Author Archives: Alex

If you had the resources to build yourself a performance street car, what would it be?

I don’t know about you guys (maybe you could comment with your ideas), but my dream custom-nuilt car would look something like this:

The base of the car would be the awesome (and very capable) GTM Mk2 Supercar from Factory Five Racing. It’s a custom built tubular frame that’s very lightweight and it rivals the stiffness of many purebred super sportscars (the likes of the Ferrari Enzo, for instance), and has been clocked at very high lateral G values – a perfect starting point for our build. Furthermore, the kit comes with everything you need to get your project running. Check out a picture of the factory-built Mk 2 GTM and follow the link for a detailed description and more pictures. Great work, Factory Five!

In keeping with the lightweight of the chassis, I chose an engine which weighs very little, yet is extremely potent: the 500 horsepower, 2.4 litre supercharged RST V8 race engine built by Mountune. There’s not much I can say about this engine. Suffice to say it has won accolades the world over. Follow the link to Mountune’s website to learn more about it:

EXE-TC engineer racing suspension systems from the ground up for each individual project they tackle. They take into account the weaknesses in a particular chassis setup and address them when designing a system. Hell, they make Sebastian Loeb’s rally car suspension! How’s that for an endorsement! Check out their website:

The carbon clutch and carbon LSD I’ve chosen for this build are both manufactured by Carbonetic, and are both lightweight and durable. Follow the link for more information:

A performance car such as the one we’re (fictitiously) building here has to produce a soundtrack worthy of its looks and performance. Hence, I would go with a custom-engineered titanium exhaust by Capristo. Visit their website for examples of their work:

The transmission for our project needs to be lightweight and precise, and therefore the 6MTL650 transaxle from Getrag is the component of choice. In keeping with the project’s lightweight theme, this tranny has a dry weight of only 71 kilograms is actuated via cable and withstands a torque figure of 650 Nm. Read more specs on their website:

Sustained braking power with reduced unsprung weight is what a car such as the one we’re building needs. Therefore, I have resorted once again to MOV’IT and their excellent 6-pot ceramic brake system. Check out their website (and read the excellent evo article featured on the page):

The much needed downforce for our project car would be supplied by an APR Performance GTC 500 wing. Check out their website for more information:

HRE make excellent wheels, and the 20″ C95 Competition is the wheel I’d like this car to sit on. Visit their website for more cool wheels:

Gripping power would come from Michelin’s Pilot Sport Cup tires.

Further “amenities” which I’ve considered are:

Sparco R700 A seats in alcantara,;-harnesses-R700A.html/1/pid/40866/frmCatID/19224/

Dynamat lining/carpets for the interior and other relevant areas of the body,

and a flocked dash and selected interior surfaces

I hope this post has stimulated your inspiration! I find that building fictitious cars (or, God knows, maybe I will one day be able to own one of these babies) like this helps my imagination, in terms of looking for appropriate components.  Feel free to dream on! Cheers!

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Check out dedeporsche’s fantastic post on the build of this awesome 911 rally car!

Porsche Everyday Dedeporsches Blog

Another fantastic ebay auction

You asked for it.  You got it.  You wanted an all-wheel-drive Rothmans Rally Car and here it is.

“Ferris Buellers Day Off” Movie House & a Rothmans Porsche 911 Rally Tribute Car by jeremycliff, on Flickr

There’s some serious lust for Porsches–especially those with a more esoteric flare. Its a clone/tribute of the Rothmans Porsche 953 rally cars that ran around Africa in the early eighties. Very nicely put together and going for a fraction of the cost of a real deal version.

If you remember July of 2010 when the 2-wheel-drive 1980 Rothmans Rally Car sold to GoPro for upwards of $70,000 on eBay.   Although that car was stunning in everyway the owner knew he needed something more.  He searched the country high and low for the perfect donor and finally found an accident free, perfectly maintained, weekend driver, pilot owned, all original with…

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What I’ve driven

I have been asked to upload a list of notable cars I’ve driven, so, here goes (I’m sure I’ll have forgotten many, but I will update the list as I remember them). This list is also permanently visible in the “Author” page.

