Lock up your kinfolk.
A long time ago on this sceptred isle, hordes of Danes visited the land, leaving behind language and place names, farming principles and legal terminology which (given plenty of time) helped the establishment of parliament. Many years on, the Danes have returned, albeit in far lesser numbers but equally as fierce. Behold Zenvo.
Using the first two and last three letters of his surname, Troels Vollertsen founded the company in 2007. Not that his eponymous cars require more muscle, the badge has that name underlined. Should you question deeper, Thor’s hammer lies quietly inverted, ready to strike. Well, if it’s good enough for lighting up Volvos…
Following a childhood spent tinkering with anything containing an engine, his supercar moment was an encounter with the Lamborghini Countach LP400 poster. Vollertsen’s automotive career began in a garage close to Præsto, sweeping floors, dishing out tools, anything to be surrounded by cars. After his university studies, he worked for a number of manufacturers, but determined to set up on his own while keeping the concern wholly Danish. Dissuaded by many, he would observe, “Modena is hardly a bustling metropolis, is it?” Unfolding the plans in his head, the realisation dawned a designer was required to clothe his vision. Step forward Christian Brandt.
Brandt, perhaps best known for his work on the Alfa Romeo 8C, studied at the Danish Design School (1995-99) for a BA in Industrial Design followed by an MA (1999-01) at the UK’s Royal Collage of Art. Returning from Turin, Brandt took up a position with Kleeman, a Danish Mercedes emboldener where he met Vollertsen, then Head of Development. Exchanging ideas led to work towards the Zenvo ST1. Honed over six years, the title alludes to the twin charging systems of both super- and turbocharging. Revealed to the world at the 2009 Le Mans, very few had heard of this mjölnir with its 6.8 litre, handmade in Denmark engine. Producing over 1100bhp, the supercar world took notice.
Vollertsen’s cars were and remain not simply about ultimate power and rocket ship speeds. He appreciates what the competition build, but wants his cars to create emotions, elicit rewarding responses yet should one wish, be friendly enough to become a daily driver. “I want the car to be useable, tactile, not digital and devoid of character.” Even in Wet Mode, the components allow 650bhp, Sport eking out two hundred more, whilst Race the full 1104 beans.
Catching the industry off guard yet receiving rave reviews, ST1’s first deliveries came in 2012 – Troels happy to be the ‘underdog‘.
Meanwhile his desire to keep Zenvo matters close to home border on the obsessive. With their own heavily used autoclave, the carbon fibre wheels, stronger and lighter than alloy, take two weeks to create, as 550 layers are all handled by humans. A workforce comprising less than two dozen create just five cars per year. The gearbox is a combination of synchronised transmission for the everyday with a race-derived dog box with clever software applications. How does F1-aping shifts of 30 milliseconds, sound?
Still finding progression past the badge difficult? Brandt’s hyper-aggressive bodywork deflecting your thoughts? Perhaps then to the Centripetal rear wing that cuts and swages like a Viking blade of old. Patented by Zenvo, this active aerodynamic appendage moves exactly to your inputs. Acting as an air brake or tilting to aid traction, the twin rotational axes are certainly not the place for one’s coffee mug. “It looks a bit odd in operation but works superbly” Troels observes. Don’t expect to see the Centripetal wing (actively working) on a F1 car anytime soon.
2015: In house developments created the world’s fastest fastest single clutch gearbox, traction control, launch control and ESP. For 2016, the TS1 GT became a road biased Grand Tourer with marginally less aggressive bodywork (and a fixed rear wing) with an engine capacity decreased to 5.8 litres. Still enough to propel this 1,580Kg Viking longship to 233mph. 0-62 but three seconds. Very Danish Top Trumps and this isn’t even the top!
With a uniquely Danish temperament, Zenvo continue to plough its own technological furrow. As word and interest spread, they are presented with that difficult choice for let’s face it, a small yet insanely valuable niche operation. Expansion.
Vollertsen points out that his English is far better than his Chinese. “America has its own unique car culture along with the clientele to justify us being there. Our essential dealership backup will start in California, Florida and New York with Canada to follow, maybe.” These, along with plans to go with home-grown hybrid power. “An EV race car may do a lap or two. Our customers spend days at the track so I believe a hybrid offers that blend of sustained speed, agility and user friendliness.”
Back in the real world, Troels Vollertsen drives a Lada Niva but would love to “own a 911 for the daily with a TSR-S for the weekend. It’s such an amazing car to drive.” One could take the route from the dale, over the beck and up the fell, right at the Kirk, careful to avoid the scar before entering the garth of the racetrack. Bring spare fuel and tyres.
The story then is somewhat familiar. Unknown Norse assailant pops over for a dust up, is handsomely victorious before integrating with the now defeated population. Just don’t expect to see a Zenvo on any street corner. Hypercars don’t come cheap.
 The brakes are made in Liverpool, a former Roman port the Vikings possibly used.
 The TSR-S was released at Palexpo 2018. It’s 250Kgs lighter with a 44/56 weight distribution. The tub is a steel/aluminium blend, carbon fibre clad, hence the weight approaching 1,500Kgs. 1,177bhp and 800 torques, nudging a double ton v-max. 0-62 is 2.8 seconds.
 Viking derived phrases still used today.
Data Sources: zenvo.com, robbreport.com
5 thoughts on “Danelaw”
I might have had a chat with Christian Brandt at some point more than a decade ago. I´d forgotten about this company – it´s nice to see the work reach fruition.
Whitby, Scoresby – towns ending in “by” are ones given a Danish name. “by” means town. Some of the “-gates” are derived from “gade” meaning street.
The centripetal wing seems a touch Heath Robinson, though at least it furnishes Zenvo with a USP, while the similarly intentioned variable ducting found on the Huracan Performante might be a trifle more elegant. However, it’s difficult to glean whether either’s true effectiveness is worth the complication.
The rear wing surely is the result of one Premier Ijs with rum too many but five year olds like it.
Looks like it could be a fun car to drive. It’d be interesting to experience it to see how well the tilting wing works for you.
May there be many, many more (of Zenovos and of people like Vollertsen). It is a disgrace that governments, bureaucrats, their slug minded enforcers, politicians, the coerced, the envious and the compliant act in ways to prevent or even destroy passion and creativity.
I hadn’t come across this company, so thank you for highlighting it, Andrew.
Carwow tested the TSR-S, recently, and it’s clear it’s quite a car. Mind you, for €1.5m before taxes, it ought to be. I think they’re only going to produce 15 of them. They make most of their own parts (even air vents, etc) and they even make their own carbon fibre, which is pretty impressive. Not my sort of thing, even as a fantasy (too brutal) but good luck to the company and those who buy them.