Meet Donkervoort, Dutch maker of extreme carsNestled in the centre of The Netherlands is a small, family-run company that has quietly been making some of the most extreme road cars in the world.
The Dutch have a saying, God made the Earth but the Dutch made Holland. And it's true. Half of this country lies below sea level and a huge amount of it including this place where we are right now is built on reclaimed land. And that just sums up the attitude of the Dutch perfectly, if there's a problem They fix it. And if they want something they make it. This is a Dutch story. This is the story of Donkervoort. Netherlands might not be the first country you'd look at for car manufacturers, let alone those of blisteringly fast [UNKNOWN] green lap record breakers. But nestled in the center of this small country is a company that for 40 years has been doing exactly that. From humble familiar looking beginnings to radically aggressive track monsters Donkervoort has stood the test of time and evolved considerably along the way. It all starts with a lotus seven. As a teenager a young Joop Donkervoort Saw one parked outside a hotel and was immediately smitten. A decade or so on, and [UNKNOWN] finally had the resources to order his kit car, and he immediately ran into some issues. It became apparent that the car of his dreams wasn't And in fact, not legal for Dutch roads at all. They weren't big or safe enough to pass Dutch mol legation. If Joop was to get his car he was going to have to build it himself. [FOREIGN] That was Mr Donkervoort. Here I am out driving chassis number 4 of Joop Donkervoort's cars. And who should pull up but the man himself? All your [UNKNOWN] wanted was his Lotus. And now, he had the prospect of having to build his own car. And that's exactly what he did, but he was looking to build something to suite him better, to be a better all-around car. He really wanted it to be more reliable so he and his wife could drive to the South of France. He wanted it to be more comfortable and of course it had to pass those Dutch modification tests which included having a wider chassis. And the result is this, the S7. It's wider, softer, more comfortable. Equally elegant, there is something wonderfully optimistic about young man taking on a project, as ambitious as creating your own car, even when the platforms have already been worked on and you know its a trusted and tried idea, still having to develop it, sell it, make to customers. An absolutely daunting prospect, and somehow, a young Joop Donkervoort made it work. It will 78 on the paperwork, but we all know that this body style has been around for quite some time because it works. But, it was only the beginning. Donkervoort continued to refine and develop the S7 and eventually felt it was sufficiently removed from its origins that the S7 became the S8, a number that would stick around for quite some time to come. By 1988, Donkervoort was 10 years old. And time for a celebration, so they built this, the D10. Where Donkervoort had been making cars that were comfortable cruisers, the D10 was an unashamed track beast. Is completely minimalist design and 650 kilogram cab weight made those 188 horsepower on offer for a long way, giving it a 0 to 60 time of four and a half seconds which at the time was Ferrari F40 territory. Now the D10 was sportier but more aggressive Than any other Donkervoort that had gone before. But arguably what's most most important about it is its name. Donkervoort has dropped the S prefix of its previous cars and adopted in its own proud [UNKNOWN] This meant the end of the kit-car age, leaving behind that Lotus legacy and moving into its own automotive world. As a celebration model, only ten of these were ever made. Now, where the original S7 was an arguably more accommodating, more comfortable version than its Lotus counterpart This clearly is set up for the track, or at least some high speed enjoyment. The fact that there's nothing between me and the air coming crashing at my face speaks volumes to that. [UNKNOWN] was stepping away from it's Lotus origins and really finding a home for itself int he automotive world. But the D10 had been a limited production car. It needed something more accessible to the masses. Enter the D8 Zetec. If the name wasn't enough of a giveaway, this car was fitted with the new Ford Zetec engine and it was an opportunity to reengineer the car with a new chassis. Now the DA name is not just important to this car But in fact, every car that Donkervoort produced since has had that moniker. It was a sign that it was very much its own entity, not that is was beholden to other manufacturer's cars but its own unique mark. Donkervoort's relationship with Ford had gone back to it's very start. Every single Donkervoort had one Ford engine or another but by the 90's that relationship was being strained. Donkervoort would be looking for a new engine soon but before the company turned its back on Ford, there was one last hurrah, the D8 Cosworth. The D8 Cosworth would be the most powerful care Donkervoort produced with a Ford engine and seeing as it is a more powerful car, I brought along a more powerful driver. What I think Ger actually mean, he wanted to bring somebody else along to do the silly The hair shots. This is the DH Cosworth and it's actually in a very rare touring specification, of which apparently only four were built. It's also DH Cosworth sport version. So what about this engine then? [NOISE] It's very much of it's era, it's a two liter Turbo charged Cosworth