It’s slick and quick, by gum
Desperate Spyker cuts Saab loose
STARVED of cash and close to collapse, Dutch specialist sports car maker Spyker has fallen on its sword and given Saab its freedom.
The drama of Spyker – which bought Saab early last year – unfolded in Geneva when Saab chairman Victor Muller exposed the teetering financial condition of both car makers.
‘‘One year ago Saab was in liquidation, had no cars in production, a supply chain in tatters and all its new models on hold,’’ Muller says.
‘‘Now we have a milestone for the company. We have celebrated our 12 months of independence.’’
In fact, it’s a double independence.
One year ago General Motors sold Saab to Spyker for $400 million.
Unfolding over the past few weeks, new owner Spyker found itself unable to swim in a sea of debt and has cut itself adrift.
At the same time, it revalued Saab at $200 million – half of what it paid.
‘‘Spyker needs cash – it needs C=25 million (about $36 million) to keep going,’’ Muller says.
‘‘We can get that by issuing new stock in the company but that would dilute existing shareholders by 22 per cent.
‘‘That is unjustified. The only solution was to split Spyker and Saab.’’
Saab and its parent Spyker will now go on different roads with a change of the board of directors.
They will, however, be linked. Muller, for example, is to remain chairman of both companies.
But the divorce allows each to concentrate on their specific paths.
Saab is quickly out of the blocks running solo.
To celebrate its single status, Muller says it will introduce a limited edition of 300 cars.
‘‘Next year, we will celebrate the second year of independence with the launch of another series of limited edition models,’’ he says. ‘‘And we will keep this up, year after year, until infinity.’’ Yes, it’s a strange name. But the performance of the Tornante isn’t to be sneezed at. The two-seat, mid-engined rocket is the proposed second road-going model from German-based Gumpert — which if you hadn’t noticed is also a strange name — after its Apollo and a line of track cars.
The Tornante — it’s Italian for a ‘‘hairpin bend’’ — gets a 520kW biturbo 4.2-litre V8 Audi engine and Tiptronic gearbox with paddle shifters. The body is by Touring Superleggera which means it looks sexy and has that firm’s lightweight chrome-moly steel space frame, carbon-fibre spine and composite body panel design. Roland Gumpert — previously a top executive with Audi in China — retains a strong link with Audi and exclusively uses its drivetrains. Gumpert Sportwagenmanufaktur was started in 2004 and uses the technical assist- ance of Audi, the Technical University of Munich and the Ingolstadt University of Applied Sciences. They have assisted with the construction, computer simulations and wind tunnel tests. Gumpert has made a hybrid version of the Apollo and will in 2012 repeat the exercise using the Tornante as the donor car.
The Gumpert Tornante gets a 520kW bi-turbo 4.2-litre V8 Audi engine and Tiptronic gearbox with paddle shifters.