DeBruyn Ferox V8 Review (2023)

DeBruyn Ferox V8 Review (2023)

AutoRAI, somewhere around 2000. I pull into the Spyker stand with wide eyes. The C8 Spyder that I have heard and read so much about is standing to live in front of me Among the breathless spectators I marvel at the lines, the richness, all the fine details. I have been given a poster which I put on the tap at home ‘for later’. I still have it.

As a young car guy, I was very excited about the whole idea of ​​a new Dutch sports car brand. I never forgot the name of the man responsible for the ‘Modern Spyker’: Maarten de Bruijn. An architect by profession, but he could just put ‘engineer’, ‘metal worker’ or ‘great inventor and maker of cool things’ on his business card.

After a few years and some friction with business partner Victor Muller, he sold his shares in Spyker and focused on other things, from the beautiful and revolutionary Silvestris boat to the Segway-inspired Qugo.

Maarten de Bruijn about his time at Spyker

But now Maarten has returned to the field where he started. He still has something to finish here. “Spyker went very fast in a short time,” he says. ‘I never had the feeling that I could build a car like I thought.’

Maarten de Bruijn DeBruyn Ferox V8 plays

His new brand is called DeBruyn Cars, like Spyker with a ‘y’, for international appeal. We visit Maarten’s workshop in Deil, on the property of partner (and A2 junction connoisseur) Wouter van Everdingen. When we typed in the address this morning, we didn’t know if we’d end up in a gray and nondescript industrial estate or a dirty, suffocating farm shack. It turns out to be the last one.

It’s as if we’ve entered a boys’ book, a place of pranks, mischief and magical adventures. Near the grand entrance stands Silvestris’ first yacht in all its elegantly towed glory. On the wall hangs a life-size wooden mold of a new car, which was deemed unusable and now serves as a letterbox and wine rack. A few steps further I see the same simple tools that I have at home. I am attaching a drawing with it; Maarten builds dreams with it.

Introduction to the DeBruyn Ferox V8

Then we come across a bunch of parts arranged roughly in the shape of a car – wheels, wishbones, transparency, engine. Ferox V8. “Chassis number 1,” says Maarten. “It should be ready in the third quarter of 2024. After that we will do five a year, but eventually we want to increase that to ten or fifteen.”

Next to it, shining softly, is a model that DeBruyn Cars released earlier this year. You recognize key C8 features inside, from the overall shape to details like the visible pop rivets, the placement of the taillights and the open gear lever shift mechanism.

DeBruyn Ferox V8 workshop modelDeBruyn Ferox V8 workshop model

Yet there is something completely new, made from scratch, with all the knowledge and possibilities that the last 25 years have revealed. The philosophy is the same: a car that excites you from top to bottom, that feels like a part of you. Not with the aim of setting fast lap times, but to enable you to enjoy every meter during a normal ride. Price? If you have to ask…

The model is not perfect. With 6,000 kilometers on the odometer, it is tested and tested through testing, repeated assembly (dis) and additional storage. The interior is small, the seams and cracks are not perfect and you can see where the raw aluminum has been processed several times. “We drove the car in the mud in the backyard with an empty chassis,” says Wouter. ‘You can achieve excellent highway speeds there. But you will never get rid of the dirt completely.’

Description of DeBruyn Ferox V8

Better than showroom condition, this one. This car is already live and gives you a unique look behind the scenes. It has hidden buttons and workarounds. In some areas it is still not compared to the production car – for example, it still has a 4.2 V8 from Audi, while GM’s 6.2 liter, 500 hp and 650 Nm power LT1 will be used soon. This changes the balance in the car, meaning that the petrol tank (which is now only 20 liters in size) has to be moved from the front to the back of the cabin.

DeBruyn Ferox V8 grille logoDeBruyn Ferox V8 grille logo

A removable roof is made for customer cars – you just get wet in this. And a small number of parts, such as headlights and mirrors, are borrowed from other cars. The ultimate Ferox – Latin for ‘fire’ – is handcrafted from front to back.

“Nobody does that,” says Maarten. ‘Even in Bugatti they use parts that you can also find in Volkswagen. I prefer to keep it all with me. I think it’s important that I do what I love and I don’t have to make any compromises in that area. That’s the only way for me.’

De Bruijn prefers to work alone

Is that also why he designs and develops the entire car by himself? ‘If I have to manage a team, I spend more time than if I do it myself. Because there are always conflicting interests: if someone makes the pedal box bigger for more legroom, suddenly we can’t come up with a windshield wiper mechanism. Or the seating position and sight lines are no longer correct for the TÜV inspection. The whole car is an organism, everything is connected. And I have it all in my head.’

Maarten de Bruijn DeBruyn Ferox V8 office sketchMaarten de Bruijn DeBruyn Ferox V8 office sketch

I notice when logging in that this results in a uniquely “correct” sum, even at this point. The rims are wide but low, you can lean on the aluminum ‘wings’ between the seats and the center console to lower yourself into the Ferox. You look around and realize with surprise that everything here, from the steering wheel to the gear lever and from the beautiful air conditioner to the hinge of the sun visor, comes from one person. And all of it is of beauty and impressive quality.

A sense of detail described by the creator

Maarten explains how the steering wheel currently consists of several parts, but will soon be made from one piece for a solid feel. How the gold-colored toggles on the thumbsticks are made of forged steel, but will soon be milled from aluminum. In summary: it’s good, but it all gets better.

