Koenigsegg: the Brainchild of a Brilliant Swedish Madman

The name Koenigsegg is nothing new to your average car enthusiast. Whether your first encounter with the Swedish hypercar maker was the famed Top Gear track test – and crash -, or their unveil of the CC8S in 2000, you can’t deny feeling a primeval excitement when you first laid eyes on one. Over the decades, Koenigsegg has matured to become one of the most respected names in the performance automotive world. The company we see today acts as a near-perfect mechanical extension of its founders’ ideals – the product of 22 painstaking years of innovation.

The CC8S: a rear end that gets better the more you stare.

The CC8S: a rear end that gets better the more you stare.

Inception.

Though the company wasn’t founded until almost 20 years later, the genesis of Koenigsegg began in the formative mind of 5 year old Christian Von Koenigsegg, who, after seeing a Norwegian stop-motion film, decided to devote his life to engineering his own sports car. For a number of individuals who fell in love with cars at a young age, this doesn’t sound like too unfamiliar a story. Christian’s dedication to this dream, however, is what separates him from us mere mortals. Though the years following his epiphany weren’t always filled with automotive innovations, Christian clung to his obsession like a child to their favorite toy. Throughout his life he had been an innovator, never letting his failures cloud his ultimate vision. These weren’t your average failures, either. At just 19, he invented a new method of joining floor planks – an invention that, if implemented correctly, could’ve had huge potential for future development. His father struck down the idea, unfortunately, only to allow it to be taken up shortly after by a company that turned it into a multibillion dollar product. The final product even stole his original name, Click.

A young Christian and his kart.

A young Christian and his kart.

The Birth of an Icon.

Christian continued forward, and in 1994 founded Koenigsegg to begin work on a car that would eventually distinguish the manufacturer both aesthetically and structurally. The initial CC prototype was unveiled in 1996, and immediately captured the attention of the automotive world. Koenigsegg showed off his actuation door system, designed both for function and to put the Italians to shame. Swedish driver Rickard Rydell revered the car, expressing amazement with its driving experience. McLaren refused to acknowledge the car’s potential, but it was clear that Christians’s prototype had caught their attention. Despite the success of the CC, it would be another 6 years before Christian let a small portion of the public enjoy the fruits of his labor.

The dihedral synchro-helix door system in all of its glory. 

The dihedral synchro-helix door system in all of its glory. 

Cue 2002 and the release of the CC8S. In the 2 year production run of the CC8S, Koenigsegg released – wait for it – 6 whole cars. To this day, the car remains in the number one spot of my dream garage. From an aesthetic standpoint, the CC8S was unrivaled. Its exterior borrowed a number of design cues from its sibling, the CC, but with a more refined, curvaceous, early 2000’s look. And don’t get me started on the 5-spoke center lock alloys.

Two generations, one design (2002 CC8S, Left; 2013 Agera S, Right)

Two generations, one design (2002 CC8S, Left; 2013 Agera S, Right)

Going forward through the years we see consistency in the front and rear fascia designs of the CC8S. The design language that Christian settled on with his first production run car is one that has lasted until today, a method reminiscent of the Porsche mentality and the old adage “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”

Outside of his work on world-class hypercars, Koenigsegg devotes his time to experimentation with drivetrain modifications and other performance innovations. In recent years, Christian has poured time into Freevalve technology – his plan for implementing fully variable valve actuation. This system utilizes electro-hydraulic-pneumatic actuators to eliminate the need for a camshaft. Christian and the rest of the team anticipate significant improvements to power as well as fuel consumption as a result of the Freevalve system.

The Freevalve System.

The Freevalve System.

Most recently, Christian and his small team at Koenigsegg released the mind-bogglingly advanced Regera. Following recent trends in the hypercar world, the Regera was designed with a hybrid motor – one whose dry sump 5.0 Liter V8 combined with three electric motors is able to churn out 1500bhp. What separates the Regera from other hybrid hypercars we’ve seen in recent years isn’t just the sheer power, it’s the attention to detail and level of innovation that we’ve gotten so used to seeing from Koenigsegg. With Koenigsegg’s new Direct Drive system – KDD, for short – Koenigsegg hopes to overcome many of the shortcomings of hybrid drivetrains. In short, this system eliminates the need for a traditional transmission, a method you can read more about over at Koenigsegg’s website.

Long live the dihedrals. 

Long live the dihedrals. 

Long live the dihedrals. 

Going back through the last 130 years of automotive history, a number of companies and innovators stand out. We have Carl Benz to thank for the first internal combustion automobile in 1885, Henry Ford and Charles Sorenson to thank for putting together an endlessly applicable form of mass production in the early 20th century, and Ferdinand Porsche to thank for proving that mounting a 6-cylinder behind the rear axle is a formula that can actually work, just to name a few. Over the years to come, a few more innovators will join this list and be remembered for their audacious experimentation with automotive technology. Though we can’t necessarily guess what Koenigsegg will do next, Christians name will undoubtedly find its way onto the list.

Thanks to Koenigsegg.com, Car & Driver, and Lambopower for the photos.