Öhlins have been a major player on the motorsport scene for well over 30 years. Ohlins products – and successes – span almost every genre of automotive excellence on both 2 wheels and 4. The company was founded back in 1976 by Kenth Öhlin and amazingly, in this age of global merger and takeover, Kenth still holds the reins at the Swedish HQ. That enthusiasm and vision that transformed Kenth’s early designs into his first World Championship Title in 1978 are still exactly the same, it’s just that these days, his office is a little bigger… but now, with over 200 World Championship trophies to accommodate, it has to be!
Originally concentrating on his passion of motorcycles, Öhlins quickly became the byword for quality and excellence in the late 70s and early 80s. Öhlins suspension units gave greater control and feedback to the rider, resulting in faster lap times and immediate success. After Gennady Moiseev’s 1978 World title, Neil Hudson rode home to victory on his MX250 Yamaha in 1981, followed by Carlos Lavado on his RR250 Yamaha in 1983. At this point, Öhlins place on the top of the table of suspension suppliers was irrefutable.
In 1984, the company commissioned its first purpose-built Development Centre in Jönköping, Sweden and also took out a patent on the ground breaking CES (Continually Controlled Electronic System) technology. In fact, the Jönköping facility is solely devoted to the continual development of this exciting technology. Although the product portfolio was developing quickly, it was still motorbikes where we led the market in terms of quality, reliability and performance. This did not go unnoticed by the greats of bike manufacture, and in 1986, the Yamaha Motor Co. became a part owner in Öhlins.
Our refusal to compromise on quality mean that moving into the four-wheeled arena soon bore fruit. In 1993, Nigel Mansell won the CART Championship on Öhlins suspension and in 1996 we opened our US subsidiary in Hendersonville, North Carolina.
In 1991 Ohlins achieved ISO 9001 quality certification, and by 2002 we expanded the facilities by 15,000 square metres in Upplands Väsby, Sweden. 2003 saw the Öhlins CES technology become true OEM fitment with the first Volvo S60R leaving the works with the system being ‘factory fitted’.
In 2003 the pioneering TTX system for cars was released and it was also in this year that Ohlins achieved the highest quality and process accreditation in the form of the ISO 14000 Certification.
Ever one to improve our facilities, in 2007 a Distribution & Technical Centre was added at the Nürburgring in Germany. Here, Ohlins not only have the means to quickly get our products around Europe, but also the perfect method to test them on the most gruelling track on the planet. In this year, Kenth Öhlin also bought back a 95% share of Öhlins, making it one of the few major automotive businesses still to be run by its founder.
The current OEM (Original Equipment Manufacturer) portfolio includes some of the greatest names in the automotive sector. Ferrari, Lamborghini and Pagani all rely on the sublime control and comfort that Öhlins provides to give pin point accuracy combined with unrivalled touring ability. In the ‘real-world’ too, Öhlins is the choice of many leading manufacturers. Ohlins are proud that our technology is used by the likes of Audi, Mercedes, Volvo, Ford and VW.
Kenth’s original engineering excellence still forms the backbone of what we do today. Although the modern production methods bear no relation to his original workshop, his eye for good old-fashioned craftsmanship and customer service still guides the company forward as it create new lines and assist our racing partners to their victories. Today, the range includes bikes, cars, ATVs and even snowmobiles. Basically, If you can ride it or drive it – Ohlins can make it handle better. So insist on the Original Gold!
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