  • DeBruyn Ferox V8 interior steering wheel

    Photo: © TopGear / Ingmar Timmer

  • DeBruyn Ferox V8 interior gear lever

    Photo: © TopGear / Ingmar Timmer

  • DeBruyn Ferox V8 internal fasteners

    Photo: © TopGear / Ingmar Timmer

  • DeBruyn Ferox V8 internal head

    Photo: © TopGear / Ingmar Timmer

  • DeBruyn Ferox V8 logo and pop rivets

    Photo: © TopGear / Ingmar Timmer

Then something stops: no stitch is visible. Not anywhere, not even on the seams of the seats and dashboard. “It is a difficult process, but the result is smooth and stable,” says Maarten. ‘Back in Spyker’s day, linked checks were special, but now everyone is doing it. So I wanted to do it differently.’ Yes, he also does the interior upholstery himself…

Driving the DeBruyn Ferox V8 is not what I expected

I am now so impressed with Ferox and its manufacturer that I expect that disappointment when I drive. After all, that’s when most prototypes are released with a bang and a rattle. But Ferox can be handled as if you were dipping it in oil with kid gloves.

A supercar, an automatic gearbox, lots of horsepower, so you expect an embarrassing moment when you let go of the clutch to take off. Well, he floats out of place. Great priority has been paid to the importance of all elements, because nothing should be out of place to spoil the experience. And so the weight of the clutch is proportional to the force you have to apply to the brake pedal. The click of the lever follows that of the indicator.

DeBruyn Ferox V8 side wheel running out of the cabinDeBruyn Ferox V8 side wheel running out of the cabin

The steering is the only surprisingly light. Until I get the hint to turn the switch under the dashboard – then it’s suddenly heavy and communicative. Maarten chose electric power steering because of its versatility. Now it’s still an on/off button, but the production car will have a sensor that measures how much assist you can use, so you don’t get (highway), too much (parking) or several assist points.

And there are more popular options, especially for a car like this. There is no skid difference, making it very difficult, and there are also no anti-roll bars. Due to the simple geometry of the wheel with zero camber and a low center of gravity (less bending tendency), the DeBruyn Ferox V8 does not. After all, it is not intended for track days and saves weight and stiffness.

Van De Bruijn could have done it harder

I travel my first kilometers carefully. A unique machine, years of manual work, irreplaceable – these are just a few words that go through my head. ‘It goes up to 7,000 rpm!’ Maarten encourages me from behind the old, breathing Unimog that Wouter has just taken out of the shed to use as a Top Gear filming platform. Smiling, more hand gestures. Well, if the man himself insists …

I gently lower the accelerator to the floor. The car vibrates excitedly as the engine revs. Fatigue, the civilization of consciousness right now, begins to roar without restraint. Isolation and upshift: the word goes without saying. Organic. Every movement, every action feels carelessly observed. No need to think – you go when you breathe.

  • DeBruyn Ferox V8 taillight

    Photo: © TopGear / Ingmar Timmer

  • DeBruyn Ferox V8 behind the cabin next to the Silvertris speedboat

    Photo: © TopGear / Ingmar Timmer

  • DeBruyn Ferox V8 drive side

    Photo: © TopGear / Ingmar Timmer

  • DeBruyn Ferox V8 driving in the rear

    Photo: © TopGear / Ingmar Timmer

There are not many bends here; straight, narrow roads with dirt and ditches on either side. The DeBruyn Ferox V8 has no drivetrain. Although I never feel that he is about to outrun me, I decide to limit the short straight runs to a few. In the circles I learn a little about the good behavior that Ferox changes direction.

The vertical axis around which the body rotates is near your hips; another physical factor that causes completely natural behavior. The chassis (now from Koni, soon from Intrax) has no problem at all with the 1,050 kg that the car weighs, but the good seat does with my weight – it gives a lot and offers little support. More of my problem than Ferox’s, but still: nice to have something to complain about.

Manufacturers seem to be increasingly aware that driving is rarely about performance figures or lap times. Upgraded monsters hijacked the clockwork, EVs with 1,000 hp have made the ‘0 to 100’ mode pointless. What makes a car special is the immeasurable feeling it gives you.

Gordon Murray, whose T.50 completely ignores the numbers, knows this. Restomods builders know this. And Maarten de Bruijn knows that. He couldn’t have picked a better time to continue his quest to create his own classic analog car. And if this Ferox has not yet stimulated you and is very addictive, you will have to dare to dream of the final result.

DeBruyn Ferox V8 diagonally ahead with Maarten de Bruijn looking onDeBruyn Ferox V8 diagonally ahead with Maarten de Bruijn looking on

We talk more in the autumn sun, like a bunch of car hooligans talking at a Sunday morning meeting. About Maarten’s 993 Carrera, which he gave as a gift when he left Spyker eighteen years ago. As for Wouters Unimog, it was bought new by his father in the 1970s and since then he has been working on this farm. And about the crazy barrel I ran with here, which is worth less than the Ferox handbrake, but I like it.

These men understand that, because they are basically just like you and me. Only they work day after day on something good instead of watching Netflix all weekend. A new Dutch sports car, use for a select few; and a lifelong memory for the boy who sees it. Who knows, maybe there will be a poster.