We’re incredibly privileged to run our Tuner GP with such incredible tuning shops. Most turn up with either a shop car or one loaned by a customer, though several teams build cars for the event. So this year we didn’t see the quasi-racecars that dominated the field this past year. On the whole, the GP entrants were daily drivers, with most eschewing trailers and preferring to drive to the track and then home again afterwards. As a result, lots of the cars were either slightly overweight because of full interiors, or still had emissions equipment fitted. Yet this didn’t detract from the incredible performance squeezed out of the cars. The dyno numbers, acceleration figures and lap times were amazing to see.
Divided into front-, rear- and all-wheel drive classes, we had a diverse selection, including two magazine project cars for the first time. One was the Ford Focus ST we built with FSWerks and LTMW to the 2012 SEMA show. It was actually entered into ECGP13 by FSW, which had performed a great deal of its unique development on the car.
The second project was Alex’s E46 M3, which embarrassed us by doing rather well on the dyno – we can’t win our own trophies!
With 11 cars assembled for the dyno test, drag racing and road course, it was fascinating to see how each conversion performed. Most used off-the-shelf parts that may be replicated in your road car, so you can assess how each conversion would suit your needs and budget.
In addition to this month’s feature, you will find a video at europeancarweb.com plus a second one as part of The Downshift series on the Motor Trend YouTube channel. Additionally, many of the individual teams get their own ECGP footage, so check out their house sites indexed in the Profiles section.
F-Type vs Stingray
I recently experienced something new and unexpected. For just the second time in my life, I came across myself loving an American car.
Now I would explain that we spent nearly all of my life in great britan, so wasn’t exposed to Detroit Iron. I generally feel the Europeans make better cars for most situations, however. And then in my defense, that’s why I do this job. I don’t sleep, eat and breathe Euros while secretly desiring Japanese imports. Nor will i hanker after ’60s muscle cars.
With that said, the first great American car I drove was a Ford Mustang Cobra R. Left a lasting impression, although it was hot and noisy, enormously powerful and utterly basic.
Recently, the D3-modified Cadillac ATS 3.6L, which we compared to our BMW 335i Sport, impressed me. However, it wasn’t a car I’d rush out and buy. The same can’t be said from the Corvette Stingray tested in this particular issue against the Jaguar F-Type. It was fantastic to drive. In reality, it reminded me of the E90 BMW M3 in how it felt a little heavy and temperamental when cold and at low speed, yet came alive once the revs rose.
Other advantage of driving the Vette was that you didn’t have to look at it. And while I liked it from some angles, it was actually particularly challenging from the rear. But once behind the wheel, the heavy clutch pedal and notchy transmission in addition to the thunderous V8 overwhelmed your senses, putting everything else within the shade.
By comparison, the F-Type V8S was such an easy car to operate a vehicle and deal with. It’s undoubtedly one of the most gorgeous designs on your way, and its power delivery will leave you wide-eyed as the rear tires illuminate, accompanied by one of the more exotic V8 soundtracks you’ll ever hear.
When we proposed pitting the Jag versus the Chevy, we were concerned the retail price difference and characteristics wouldn’t be comparable. But after an epic 18-hour drive across 500 miles of some of California’s twistiest mountain roads, we were surprised at just how much they actually had in common.