That’s when you turn to one of these companies.
Calling Alpina a modifier is a little unfair. The German company is recognised as a manufacturer in their own right, whilst their cars are produced in the same factory as regular BMW offerings.
Marketed as an alternative to the BMW M6, but based upon the 650i, the Alpina B6 uses a 4.4-litre twin-turbo V8 with power increased to 600hp and 590lb-ft of torque. The result is 0-62mph in 3.6 seconds, and a top speed electronically limited to 200mph. That last figure is important, when BMW’s own M6 is limited to just 189mph, even with an optional performance pack.
Having offered a range of BMW tuning options for the past three decades, AC Schnitzer has developed a formidable reputation. Based in Aachen, the German company has links – but is legally separate from – the famed BMW Schnitzer motorsport team.
The ACLS2 is based on the BMW M240i, but has undergone extensive modification to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the firm. Power is upped to 400hp, with adjustable coilover suspension, widened bodywork, and 19” alloy wheels also part of the package. Changes more than sufficient for the ACLS2 to set a new Nürburgring lap record.
Another firm famed for tuning BMWs, but with a portfolio now spanning several brands, Hamann offers modification packages covering styling, performance and suspension. To highlight this, the company has built a number of special editions, including the elaborate Las Vegas Wings in 2002.
Using the 4.9-litre V8 engine from the contemporary BMW M5, the Las Vegas Wings was endowed with 485hp and the potential for a top speed close to 200mph. Offered for sale at a price of €285,000 (£250,0000), buyers also got the ‘distinctive’ bodykit and the all-important gullwing doors included in the deal.
Drive a BMW X6 M, but concerned it might not be sufficiently brash or visually aggressive? Don’t panic, Hamann can help with the Tycoon Evo M.
Based on the first-generation X6, the Tycoon M has a faintly terrifying 670hp and 700lb-ft of torque. But let’s be honest, the looks are the important thing here. With wheel arches that widen the body by 60mm, a carbon fibre bonnet, and that front bumper there is a lot going on. Drainpipe-sized central exhaust tailpipes and double rear spoilers, thankfully, not pictured.
Developing performance BMWs since 1983, G-Power broke a world record in 2010 with the 800hp+ M5 Hurricane RR, clocking a McLaren F1-baiting 231mph top speed.
G-Power applied this knowledge to the E92 BMW M3, creating an alternative to the official M3 GTS but with substantially more horsepower. Increasing the displacement of the V8 engine, and adding a supercharger, created an output of 720hp and a potential top speed of 205mph. A carbon fibre widebody kit makes it look like a racetrack refugee, whilst a price of €348,500 also keeps the motorsport vibe going.
It’s another German tuning company, and this time one that focuses on modifying cars from the Volkswagen Group of companies. SEAT, Skoda, Audi, and VW all come in for attention, with bodykits, wheels, and exhausts on offer.
Despite only being a few months old, JE Design have already attacked the Leon Cupra 300 ST, and increased power to 380hp. However, the widebody kit is the real attraction, combined with new bumpers and a diffuser available in a carbon fibre finish. Also offered is a full stainless steel exhaust system, which changes volume based on the drive mode selected.
With origins that stretch back to 1896, and a founder who continued the family traditions of horseshoeing, Abt Sportsline has an illustrious history. With Audi they have entered racing cars in the DTM championship since 2000, and taken five title victories.
The TT RS-R is the most powerful Audi TT created, with the 2.5-litre engine enhanced to deliver 500hp and 420lb-ft of torque. Abt also adds carbon fibre body parts, a stainless steel exhaust, and 20” gloss black alloy wheels.
Although based in Germany, PPI prides itself on taking design influence from California, with a design office in the Golden State itself. Exclusively modifying Audi models like the R8, the company also has a fascination with carbon fibre.
Carbon fibre is used extensively on the Razor GTR, forming the bumpers, wheel arches, diffuser, bonnet, and even the doors. Before you ask, yes the doors do have holes in them. On purpose. Intended to create a greater sensation of open air motoring, it’s certainly a novel concept but one that causes more questions than it answers. Such as what if it rains?
As the biggest independent tuner of Mercedes-Benz models, Brabus has developed high-performance versions of virtually every model in the Mercedes range. Huge horsepower is the main attraction, with the company chasing ever-higher speeds.
The third car to wear the Rocket badge, the 900 refers to the output of the turbocharged 6.3-litre V12 engine in metric horsepower. More impressive is the torque figure of 1,106lb-ft, which Brabus has to limit to 885lb-ft to prevent the gearbox from destroying itself in a twisting Armageddon. Yours for €347,719 (£306,000) with a 217mph top speed included.
