The history of Donkervoort goes back to 1978, the year the first cars left the humble workshop in Tienhoven. A few years later the company moved to Loosdrecht, followed in 2000 by the move to the current bright, modern factory at the high-visibility location along the A6 in Lelystad. This is where we develop and build our sports cars. Carefully, with an eye to detail. From chassis to suspension to body. And from the many high-tech carbon fibre parts to the tasteful interior. In 2014 a second branch was opened in Germany.
Since the early years, Donkervoort has built over 1,100 sports cars. First with Ford engines, and since 1999 with engines from Audi, with which we enjoy a very cooperative relationship that enables us to build sports cars with the most reliable, powerful and compact engines available on the market.
1978 – The beginning
Joop Donkervoort built the very first Donkervoort in 1978: the S7. The idea arose after the purchase of the Dutch import franchise for a kit car, based on the concept from Colin Chapman. It turned out, however, that this car did not have a type approval and therefore could not be driven on Dutch roads. When he learned that chassis modifications would be necessary to obtain approval, Joop decided to jump in with both feet, and a new sports car brand was born.
Tienhoven – S8
With the introduction of the Super Eight (S8), Donkervoort officially leaves the kit-selling days behind. In the early years, a total of around 140 S7s and S8s leave the humble workshop in Tienhoven.
1983 – Loosdrecht
Before long, Donkervoort moved to a larger factory building in nearby Loosdrecht. This is where the S8A was developed and built, featuring an all new chassis, independent suspension and electronic fuel injection. Later this model was complemented by the S8AT, which boasted a wider chassis and a turbo that provided an additional 50 horsepower.
1988 – D10
The D10 was unveiled at the Paris Motor Show. This was a limited edition model, of which just 10 were built, featuring new innovations and improvements over the S8A. With the choice of name, Donkervoort made a clear break with the past. The last reference to the Super Seven, the ‘S’, disappeared from the model names for good.
1992 – D8 era begins
In 1992 the last S8A was built and a suitable power plant alternative presents itself in the form of the Ford Zetec engines. This engine does not fit the S8A(T) chassis though, so the first D8 is born: the D8 Zetec.
1994 – Even sportier
Barely two years after the introduction of the D8 Zetec the car was put on a slimming diet: the D8 Zetec Sport was fitted with the first carbon fibre components, and the long fenders were replaced by short cycle wings. The D8 Cosworth and D8 Cosworth Sport followed later.
1993 – 2001 – Donkervoort Cup
For nearly ten years, the Donkervoort Cup was a racing class with and for enthusiastic and competition-minded Donkervoort drivers, with races in the Netherlands, Germany, Belgium and a number of other countries. Under the Arrive & Drive principle, drivers could arrive in their Donkervoort, participate in the race, and return home again afterwards in the same Donkervoort, often with a trophy in the trunk.
1999 – Start of collaboration with Audi
In the nineties, Donkervoort cautiously began looking for a new engine supplier and the response was more than keen interest from several leading figures in the automotive industry. Among them was former Audi CEO Dr Franz-Josef Paefgen. Along with Joop Donkervoort he was the driving force behind the development of the D20, which was to become the new super-Donkervoort. Audi not only provided the necessary know-how for development of the engine, but also supported many other aspects of the development.
1999 – D20
The intention for the D20 was that it should provide performance that was clearly head and shoulders above that of the Ford-powered models. One such design change was the switch to a transaxle powertrain in the D20, with a front-mounted longitudinal engine and transaxle driving the rear wheels. Other improvements included stiffening the chassis by a factor of 6.7, making the D20 significantly more aerodynamic, and upgrading the suspension. As a result of changes to European legislation, by the time the D20 was ready for testing it turned out a type approval had become unattainable.
1999 – D8 Audi
A lot of what was learned during the D20 project proved very useful during development of the D8 Audi. The D8 was given a new chassis, partly based on the D20, yet considerably more rigid. Initially, the D8 was equipped with a 150 or 180 hp engine, and from the very first races it became clear that this model was the top dog among the Donkervoorts. It effortlessly leads the pack. This is the rewarding result of the collaboration with Audi.
