It was a long time since Claire and I drove an orange Beetle through the Sahara Desert so when another road trip presented itself she was quick to call shotgun. I had been invited for an exclusive tour of the Spyker supercar factory in the Netherlands. I love the unique look and attention to detail of Spykers and can relate to their company motto; for the tenacious no road is impassable.
We only had a weekend to drive to Holland and back. Pedro the Beetle wasn't quick enough to get there and back in a weekend and the clutch was slipping on my Sebring. Bachi wasn't able to make the tour but was happy to lend me his BMW for the weekend. We arrived at the Channel Tunnel terminal just behind a convoy of supercars and were waved through into the same train carriage as them. The lowered, convertible beemer fitted right in and we were invited to join the Lamborghini, Ginetta and co on a run to Monaco. They were and interesting bunch of musicians, actors and entrepreneurs who certainly made the journey pass quicker but they would be away 10 days, we only had a weekend and an appointment with my dream car in Zeewolde.
The E46 M3 made short work of the autobahns on the route through Europe, roof down all the way of course. The only problem came at our first fuel stop when I had to call Bachi and ask how to open the petrol cap!
We arrived at our hotel for the evening to be greeted by the deep throaty rumble of one of the cars we had come to see. Andreas had driven his Spyker C8 Spyder there from Germany. "This is the highest mileage Spyker in the world" he happily declared. Unsurprisingly he had also been invited to visit Spyker HQ the next day. Over dinner he told us how he lived in Germany and worked in Switzerland but also had a home in Surrey. Add to that road trips around Europe and Scandinavia and you the fact that most such cars tend to be garage queens taken out on occasional summer days and I'm pretty sure no other Spykers were near his mileage. What's more Andreas refused to buy the optional soft top for the car, saying it spoiled the lines (it does), so it was roofless all the way, whatever the weather!
Andreas car took pride of place parked in front of Spyker HQ the next day. Hans Van Rennes VP of Spyker cars showed us around the facility personally. First a film about the companies roots in aviation and shots of the early 20's cars then it was time for something special. As well as cars in production for customers, the head quarters also housed all of Spykers research and development models. The 'Peking - Paris' was an SUV with style; it was like a Spyker sports car on steroids. Rather than the bland design of most SUV's it shared the styling of it's supercar stable mates; propeller blade wheels, exposed gear linkage, turned aluminium dash etc. Then there were the Le Mans race cars; even more secrecy surrounded these stripped out track cars.
Hans had saved the best for last with the Aileron; this was Spykers new baby, not yet available to customers. The silver Aileron Spyder was gorgeous; unfortunately because of the secretive, development status of the cars, no photos were allowed inside. Hans relented and took one photo of me with 'my' car. It was poorly framed and completely out of focus......don't give up the day job Hans ;-)
All was not lost, as we chatted with the other visitors and admired their cars outside, the buildings shutters rolled up. It was Hans in a bright orange Aileron. He was off to Monaco for the Grand Prix and hoping to cause a stir by taking the first Aileron to roll out of the factory!
The man behind the Spyker Owners Club, and organiser of the event, also named Hans, had arranged dinner for us all that evening. People had come from far and wide, including many visitors from America. It was a great evening with delicious food and fascinating company but the next day we would have to drive back to England.
I'd driven all around Holland some years before when I was shopping for a boat which I then sailed back to England but Claire had never been before. It would take us just over 5 hours to drive back to London which meant we had time to fit in a picturesque lunch stop. One of my favourite places in the Netherlands is the historic port of Enkhuizen. It wasn't far off our route and I thought Claire, being a fellow boater, would enjoy seeing the tall ships and ancient sailing barges. I also loved the approach road, built up on a dyke across the Ijsselmeer, Hollands inland sea, and lined by wind turbines. According to the satnav Bachi's BMW was amphibious.