There comes a time when even the ridiculousness of a Mercedes-Benz G63 AMG 6×6 isn’t quite enough for some owners. Thankfully for them, Brabus is more than happy to tackle projects on a truly grand scale.
Despite weighing over 4,000kg, adding an additional 156hp for a total power output of 700hp creates a 0-62mph time of 7.4 seconds. Not bad for something that features similar dimensions and mass to a terraced house, along with matching aerodynamic ability. Sensibly, Brabus limits the top speed to 100mph.
Sadly the engineers at Brabus haven’t found a way to wedge a flame-spitting 5.5-litre V8 engine into the humble Smart ForTwo. Instead, the regular 1.0-litre turbocharged three-cylinder still makes an appearance, just with extra power.
As you might have already worked out, 120hp is the output from the diminutive motor, which is sufficient for 0-62mph in a warm-ish 8.9 seconds. A bespoke Brabus Widestar bodykit comes as standard, as do the 18” alloy wheels which look positively massive on the compact Smart.
Based in Denmark, Kleeman was founded in the early 1990s to produce superchargers for four-cylinder Mercedes-Benz engines. Since then, Kleeman has grown to become experts in all forced-induction Merc engines, creating their own turbo and superchargers.
Just like the supercharger fitted to this special SLS AMG, that takes power from the 6.2-litre V8 to 770hp and 623lb-ft of torque. That means 0-62mph in 3.3 seconds, 0-124mph in 9.3 seconds, and a top speed over 200mph. It makes that supercharger seem a snip at just €21,995 (£19,300) plus VAT.
You have to wonder if anyone in Germany owns a Mercedes-Benz that isn’t modified. Having been tuning Mercs since 1989, Carlsson are relative youngsters, but they still offer modifications from A to V-Class.
Based upon the S-Class cabriolet, the Diospyros is titled after the scientific name for the endangered West African ebony tree, used here for interior trim and rear deck cover. Carlsson’s own ‘Heritage Green’ paint, and specially developed 20” alloy wheels, are added for a retro look. Less historical is the 550hp and 590lb-ft of torque.
Mansory does not do ordinary. No, the German modifier firmly targets the luxury market; tuning Rolls-Royces, Bentleys and even adding carbon fibre to golf carts.
Epitomising this decadent approach is the Linea Vincero d’Oro, which combines carbon fibre bodywork with gold detailing for the wheels, fuel fillers, and door handles. Inside there’s more carbon, whilst a special exhaust system is claimed to add an extra 108hp to the 1,001hp it had as standard.
This particular Veyron is now for sale at an undisclosed price, having covered some 15,000 miles with current millionaire owner Manny Khoshbin.
Although the idea of a Lamborghini Aventador may seem a little mundane after a modified Veyron, Mansory doesn’t disappoint with Carbonado GT.
All bodywork panels are formed from carbon fibre, with new bumpers, side skirts and a giant roof-mounted air intake. An intake which feeds into a now twin-turbocharged 6.5-litre V12, said to produce 1,600hp and 885lb-ft of torque. 0-62mph is claimed to take 2.1 seconds, with a top speed of 230mph.
You know the drill with Mansory by now. More carbon fibre and more power are the order of the day again here, with the Ferrari 488 Spider serving as the base for these extreme modifications.
In comes a comprehensive bodykit, inspired by the Ferrari FXXK, featuring sections of unpainted chopped carbon fibre trim. There’s also lightweight forged 20” alloy wheels, along with wider tyres and lowered suspension. Oh, and the power from the twin-turbo V8 has been wound up to 790hp with an accompanying 642lb-ft of torque.
When the portfolio of a tuning company includes converting a Maserati MC12 race car for road use, you know they’re not messing around. Edo Competition blurs the lines between road and track, as demonstrated by the Enzo ZXX Evo.
What was once a Ferrari Enzo, became a replica of the track-only FXX, courtesy of a 100kg diet, the V12 engine being increased to 6.3-litres, and a radical aero kit. Following an incident where the car ended up in a lake, it was fully rebuilt by Edo Competition and now produces some 950hp.
To butcher a brand new Italian supercar takes real guts, but Japanese tuner Liberty Walk are perfectly comfortable doing so. In recent years they have tackled Lamborghinis, Maseratis and Ferraris without fear.
The process is relatively simple. Slam the car into the ground using custom air suspension, add huge wheels, and then wrap it all in an ultra-wide bodykit. It’s exactly what Liberty Walk has done with this 488 GTB, and explains why the firm has developed a cult following in just nine years.
