By on September 13, 2021

Twinsterphoto/Shutterstock.com

Whether it’s adapting to a rapidly changing performance landscape or overcoming the encryption that’s being built in to cars’ electronic brains, it’s tough to be a tuner these days. But you know what they say, “When it rains, it pours.” And, for aftermarket performance tuners, the hits just keep on coming.

Don’t take my word for it, though. Ask Brent Leivestad, the owner of a small Colorado speed shop called PFI Speed who just got hit with an $18,000 EPA fine – a fine that, if not paid within 30 days, could increase to $180,000.

(Read More…)

By on August 11, 2021

Joyseulay/Shutterstock.com

The Fast and Furious franchise gets a lot wrong when it comes to tuning cars – but what thing it gets mostly right is the spirit of family that comes with that lifestyle.

Normal people don’t tune their cars,” the great Jack Baruth told me, years ago. “Normal people buy Camrys and don’t think about their cars at all until it’s time to buy their next one.”

(Read More…)

By on July 21, 2021

Picture used with permission from Dan Mermelstein

Tuners. Hot-rodders. Street racers. They’re called by different names, come in different shapes and sizes, and wave flags of loyalty to all manner of bizarre and obscure icons, but they all share the same basic desire: To take a perfectly good car and make it go faster.

For these enthusiasts, “more” is never enough, and “too much” is usually when things are just getting started. In the past, the way to go faster was to stuff a bigger engine into a smaller car. As the genre became more nuanced, more carburetors were added along with freer-flowing exhausts to get more air and fuel into that engine. That drive eventually led to fuel injection, forced induction, dual-fuel setups, and more.

(Read More…)

By on March 3, 2021

Today’s Rare Ride is a super luxurious two-door aftermarket Range Rover. Much like the Rolls-Royce Wraith Silver Spectre featured here recently, the Range Rover’s transformation was also designed by Niels Van Roij.

Hopefully, your eyes are prepared for luxury.

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By on January 22, 2021

Rare Rides featured Isuzu vehicles on four previous occasions, and all of them were from the Seventies or Eighties.

Today we switch it up a bit and present an Isuzu from the Nineties. Ready for Irmscher?

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By on December 4, 2020

Today’s Cadillac is an example of what happens when you combine consumer tastes in places like Miami in the late Eighties with the refusal of some domestic manufacturers to make luxury convertibles.

Presenting a Cadillac coupe that’s custom, cabriolet, and cool DeVille.

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By on August 6, 2020

Big gatherings of people who’ve traveled from across the country — and globe — continue to be unpopular, and for very obvious reasons. So it’s no shock to hear that the 2020 edition of the popular Specialty Equipment Market Association (SEMA) trade show will not go ahead as planned.

Scheduled for early November, the show, as in past years, would have provided the usual catnip for the aftermarket crowd. Assembled at the Las Vegas Convention Center, they’d ooh and ah over the latest accessories on offer from aftermarket manufacturers and OEMs alike. Organizers claim they still haven’t decided what, if anything, will take its place. (Read More…)

By on August 5, 2020

A bout of insomnia last night left you author with plenty of free time to mull things over, staring at the blank ceiling above. For whatever reason, the unplanned sleeplessness saw this addled mind focus on the year 2011.

Did anything exciting occur that year? Nothing on this end, if memory serves, but it did seem to mark the end of a uniquely American tradition. (Read More…)

By on July 20, 2020

German wheel manufacturer BBS is, once again, confronting bankruptcy. However, it’s likely to come out on the other side intact if its own history is anything to go by. During its quest for global dominance, BBS found itself out of money in 2007. Decades of expansion crippled the company’s finances, but not before it became one of the most recognizable wheel brands on the tarmac. In fact, few vehicles from the the tail end of the 20th century suffer from having a set wrapped in rubber.

What would Subaru even be without its World Rally Blue paint and gold BBS wheels? How many racing video games bother to launch without the brand having its best styles represented in the customization menu? Who dares claim the BBS RS isn’t the most iconic mesh wheel in the history of tuning culture?  (Read More…)

By on July 1, 2020

When it comes to activism, it’s best to choose your battles carefully. Fortunately, there aren’t too many causes within the auto industry and most are easy to get behind.

