It’s slick and quick, by gum

Des­per­ate Spyker cuts Saab loose

NT News - Motoring - - CARS GUIDE - By NEIL DOWL­ING

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.

Pic­ture: NEIL DOWL­ING

The Gumpert Tor­nante gets a 520kW bi-turbo 4.2-litre V8 Audi en­gine and Tip­tronic gear­box with pad­dle shifters.

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