Choosing a tuner and performance parts suppliers are important decisions, unless the car is a true project car.
There are a few questions you may want to consider before choosing.
Who are you dealing with?
What is their post/social history?
What is their bad reputation?
Can you deal with their bad reputation?
How much do they give back to the community?
Check out the video above for more -- will continue the writeup later.
Well I did. The price is great at $750 for a TCU tune plus the cost of a tactrix 2.0 openport. The process is to hook up tractrix to a laptop, connect to internet, and allow them remote access to tune the TCU.
While not quite as elegant as a OBD dongle that you can switch back and forth on, it is pretty cool to get a TCU tune for seven hundred and fifty dollars. That is half the cost of solo motorsports.
I started looking into them and they offer very competitive pricing and compelling products. I have not tested any (would love to try out their TCU tune) so I cannot comment on support or quality.
However they offer dyno tuning, bench tuning, and importantly TCU tuning. TCU tuning drops the 1/4 mile time on the m278 and m157 CLS and E class (w212 and c218) by .3-.4 seconds which is a huge boost.
Chris Mattox mentioned to me he actually prefers going with the TCU tune first as there is no need for spark plug replacement. That being said, it likely isn't a bad idea to do a transmission fluid service before TCU tuning.
Both for good measure and because hitting the Torque limiter looks/feels a lot like slipping out of fifth gear.
Check out solo motorsports TCU tune here, for an incredible $1500, plus a refundable core laptop fee of $1500 if you aren't on site.
Southern Hotrod LLC offers upgrades to various factory transmissions for reasonable prices with transparent processes. For about $4600-4800 in 3-5 days after receiving your 722.9 transmission, they will rebuild it into a "war viking" using upgraded components.
They note perhaps obviously that the transmission must be calibrated to the car. I would guess with STAR or tuning. I'll ask and hit them with some questions. For now though suffice it to say Southern Hotrod should be on your radar (like Weistec) if you want to upgrade your transmission.
Southern Hotrod is Veteran owned, based out of the fine city of New Orleans. Notably the founder Edwin P Gregory III is a Mercedes Master Technician, and previously worked on F-14 Powerplants.
Tuning enthusiasts may appreciate SHR's instagram.
If I had to pick one tuner with the best reputation on the internet it would be EuroCharged. Everyone has nice things to say about being tuned by Jerry. They are super easy to work with, and apparently over 60,000 cars have been worked on by them, check out their blog for some of their interesting projects.
Send in your ECU to clone and tune, use handheld's like MyGenius. TCU tunes, custom tunes, pick up the phone or drop a forum/fb dm, and I'm sure they will work with you. They have great deals at times and offer their services at multiple locations.
Let's back up this G-wagen a bit. I usually jump into the internet feedback first, but I haven't really introduced Eurocharged here. Eurocharged is well respected for tuning ECUs/TCUs for fine automotive brands including Mercedes.
EuroCharged blog is filled with amazing ECU & TCU tuning projects from Lamborghinis to McLarens, and it looks like following their Instagram will get these pushed to you: https://www.instagram.com/eurochargedperformance/ .
In their own words:
Eurocharged Performance, offers many different services in its exclusive and well maintained facilitates all around the world. Everything from the basic bolt on to a monster street / strip car, we have what you are looking for!
EuroCharged warrants their work (I'll double check about TCU tunes -- sounds like no? still not 100%). EuroCharged is often praised for their after sales service across social media and forums. On the very small TunedMercedes Facebook Group several have commented how they enjoy their EC tuned beasts, such as a EC tuned S65.
Jake P, owner of eurocharged has some of the fastest cars in the 1/4 on dragy. He has a gorgeous offshore speed boat that apparently scares women and small children.
I first started hearing about DTKM on MBworld.org where they were discussing the DTK1000 kit which iirc is around $8,000 for about 1000 hp out of an m157 engine. (I do wonder if this kit could be made to fit an m278 engine, and if you could get 800hp. Talking to Philip owner of VRP Speed they mentioned that they felt methanol and hybrid turbo upgrade could get you over 700whp.)
While some were skeptical I and maybe a few others thought the numbers made sense in terms of output from boost, and the mods and were inline with Weistec's W4 M157 offer, but about $5999 less.
Some pointed out if you are in the USA you may want to consider sending that much money overseas. And while I have no reason to distrust anyone I can say it makes some sense. Although, shad happens in the USA too. I had an AP Royal Oak in for service and the company never returned it, went out of business, in the middle of the Diamond District, NYC. Caveat emptor but the prices are good, and dragy performance checks out.
On the mbworld forum and on dragy leaderboards you can see DTKM put up great times. It is nice to be able to verify times across the world on the dragy leaderboard to test tuners against each other as a performance baseline.
DTK Motorsports out of Tbilisi Georgia, conducts most of their business through their facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/DTKMotorsports .
Interview with Demetre of DTK Motorsports
How did you get started tuning Mercedes?
Around 8 years ago I got my first amg. An E55. Soon enough mod bug bit me and I was prepared for more power. When I started sourcing vendors for parts, only ***** and handful others, I remember i was quoted 800 usd for a 77mm pulley.
