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Why small tuners deserve your attention

3 years ago

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Dan Prosser | Ti co-founder


16 March 2021

Car manufacturers invest billions in R&D. They employ the most skilled engineers and development drivers, test forthcoming models in the desert, in the Arctic Circle and at altitude until they break and use powerful supercomputers to model airflow, heat extraction, torsional rigidity and all manner of other things. And yet some bloke working out of a lock-up on a tatty industrial estate somewhere reckons he can do better.

With all that in mind, why is it that The Intercooler and other automotive titles bother giving independent tuning outfits the time of day at all? If any company is going to realise the performance potential of a given car, surely it’s the one with hundreds of engineers on its staff, the most sophisticated equipment, enormous budgets, a dedicated test centre at the Nürburgring and access to the industry pool sessions…

But it doesn’t play out that way, does it? I’ve driven plenty of cars, from hot hatches to carbon fibre supercars, that have been tweaked and toyed with by small tuning firms and improved no end as a result. I see a handful of reasons why these companies are able to build on the work set down by the OEMs, all of which I’ve listed below. There are undoubtedly others, but these are the factors that seem most pertinent to me.

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