engine very boosting and you can hear all that waves crashing on beaches soundtrack. Takes me back to the mid 90's certainly its this sort of engine you just don't get these days. We've got 220 great 214 pound sort of torque in this engine it feels pretty lively I can tell you its a nod 60 in 4.8 seconds but it feels quicker than that once its on boost. [SOUND] I wanted to drive a Lotus for a long time, ever since I remember it doing that [INAUDIBLE] large flat record. It's nice to finally be in one. I love all of the dials in here, all of the Jaeger dials look pretty vintage. And the VI done with these corners as well, with the swooping arches over the front wheels, is something [UNKNOWN] 1920s about it, which is lovely, especially the louvers in the bonnet. That Cosworth was the sendoff for the Ford engine [UNKNOWN]. The relationship had lasted 20 years, but by the late 90s, A new player entered the scene. Dr. Franz-Josef Paefgen was at the time the CEO of Audi after have held a high position at Ford. He took a shine to the plucky little Dutch company and a close relationship formed between Donkervoort and Audi. A first attempt at the collaboration came in the form of the D20, which would have been a celebration of Donkervoort second decade. It would have been a more powerful, stiffer and more aerodynamic car. Unfortunately before the project could be completed, legislation had change significantly enough to make the project unbuyable. Undeterred, Donkervoort and Audi plowed on, and cars like this, the DH 210 E-Gas Wide Track, would become the underpinning of all future Donkervoorts. Not only was there a new engine supplier, but chassis manufacturing had moved in-house as well. It was the dawn of a new era for Donkervoort, and time for us to put Henry back in one. So this is a DH 210. It's got a 7.8 liter four cylinder turbocharged engine is that you pick the engine that ended up in all sorts of things around this time, proper response isn't actually as good as the Dodsworth engine its much softer but the chassis on this is much Is more like it. I might have turned [INAUDIBLE] before. This has got much less roll, it feels much sharper. This is much more what you would expect from this sort of car. The engines much smoother as well. You've also got these new seats. To judge me, still used in the modern Donkervoorts to this day. I can see why cuz they're really good. This is a lot of fun, this little car actually. The Audi-powered D8 starts to take Donkervoort completely into the world of high performance. That reputation was cemented when a modified D8 broke the N��rburgring lap record for production cars. The news of this tiny Dutch company breaking such an impressive record quickly spread around the world. And, for many, became the first time they had ever heard of the company. By the mid naughties that relationship between Donkervoort and Audi was well established. But that one point eight liter four cylinder engine He had more to give. There was an opportunity for those who are to create something a little bit more interesting. Something a little bit more fun. And this is what they came up with. The DA It's GT. In the D8 GT, that 1.8-liter turbo-charged engine put out 265 horsepower. but with a weight of only 750 kilograms, 0 to 60 was just a shade over three seconds. Since Donkervoort has worked on the [UNKNOWN] engine cars The original idea of Don Gabor, to creating more comfortable versions of its Lotus 7 origins, had kind of started to fade away, in favor of more raw, rugged Track-focused performance monsters. And that's exactly what this is. Not long after it was developed, the opportunity came out for Donkervoort to participate in GT4 racing, so they did. The D8GT found its niche in endurance racing, even racking up a win in its class in the 24 Hour race of Dubai in 2011. This car in fact has some racing pedigree. It belongs to [UNKNOWN] the son of [UNKNOWN] who race this actual car in GT4. This then represents the pinnacle of what [UNKNOWN] were able to do after that [UNKNOWN] An eight liter, turbo charged, four cylinder Audi engine. But they couldn't keep on using this engine forever. A new homologation rules for emissions regulations meant that that engine just wasn't going to cut it. It's time for a change. The D8 had been the first and only closed roof Donkervoort. And as impressive as it had been, Donkervoort's customers really wanted the mark to be about uncompromised open top motoring The answer was a D8 GTO, o for open top GT. In reality, it only shared around 30% of components with it's predecessor and now have the same five cylinder [UNKNOWN] engine as the [UNKNOWN] In 2016 the most obscenely powerful Donkervoort to date was unleashed. The D8 GTO Rs. With 380 brake horsepower a 0 to 60 of 2.7 seconds and a carbon fiber body Donkervoort are now almost unrecognizable from where they started. Compare an S7 to the GTO RS and it's hard to imagine they come from the same planet, let alone from the same manufacturer. The sheer brutality of this car is testament to the evolution Donkervoort has gone through from comfortable continent cruiser to this, a brutal speed machine. Year has been a quite a journey. This year, Donkervoort will unveil the next chapter in his story with a cart commemorates the 40th anniversary of what's been an incredible four decades and I, for one, cannot wait to see with a small family run business as just so happens to make some of the ludicrously fast Cars in the planet, will go in the next 40 years. [BLANK_AUDIO].