Journal: Are Old Tuner Cars Ever Cool?

Are Old Tuner Cars Ever Cool?

Michael Banovsky By Michael Banovsky
March 27, 2015
33 comments

Koenig. Gemballa. Carat Dutchatelet. Glenfrome. Zender. Arden.

These firms may not be making headlines today, but in the ‘80s, their often extensive modifications to luxury and exotic vehicles became a worldwide phenomenon. Wild body kits. Wild paint jobs. Wild new features. Car magazines were full of fantastic interpretations of what an exotic could become, but then the world seemed to turn on these (often) garish beasts.

Today’s post was inspired by the Porsche 928 S4 “Version III” by Strosek, the deep grey beauty seen above. Its almost solid wheel covers and slatted body kit may not be to your taste, but there’s something undeniably right about how quickly it can open a time warp to the period it was designed for.

Of course, exotic car tuners haven’t disappeared—they’ve just adapted to the times. Garish, often plastic body kits are now created in carbon fibre, engines are still tuned to the maximum, and interiors are lined with every manner of endangered species…yes, sometimes even whale penis leather. Sadly, I’m not 12 years old anymore, so various scoops, louvres, and flares do more to repel my interest than attract it. Except for that Strosek, of course.

Are these personalized vehicles always uncool, or do you think they’ll someday hold some sort of appeal? If you’d like to see a great roundup of similar vehicles, check out the well-researched 1000sel.com

Image Sources: carinpicture.com, mbclub.co.uk, autoruote4x4.com, autowp.ru, oldmerin.net, arden.de, xj40.com, arden.de, pelicanparts.com, koenig-specials.com, carsbase.com, carsbase.com, diecastxchange.coma-a.d-cd.net

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33 Comments on "Are Old Tuner Cars Ever Cool?"

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Phillip Pereira
Phillip Pereira

No. Just no.

Joel Clark
Joel Clark

Such a great subject for a story. As a kid, I always loved it when a feature appeared in the pages of an 80’s car magazine of some wild Testarossa vs a mentally modified Mercedes. But having a deep love of Jaguar from my early teens, I used to, and still do, lust for a Lister XJS.

Abraham Drimmer
Abraham Drimmer

and there will be a time when we look back on this website, with its silly and tone deaf celebration of rich white people with a similar sort of smirk. “oops” we will say as we realize how goofy we looked in our dumb retro glasses and loose knit gloves. time is a flat circle and you have worse taste than you think.

Dan Brown
Dan Brown

I wanted one of these in high school… http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Giocattolo

Dan Brown
Dan Brown
RIP DIXON
RIP DIXON

What killed it for the 80’s era tuners (aside from the garishness) was that poor quality installations by the local installer. Hideous gaps…chipped paint…voided drivetrain warranties.But hey…kudos to these pioneers for setting the parameters.Probably safe to come out of witness protection by now huh?

John Roth
John Roth

AMG did some really cool things in the 80’s, Penta wheels, 4 valve conversions for the M117 V8, the wide body w126 coupe, the Hammer but the body kits and interior trim were by and large god awful.

That said, I’d definitely drive an AMG wide body 500SLC, tasteless or not.

Thanos Nefeli Mantastou
Thanos Nefeli Mantastou

It is sad that zender does not exist anymore..
They used to make great OEM aerodynamics kits for alfa romeo.
Some OEM examples are Alfa Romeo Gtv Cup, Alfa romeo 156 and 147 GTA..
as well some aftermarket kits from the 80s as seen on Gtv6, 75, sprint, 33, spider etc

Patrick Frawley
Patrick Frawley
As much as the cars above are a bunch of total ’80s signifiers, tuning is alive and well. Novitec is working its dark magic with Ferraris and Maseratis, and Japanese companies like Liberty Walk and the (inexplicably adored?) Rauh-Welt Begriff are certainly maintaining the idea today. We won’t even think about the mountain of tuner options available for import racer wannabes. Outlandish taste is a constant in human society, but the modes of expression shift. Are cars from the old tuners, the Koenigs and Stroseks and Gemballas, still desirable machines? Sort of or not really, depending. Has the urge to… Read more »
Piet Alexandre De Kempeneer
Piet Alexandre De Kempeneer

I love them all, the weirder, the better they are.

