What defines a “tuner car” these days? Is it the engine modifications and tinkering of timing that makes a car a “tuner”? How about wheels and suspension? Maybe even lightweight carbon fiber parts and aerodynamic downforce setups?
Do we immediately associate the word “tuner” with The Fast and the Furious culture or do we associate it with the likes of some of the most extreme aftermarket companies such as Hennessey, Brabus, Mansory, Underground Racing, and others? I’m not sure I have an answer for everyone, but I have an answer that satisfies me, and I’ll explain it.
I believe that a tuner car can be a production car tweaked by a special in-house manufacturer division. A tuner car could also be a backyard budget build that some guy put together watching YouTube videos and paying his friends for labor with Coronas.
We brought out some cars from the AlphaLuxe collection to The Tuner Show at the Los Angeles Convention Center that we thought best suited the occasion. At our booth we had a Lamborghini Diablo GTR, Hennessey Viper 650R, Ford Mustang Shelby GT350, and a Porsche 911 GT3 Street Cup. None of these cars were like any of the other cars at the show, yet we felt they were right at home among the tuner crowd.
Speaking of the crowd, it was extremely diverse. From young fans to old school builders, all of the spectators and owners had something cool to look at and new builds to admire. Quite a bit of the younger crowd seemed to gravitate towards the TJ Hunt booth, while the other enthusiasts seemed to enjoy the entire show.
A few of my personal favorite cars from the show that weren’t at our booth included a Spoon Sports Acura Integra Type R, a twin turbo Lamborghini Huracan Super Trofeo replica (which won best in show), a FD Mazda RX-7 with crazy aero, and a blue Mazda RX-7 Veilside (no, not just because of The Fast and the Furious!).
A shop by the name of LTMW seemed to have their hands in quite a few of these builds, and I think they do a great job at making a tuner car look proper. I also enjoyed seeing other exotics at the meet, such as the Aventador roadster from GK Customs LA. Seeing the other exotics made me feel like we weren’t just the douchey guys with the Lambo at our booth while everyone looked at us like the new kid in school.
So, what makes a Lamborghini Diablo GTR a tuner car? Well, I think that it is the most extreme example of what a brand can do to a road-going car turned racecar from the factory. All proper tuning in ways that have been mastered by some of the best engineers at Lamborghini utilizing resources that no average shop can have access to.
The Hennessey Viper was actually featured in a Motor Trend magazine many moons ago as the fastest car ever tested. 650 horsepower naturally aspirated 8.4-liter stroker V10 with an aerodynamic race-inspired body kit. That’s the definition of a tuner car to me.
As for my Shelby, that’s what having an in-house tuner at Ford does to a Mustang. 526 horsepower out of a 5.2-liter V8 revving to 8250 rpm and having brakes big enough to stop the earth from revolving makes for a perfect canyon carving grand tourer.
Last but not least, our friend Akin’s 997 GT3 Street Cup was quite the hit at our booth, featuring GT3 RS aero and wide fender arches as well as a really cool color similar to the Daytona Sunrise Orange from a Corvette.
After a long day of meeting new people and showcasing what we are about, we went home with no trophies because we weren’t aware that we were supposed to register to be judged. Other than that, I’d say the day went well and we had fun. The venue was cool for display cars, but not so much for spectators. I hope the next show will be somewhere that doesn’t require paying $20 for parking on top of the entrance fee.
With that being said, I will admit that you see where your money goes once you walk into the show. This isn’t your average night meet at the local Bob’s Big Boy, this is an organized event for true tuner car enthusiasts. I can’t wait to see what the Tuner Show has in store for the next event! Stay tuned!
Primary Author’s Biography
Michael Gallardo found interest in cars at around 6 years old. Going to the drag strip to watch NHRA races and riding in his Dad’s VW Beetle were the earliest memories that he can credit his passion to. A year after high school, Michael bought his first car, a 1986 Porsche 944. Ever since then, he has been switching it up and trying to experience all of the cars that he possibly can. Interests include watching Formula 1, going to the shooting range, collecting watches, trying new places to eat, and an occasional round of golf.