Victor Muller is the founding chairman of the newly announced Feadship Heritage Fleet, as well as being one of Europe’s best-known businessmen as CEO of Spyker Cars. He’s the owner of the 1967 Feadship The Highlander which is having some steel work done at Ocean Marine Shipyard in Portsmouth, Virginia. His experience this time around is better than the first time he attempted a refit.

“She’s in America, so I’m not doing this refit at Feadship,” Muller said when we spoke this week. “About 90 per cent of my refit was completed previously. What we’re doing now is some steel work that was really overdue. She’s being sandblasted in areas that were affected by rust and being repaired. And I’m exchanging the original generators for very silent modern generators.”

After buying her in 2007, she lay in Fort Lauderdale, so Muller decided to refit there and do a lot of the management himself. In hindsight, he admits that wasn’t the right thing to do. “This was my first yacht and I applied my 40 years of classic car restoration knowledge to a ship,” Muller explained. “I can assure you, that does not work. A ship is so much more complicated. And you are so much more exposed if you find yourself working with the wrong contractors. I ended up paying through the nose. This time around, for instance, I’ve had Ico Vergouwe, Refit Manager at Feadship come over, audit the vessel, look at the yard, make recommendations. So Feadship is completely involved in the work. They’re supervising it and it will all be fine.”

Part of what Muller plans for the Feadship Heritage Fleet is enabling better advice for Feadship owners. “With the members we have who are well-versed in what it takes to refit these vessels—they paid for it, so they know—we need to try to help those who want to acquire a classic Feadship not to make the mistakes we’ve made.”

“The fact is, Feadship stands behind its products, even when they’re 30, 40 or 50 years old,” Muller said. “This heritage fleet idea is ground-breaking: It’s not been done before in the yachting world. And it’s very much in line with the work I do on a day-to-day basis with Spyker Cars.”

Muller’s aspirations for the fleet are ambitious. “I’m looking with one eye at the Ferrari Classiche, which is a factory-owned certification department where classic Ferraris are appraised in terms of their originality, recommendations are given to the owners about preservation, and restoration work can be undertaken,” Muller said. “A certified Ferrari will fetch probably 40 per cent more than a car without that certificate. I’ve suggested that over time, we should be able to offer a certification process whereby Feadship audits the vessel, comes up with recommendations about preserving a yacht’s authenticity, and issues a certificate. That would greatly enhance the value of the vessel.”

Only about one hundred Feadships of any length were launched prior to 1983, making the club an extremely exclusive one. “The owners are very dedicated and passionate,” Muller, who has owned the 1967-launched The Highlander since 2007, said. “People who aspire to acquire a classic Feadship will find tremendous comfort in the knowledge that there is a forum where they can exchange ideas, obtain technical advice and service or an audit, all because of our relationship with the shipyard,” Muller said. “We’ll be able to facilitate acquisition of all the shipyard information on a particular vessel. Those things, I think, will enhance the value of the vessels and increase the chances that classic Feadships will be preserved.”

Muller is keen to see the involvement of Feadship's dedicated refit team at their Makkum yard increased. "I'd love to see the yard getting much more involved in ensuring that refits of classic Feadships are done to Feadship standards, using proper materials and Feadship-approved contractors, so that new owners in particular don't run the risk of making massive mistakes with non bona-fine contractors."

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