JOOP DONKERVOORT - FOUNDER

How does one describe a man who has spent more than 40 years of his life seeking perfection? For the finesse that a true sports car must have? Who evolved his business from a start-up carmaker in a simple shed to a recognised sport car constructor in a high-tech environment? Joop Donkervoort shares many characteristics with those of equally self-willed predecessors, particularly of Colin Chapman, who he admires: real car people who dreamed about building what they believed to be the perfect car. And ultimately who realised their dreams.

In all modesty by the way, because that also typifies Joop Donkervoort. Even more sensational, how this small sports car maker had the guts to recently produce the world’s lightest GT, which lead to the mighty GTO open car. The GT was closed, larger than its predecessor with more power but still ultra light. One of the rarer Donkervoorts, the GT still combines practical driving and extremely sporty performance.

Hanging on to the light-weight credo while almost every other car became larger and heavier. Pushing his company under his own power against the industry flow. Typical Donkervoort. Only now are others retracing their steps. The enormous advantages of the legendary light, manoeuvrable and agile Donkervoort sports cars are cherished by aficionados of pure motoring. On Europe’s most beautiful motorways and on the tracks.

Joop retired from day-to-day operations in January, 2021 to concentrate on consultancy, design ideas, mentoring and the Donkervoort Advisory Board, after a decade spent grooming his successor. That successor is a man well known to Donkervoort customers and fans…

THE DONKERVOORT FAMILY: AN EXTRAORDINARY BOND

Calling Donkervoort a family business is spot-on but doesn’t do the family nearly enough credit.
The Donkervoort family story goes way beyond the classic tale of an entrepreneur following his dream with the support of the people around him.

It is no exaggeration to say that Donkervoort Automobielen is the family and vice versa. All the family members have a pivotal influence on the business in their own particular way, past, present and future. Joop’s wife Marianne has given crucial financial and business support for many years. Son Denis has evolved into a talented driver and successful general manager. And daughter Amber is a natural in marketing and communication and building the Donkervoort global brand.

All of them live and breathe the company ambition, philosophy, culture and entrepreneurial endurance. It’s true to say that without the family, Donkervoort Automobielen (and of course their loyal and dedicated employees) wouldn’t be where it is today. And even that doesn’t tell the whole story. Because they are close. They stick together, in good times and bad. Sharing much more than their name, their company or even their iconic sportscar. They share each other’s future, joined by an extraordinary bond.

A DRIVER’S DREAM

Driving a Donkervoort has been a life-changing experience for many people through the years. The end of their search for the ultimate in driving. The beginning of an intense and close relationship. Pure and advanced at the same time, a real driving experience many could only dream of.

That’s exactly what Joop Donkervoort had in mind when, in 1978, he decided to build his first Donkervoort. Creating an ultra-lightweight sportscar combining comfort, reliability, sporting qualities and practical usability with the ultimate driver’s dream. It was to attract attention from all over the world, in recognition that Donkervoort had developed something never seen before.

And that reality hasn’t changed since. Donkervoort still chooses to operate at the cutting edge of sportscar development. Always wanting to take their cars to the max. Even inventing brand-new materials that blaze a trail to the broader automotive industry, aviation and even space.  But never compromising on the driver’s dream. Because realizing that dream has been the goal throughout Donkervoort’s 40 years of existence.