- Back when the Opium Wars were raging and the Civil War things were starting to brew in America, and there was a whole bunch of other stuff that was happening in the world that we'd probably rather just not talk about, there was a company that was formed and the company is now probably considered one of the largest shock absorption companies in the world. This episode of Suspension History is all about the history of KONI Shocks. So KONI was founded in 1857 in Oud-Beijerland. Oud-Beijerland, in the Netherlands. I probably murdered that saying. I'm sorry, I don't know. I don't speak Netherlands, but what you can know is that KONI was founded by really not making anything that had to do with car components, because back in 1857, the all after market automotive community was pretty limited. I can't imagine why. KONI was founded by a ma (record scratches). Na. KONI was founded, oh my God! (deep voice) KONI was founded by a man named A. De Koning. They hit the ground running, literally. Get it? Because they weren't making anything that had to do with automobile components, they actually were making stuff for horses. Get it? Hit the ground running, horses, horses like to run, that's a terrible drill. You see, back in the day there was a transition of companies deciding that they were gonna stick to the old horses automobile carriage system, or if they were gonna jump on the board onto this new technology. And KONI was one of those companies that said, I mean, yeah, let's try out this new stuff. By 1918, KONI was making everything that you can possibly imagine with spring covers and different parts for automobiles, anything that they could actually get their hands on that had to do with essential metal fabrication or creation. KONI began to get involved with car panel beating and spraying and everything in between, so that they could make a couple of extra bucks and it became clear that KONI was going to stick around into this market because, well, the automobile continued to grow until one of the largest technology advancements of the early 20th century. Things were beginning to go very well for KONI, and by 1932 they finally began to delve into the subject of what KONI is now known for, which was their first friction shock absorber. Now, they were more like dampers, which we won't get into the technical term, but back in the day there were probably more of a damper that they were a shock absorber. Early units were meant solely to dampen suspension movement and limit oscillations. They weren't really that extravagant or that creative or customized.
You know, back in the day, and if you look at the product now, it's a pretty fundamental tool, but back in the day, it was pretty progressive and probably considered one of the founding things that may had KONI stand out as one of the most progressive suspensions companies, in well, the 20th century. So while KONI was beginning to dive into different sort of shock absorbers and things like that, they were also making products for other sort of things. They were making manifolds and different sort of automobile components because there was a huge amount of demand for these specific products, and because of where KONI was in the Netherlands at the time, they really had a lot of space to grow and there was a lot of companies surrounding the Netherlands that needed products that they could supply for, well, a relatively good price. But, KONI really didn't dive too far into all that other stuff, because they wanted to get into a specific shock absorber that could, well, do everything that people wanted it to do. So, in 1945, KONI developed and introduced probably the most revolutionary shock absorber which was just called the KONI Shock Absorber. It was the first telescopic, adjustable shock absorber to hit the market back in 1945. This thing was adjustable, double bla, bla, bla, bla, bla, bla, bla. This adjustable hydraulic double acting damper was like revolutionary for the product at the time, and it was so infamous that when it was introduced into Motorsport, it pretty much changed the game. It was so successful that it was even put as an option for the Porsche Carrera 356. Although it's only adjustable for a rebound damping, it was considered a pretty revolutionary thing because it allowed race car drivers and teams to adjust for suspension on the fly due to the track circumstances that, well, before just really wasn't a thing. And not only did the adjustability allowed for a lot of race car teams and stuff like that to adjust for different circumstances, it was also stiffer in both compression and rebound.
So, a lot of the OEM things that were coming in cars, were pretty much junky when they compared it to the KONI shocks that were getting introduced. They were doing so well that Ferrari made it just the shock to put into their cars at the time, and it was an optional fitted thing for Porsches is you wanted to get it at the time. In fact, it was such a revolutionary product, that even Porsche, when you opted to buy the KONI shocks in addition to your, you know, Porsche, you could even get a certain map and graph that would tell you where you needed to set the KONI shocks if you were doing rally cross, auto-cross, or you know, hill climbing. KONI continued to have a lot of the backing of high-end Motorsport teams to continue their technology improvements on their shock absorbers. By 1955 rolled around, KONI was doing very well. They participated in the Tulpen Rally, they were involved in Formula 1 racing, they had partnered with Ferrari to help them with their shock absorbing issues or problems at the time. Apparently Ferrari wasn't having a very good time in the Formula 1 track. And when KONI got into Formula 1 they looked around and just like that cool high school person that walks into middle school for the first time they're like (makes licking sounds), we're gonna teach you some things. KONI continued to revolutionize the shock absorber and the damper because they introduced a product that would allow you in Formula 1 racing, to put a spring around the damper to create a more complex and to make it smaller, saved weight, and helped with all sorts of weight issues. So they were doing pretty good and they never left Motorsport, even to this day you can see KONI involved in pretty much every facet, subgroup, subcategory and different division of Formula 1 racing. You can go out there and see the 9,000 different groups that Formula 1 has and the subsidiaries and KONI is pretty much plastered all over the place. 1971 came around and they began actually winning stuff. And it was working really well for KONI 'cause all they had to do was keep continuing on making new and adjustable products that people wanted, and they were pretty much in like flin. And to this day, KONI still does just that.
They make new products that work for the people that they need it to work for. But besides that, KONI really doesn't do a whole lot of extra stuff to be in the limelight when it comes to Motorsport and different sort of, you know, after market car stuff. What was once a tiny shop in the Netherlands turned into a huge conglomerate of different sort of products and services that KONI began to offer. Then, in 1972, they were purchased out by a company called ITT. ITT is a conglomerate of different companies, diversified portfolios, and all sorts of boring banking terms that pretty much makes you think that they could be umbrella, if you really wanted to look into it deep enough, because KONI turned into an entire division of this ITT group. They turned into the motion and flow control segment. Wow, that's exciting. But, from there the rest is history. So the good news is that KONI got to be involved in all sorts of Motorsports air of things and continue to make products and shock absorbers and partner with different sort of spring and suspension companies all across the world. They make all sorts of expensive stuff, but the bad news is that really they started to get involved in stuff that's not car related that they can end up probably make a whole hell of a lot more money with. They really just make stuff that works for every application, and just like we talked about with Airlift and the bags being used for a lot of different stuff that we don't even think about, KONI is the same way, and KONI isn't like a coil over suspension company and they're not going to be one of those brands that's gonna boast about how extensive their research is in just one segment. Because they're one of those brands that's just pretty much everywhere. It's kind of like Disney, you don't know what they're involved in until you start diving deeper and deeper into the company. But the fact that they're still involved in the Motorsport era is cool to seeing, but KONI is doing a very good job at being in the market, and they probably aren't gonna go anywhere. This week's winner goes out to Ruben Federico. If you would want to email us at firstname.lastname@example.org, we will get you set up with your free goodies. This week's comment is, well, you know what, Apple or Android, which actually isn't even a question because we all know that you're gonna choose Android because we're all adults in the comment section, right?
We're not a bunch of those college, okay, never mind that's our target market. By the way, last episode I drank a Busch Light and immediately fell into a just barrage of feeling very American talking about everything I needed to know about Tim McGraw, and just, you know, listen to Country for the next five days. Then we had a subscriber message us and let us know that he wasn't very impressed with our beer of choice. I told him that if he wanted to come along and drop off whatever beer he wanted, I would more than happy give him a shout out because, you know, free beer is free beer, so let's just do it. And well, Brian did, he dropped off four cases of Sp
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