no roads, no petrol stations and no one who had ever seen a motor car before. Camels and mules were sent ahead to establish petrol depots and each driver was accompanied by a journalist, who filed a report whenever they passed a telegraph station. The cars were often pushed or dragged over many of the obstacles that blocked their progress such as it was as much of a race for cars as it was for camels and mules. In the end the Spyker cam home a surprising second, not so much for the order the car place but that it had survived at all, it’s driver arrested in Germany for fraud for taking money from Dutch diplomats based in Peking on “false pretenses”. Goddard somehow talked his way out of this mess and continued the race.

Hendrik-Jan Spijker died in 1907 when the ferry he was on when returning from England and a meeting with possible investors sank, and this loss led to the bankruptcy of the original company. A group of investors bought the company and restarted production, but by then a broken-hearted Jacobus Spijker was no longer involved. The renamed firm was called Nederlandsche Automobiel en Vliegtuigfabriek Trompenburg (Dutch Car and Aircraft company). Just before the First World War, Spyker built a prototype for smaller, more economical cars, a 7 hp twin-cylinder, designed by the Belgian engineer Joseph Laviolette. One of Spyker’s directors, believed that at least one hundred of these cars could be sold; however, the rest of the board disagreed and the project never went further. During World War I, in which the Netherlands were neutral, they manufactured airplanes and aircraft engines.

In 1922 the company went bankrupt again and was acquired by Spyker’s distributor in Britain who renamed the company Spyker Automobielfabriek. Production continued and prices dropped but the company continued to decline. The last vehicles produced through 1926 by Spyker, included a two-ton truck and a Torpedo Cabriolet powered by a 6-cylinder Maybach engine of such quality that the car was guaranteed for life, provided that a special seal on the engine remained unbroken.