Corporate History

Top performance in suspension technology.

Corporate History

BILSTEIN – Innovative Technologies “Made in Germany”

The core BILSTEIN brand can look back on a 140-year history. When the company was founded in Altenvoerde (now Ennepetal) in 1873, no one dreamed what a great influence products from BILSTEIN would have one day on the road safety and driving comfort of the automobile. It was initially window fittings which were to give the company founded by August Bilstein a reputation that stretched far beyond the local regions into neighbouring countries. A number of patented technical innovations formed a solid basis for the later successes of the still young company. To satisfy the high quality demands even in the preliminary phases of fittings manufacture, BILSTEIN set up its own strip iron rolling mill as far back as 1919. In the 1920s, Hans Bilstein, who had taken over the management of the company from his father, returned from the USA to his home in the Westphalia region with some new ideas for methods of nickel and chrome plating.

Entry into the world of the automobile: 1928 to 1954

Thanks to the technical inspirations gained in America, BILSTEIN managed to gain a foothold in the automobile industry in 1927 in cooperation with the Levator-Hebezeug-Fabrik from Berlin. BILSTEIN supplied the first chrome-plated bumper for series automobile production, began with the manufacture of jacks and produced the first functional side-car jack.

Innovative inventions

In the 1950s, the company which would later become the success story it is today recognized the possibilities that were to be found in the discovery of the Frenchman Bourcier de Carbon. The oscillation researcher had discovered that the gas contained in every oil at a proportion of up to ten percent is bonded under sustained pressure. This scientific finding was to revolutionize shock absorber technology. The BILSTEIN engineers in Ennepetal used the French discovery to develop a production process without which automotive technology would be unthinkable to this day: the manufacture of the monotube gas pressure shock absorber. The introduction of the first monotube gas pressure shock absorber to a Mercedes-Benz series vehicle in 1957 by BILSTEIN, the former “fittings and jack manufacturer”, is still regarded as a significant contribution to active driving safety to this day. Ever since, monotube gas pressure shock absorbers developed and tested by BILSTEIN have found their way in top BILSTEIN quality into virtually all leading, performance-orientated car marques, from the Bugatti Veyron and Lamborghini Gallardo to the Porsche models 911, Boxster and Cayman. The list of the vehicles that benefit from BILSTEIN products in OE or series production or as replacement parts is long and is in no way complete after names such as Aston Martin, Audi, BMW, Ford, Jaguar, Land Rover, Lotus, Mercedes, Mitsubishi, Nissan, Opel, Subaru and Volkswagen have been mentioned.

Vehicle manufacturers place their trust in BILSTEIN products in all segments, because the suspension experts from Ennepetal know how to individually adjust the suspension requirements and driving dynamic qualities of every model. No matter whether series replacement or the sporty optimization of the handling is concerned, BILSTEIN applies its high-quality products to all vehicle classes specially customized to the intended purpose of each vehicle, from use in everyday situations to the race track and rough terrain. In some special applications in the premium segment, vehicles are equipped with state-of-the-art shock absorbers, such as the BILSTEIN DampMatic and air spring systems to combine driving safety with the best possible comfort and plenty of sportiness in the ideal manner. The carmakers’ increasingly more complex specification sheets are the driving force behind product development and the ability to innovate at BILSTEIN. The close interlinking of our own development work with that of the customer is an important chapter in the BILSTEIN success story, because only through an intensive exchange of ideas and experiences on many different levels is it possible to actively incorporate the customer’s requirements into the further development of the products.

Entry into motorsport

The success story in motorsport began around 50 years ago when Mercedes-Benz first installed gas pressure shock absorbers made by BILSTEIN into a rally vehicle at the Monte Carlo Rally and won at the first attempt. Ever since, motorsport without BILSTEIN would be unthinkable, from victories in the rally world championships through legendary titles at all of the most important 24-hour races to victories in Formula 1 races and world championships. The list of the drivers who have gone down in motorsport history with suspensions from Ennepetal is also as long as it is fascinating. Racing sport legends such as Klaus Ludwig, Hans-Joachim Stuck and Walter Röhrl celebrated their greatest successes with BILSTEIN. In 2012, the company celebrated a very special triumph at the 24-hour race at the Nürburgring when three racing teams equipped with BILSTEIN technology ended up on the podium.

Comprehensive product portfolio

BILSTEIN combines original equipment and motorsport development with aftermarket and tuning competence in a very special way. This can be seen by the wide range of quality suspensions for series installation to tuning and professional motorsport applications. It is not only original equipment know-how that flows into the shock absorbers but also the relentless attention to detail, which is expressed in the intensive road tests to ensure the optimum coordination of the shock absorbers. In addition to development and manufacturing competence “Made in Germany”, the BILSTEIN road test is a unique ace of trumps as a quality guarantee that every sport and coilover suspension has been put to the acid test in a road test at the company’s own test circuit in Papenburg or at the Nürburgring Nordschleife. Uncompromising quality and top performance are the goal of every BILSTEIN application.

BILSTEIN – partner to the automotive industry

The technical knowledge conveyed in the course of 140 years is the basis of BILSTEIN’s success. BILSTEIN is only too pleased to pass on its know-how as a leading suspension expert to smaller auto businesses. As a partner of the workshops, training centres, tuning specialists and dealers, BILSTEIN offers a training programme that is suitable to every target group. The suspension specialists are pleased to convey their experiences from development, motorsport, production on OE level and daily workshop practice under the auspices of the BILSTEIN Academy.
High tech in suspension technology has been very closely linked with high demands on driving dynamics, driving safety and comfort with the name BILSTEIN for decades now, and the company is in a good position to further expand this status in the decades to come. What began as a family company in 1873 has been structured as a group since 1988 and as a 100% thyssenkrupp subsidiary since 2005 with the corresponding economies of scale to open up international markets with BILSTEIN products so that more and more drivers all over the world can convince themselves of the benefits of shock absorbers and suspensions in BILSTEIN quality in future.

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