Posts Tagged ‘evo’

The first time I ever saw a Ferrari was on a family vacation in Lake George, New York when I was about 17 years old. It is indelibly burned into my memory: A red Testarossa growling through downtown Lake George on a warm summer night, downshifting for a red light, me running into the middle of the street to stand behind it in awe. And standing there in traffic with my mouth agape, I knew my life would be different forever.

Since they started making roadcars, Ferrari’s bread and butter has been cars like the Testarossa—low, wide, mid-engined, two seat sports cars. That is, until now. Welcome to the seemingly most unorthodox Ferrari ever made, the FF.

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Released in 2011, the FF (which stands for “Ferrari Four”, as in four seats and four-wheel drive) is about as unconventional for the most revered name in motoring as you can get. It is the very first all-wheel drive Ferrari, and instead of a svelte two seat configuration, a slightly ungainly hatchback designed body was penned instead. As you can imagine, when Ferrari first revealed the FF, the purists went nuts. They cried, “Say WHA?!? Ferrari is making a car that ISN’T a dedicated asphalt shredding track weapon? Blasphemy!” This car is Ferrari’s response to an ever changing and evolving marketplace. With the FF, the company is now able to reach into previously untapped markets to scoop up customers who may have never purchased a Ferrari because of the cars’ inherent practical limitations.

And the result? Epic. The FF may look more pedestrian than the 458, F12, or the Enzo, but don’t be fooled. Along with its ability to fit, like, stuff and people inside, it arrives packing a 6.3-liter V12 engine, the largest capacity engine Ferrari has ever created, 651 horsepower, and crushing on road performance. It even passed one of the toughest crucibles of them all—the withering yet hilarious opinions of TV’s most famous trio on Top Gear and it went onto win the show’s “2011 Estate Car of the Year” award. (‘Estate’ translating into ‘station wagon’ for us ‘Muricans).

And it isn’t just Top Gear that is singing the FF’s praises—Harry Metcalfe of EVO magazine fame took loan of an FF for a week, putting 2000 miles on it and driving through nearly every situation possible—hustling down motorways, tearing up backroads, long road trips, even taking it for a spin around his farm. The car’s innovative four-wheel drive system allowed Harry to literally take the FF offroading. Blimey, Ferrari seems to have pulled it off. Check out the excellent video HERE.

The FF is by no means the most lustworthy or visually appealing Ferrari ever made, but it is an immensely capable machine and a total game changer for the Prancing Horse. Bravo!

- Many thanks to Dan Szczesny for the photo!

Contrary to popular belief, forward progress isn’t achieved in one quantum leap; success isn’t born overnight. Our society is obsessed with the idea that some people simply get lucky, that successful people were at the right place at the right time and that circumstances swept them up and away to success. But, in reality, that’s not how it works.

Author and Success magazine editor Darren Hardy’s book The Compound Effect talks about how small positive actions compounded over time lead to massive results. “It’s the principle of reaping huge rewards from a series of small, smart choices. Success is earned in the moment to moment decisions that in themselves make no visible difference whatsoever, but the accumulated compounding effect is profound.” Success isn’t like flipping on a light switch, it’s built over time on the backs of these small, smart choices.

Massachusetts-based aftermarket tuning shop Kaizen Tuning believes so much in this idea that it’s at the core of who they are—’kaizen’ is actually Japanese for ‘improvement’ and represents and entire philosophy based around continually improving processes and the ongoing refinement of a business’s functions.

Kaizen Tuning was started two-and-a-half years ago by owner Scott McIver whose has a background in manufacturing, with the ideal of creating a shop that could fill a sorely neglected market in New England: high end aftermarket tuning. “New England is worthy of the investment of a high end shop, and we are looking to fill that,” said McIver. Kaizen can do everything from oil changes to dyno testing, full engine builds to getting your race car prepped for the track. Kaizen’s partnerships with other performance companies allows it to provide a wide range of tuning services and performance parts to meet any enthusiast’s go-fast goals.

What McIver set out to create is probably best summarized by this description on the company’s website: “Kaizen Tuning was born out of the need for a true enthusiast destination shop in the Northeast… After seeing first hand the mistreatment of many of our own cars… Kaizen Tuning was formed to offer a different voice. Operated and owned by car fanatics, Kaizen Tuning offers customer service for an enthusiast, by enthusiasts… Kaizen Tuning was started so that we could bring improvement not only to the performance of our customer’s vehicles, but to the customer experience in the Northeast.”

