This advertisement was one of several issued by Spyker in 1921 to celebrate a reliability trial. Very little detail is given, but the achievement was genuine: on 27 November 1920 the first Spyker 30-40 H.P. C4 was completed, powered by a 6-cylinder Maybach engine of 5,742cc. The car improved the 15,000-mile long-distance endurance record, held since 1907 by the Rolls-Royce Silver Ghost, by some 3,800 miles – and it did this in the Dutch winter weather in just over a month.
Spyker (or Spijker) was founded in 1880 by blacksmiths Jacobus and Hendrik-Jan Spijker. The company built the Golden Coach for state ceremonial use by the Dutch Royal House in 1898. In 1903, Spyker built the 60 H.P. racing car; it was the world’s first four-wheel-drive car, with the first six-cylinder engine and a very early four-wheel braking system. The car survives in the Louwman Museum in Den Haag.
Hendrik-Jan Spijker died in 1907 on his return journey from England when the ferry he was on, the SS Berlin, sank, and this loss led to the bankruptcy of the original company. A group of investors bought the company and restarted production, but Jacobus Spijker was no longer involved.
In 1913, the company was again in financial trouble, and in 1915 was taken over by new owners and renamed Nederlandsche Automobiel en Vliegtuigfabriek Trompenburg (Dutch Car and Aircraft company). A new car, the 13/30 C1, was introduced but sales were not encouraging. The company motto became Nulla Tenaci invia est via, Latin for “For the tenacious no road is impassable” – a motto that can just be seen in the advertisement as part of the Spyker “propeller” logo.
During World War I, in which the Netherlands were neutral, some 100 Spyker fighter aircraft and 200 aircraft engines were produced.
In 1919 Spyker produced the two-seater C1 “Aerocoque”, with aerodynamic bodywork influenced by aircraft design. Although intended as a show car, it was produced on a very limited scale. The car was mainly designed by Jaap Tjaarda van Sterkenburg, brother of John Tjaarda and uncle of Tom Tjaarda, both also car designers.
Spyker continued to break records. In 1922 at Brooklands, Selwyn Edge drove a Spyker C4 fitted with streamlined racing bodywork to a new “Double 12” average world speed record, covering 1,782 miles at an average speed of 75 mph for the 24-hour aggregate of two 12-hour periods.
Sadly, Spyker went bankrupt again in 1922 and was bought by Spyker’s distributor in Britain, who renamed the company Spyker Automobielfabriek. Production continued and prices were reduced, but sales continued to fall, and the company ceased operations in 1926.
Image courtesy of The Richard Roberts Archive: www.richardrobertsarchive.org.uk