Today we peer again into the world of marginal car makers. In this instalment we deal gently with Donkervoort.
There are 15 Donkervoort cars advertised at mobile.de and above, a 1981 S8 is the cheapest at €19,950 with a mere 52,000 km up. Next is a similar roadster from 1988 for €24,000. A 1998 2.0 Zetec-powered D8 costs €36,000. From 2001 an Audi-powered D8 costs nearly €50,000. So, who are Donkervoort?
The company website explains it as follows: “The combination of appealing styling, ultra-light weight, high power output and fantastic road holding like a racing car, has created a sports car that makes the hearts of countless car enthusiasts beat faster.” There is one car in two flavours: the D8 GTO and D8 Bilster Berg Edition.
Donkervoort have built 1,100 cars since 1978 at Tienhoven and then Loosdrecht and the Lelystad. Another factory operates in Bilster Berg which is to driving what a golf course is to thwacking white balls. From 1978 to 1999 the engines came from Ford. After that they have been sourced from Audi.
The first cars stemmed from Colin Chapman’s Lotus 7. Joop Donkervoort discovered the kits he had bought did not have Dutch type approval so he decided to build his own cars instead (obviously closely modelled on the Lotus). Today’s cars follow a similar formula and thus include no roof and very little by the way of creature comforts. There’s a nice detail reported in the history of the firm: in 2003 Donkervoort’s UK chassis supplier declined to match the required quality needed and also declined to invest in production improvements. Donkervoort thus decided to do that part themselves.
The GTO is made from carbon fibre, weighs 770 kilos. Pushing that mass along is a 2.5 litre, five-cylinder engine with an output of 340-380 bhp. Is this the world’s only five-cylinder track car? It is at least the first of these non-mainstream cars that is not either terrible or tiny and underpowered.