The manufacturer support may be dwindling, but the home-spun marques still take Essen seriously.
The manufacturer support may be dwindling, but the home-spun marques still take Essen seriously and VW looked to tap into the tuning crowd with its RaVe 270.
Now we could be cynical and suggest that VW’s attempt to look down with the kids is about as painful as having your teeth drilled without anaesthetic, as the rave movement died in the early 90s. But hey they’re trying and deserve a little credit for the 270bhp engine they’ve shoehorned into the mobile disco box that is the Golf estate.
The good news is that with the modified GTi engine it will hit 155mph with ease, break the 62mph in 5.8s and it comes with a stylish kit. The bad news is that it also comes with a bootful of subwoofers, amps and a variety of other musical equipment that I just don’t understand. This is an unashamed disco car that will work in some quarters, but you have to say it’s the antithesis of performance tuning we cherish on these pages.
Stablemate Audi came up with something much better, the TT Clubsport. No tuner has managed a kit that looks this good and the wraparound screen and humps behind the seats are racecar cool. Lightweight technology turns the Quattro beast into a real trackday warrior in the making and then there’s the two-litre TFSi that pumps out 300bhp – not bad going really.
Audi bought a whole host of monsters to the tuning hall, including a rather snazzy A4 and A5 decked out with red S-line bodykits in a violent shade of blood red. Now they probably don’t expect the company reps to charge up and down the highways with this kind of statement of intent, but it’s a snazzy way to highlight the optional extras.
Other manufacturer news, of a fashion, came from the good folks at Heico Sportiv, which has taken a step up to become an authorised and fully endorsed parts supplier by Volvo Germany. That means you can order Heico parts from the dealer, if you happen to live there, and that is the first step on an exciting ladder for the tuner that has steadfastly stuck to one of the least inspiring brands of recent times.
Volvo built its reputation on safety and conservative style, which should have given it real problems with the tuning crowd. And to be fair it has, as those looking to take the spanners to them are limited to, well, Heico Sportiv. But that means plenty of business and no competition, cunning…
Heico bought the HS7 to Esen, which is merely a redressed V70, but it also bought a fetching C30, replete with Satsuma orange interior, that first made its debut at Essen. Now that is one sweet car, pardon the pun, with a 260bhp engine and a design that has simply built on the wildly distinctive look offered by the Swedish marque on its break from the norm.
Conspicuous by its absence, though, was the new M3. AC Schnitzer bought its ACS3 Sport with no power upgrade and Hamann did a similar thing with its super butch bodykit. If you need your Bimmer to look butcher than this you’re clearly compensating, but we’re waiting for the 500bhp M3 that should turn a good sports saloon into a beast.
Schnitzer’s 135i Coupe was far cooler from a pure tuning perspective, as it now comes with a 360bhp, which is daft in a car so small. Those looking for the ultimate driving machine might want to forego the joys of M3 pleasure and look lower down the line-up, spending some of the money they save on a car that will hit 60mph in less than five seconds and go to 186mph. It looks cool, too, with the three box design broken up by the clever addition of sidesills that help conceal the banana effect design, a rear wing that softens the chopped rear and a rude front splitter that will announce the car’s arrival in the outside lane.
The halls were full of tuned metal from outside Germany, though, and one of the more impressive displays came from our good friends at Loder1899. The Ford Mondeo was finally a good base to work from and looks like a real driver’s car, especially when you add the painstakingly created polished metal bonnet and a 270bhp engine to proceedings.
Julia at Loder was rightly proud of the finish on this machine, which takes a vast amount of time with a mechanical buffer and a clear lacquer finish to protect the dazzling results. Loder’s kit takes the Mondeo into a whole new world, I wanted to drive it for one. With 50bhp more than the standard 2.5 Turbo Ford and 4-way adjustable suspension, it should be a hoot to drive and the accessories have proved a big smash in the IT world, with one company ordering a number of the bonnets for their company cars.
Loder1899 brought its Aston Martin V8 Roadster, too, which wouldn’t normally rate a mention as we drove the coupe so long ago. The new wheels, though, are a revelation and finally the elegant machine with one of the most beautiful exhaust notes in the motoring world has a pair of shoes to match the dress. Thinner spokes have resulted in a reformed look for the firm’s conversion, they deserve serious credit for coming up with them.
And then there was the sister company Delta’s Jeep Cherokee, the DUNE project that looks stunning in matte brown, no really. They went to work with a 499bhp engine and hits 60mph in less than five seconds, which again is insane for a huge beast like this, and it sits on 23” wheels, a new skidplate and comes with fancy touches like roof-mounted lights to “highlight the kangaroos, giraffes or maybe elephants.” Genius!
Although the safari angle might be a touch too far, it’s a stonking car and it wasn’t the only American giant on offer. As well as countless Hummers, there was a rather sexy Mustang from ATG Racing on the Toyo Tyres stand. The Ford Mustang Eleanor has 550bhp, which Shelby has beaten already. But then with the kit fitted, this one looks the business and deserves a mention at least.
But if you’re looking for a truly pimped ride, it was waiting at Startech’s stand. As well as the heavily tuned 300C Estate that has morphed into a full-on Mafia don’s machine in the hands of Brabus’ daughter company, they had the Starster concept that first surfaced at Frankfurt. Based on the Dodge Avenger this car comes with a 360bhp engine, a slick interior that would be filthy in one day if you have to ferry the family round and lots of cool touches. Will it ever see the light of day? Probably not, but you have to love this kind of thing anyway.