In life, there is a top 1% of everything. Whether it be those high performers in the workplace that are constantly promoted, or the highest rated pizza place on Yelp that people say is “the gooiest, crispiest, most tantalizing tango between tomatoes and cheese I have ever laid my tongue on”, these top of the tops are hard to come by, because, well, they provide an experience that beats out the other 99% (and sometimes 99.99999% as I will explain later). But they are only hard to come by if they have been sitting undiscovered for a significant amount of time. It’s funny because, although rare and unknown at first, once word spreads about the cream of the crop, EVERYONE knows about them. Such is the case for a small, intimidatingly-spelled Swedish hypercar company identified as Koenigsegg.
A Little Introduction
Before I start frothing at the mouth over this company, let me clearly show you how to pronounce this Koenigsegg word that I speak of. (Koe-Nig-Zeg). Now say it out loud. Read carefully; you can do it! Okay okay stop, at least you tried.
Alright, so let’s get to the meat and potatoes and explain what Koenigsegg actually is. It is a highly engineering-based, limited run, extreme performance-focused production car facility with one word on their mind: BEST. Their owner, Christian von Koenigsegg (Yes, as his name suggests, he is a genius), started with a dream that he would be able to make a car that would surpass all high-end car companies’ flagships in every aspect. So he assembled a small team of engineers, technicians, and a test driver in what I would consider the manufacturing and test grounds of the gods. He bought two retired fighter jet hangars and an airstrip! A MILE LONG AIRSTRIP! So his whole end-to-end operations are located in one place. He doesn’t have to spend a dime on moving his cars to some remote location to test traction control, throttle response, handling and the rest. He owns the remote location! That is unbelievable!
Materializing the Dream
So fast forward a bit (if you define a bit as 8 years of development) to Christian’s factory and test facility running at full force and releasing the first Koenigsegg branded car, the CC8S, a supercharged, V8-powered monster of a car. At the time, in 2002 to 2003, this car was one of the best of the best on paper, even compared to competition from Ferrari and Lamborghini, the two front runners of the hypercar industry in that decade. Jeremy Clarkson, the face of what used to be BBC’s original British Top Gear, even said he preferred the car over any of the others that were in the same playing field.
Utilizing a carbon fiber monocoque (a fancy and seductive word for a one piece chassis), 655 horsepower engine, electronic ride height control, and many other innovative pieces of machinery, this car was no joke. People may have laughed when Christian said his car was faster around a track than any other out there, but when it came to the second spot (only 0.2 seconds behind a Pagani) on the leaderboard in Season 2 of Top Gear, all lips were zipped. This once no-name small car manufacturer had gone from 0 to 100 real quick, and it earned them awards like the Guinness World Record for “Most Powerful Production Car Engine” at the time and “Excellent Design” from Red Dot in Germany and Utmark Svenst Form in Sweden. Below is a clip of the lap, reported by none other than the witty, lanky Jeremy Clarkson (skip to 9:35):
As time moved on, Koenigsegg’s cars evolved as technology changed the way that cars were developed and manufactured. In 2006, the CCX was released as a car that had a full digital electrical system, semiconductors and all. It was designed as a car to be homologated into global environmental and safety regulations, including the United States, which was a humongous milestone for a company so small because of the research and developmental expenses involved. Speaking of development, manufacturers relied mostly on hand modeling cars until they were finalized in the early 2000’s. They CNC’d most complex parts for the motor and suspension components. For this car, however, all body and chassis components were 3D modeled and cut by CNC. It served as an innovator to the whole industry, pushing other manufacturers to save time and money by programming human-replacing robots to perform overly complicated tasks.
Innovate Before the Innovators
On the spec sheets of the supercars and hypercars of today, it’s pretty normal to see carbon ceramic brakes, forged wheels, near-1000 horsepower numbers and 0-60 times under 3 seconds, but back in the day the CCX had all of these things when almost none of the hypercars in existence had them. It was an underrated example of the essence of what hypercars of the future were going to be. Not to tout the already shining reputation of all of Koenigsegg’s cars, but I can honestly say that their company was extremely responsible for giving the high-performance sector of the industry a push into the right direction.
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