Owned: Daewoo Cielo (1997 first car – and proud of it!), modified BMW 1 Series 120d E87 (2005), stock VW Golf GTi Mk 6 (2012 – currently)

Supercars: Porsche 911 turbo (993) (1997), Pagani Zonda (2008), Lamborghini Murcielago (2004)

Sportscars: Porsche 911 Carrera 4S (996) Coupe (2001), Porsche 911 (996) Carrera Cabriolet (2000), Porsche Boxster S (986) (2003), Maserati GranSport Spyder (2006), Audi TT RS (2009), Audi TT S (2009), Audi S3 (2005), VW Golf GTi Mk 5 (2005), VW Golf GTi Mk 6 (2012), VW Golf R32 (2006),  Toyota Supra Turbo (1993), Nissan 350 Z (2006), Alpina B3 S (E90 335i RWD), BMW 6 Series 630i Coupe (E 63) (2007), BMW M5 (E60) (2007), BMW Z4 3.0 si (E85) Convertible (2006), Mercedes-Benz CLK  55 AMG Coupe (2007), Chevrolet Corvette C6 (LS3 V8) (2008), Honda Civic Type R (2005), Toyota Celica GT (2007), Mazda RX-8 (2006), Ford Focus ST (2007), Seat Leon Cupra (2007), MG ZR (2005).

Other sporty/powerful cars: BMW 3 Series 330i (E90), Audi A3 3.2 V6 quattro (2006), Chevrolet Caprice SS (LS2) (2004)

Heavily modified/tuner cars: Chevrolet Camaro (LT1 V8) (1993), Toyota Supra Twin-Engine AWD (~1400 bhp), Nissan 350 z (VQ35DE – 750 bhp) (2006)

Street cars: Audi A3 2.0 TDI (2006), VW Golf 5 1.6 (2006), BMW 1 Series 120i (2006), BMW 3 Series 320d (2007), Honda Civic Euro Version (petrol) (2009), Honda Civic Euro Version (2.0 diesel) (2007), Ford Fiesta 1.4 (2008), Chevrolet Epica, Citroen C4 VTS (2005), Chrysler PT Cruiser, Chrysler 300M, Chrysler 300 C (Euro diesel, 2008), Opel Astra H, I and J, Peugeot 107, Mercedes A Klasse 160, Seat Altea (2006), Seat Ibiza (2004), Seat Leon (2006), VW Passat 2.0 TDI (2008), Mercedes-Benz E 320 (2005), VW Polo Mk III & Mk IV, VW Bora V5, Chevrolet Caprice V6 (2008), BMW 7 Series 730 d (2006)

SUVs: BMW X5 3.0 si (2005), Toyota Land Cruiser 4500 EFi V8 (2004), Jeep Wrangler 2.8, Mercedes-Benz GLK 220 CDI (2011), Lincoln Navigator

and others, including some track day and single seater cars of which I can’t remember a thing! 🙂 Bear in mind that I’ve only included the cars that I have had a reasonable amount of driving in, as to formulate an opinion. I have deliberately left out cars which I’ve only had limited contact with (such as brief test drives).

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Porsche: I can’t help myself

As you all know, I’m probably one of the biggest Porsche fans out there. I’ve driven quite a few of them, both old and new. I haven’t however, gotten the chance to drive the new range of 911s and Boxsters – yet. I promise that, when I do, I will post a written review as well as a video of the experience. Until then, I’ll leave you with a picture of the new Boxster S Exclusive composition in Guards Red. I know some of you think that this latest incarnation of the Boxster has moved away from the traditionalist, minimal design language of Boxsters past. I’ve spoken to people who argued against the “too Ferrari-like” design of the roadster’s front, and to people who hate the way the car looks at a standstill: “it doesn’t retain an in-mootion look when stationary”.