It’s impossible to talk about cult followings without discussing Japanese firm RWB. Translated as ‘Rough World Concept’ every RWB car is hand-finished by founder Akira Nakai, who travels the world to work on each individual Porsche project.
Mayday Garage in Houston Texas owns this particular Porsche 993, and displayed it at the 2013 SEMA aftermarket show. The 993 bodykit is the most extreme of all the RWB creations, featuring wheels up to 12” wide at the rear to fill the swollen arches.
Responsible for endowing Porsche 911s with Ferrari Testarossa-esque side strakes during the 1980s, Gemballa could count rapper Vanilla Ice as a satisfied customer. He even name checked the German firm on his 1995 single ‘Get Loose’ he was that impressed.
Gemballa folded in 2010 due to the death of founder Uwe Gemballa, but was reformed as a new company. Today they’re back to tuning Porsches, and McLarens, with the new 2017 Avalanche the latest offering.
Based on the 911 Turbo, it features some 820hp, 21” wheels, and quad exhaust tailpipes exiting through the rear bumper. No news on whether Robert Van Winkle has placed a deposit for one.
Unsurprisingly, TechArt are based in Germany, and are devoted to the tuning and modification of all things Porsche. Their products have won numerous tuner competitions, and also set lap records at various circuits.
Despite being intimidating in standard form, TechArt felt even the Carrera GT hypercar could use some extra enhancement. Subtle bodywork changes aim to improve aerodynamic efficiency, whilst the metallic orange paint is obviously less understated. A revised exhaust and air intake also unleashes an additional 23hp.
Confident in having tamed the Carrera GT, TechArt moved on to the car known as the ‘Widowmaker’ due to the ease with which it will bite inexperienced drivers. Perhaps the last thing the Porsche 911 GT2 RS needed was more power, but that’s what TechArt served up.
The turbocharged 3.6-litre flat-six engine gains an extra 100hp, pushing the total output to 720hp, with torque swelling to 664lb-ft. TechArt also added a deeper front bumper, and a rear wing which looks to have been stolen from a 911 race car, but generates much needed downforce.
Another company who labelling as a tuner does them a disservice. Initially founded in 1939, Ruf began producing cars based on Porsche chassis in the late 1970s. The original CTR ‘Yellow Bird’ introduced in 1987 is Ruf’s most famous creation, and once labelled the fastest production car in the world.
The new CTR is a tribute to the 1987 car, but uses a carbon fibre monocoque chassis built from the ground up by Ruf. It also has inboard-mounted pushrod suspension, and a turbocharged 3.6-litre flat-six engine producing 710hp – or about 240hp more than the 1987 original.
Don’t call this a Singer 911, or anything similar. Singer Vehicle Design is at pains to point out that unlike Ruf, they merely restore and enhance cars that first came from Zuffenhausen. Founded in 2009, by the cousin of Iron Maiden frontman Bruce Dickinson, the Los Angeles-based firm has cornered a niche market.
Singer takes 964 generation Porsche 911s, and rebuilds them to resemble older vintage models. Just with carbon fibre bodywork, modern features like xenon headlights, and engines capable of up to 390hp. Each car is christened with the name of the owner’s hometown.
JE Engineering have been building and developing V8 engines since 1976, but have now turned their attention to the burgeoning modified Land Rover Defender market. The ‘JE Motor Works’ brand follows a similar pattern to Singer, in reimagining an already iconic vehicle.
The main attraction for the Zulu 2 is the 475hp supercharged 4.7-litre V8 engine, powering all four wheels through a six-speed automatic gearbox. 0-62mph in less than 5.5 seconds, and a top speed of over 120mph, are figures you wouldn’t typically associate with a Defender. But then neither is a price in excess of £150,000.
Based in Bradford, Kahn Design began by creating alloy wheels, before moving into the world of bespoke vehicle creation.
Called the ‘true definition of luxury’ by Kahn Design, the Flying Huntsman started life as a Land Rover Defender before extensive modifications. Such as replacing the diesel engine with a 500hp 6.2-litre V8 engine oh, and adding an extra rear axle for six-wheel drive! A plush leather and tweed interior is also part of the £199,000 deal.
Not content with just modifying cars, company owner and designer Afzal Kahn set out to create his dream car, using the Aston Martin DB9 as a starting point.
The result is something that looks remarkably like the original Aston Martin Vanquish is profile, albeit with a set of wheels taken from a 1980’s Group B rally car. The front features a distinctive aluminium grille, whilst the rear uses LED lights intended to look like a roulette wheel. The 6.0-litre V12 from the DB9 remains unchanged, with just five cars planned to be built, for a cool £360,000 each.