2000 - Lelystad
The new partnership with Audi led to big plans, and good sales results meant Donkervoort was gradually growing out of its location in Loosdrecht. With a world conquest and therefore even higher production numbers on the horizon, the decision was taken to build a brand new factory with a production capacity of around 100 Donkervoorts per year. The company moved into its new building in a prominent location along the A6 in 2000.
2003 – In-house chassis production
From 2003, chassis production also began at the factory in Lelystad after the former British supplier balked at the investments necessary to continue to meet the Donkervoort quality requirements.
2004 – D8 Audi (E-gas) Wide Track
Donkervoort implemented additional improvements. The D8 Wide Track was not only given a wider stance than the D8, it also got a new nose, different lights and other minor improvements. Since 2004, the Wide Track has been the basis for all new Donkervoorts.
2004-2006 – Lap record Nürburgring Nordschleife
In 2004, Donkervoort Racing broke its relative silence in terms of racing achievements by establishing a prestigious lap record at the German Nürburgring. On the Nordschleife, to be precise – Europe’s most prestigious and demanding race track. Practically from scratch, the standing record held by another sports car brand was pulverised by 15 seconds – a feat that was repeated in 2006, this time by a full second. For those in the know: in 2005 Michael Düchting achieved a 7:14:89 lap in the Donkervoort. Both years, the Donkervoort D8 RS, fitted with a fixed roof and various aerodynamic aids including spoilers, proved beyond a doubt to be the fastest.
2006 – D8 270 RS
The D8 270 RS was a tribute to the prestigious record at the Nürburgring. This lap record put Donkervoort in the international spotlight in one fell swoop. The Donkervoort D8 270 RS, named after the D8 RS with which the record was broken, was introduced in a limited series of 25 cars. Several improvements over the still available 210 hp version were the increased power of 270 hp and a new nose design that could accommodate more and larger coolers. The weight remained virtually unchanged. The D8 270 RS could pride itself on being one of the fastest cars Donkervoort ever built.
2007 – D8 GT
In 2007 the first hard-top Donkervoort was introduced at the Geneva Motor Show. Compared to the cabrio version of the D8, the technical design of the Donkervoort D8 GT was almost entirely new. In particular, significant changes were made below the surface. Weighing in at 650 kg, the D8 GT was the world’s lightest GT. The use of carbon fibre, in particular, contributed greatly: the entire roof, the whole back end, and the doors and fenders were made of this material.
2008 – FIA GT4 European Cup
After the introduction of the D8 GT in 2007, an invitation to participate in the new FIA GT4 Championship series landed on the doorstep at Donkervoort. Eighteen months later, Donkervoort Automobielen proudly presented the first two race-ready D8 GTs at the 24 Hours of Spa-Francorchamps. The first kilometres driven in anger were history and went down in the books as a success: Donkervoort took 1st and 3rd place in its class. And did so in the very first race!
2011 – Winner 24H Dubai
These good results also encouraged the desire to compete in endurance races. That opportunity presented itself in the form of an invitation to the 24H of Dubai 2010, where the D8 GT first did battle with a large and varied field of entrants. This would be the very first long distance race for the D8 GT – the ultimate way to test the car for endurance and quality. In its very first long-distance race the Donkervoort D8 GT finished in fifth place in the GT4 field and took 24th place out of a total field of 80 contestants. In January 2011 the Donkervoort Racing team took part in the 24H of Dubai for the second time. The Donkervoort D8 GT (in 24-hour configuration), driven by Nick de Bruijn (NL), Denis Donkervoort (NL) and Stéphane Wintenberger (F), took first place in the SP3-GT4 class. With this performance the team placed 13th in the overall rankings, among a field of over 85 participants.
