Tuner Trucks: Still Ready to Make a Statement

Posted on 06. Aug, 2012 by in Auto News

By Mike Magda

The shrinking number of high-performance "tuner" Truck not gone unnoticed in the pickup community. Industry observers can certainly call the close economic as carmakers main motivation to eliminate high-performance street truck from their statements. But the aftermarket has cut back significantly, too.

"We saw a big run-tuner truck for quite some time, from the late 80s," says Larry Weiner of Performance West, a California company that designs concept vehicles for the automotive aftermarket and corporate clients. "It was a high-water mark in the 90s and in 2000. Then she looked away."

Four-wheel drive truck. Always popular with truck owners, whether it emulates offroad racers or monster trucks Then the game-changing is GMT400 platform was introduced in 1987. Tired of mini trucks dominate the road enthusiasts fell in love with the sleek design of the full-size Chevy and GMC C / K 1500 pickup and the aftermarket responded with a bevy of new products. Stores that flooded normally Mustangs and Camaros worried suddenly contracts to two-wheel-drive pickups change by lowering the suspension, swapping on wide, low-profile tires, mounting the body with aero kits, and by as much horsepower as possible. Wild finishes also served to strengthen the market fascination pickups.

Tuners like Lingenfelter, Kenne Belle, Canepa, breastfeeding, Steeda, Roush and dozens of others soon developed and offered a variety of performance packages and many eventually came with turnkey vehicles. Even mainstream enthusiast magazines noticed the trend and began to carry out comparative tests of some of the most powerful messages.

Automobile manufacturers in Detroit also brought many of their own favors to the party, with the groundbreaking GMC Syclone, the torque-load but clumsy Chevy 454SS and spirited, but sometimes moody, Ford SVT Lightning. Dodge Dakota boasted the feisty R / T and later met with the head of the brutal 500-horsepower Ram SRT10. This all served to inspire truck owners to modify their pickups.

Then the factory performance market went away. Chrysler knew that his days were limited and did almost all of her hot-rod projects. The Silverado SS was mostly smoke and mirrors. GMC tried using the C3 but seemed more interested in leather selection as performance improvements. The "image" buyers are not interested in more pickups. The only exception is the latest Ford SVT Raptor, but it is geared for off-roaders.

A closer examination of the market shows that a few players who are still eager to burn rubber on the road performance arena.

"We are a kind of filling that niche of the Silverado SS and Lightning owner," Mike Vendetto built by Callaway Cars, the three versions of the Callaway Sport Truck, among others rated at 540 hp says. "But not everyone makes that jump no more."

"As a tuner, we are at the mercy of what comes from the OEMs," says John Hennessey of Hennessey Performance, a Texas-based company with a wide range of power products that meet many high profile clients. "Fortunately, they have some great platforms."

Hennessy is particularly bullish on the Raptor. Last year, the company has more than 100 Raptors upgraded with its VelociRaptor compressor package, which can increase the stock 6.2-liter V-8 up to 600 hp. Hennessey is the development of programs for the EcoBoost and 5.0-liter engines, also.

"[The 5.0] a big engine is begging for more power. We have just had a 575-hp compressor upgrade for a customer, and he loves it!" Says Hennessey, who has collaborated with Toyota and Dodge Hemi 5.7-liter V-8 engines.

What caused the drought in the tuner truck market in addition to the ongoing recession? Experts point to a variety of reasons, including the growing size of today's pickup, more on the environmental and demographic change.

"If you do your homework to Gen Y" says Weiner, "you'll find that their interests are different. Only 43 percent have a driver's license in the previous generation by 66 percent. They also have to come from age in a time of saving measures, not a robust economy. All these things affect market segments. "

In the glory days tuner market development costs were spread in full-size SUVs, which were very popular with families and urban trendsetters. Many of these consumers now drifting toward crossover vehicles, begging the point that late model vehicles. Simply too big and heavy to produce significant performance gains

"As a manufacturer trucks that develop to gain weight on, the chances of a factory-fitted sport truck dwindle away," says Tony Marszalek, director of performance products Roush Industries.

"Our HPE500 compressor upgrade for Tundra, Sequoia, Land Cruiser and LX 570 offers performance similar to the Ram SRT10" counters Hennessey.

In the boom years was the regular cab, the most popular model, come with the four-door extended cab only on the market. Both configurations could be changed for the road, with convincing results. Now the focus is on the heavier crew cabin that do not radiate street cred as the lean, muscular profile of a traditional regular cab.

"Athletic is in the eye of the beholder," argues Hennessey. "I think our VelociRaptor is one of the coolest, baddest-looking truck on the road. And there are a lot of Tundra trucks are, Raptor owners would be something to think about."

Hennessey, the point was more than a few years ago, when Toyota offered a supercharger package for the 5.7-liter V-8 found. A demonstration truck is a light two-wheel drive regular cab pulled ass built in a series of magazine tests, and it looked sharp doing so because it had the right proportions for a street-performance pickup.

Regular Cab trucks and lower prices, which give the customers more money on modifications.

. "I'm aware of to start with a stripper, then we can say the enthusiasts, 'Look, we did not start too much 40 grand,'" says Weiner noted that one of the last pickups he developed the Dodge Red Express was " Regular cab, short bed, Hemi, and I think with discounts you could have bought that truck for 23 large, new. "

Another challenge for the tuner market is the growing number of states adopting California emission standards. Twenty years ago, it might have two or three states with the stricter smog laws. Today, 19 states have California-spec emissions standards.

"Everything that the OEM or aftermarket will not be faced with meeting emissions standards," said Weiner, adding that the fight automaker also meet the stringent federal Corporate Average Fuel Economy. "So I do not foresee a big boost [in performance pickups] at this point in time."

One of the most exciting vehicles at the end of the tuner trucks phenomenon was the Roush F-150. His last year was 2008, and instead to build more trucks on the 5.4-liter V-8 is based, the company began developing a 6.2-liter version for the 2010 model year.

"If fuel prices and then explodes the economy fell apart, we moved 6.2L program as well," said Marszalek. "We started the development of the 6.2L program again in 2010 and served as retail parts program in the mid-2011. With truck sales now rises and an increase in demand from our dealer network, we have a 6.2-liter Raptor Program bring the market decided to build a post title. "

When evaluating the overall presentation tuner truck market, it could be argued that it. Great opportunities in the diesel sector Roush even able to avoid work on propane and other alternative fuels. But the wide-open performance street truck craze that enthusiasts will enjoy 10 to 20 years may never again the same level of popularity. Of course made similar predictions to predict the muscle car market in the 70s.

"I think there will always be a demand for a sport truck," said Marszalek. "The key will be to bring to the market in order to compare performance improvements over the stock truck and not against the light, high-powered cars from the past."