The car most closely associated with Kaizen Tuning is the sensational Nissan GT-R—a car with staggering levels of performance at a price that undercuts nearly every performance car on the market. And the GT-R represents more than just a platform for Kaizen to work on—McIver actually drew inspiration for starting Kaizen after seeing the incredible level of service that Japanese GT-R customers would receive when he visited Japan. And, after seeing how desperately that level of customer service was lacking back home, McIver set out to create a tuning shop that provided levels of customer service not seen anywhere else.

After Kaizen established a market tuning the GT-R—check out one of Kaizen’s finest GT-Rs HERE—McIver turned his attention to tuning the Mitsubishi Evolution—a formidable all-wheel-drive turbocharged sedan that was born on the dusty, sinewy roads of the world’s rally stages. To see just what Kaizen is capable of, be sure to check out the race-prepped Evo nicknamed ‘Mothra’ that Kaizen runs in the Real Timeattack series HERE. Over the last six months or so, McIver has been expanding Kaizen’s reach into the Subaru market which, like the market for Mitsubishi, has a distinctly dedicated following and is flush with enthusiasts looking to wring more performance from their car. Even more recently, Kaizen has begun tuning European cars, specifically VW, Audi, and Porsche.

Because of its fastidious adherence to the idea of continuous improvement and its core values, Kaizen Tuning has established itself as something of a destination shop for some of the best technicians in the area. Learning the backgrounds of the guys in the shop reveals the truth behind the Kaizen’s mission—each member of the Kaizen staff is an enthusiast to the core and brings a wealth of experience and specialized knowledge to the table.

As Kaizen Tuning has continued to grow and expand, the need for a new shop arose. McIver spent over a year looking for the correct location, and he found what he was looking for with a site not far from Kaizen’s current location in Acton. When it is completed in early August this year, the new shop will feature eight lifts, a showroom, on site manufacturing facilities, full tuning and dyno facilities, and the ability to store plenty of inventory on site.

At the heart of it all, Kaizen Tuning is about providing enthusiasts with top quality customized tuning and helping fulfill their performance goals, whatever those may be. From the Kaizen website: “Wheels and body kits fade into obscurity one year to the next, but speed never goes out of style. Talk to us today about how we can move you forward.”

Welcome, Kaizen Tuning, to The Torque Tube.

Many thanks and much respect to Scott McIver for his time, and to everyone at Kaizen Tuning for letting me poke around the shop. Be sure to to check out Kaizen Tuning’s website at www.KaizenTuning.com, as well as their Facebook page at www.facebook.com/kaizen.tuning.


Normally, the kinds of cars that end up on my dream list have exotic names, come from exotic places, and aren’t from the early 1990’s. The faster, more expensive and newer they are, the better. And I like passionate cars: Wings, loud exhausts, shattering speed, and more soul than an Aretha Franklin concert. Having a ‘90’s Mercedes-Benz sedan on this coveted list seems impossible, or at least highly improbable, especially when you stop and consider the recent batch of hot MB’s: the C63 AMG Black Series, E63 AMG, SLS AMG, and the luxo-rocket S65 AMG. These cars all pack enough horsepower and torque to alter your perception of reality and would make a sweet addition to the dream list. So what are we doing looking at this antiquated MB sedan? Think of the 190E 2.5-16 Evolution II as the exception to the rule of boring ‘90’s cars and being totally worthy of a place on the dream list.

The Mercedes-Benz 190E 2.5-16 Evolution II is to the regular 190E sedan what the Subaru WRX STi is to the standard WRX: It’s more powerful, more flamboyant, and wears the absolute daddy of rear wings. The Evolution II’s monstrous rear wing makes even the current generation of Subaru STi’s look all sedate and civilized. First unveiled at the 1990 Genva Motor Show, this fantastic Merc was born from Mercedes’ involvement in the Group A Tour Car Championship racing which required that the aerodynamic components of the race car match the road-going production version. Much of that racing pedigree can be found in the car’s flared wheel arches, deep front splitter, upgraded brakes, and firmer suspension. The 2.5 liter four-cylinder had its compression ratio, valve lift, timing, intake tract and exhaust all retuned to help make a potent 232 horsepower.

Inside, it’s classic Mercedes with leather, wood trimming, and no-nonsense style. On modern MBs, we expect buckets full of tech, and the Evolution II sports some of its own gadgetry including a switch near the steering wheel that allows the driver to adjust the ride height to three different levels. It’s a rare car too with only 500 or so ever being produced, so it’ll make an equivalent BMW E36 M3 seem commonplace and tame. All these go-fast parts did count for something on the racetrack; the Evolution II claimed the 1992 DTM driver’s title. Thank goodness the nineties brought us more than Vanilla Ice and Trapper Keepers.