Buyers of million-dollar supercars made by Koenigsegg, which has agreed to buy General Motors Saab brand, often take private jets to the Swedish automakers headquarters -- a former home for Saab Gripens planes.
Koenigsegg Automotive AB makes about 20 CCX and CCX-R supercars annually at its 45-person headquarters in Angelholm, on Sweden's southwest coast. The factory sits on a former Swedish Air Force base and has its own runway -- fitting for a family enterprise that sees stretching boundaries as a mission.
"If you're shelling out $1.2 million for a car, you can afford to fly to Sweden so that they can fit the seats to your body," said Carbon McCoy, assistant to the marketing director at Universal Autosports in Glen Cove, New York.
Universal joins Symbolic Motors' Las Vegas and San Diego stores as the exclusive Koenigsegg dealerships in North America, selling the cars for $1 million to $1.3 million. But prospective U.S. buyers cant test drive the cars there. The company does not provide its dealers with demos; instead, the cars are made after they are ordered and delivered in nine months to a year, McCoy said.
In the automakers early days, CEO Christian von Koenigsegg, 36, sketched out the cars himself. He founded the company in 1994 at the age of 22. The automaker built its first prototype in 1996 and began production of its first model, the CC8S, in 2002, its Web site says. Last year, Koenigsegg had sales of 106 million crowns ($13.8 million).
Halldora von Koenigsegg, the founder's wife and the company spokeswoman, said the company made 18 cars last year, a figure Saab would match every couple of hours.
"There are not so many companies like ours," she said. "We are a company that is focused on the big picture, on the pleasure of driving and on testing limits."
Last year's CCX-R made Forbes' list of top 10 most beautiful cars in history, but the buyers arent typical car owners.
"It's mostly people who have a multi-car garage, and by that I don't mean two or three cars. I mean maybe 10 cars or more," said Charlie Mannerfeldt, the founder of the sole Koenigsegg retailer in Sweden.
Mannerfeldt said his dealership, located in the upscale Stockholm suburb of Djursholm, has sold three Koenigsegg cars in the past three years. All three sales were in Sweden, though he said customers can be found all over the world. Koenigsegg began selling its cars in the United States last year. McCoy said his store has sold two since it became a licensed dealer in May 2008.
Enthusiasts debate whether the CCX-R's top speed of 250-plus mph holds the world record or whether similar claims about the Bugatti Veyron put it on top, McCoy said. Koenigsegg's CCX "Edition" version can go from zero to 300 kph (186.4 mph) in 13.7 seconds, according to its Web site.
Both Koenigsegg models can be converted to run on E-85, a mix of ethanol and gasoline. The CCX typically has 806 hp; the figure jumps to 985 hp on the E-85 version. The CCX-R's 900-plus hp climbs to 1,018 on E-85.
"You get 24 miles per gallon in the cars, which is absolutely unheard of out of a $1.2 million supercar," McCoy said.
Von Koenigsegg visited the New York store last year.
"He has a dry sense of humor," McCoy said of von Koenigsegg. "He's a very humble guy -- very soft-spoken."
And his dress?
"Nothing flashy -- not like other European auto-manufacturer, boutique-sports-car guys," McCoy said. "He's pretty low-key."
The automaker's Web site says von Koenigsegg began dreaming of creating sports cars at age 5, when he watched a Norwegian cartoon about a bicycle repairman who builds a race car.
On the Web site, von Koenigsegg says "only the best will do" in his company's creative process.
"I truly feel that our cars have souls," he says.
The CEO is "extremely intelligent, so this is not something that he would do out of emotion," McCoy said about the potential purchase of Saab. "If he bought them, then it's for a very good reason."
Koenigsegg unveiled the Quant, a solar-electric car, in March at the Geneva auto show. If it goes into production, it would be the company's first electric car, McCoy said.
How Koenigsegg and Saab will fit is an open question, as they are at opposite ends of the industry spectrum. But a Koenigsegg investor told the Norwegian newspaper Dagbladet the automaker is confident it can secure Saab's future.
"We think it is possible, and we have several good solutions to bring with us into Saab," said Norwegian entrepreneur Bard Eker, whose Eker Group holding company owns 49 percent of Koenigsegg.
Commentators in Sweden have questioned whether Koenigsegg would have the financial muscle or industrial know-how to run Saab.
Eker told Dagbladet "several investors" were backing the bid, but he would not comment on the amount of money and who is involved.
"I want to make one thing clear: We are not buying Saab just to chop it up, he said. That's not what we do.
Reuters contributed to this report.