Journal: What Are Your Favorite Classic "Tuner Specials"?

What Are Your Favorite Classic “Tuner Specials”?

Petrolicious Productions By Petrolicious Productions
November 30, 2018

The fact that even an extremely limited and odd group people were once buying brand-new Ferrari Testarossas and handing them over to an ex-racing driver in order to have turbochargers and vast amounts of bodywork grafted onto them is a piece of aftermarket automotive history to laugh at or use as a lead-in joke to something trite about the 1980s and/or drugs and/or Wall Street.

It’s true that cars from the ’80s modified by companies like Koenig-Specials and Gemballa are hilarious, very much of their time, and were often admired by the kinds of people who went around killing each other for money (Gemballa being the tragic case in point), but beyond the bulbous fenders and additional weight courtesy of Clarion AV equipment, there were some pretty serious performers that would wipe the smirks off our faces if we met them at a stop light.

For instance, Willy König put two turbochargers, some tasteful aero pieces, and a set of center-lock BBS mags on a Ferrari F50—not much comic fodder there, besides the fact that the steering wheel photo is clearly photoshopped.

The point is that for all the goofy fiberglass mistakes that were made in the classic sports car tuning scene there are some examples that really did elevate the already potent base cars. Not all of them were offered to customers, but engineering demo cars like the carbon-kevlar AC Schnitzer CLS II pictured below still had plenty of trickle-down to the street level.

The whole concept of an aftermarket company adding its own mechanical and aesthetic take on a production car is so vast that it’s pointless to try summing it all up—AMG and Mugen to the Zender and Strosek to B&B and SLS. There are too many to name, and they did everything from extensive OEM-quality upgrades to nasty tacked-on wings that looked like limo antennae. We have a few stories focused on the former in the works, but in the meantime, we want to know: what are your favorite old-school “tuner specials”?

Image sources:
Koenig-Specials Ferrari Testarossa
Koenig-Specials Ferrari F50
Gemballa 911
AC Schnitzer CLS II

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Peter J SmithMirza HatkSaud Qureshinkulczak@hotmail.comChad C. Recent comment authors
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Peter J Smith
Peter J Smith

1966 – 1969 Yenko Stinger!

Mirza Hatk
Mirza Hatk

Oh dear God! the memories these cars bring. The Koenig Special Testarossa was a poster on my bedroom wall, and the turbocharged F50, if memory serves my right, had a dial to control the boost and power which i think nudged 700hp or something. Crazy cars, but good times!

Saud Qureshi
Saud Qureshi

2008 Mugen NSX RR Concept – Granted it’s a concept but with the ACS CLS II in there I figured concepts are OK. They widened the body by 15 cm taking cues from the NSXs running in the Super GT class at that time. The entire body was redone in carbon fibre. It had a roof scoop and a massive GT spec wing with a brake light on it. Add to that the swap from transverse to longitudinal and the custom red interior – well. I need a moment to myself.

As a child of the 80s, born in 1978, the Countach Turbo S was my ultimate unicorn. It was built and tuned by Koenig’s forced-induction shop, Albrex (Albert Turbo) and made a mind-blowing 748bhp with a couple of K27s and twin liquid-to-air-intercoolers– in 1983! To me it was the ultimate in wretchedly-wonderful excess, and remains so to this day. The original Koenig TR still has a special appeal for me as well, with its wider-than-wide stance, equally-bonkers output, and general lack of concern for the opinion of a certain Commendatore. In my dream garage are numerous 80s-tuner Porsches, such as… Read more »

Saud Qureshi
Saud Qureshi

Mmmm that Dauer C62 is an absolute legend. I think the GT1 “production-based” (note the air quotes) specials are proof that even manufacturers have a sense of humour.

Chad C.
Chad C.

I think it’s the era being inseparable from all that was trapped within it. Tasteful enhancements distinguish themselves from lapses in judgement with the help of decades gone by. It’s now easy to say what was really tacky. That said, I might have put a “guilty pleasures” spin on this topic. Examples being a Pasha interior in a 924/928, a Zender body kit on a VW Cabriolet, and blowing coke & blasting Depeche Mode while tearing up Hwy 101 in my Alfa Milano in the middle of the night. Since it’s neither my rules nor my game, I gotta say… Read more »

Stephen Adam

Why is everyone always so snooty about modifying cars? Virtually no car on the planet couldn’t be improved through tasteful enhancements.