Leeds-based Overfinch started modifying Range Rovers in 1975, but found its high during the 1980s and ‘90s by using small-block Chevrolet V8 engines. Forced into administration by the global recession in 2010, the company is back to rude health today.
Top of the pile is the Overfinch Supersport, based upon the Range Rover Sport SVR. With a carbon fibre bodykit – including a carbon fibre bonnet – designed by Prodrive, lightweight wheels, and titanium exhaust, Overfinch claims to save some 38kg in weight over the normal car. Limited to just 25 examples, you’ll need to find £189,000 for one.
Owned by racing driver Bisi Ezerioha, Bisimoto is a Californian company known for producing bespoke engineering solutions. This includes special ‘pulse wave’ exhaust tailpipes, along with creating monster turbochargers.
Sizeable forced-induction was the answer for how to create a Hyundai Santa-Fe with 1,040hp. Bisimoto were commissioned by Hyundai to build this car for display at the 2016 SEMA show, and it was clearly money well spent. Fitting a Hyundai 3.8-litre V6 with twin-turbos, and converting the drivetrain to rear-wheel drive, is not the work of an amateur garage.
For many, Shelby and Mustang go together automatically. It’s hard not to see why, with the company, founded by the late Carroll Shelby, having developed high performance versions of Ford’s pony car since the 1960s. Although Ford uses the Shelby name on factory-built cars, the Las Vegas-based tuner still creates its own supercars.
Latest in a line of Super Snakes, the 2017 50th Anniversary edition even features a special Wide Body concept, stretching the rear track by some 4 inches. Whilst Shelby mulls over producing the widened version, there’s still the ‘narrow’ Super Snake to play with. Customers can choose from 5.0-litre V8 engines in either 670hp or 750hp tunes, whilst all come with upgraded brakes and suspension.
Texan tuner John Hennessey is no stranger to controversy, with a simple internet search finding a string of lawsuits and accusations. Hennessey set a Guinness World Record for the fastest production car with the Venom GT, and has been modifying American cars since 1991.
Aimed squarely at the Dodge SRT Demon, the Exorcist Camaro aims to vanquish its opponent with a 1,000hp V8 engine. Hennessey is particularly proud of the fact this translates to 959hp at the rear wheels, resulting in tyre-shredding mayhem. A two-year/24,000-mile warranty is included though!
Started in 1977 by Reeves Callaway in rural Connecticut, today the company has expanded to offer tuning programmes focussed on the Chevrolet brand. In the late 1980s, Callaway even offered an official twin-turbo option for the C4 Corvette.
Using the latest C7 Corvette as a base, the AeroWagen turns the normal coupe into a distinctive shooting brake. Looking like an angrier and more angular Ferrari GTC4Lusso is certainly not a bad thing, not least when Callaway also offers a supercharged V8 engine with 757hp and 77lb-ft of torque. 0-60mph in 2.8 seconds also makes it quicker than the Italian supercar, too.
With numerous awards, and being able to count Jay Leno as a fan, Speed Kore Performance Group is doing rather well at that moment. The primary aim is to take American muscle cars, add more power, and make them lighter with carbon fibre.
The SK10 Hellcat takes an already mind-bendingly fast car, and fabricates the entire bodywork from carbon fibre. Speed Kore then tunes the supercharged V8 engine to deliver up to 1,100hp. There are no paint colour choices here – the body is clearcoated to show off the carbon weave.
Founded in 1990, and having started creating their own products in 1994, Japanese firm Wald deals in bodykits and wheels. With a collection that covers everything from tiny Suzuki Kei cars, through to Bentley and Maserati, Wald has styling options for virtually everything.
The Black Bison range marks the sportiest offerings from the company, and creates an obvious juxtaposition when added to the luxurious Lexus LS600h saloon. Front and rear bumpers, side skirts, rear spoiler are all part of the package, along with 22” alloy wheels.
Having competed in Formula 1, raced at Le Mans, and won his class at the Bathurst 1000, it isn’t surprising that Kazuyoshi Hoshino was once titled the ‘fastest man in Japan’. After racing, he founded Impul to modify Nissans – the brand he had been a factory driver for.
Covering the full spectrum of Nissan models, Impul doesn’t leave out the battery-powered Leaf EV. A comprehensive styling kit is offered, including an Impul logo for the charging port cover, with a set of 19” wheels added. Performance is left alone, suggesting that tuners are still yet to tackle the challenge of electric motors.
Tales of the unexpected, when car manufacturers venture off-piste
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