Even though environmental activists sometimes find themselves at odds with reality, their hearts are usually the right place, and they’ve encouraged automakers to try new and interesting things with transportation. Safety advocates can likewise go overboard, but we wouldn’t have seen cars get dramatically safer (or heavier) since the 1970s if they hadn’t.

Our favorite has to be consumer advocacy, however. With the exception of the occasional predatory lawsuit looking to take advantage of a dumb corporate decision, there’s precious little to scoff about. It also tends to overlap with our pet peeves by decrying bad business practices within the industry. Case in point, the Consumer Access to Repair Coalition has recently asked Congress to rethink how vehicular data is shared — noting that automakers shouldn’t need real-time monitoring for repairs and that the technology likely poses an unnecessary security risk.  (Read More…)

By on May 11, 2020

Spending the last three months chronicling every every single cancellation related to the coronavirus hasn’t been any more enjoyable than reading about it. And, while we apologize for putting you though that, there honestly isn’t much else to report on when every manufacturer on the planet suddenly enters into a panicked lockdown. Thankfully, we seem to be nearing the end of being forced to issue updates on the latest cancelled soirée you had your hopes set on attending.

Despite automotive trade shows being canceled in Detroit, Geneva, and Paris this year, the Specialty Equipment Market Association (SEMA) show scheduled for November is still on. We may also see the New York Auto Show, which was rescheduled, take place in August — assuming the Javits Center remains underutilized for COVID patients through the summer and NYC doesn’t see a sudden spike in infection rates. However, SEMA is the first major event that seems like a sure thing in the automotive realm and, boy, are we glad to hear it.  (Read More…)

By on April 16, 2020

2019 Ford Ranger at MAP - Image: Ford

Ford Performance has expanded its catalog, adding tunes for the Mustang and Ranger that should make mashing the right pedal a tad more exciting. While the pony car kit is basically an extension of the staged Power Packs already on sale, just for the 2018-2020 model years, the Ranger package is rather novel — as this is the first factory tune available for the model in North America.

It also happens to offer noteworthy performance gains. (Read More…)

By on March 12, 2020

The hosts of the Discovery Channel’s Diesel Brothers have been fined $851,451 for selling modified pickups that violate Utah law and the federally recognized Clean Air Act.

U.S. District Court Judge Robert Shelby also said the plaintiffs, Utah Physicians for a Healthy Environment, could submit their attorney fees for the defendants to pay. Cole Cannon, lawyer to the stars, has said the plaintiffs’ attorneys previously told the judge they were seeking $1.2 million.

Friday’s court documents stipulate that David “Heavy D” Sparks, Joshua Stuart, Keaton Hoskins, and “Diesel Dave” Kiley pay $761,451 to the U.S. government with the remaining $90,000 going to Davis County in Utah. The group has already been found guilty of removing particulate filters and exhaust recirculation systems on the cars used for the television program. The only genuine surprise was the sizable fine —  as well as some court-appointed rules that will probably make the show less exciting to watch.  (Read More…)

By on November 14, 2019

Think back to the Eighties, that optimistic decade when automakers hired aftermarket companies to create convertible versions of their two-door models. The big three Japanese brands each offered their own aftermarket “sports themed” convertible in the first half of the decade.

Which masterpiece is worth a Buy?

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By on November 5, 2019

In reading this website, you’ve no doubt come across paranoid rants about automotive companies vacuuming up your personal data as connected cars become the norm — often written by yours truly. Frequently bleak, they address a multitude of concerns we believe will only get worse before they can get better.

A large part of that has to do with automakers seeing the potential of leveraging customer data, like so many tech companies have before them. But elected (and unelected) officials also seem to have a loose grasp of the technology and its potential ramifications. When the Department of Transportation initially approved self-driving vehicles for public testing, the guidelines were loose and largely dependent upon self-reporting — few wanted to stand in the way of developing systems that might someday save lives.

However, manufacturers are now beginning to issue over-the-air updates, perpetual internet connectivity, gamification, and in-car marketplaces (complete with advertisements). While the new technology has opened up new doors for customer experiences and corporate revenue, it’s accelerating at a pace that’s difficult to track. As a result, lawmakers in Massachusetts and California are starting to get antsy. The former hopes to address how data will be handled in accordance with the state’s right-to-repair laws. The latter is more directly concerned with privacy.  (Read More…)

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