Written by Theo König – September 16, 2021
Reviewed by Kfir Kedem
Dutch sports car manufacturer Donkervoort Automobielen has released its designs for their latest sports car, the D8 GTO. Donkervoort Automobielen has been creating sports cars since its establishment 36 years ago. By using high-end materials and implementing practices from the aerospace industry, Donkervoort has created a truly remarkable and innovative vehicle.
The D8 GTO positions itself as an ultra-light, but super-strong sports car. Every element of the vehicle, which is assembled by hand by professionals, is scrutinized for unnecessarily heavy parts that could be replaced by lighter materials.
An excellent example of this is the 2.5L, 5-cylinder Audi engine that powers the D8 GTO. Stretching back to 1996, Audi AG has been the developer of engines for Donkervoort’s vehicles. However, before assembling the engine into their vehicles, Donkervoort engineers modify (and lighten) several components, such as the intake manifold, alternator, clutch, and water pump brackets to achieve a reduction in weight of 30 kg.
The D8 GTO chassis, which is composed of the tubular steel frame and carbon fiber panels, follow the same philosophy – a high weight to stiffness ratio. The goal is to achieve a vehicle as light as possible without compromising the durability of the vehicle. The entire chassis weighs a total of 54 kg.
Many times, weight reduction is achieved through unconventional and highly technical methods. The D8 GTO doors are a prime illustration of this. Derived from the aerospace industry and never before used in a car, Donkervoort has managed to create a “one-piece” door, i.e., all parts, including the hinges, are fitted into one singular piece of carbon fiber. The advantages? The doors to the D8 GTO are now capable of withstanding a lateral force of 1500 kg (hinges can handle a force of 1100 kg), even though the total weight of the door is less than 1 kg!
According to Donkervoort, there is no area in which the company has advanced further over the past decade than in the use of carbon fiber. Whereas in the past, Donkervoort relied heavily on aluminum parts, the D8 GTO only contains just 10% aluminum, with the remaining 90% (roughly) being made of the high-tech carbon fiber material. Donkervoort attributes this remarkable advancement in technologies to collaborations within the aerospace industry. The interior of the vehicle, especially the carbon-fiber dashboard, befittingly evokes an association with the aviation industry.
Not everything comes down to lightness and robustness, however. For the shock absorbers, Donkervoort opted to outsource to suspension specialist, Intrax, who provided a softer dampening compared to previous D8 GTO models. This, along with an increased length, width, and wheelbase are responsible for creating a remarkably comfortable ride.
Auto Trendy’s take:
Today’s trend suggests a strong push towards the electrification of supercars like the D8 GTO. The likes of Lotus, NIO, and even Lamborghini, have dedicated themselves to creating a new line of supercars that are entirely electric. It’s almost refreshing, therefore, to see companies specialized in the supercar industry stick to combustion engines and aim to improve in other areas. Donkervoort Automobielen has done a splendid job in creating partnerships in other industries to get to the pinnacle of technological advancements, especially in the material sciences department. Beyond that, the D8 GTO is a stunning vehicle - light and efficient and yet packed with the most power possible. And it’s easy on the eyes.