At first sight a Donkervoort may look like just another Lotus Seven clone, but closer inspection will reveal that there is much more to the cycle fendered sportscar. All cars are hand built in a small facility in The Netherlands to high quality standards rarely found on the kit-cars constructed on the British side of the North Sea. The build quality is matched by the chassis’ excellent road holding and a choice of powerful four cylinder engines.
After using Ford (Cosworth) engines for many years, Donkervoort teamed up with Audi exclusively from 1999 when the D8-150 and D8-180 were introduced. The engines were identical to the five valve per cylinder turbocharged straight four used in the contemporary Audi S3. The difference between the models consisted of different performance of the engine, which produced 150 and 180 bhp respectively. The power gain was achieved by using an intercooler in the latter. Later on a 210 bhp version was added to the line-up.
The Audi engine is installed in a spaceframe chassis, which is similar in design to the original Lotus Seven, but highly modified to increase the stiffness. Double wishbone suspension and adjustable dampers make sure it corners as fast as it accelerates. For the body only the lightest materials like aluminum are used. A completed car weighs in at only 630 kg, which gives the D8 a power to weight ratio matched only by supercars. Another advantage of and a reason for the light weight is the complete lack of electronic aids.
In November 2004 Donkervoort shocked the motoring world, when a specially prepared version of the D8 set a new record at the Nurburgring Nordschleife, considered by many as the benchmark track for a performance car. The old record set by a Porsche Carrera GT was beaten by 15 seconds. The car used was equipped with a 350 bhp version of the Audi engine and a hard top for better aerodynamics. To make the record count, Donkervoort offered the D8-270 RS, which was closely related to the record car. The production run of this stunningly quick road car is limited to 25 examples.