The idea of building one’s own supercar to compete with the likes of Ferrari, Lamborghini, and McLaren would generally be considered ludicrous, what with the monumental strides these companies have made in automotive technology and performance over the past decades. How could one man’s vision compete with such established sporting pedigree and record-setting engineering?
From time to time, however, someone does indeed attempt such a feat and, on even rarer occasions, succeeds brilliantly. Such is the case with the Koenigsegg.
Christian von Koenigsegg created his supercar company in his own name in 1994; his aspiration was to build nothing short of the greatest supercar in history. Over the next three years, with help from a small but highly skilled group, a prototype was constructed using a radical carbon fiber tub and a litany of automotive engineering firsts. This car, named the Koenigsegg CC (Competition Coupé), was first publicly displayed at the Cannes Film Festival in 1997, and the reaction from public and press alike was overwhelming.
Confident his cars would find buyers, Christian left Cannes with nothing other than production on his mind. The first Koenigsegg customer car arrived in 2002, under the moniker CC8S. This car was entirely hand-built and set the stage for the minimalist, clean, efficient, and elegant styling that would characterize all future Koenigseggs.
Succeeding the CC8S was the CCR. The two cars shared many characteristics, with everything on the CCR improved, with tuned suspension, larger brakes, bigger wheels, and greater aero-work creating significantly more down force.
All these upgrades were made necessary because the 4.6-liter aluminum block, twin supercharged V8 had been tuned to produce an astonishing 806 horsepower. It would be this car that would dethrone the McLaren F1 as the fastest production car ever built, with a top speed of 242 mph — a record that had held for eight years.
Only 14 examples would be built before Christian Koenigsegg’s unwavering commitment to build the greatest supercar of all time had him create a third iteration: the CCX, with “X” commemorating the 10th anniversary of the first drive of the original CC.
A flat underside and tunnels in the back helped reduce the coefficient of drag to an incredibly low 0.30. Interior comfort was improved with better ergonomics, and an additional two inches of headroom were added to accommodate a helmet or taller drivers.
This car would be the first Koenigsegg to meet global emissions and crash safety standards. It could also run on 91 octane fuel and still produce identical power figures to the CCR. Amazingly, this engine is capable of accelerating the car from 0 to 60 mph in 3.2 seconds and return 14 mpg in the combined cycle. In the hands of Top Gear’s infamous “Stig,” a CCX fitted with an optional rear wing managed to lap the Top Gear track in a blistering 1:17.60 — toppling the Pagani Zonda F Roadster from its pedestal. In fact, the car sat atop the record board for nearly two years, a record time that its greatest rival, the Bugatti Veyron, would be unable to best. With this achievement, Koenigsegg became known globally and has since been regarded as the absolute zenith in “supercardom.”