Donkervoort D10

I don't generally like red cars.

When I was a kid, my three most beloved objects for going faster than I could run were as follows: my pedal car, that I burned the plastic tires off of; my bicycle, that I used to ride around in circles pretending to be Alain Prost; and my toboggan—that I still miss! It had a single pop-up headlight and steering wheel, and was much lower to the ground than those silly GT Snow Racers…anyway.

They were all red.

Why that didn't translate into an appreciation for red machines now that I'm sort of a grown-up, I don't know—lord knows there are enough red cars to fill the Marianas Trench…where the vast majority belong.

The Donkervoort D10 gets a pass, and I'll tell you why: like my favourite childhood toys, the D10 does only one thing, and that's to haul ass. Ever wonder how the Red Ranger got to his Tyrannosaurus Dinozoid? Probably a D10. 

Built in 1988 and introduced at that year's Paris Motor Show, the D10 is the firm's 10th anniversary present to its customers. All of the firm's models are loosely based around the ethos of Colin Chapman's Lotus 7, though with each passing year they go further afield. 

What I like is that here's a small manufacturer, up in the Netherlands, just doing its own thing. And if a D10 owner pulled up next to a Ferrari F40 at a set of lights and a race ensued on green, the Ferrari driver would become quickly reacquainted with the feeling of incredulity. Donkervoort does race its cars, which is important, but not to the degree of its rivals.

In 1988, the idea of a track car was also a bit nutty—as turbochargers were spooling up in performance cars around the world, most manufacturers just wanted to cram a turbo, leather, sunroof, and graphic equalizer into their sporty models and call it a day.

Donkervoort instead made an even faster and stripped-out version of its already fast and stripped-out S8AT. Even from the start, the firm never really made kit car clones of the Lotus 7—this is proven by the surprisingly strong prices that Donkervoorts command even today. The least expensive one I could find was €35,000…for a middle-of-the-road 1996 model. 

If you have no money, as I do, this is somewhat depressing. But if you decide to go a bit crazy with your next sports car, it's not bad at all.

I suppose I should get to its performance stats. Donkervoort says that in 1989, a D10 did zero-to-100 km/h (62 mph) in 4.8 seconds, which is quite strong. Probably traction and tire-limited, too: I bet a set of modern R-Compound tires would do wonders for the car. Fitted with a 2,160-cc turbocharged Ford 4-cylinder engine, the first D10s made at least 190 horsepower and had just 670 kg (1477 lbs) to lug around.

A few sources online say that the D10 was made into the '90s, as finding 10 buyers for a car like this is probably a chore—but also that some later D10s may have been fitted with Cosworth-tuned motors and around 300 ponies. That'd wake you up in the morning!

In case you were wondering: yes, a helmet was a standard feature and came with the car.

Sources