I disagree. Porsche has finally moved into modernity with their new designs. Don’t get me wrong: I’m still appreciative of the traditional design cues from historic Porsches. But I thoroughly enjoy the fresh design of the new Boxster. I can’t wait for a proper test-drive to tell you how it feels on the road.

I can’t help myself at thinking, though (after all, I am a tuner!): how would this composition look sitting on these Vorsteiner VS-310 Forged 3-piece rims? In my book: perfection!


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One word: Lingenfelter

Let’s start things fresh by taking a look at the past: Lingenfelter. I’m not a massive fan of classic American muscle cars, but I am a fan of modern-day Corvettes. So, Drive channel’s presentation of the Lingenfelter collection was something I definitely had to share with you. It helps put modernity into perspective by referencing the past (something of a tradition here, on The Tuning Blog – see the “Ferraris: old and new” post).

Watch and enjoy (or weep)!

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Hello again, everybody!

I’m terribly sorry for the absence of new posts in the past weeks, but I have been away and not able to access the Internet on a regular basis. I am back, however – and most importantly, The Tuning Blog is back, and better than ever before. 🙂 Lots of exciting new things happened while I was away: my new VW Golf GTi Mk 6 has arrived (will be posting an extended review on it further along the way), and I have encountered numerous new cars and gathered lots of new tuning ideas – so, stay put and check back often! The Tuning Blog is back!

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More goodies

I said I’d come back with a post on another YouTube channel that I love, and that’s The Smoking Tire. Check out Matt’s drive of the VF Engineering ( Gallardo. And admit it: his chuckles & giggles are the best in the industry! 🙂 Enjoy!


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Switzer Nissan GTR

The Switzer is an amazing piece of engineering. It obliterates almost every car it runs against, making it one of my favourite tuned cars out there – aside from UGR Gallardos (I’ll try and dedicate a future post to them as well). Watch it in this episode of Tuned on the Drive channel, as it wins overall in an airfield battle against some of the best tuner cars in the US. I wish I drove one! Sweet dreams, everybody!

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All “go” and no “brakes” – a common shortcoming

I know it’s probably a no-brainer for experienced tuners, but lots of rookies don’t factor in increasing deceleration as a complement to increased acceleration. I’m sorry to say that, on many occasions, I’ve met tuners who have significantly upped their engine’s output without upgrading their brakes.

When asking these tuners why they didn’t tackle their brakes as well, the most common answer I get is: “but did you see how expensive those Brembos are?”. And I always try to convince them that there are as many ways to upgrade the brakes on your ride as there are ways to increase output – ranging from cheap to horrifyingly expensive ones. And a whole lotta’ brake brands as well, aside from the (very capable) universally quoted Brembos.

Again, when we’re talking brake upgrades, one doesn’t necessarily have to think “big-brake kits”. There are lots of cheaper options as well, until your ride (or your driving skill) gets to the level where it needs a proper  big-brake kit (increased rotor diameter and monoblock, multi-piston calipers). These can be one or more of the following:

-uprated pads

-braided brake lines (to reduce compliance in the braking system)

-reinforcing the fasteners for the brake master cylinder (some factory fasteners tend to allow the cylinder to move when brake pressure is applied)

-performance braking fluid (higher boiling point under pressure)

-uprated rotors (better heat dissipation, lower unsprung mass, reduced fade, better gas dissipation – in the case of drilled discs, better brake dust elimination – in the case of slotted ones)

-better airflow to the brakes (air drawn directly to the rotors via custom ducting from the front of the car)

When the need for a big brake kit arises, there are plenty of options on the market. Let’s go through the ones that I’ve come across so far: MOV’IT, Brembo, StopTech, Alcon, AP Racing, Project Mu, Endless, Wilwood. Adam’s rotors are also worth mentioning, as they tailor their products to specific applications. Stillen (that’s right!) make great brakes for Nissans (they also build the brakes for the likes of the Bugatti Veyron). Most of the important tuning houses for European vehicles also sell braking systems developed in collaboration with Brembo and the like, as do some of the Japanese tuning houses.

