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D8 to the MAX

By Sjoerd van Bielsen / Jules Heslouin (Designer Donkervoort)

First published in SUPERB the magazine for the Super Seven Club Netherlands


For the AUTOVISIE Design Classics series, they asked various design departments of car manufacturers to turn a memorable design or model from the past into the present. The choice was made entirely theirs. This is what Donkervoort came up with.

It is the modern interpretation of the eccentric D10. So, what does that special creation look like in the current design style?

What is the most special and iconic model in the history of Donkervoort? Judging by today's customer response, the brand-new limited edition GTO JD70 is a hit, just as the founder of the brand hangs up his helmet. The JD70 was not a tribute to Joop because of his transfer of the sports car factory to son Denis, but because of his 70th birthday. The buyers of the GTO JD70 feel particularly honoured, as it now appears that the 'JD70' is officially the last car under Joop's supervision, just like the F40 was for Enzo Ferrari.

But digging into the more than forty years of history of the brand, there are still a few special creations by Joop. In the prototypes category, these are the D20 and the J25. In the production cars, this would be the first S8AT with a turbo engine developed in-house. Or the D8 Cosworth, a super-fast and wild roadster. But the D10 is definitely one of the most iconic ones and is highly sought after. The open two-seater is experiencing a real revival and when a copy becomes available for sale, it immediately changes hands. That was different a few years ago when the D10 remained for sale longer than all other Donkervoorts. With the anniversaries of 40 years of Donkervoort and the 70th birthday of Joop, the D10 has become highly valued.

Even more than any of the other models, the D10 (right) followed the philosophy of a racing car: a cigar-shaped body without a windscreen with 'detached' front wheels

The D10 was the first anniversary edition of the Dutch car manufacturer. It appeared in 1988 and debuted at the Paris Motor Show. At that time, Joop had been active as a car manufacturer for ten years, although it was never his intention to start his own brand. He first started as importer for Caterham. When he went to the inspection with the first car, he was immediately told that the model did not meet the Dutch type-approval. For example, the fuel tank was not good, the car was too narrow, Joop returned home with a long list of points for improvement.

He was at a figurative T-junction: was he going to modify the car, or would he take his losses and quit? He persevered and changed the roadster on all the necessary points. But with the changes he had actually created a new car, and so Joop decided to change the name. A new sports car builder was born.

Ten years later, in 1988, Joop took a new model to the Paris Motor Show, not an evolution model, as he had evolved the S7 into the S8 and S8A in the years before. It was the D10, the first Donkervoort whose type name started with a D, the D from 'Donkervoort' instead of 'Super'. The number referred to the tenth anniversary of the brand. It is without doubt one of the most extreme models that Joop has ever developed. How did Joop come up with the idea? The car manufacturer wanted to leave behind the ever-present comparison with the old Lotus Seven and its followers. Joop proved he could design and develop a car. He would show the world that Donkervoort no longer relied on an existing concept. Which he already had done by introducing the S8A.

To emphasize the pure character of the car, Joop omitted the windscreen. For the first time the long fenders disappeared. The idea came from the world of Formula cars, they too have wheels that are visibly separate from the bodywork and no windscreen. Mudguards were fitted over the front wheels, as shielded wheels were mandatory. He closed the inside, which due to the lack of the windscreen made a lot of sense, as any rainwater would be thrown up towards to the passengers. The so-called cycle wings covered half the front wheels, this also protected the car and passengers from stones. Driving with a helmet was actively encouraged, as it was for Formula cars in the 1950s and before that. There were two bumps in the bodywork for wind deflection over the heads of the occupants. The D10 had no side windows and Donkervoort installed hard doors for the first time. Donkervoort has never made a purer car than this. Although only ten were to be built, Joop made it into something special. In retrospect you can say that Joop put too much effort into it. The investment could not be recovered with the small volume, but the wider tubular frame, the specific 2.2-turbo engine (190 bhp), cycle wings, absence of a spare wheel, flat floor, lower headlights, diffuser and the seats found their way to the regular models.

Let's hope that showing these sketches will also trigger Donkervoort to release the DX. Guaranteed that some customers immediately on the phone


The design department of Donkervoort has given the modern interpretation of the D10 the name DX. The X indicates that it is not a production model, but also refers to 10 as a Roman numeral. The number is in the grille. The DX also has no windscreen, but it does have a small wind deflector. This time even doors have been omitted and the cycle wings are in line with today's types. The third brake light is placed in such a way that it indicates how many copies of the DX exist, namely one. Digital indeed, exclusively for Autovisie.

By Julius Heslouin

“With the choice of name D10, Donkervoort clearly broke with the past. The reference to the Super Seven, the 'S', disappeared from the model names for good in 1992 with the D8. Today, in 2021, times have changed, but the passion and philosophy have remained. The D8 era is coming to an end after 30 years and that should be celebrated with a definitive picture of what the D8 could be in its most extreme form. Here's the DX. It is the most efficient and most radical Donkervoort, the version that embodies the purest driving experience. Moving on also means dealing with the past with respect. The DX honors what Donkervoort stands for. Together with the design and development team we came up with the DX, a version in which we omit all unnecessary things to make the car even lighter, sharper and purer than the latest specification of the JD70 R. In addition, at Donkervoort it is not about the car, but about the experience. The DX is the ultimate experience of being one with the car. We've removed anything that distracts our attention from the road. You don't get in the car, you wear it like a coat. While we as a design team have stayed with the DNA, we have also tried to look beyond and give the new D10 details from the more recent past. Like the taillight designs that mirror the D8GT.”



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