End 2011 – Introduction of D8 GTO
In December 2011, Donkervoort unveiled the first prototype of the new D8 GTO during a sneak preview. This newly developed Donkervoort – which shared just 5% of its parts with the D8 270 and around 30% with the more recent D8 GT – was seen as the next generation of Donkervoort. The D8 GTO is fitted with the longitudinally mounted 5-cylinder 340 hp 2.5 litre TFSI engine from Audi. What’s more, the body is made entirely of carbon fibre composite components. The D8 GTO is also about 35 inches longer and 15 inches wider than its predecessors.
2012 – European small series type approval
In 2012, the latest Donkervoort model successfully attained the new European Community Small Series Type Approval (ECSSTA). This is not only accepted in all European countries, but also in Switzerland, Russia and the Gulf States. Not only does the approval demonstrate the even higher quality and technical excellence of the car, it also gives Donkervoort access to new markets such as those in Russia, Eastern Europe and the Gulf States.
2013 – First delivery D8 GTO
During the summer of 2013 the first six D8 GTOs were delivered. These Premium GTOs are ‘numbered copies’ with a very exclusive sports package, which will not return in the later production versions. After delivery of all the Premium GTOs, production of the ‘regular’ D8 GTOs is set to begin in 2014.
2014 – Founding of Donkervoort Automobielen GmbH
At the end of 2013, Donkervoort decided to expand to Germany, an initiative that will further strengthen its German activities. The new subsidiary, called Donkervoort Automobielen GmbH, is located at the Bilster Berg Drive Resort, a brand-new luxury test and events track in the German state of North Rhine-Westphalia. In 2017, Donkervoort eventually moves to a more central location in Düsseldorf; the location at the Bilster Berg Drive Resort will be used during events.
2016 - The return of the legendary RS
In December of 2016, Donkervoort shows the very first images of the next generation D8 GTO. Even purer, even more extreme and even faster, and the return of the legendary ‘RS’. Thanks to the significant aerodynamic improvements and a fully updated engine management system, the Donkervoort D8 GTO RS is the fastest and most extreme GTO ever built. In addition, the GTO-RS includes a première: it marks the first time Donkervoort has utilised the patented Ex-Core production method for carbon fibre components it developed in-house.
2017 - Opening new branch in Classic Remise Düsseldorf in Germany
In spring 2017, Donkervoort Automobielen GmbH opened a showroom and workshop all its own in the attractive, charming Classic Remise Düsseldorf, located in a beautifully restored historic railway roundhouse. The new Donkervoort branch in the Classic Remise offers a full-service concept – both in sales and after sales.
2020 – Introduction of the D8 GTO-JD70
Unveiled as a concept car to coincide with the 70th birthday of founder Joop Donkervoort, the D8 GTO-JD70 brought with it high technology, more power and greater customization. The first production road car in the world to crack the 2G cornering barrier, the sub-700kg JD70 also punched out 415hp from the five-cylinder turbo Audi Sport engine. It hit 100km/h in 2.7 seconds and 200km/h just five seconds later, and its body was 95 percent carbon-fibre. It brought back side-exiting exhausts, thanks to its particulate filter, had far greater downforce and introduced optional power steering, ABS and a paddle-shift gearbox. Besides the base JD70, it also spawned the bold (the track-focused JD70 R) and the beautiful (the Bare Naked Carbon Edition).
2021 – Joop Donkervoort retires, Denis takes over
After more than 42 years at the helm of the sportscar company he founded (and more than a decade mentoring his successor, Denis), Joop Donkervoort retired from day-to-day operations at Donkervoort Automobielen in January. Joop’s accomplishments are too great to list, but they include passionately guiding Donkervoort through its good and bad days, building a globally respected brand, creating concepts like the Ex-Core carbon-fibre process, turning carbon into art and giving the car industry a lesson in what true customer service should be. Too agile and fit to retire, Joop will concentrate on side projects, mentoring, consultancy and the Donkervoort Advisory Board.