There are also some lower-cost brake kits out there, some better than others, but definitely inferior to the ones listed before, both in terms of performance and in terms of unsprung mass. The best low cost ones I’ve come across are the kits from K-Sport. Even though they technically are the same as D2 Racing brakes, in my experience, the K-Sports always outperformed their cousins and were more reliable. Wilwood also make some good-and-cheap rotor/caliper combinations. RPI make good cheap kits for european vehicles, especially older VWs. There are companies who also sell adapter kits to retain the stock calipers while fitting a larger diameter rotor.

Of course, there are other aspects of braking systems which cannot be addressed here, due to space constraints, but are worth mentioning: brake balance, friction coefficients, temperatures, noise, dust, stability, monoblock/multi-piece rotors, fixed/floating calipers, piston (pot) number, weight, fluid pressures, multipliers, ABS software etc.

The most efficient and well-balanced brake system I’ve tried was on an ’08 Impreza WRX STi. It was a MOV’IT with composite ceramic rotors (hence my eternal praise and preference for these kits – if there is enough cash available, that is).

Hope somebody found some of the information in this post useful! Cheers to all!

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The tuner’s manifesto (if there is such a thing)

Why is it that us tuners feel an insatiable need to modify our cars? Why do we do it? I have spoken to people who thought that it’s because we’re trying to compensate for the lack of access to a purebred performance car – since most of us can’t afford a supercar or a hypercar, over time, we try to make the cars that we can afford drive, feel and look better. It seems like a valid argument, doesn’t it? Sure, there are variations on this general idea: some tend to oversimplify it and end up thinking that we’re just a bunch of frustrated or otherwise flamboyant bunch of chavs, longing for attention; there are others (sometimes automotive enthusiasts) who believe in individuality, and put forward this argument as the main reason for modifying a car; others “blame” it on the never-ending quest for thrills – the need for speed (pun not intended). I’ve been told that it’s an addiction – identical to dependencies on substances, alcohol, or tobacco.

I believe none of these arguments to be true. I believe a real tuner is none of this. So, let’s talk through each of these ideas.

I’ve met dozens of tuners who own supercars and still enjoy driving or racing their modded VW Corrados. I’ve met tuners who own modified supercars. I’ve met supercar owners who tune their cars themselves. I’ve met classic car restorers and builders who drive heavily modded NSXs to work. So, it’s not necessarily about the lack of access to “proper” performance cars.

I know lots of tuners who are driving sleeper cars, both in Bucharest, in the UK and in the UAE. And I’m not talking your average turbocharged Rabbit built on a budget in Jack’s garage. I’m talking tens of thousands of euros put into 9 second daily drivers. I’m talking 1000+ bhp rides with no exhaust noise or flashy rims. As such, the “need for attention” argument fails as well, and so does the “individuality factor”.

I know tuners who have got multi-award winning cars – street fighting machines which have never been driven faster than the speed limit or have never left their expensive rubber on the tarmac. Some have never even set a tire on pavement. The “need for speed” is not a valid argument in itself, either.

Addictive? Well, sure it is! Aren’t all the things we take pleasure in addictive?

So – what are we left with? My philosophy is that we are all tuners, in our own ways. Every driver is a tuner, even though they might not realize or admit it. Think about it! Everybody who has ever bought a new car is a tuner – from the moment you add the first optional extra to an otherwise “stock” vehicle. Even my mother (who just drives her car because – and I quote “it’s useful”) is a tuner: she became one when she retrofitted seat warmers on her first car. You’re a tuner when you choose what tires to buy when your old ones get knackered.

It’s just that, some of us take it a little further! 🙂

Cheers to all us tuners, from all over the world!

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