Alexander Bermudez
Alexander Bermudez

It will be interesting to see how history treats RWB and Liberty walk.

Lucio Oquendo
Lucio Oquendo

Like hair styles and clothes, some things age better than others. I think some of these cars look incredible! I would like to mention that those jag’s at the bottom are incredible. The red ferrari is pretty interesting too. Old AMG’s (like the w123) are too cool, those penta’s look great on those cars…

David Lake
David Lake

One of my favourite plastic model cars as a teenager was the Keonig 928s.
Still have it. Still love it.

Francois Bozonnet
Francois Bozonnet

FUJIMI models?

barbi dice
barbi dice

Sbarro and Rinspeed Swiss Based company’s or Luigi Colani ?

barbi dice
barbi dice

Picture in atachment

barbi dice
barbi dice

BB (buchmann & buchmann) is also worth mentioning. They did a thigth looking alfasud sprint in blue in the 80’s. This is the only image i could find on the net. Italian car review auto capital covered a special in the 80’s comment image\%3Bhttp\%253A\%252F\%252Falfasud.alfisti.net\%252Fasbbe.html\%3B400\%3B264

Lucas R
Lucas R

The 928 Strosek Ultra is also a fine example of tasteful tunning…

Lucas R
Lucas R

The 6.0 “Hammer” definitely also makes my heart pound a little harder… The Koenig Road Runner ain’t so bad either…

Grant Viktor Marshall
Grant Viktor Marshall

I think they’re cool

Adrian Donoghue
Adrian Donoghue

I love these old performance cars – I have pictures of them in books I got as a kid. Would I own one over an original – maybe not…but I’d have to question myself again were I ever given a chance…:)

Nick Holbrook
Nick Holbrook

It’s an interesting question.
There are a few exceptions – some AMG’s, most Alpina’s, JCW Mini’s, Shelby Mustangs, Lister Jaguars, Savage Cortinas maybe a few others too. But on the whole the answer is that even at the time most of them crossed the line into the garish and tasteless.

Andrew Lam
Andrew Lam

As a child of the late 80s/early 90s, I think these cars are awesome, perhaps in an ironic way, though definitely not to be taken seriously.

Nicolas Moss
Nicolas Moss

For some reason I find that you can do just about anything to a station wagon (estate car) and make it more desirable. Which is weird, because I love factory versions of those cars also.

Edward Levin
Edward Levin

No. Just no.

John Lyon
John Lyon

I think it depends who the turner was. IMO, I think the Alpina cars have aged well.

Afshin Behnia
Afshin Behnia

Totally agree!

Matthew Lange
Matthew Lange

Afshin surely that’s the baby car from your earlier post sorted 😀

Stephen Stuart
Stephen Stuart

Just amazing how we spend our money, in retrospect… 😮

Frank Anigbo
Frank Anigbo
Looking at these photos, many of the garish embellishments do not look that far removed from the treatment some original manufacturers gave their cars. The awkward Porsche 911 Slant Nose and Lamborghini Countach 5000 (or whatever it’s called) come to mind. These production cars looked (to my eyes) like badly done kit cars. Even the well executed Ferrari Testarossa still looks to me like something only a really bold person would be seen in. And that wing on the F40, functional, yes, but always did look silly to me. That’s the wild ’80s for you, big shoulder pads, big hair… Read more »
XTad
XTad

It’s awesome how every car had to have these wide testarossa-like body panels. I kinda miss three spoke wheels but nothing beats an 80s AMG!

Matthew Lange
Matthew Lange
The nine year old me really wanted my Dad to get a Strosek conversion on the 928 he was daily driving at the time. Obviously his older and wiser head said no and he was right. All these cars are an interesting curio of the time but I have no desire to own any of them, except one. The Lister Jaguar XJ-S’ were built only a few miles from where I grew up and perhaps it is because of that they hold quite a lot of appeal to me today. The 6.0 and 7.0 litre conversions to the Jaguar V12… Read more »
Competizione
Competizione

Ha! Exacly what I thought when I read the headline. They all suck but Listers are totally awesome 😀
Well and early AMG’s are obviously okay I’m just note sure wether they count because Gemballa and Strosek are obviously in different leauges of tastelessness.

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