It didnt make sense to me at all as I knew i could make the same part for fraction of the price.
I made it and it worked wonderfully. Then I stsrted expeerimenting with different products that we manufsctured for my car. Once the parts were race proven, as I race at least a few nights a week, mainly 50-185mph rolls on the free way I decided to share my products and expertise with other enthusiast.
Starting selling parts far cheaper than competition as their prices were downright rip offs and obviously at profit.
What is your favorite project you’ve worked on?
Hard to say which is my favorite build. Few years ago I swapped an m113k into 1992 w201 190E with manual transmission.... it was a proper deathtrap making 550hp to the wheels weighing just over 1200kg.
But I gotta give props to my most recent build. I turned my daily cls63 m157 into a 1000hp 1500nm monster and thereafter produced dtk1000 kit.
I still daily drive the car. As does my wife. But the speed is just mental. 0-300km (0-186MPH) in 19.1s with a passenger, on the street. No prep.
(Please find some reference 0-300km/h time in the video above.)
What do you think the future of tuning looks like?
Future is most definitely electric but I think we have good 20 years left of internal combustion.
But even then, there will still be people like us that prefer turbo sound over the electric whine.
I was recently talking to Paqo who runs a tuned 550. He didn't have the stock tune to go back to and wasn't really liking the current tune.
I thought it was a good question so when I connected with Jake owner of Eurocharged; I hit him with that question. What to do if you don't like your tune and don't have the OEM file?
Jake said no problem buy the handheld tuner and the stock tune would be included if you mentioned this blog. Be like you know that guy.
Ok so what to do if you don't like your tune and want a better tune. Jake says he has run a few tunes of his back to back against others.
Weistec Engineering is a California based high-end automotive tuner. I have heard they got their start from racing Mustangs. They are rooted in pragmatic performance, that is very high-end. Their products are finished well, look great, and are expensive compared to VRP Speed, and in line with prices from GAD, AMR, RennTech.
Weistec focuses on engineering and computer aided design. They also list several core competencies on their company page.
Weistec Email Interview:
A special thank you to Weistec for providing this interview.
How did you get started tuning Mercedes?
We saw that there was a market for a supercharger system for the AMG 6.2 liter M156 engine. It was claimed that "it can't be done" by other companies in the Mercedes aftermarket. We obviously proved them wrong. From there, we expanded our product line to support other AMG models as they were released then eventually to certain non AMG models
What is your favorite project you’ve worked on?
There have been too many to choose from. Designing and manufacturing the best quality parts and modifying vehicles has been nearly a life long passion for the Weistec team so nearly every project we've done is a point of pride for us making it hard to pick any one over the others
What do you think the future of tuning looks like (i.e. trends consumers may want to consider)?
For some time now we have been moving into other brands such as Alfa Romeo, Aston Martin, Audi, BMW, Lamborghini, McLaren, Pagani, and the Powersports market. We continue to work towards more and more 50 state legal parts and tunes, our most recent being the tune for the second generation Audi R8 and Lamborghini Huracan, which has been issued an EO by CARB.
Weistec features unique and interesting products. However, there are certain threads regarding customer service that was not meeting customer expectation, which a buyer may want to consider before purchase. Weistec does respond to them with their sides of the story in each thread below.
Overall, I am not sure I would let the negative reviews deter a purchase. Many people I've talked with really enjoy their Weistec gear. Personally, I have not met anyone with negative experiences.
There are many good reviews for Weistec as well:
There are some arguments that the Weistec equipment may be over priced which is countered by their reliability:
The process of ordering, cost, delivery have been reported as issues above, but they are countered with reasonable replies by Weistec. Many of the delays seem reasonable and the complaints perhaps unreasonable.
Very notably, Weistec has been noted by their customers on MBworld as being very reliable solutions which is very important as some of their products are not your average tuner parts.
Victory Road Performance, or VRP Speed, is a different entity than VRPtuning.com. VRP Speed is an American Mercedes Tuner based in beautiful Colorado Springs, CO. Colorado Springs is steeped in automotive history: Close to Pikes Peak, home of one of the most dangerous (and fun) hill climbs. Colorado Springs is just a few hours from the infamous Stanley Hotel where the Stanley Steamer was built.
Philip L the owner of VRP has a beautiful TRD Pro 4runner rig and enjoys hitting the CO Trails.
The long open roads, and twisty turns provide excellent opportunities for real world performance, and reliability feedback. While I was living in Colorado, and penning OffRoadRover.com and my L322 book, I saw many camouflaged cars high-altitude testing. I would often think there are not many places in the world where you can drive between 75mph-90mph legally for hours at a time.
VRP Speed offers well supported products, at great prices. As GAD, RennTech, Weistec and others aim squarely at the high-end of the market, VRP finds "blue ocean" in competitively priced products which are well supported.
This is almost perfect competition price theory underlined economics, as VRP is taking products that once had large "AMG Tax", and offers them at more competitive prices. Of course theory and practice always differ.
In examining pages of comments about VRP on MBworld. Only one failure I saw, was a pump, and Phil at VRP replaced it. Most negative comments about VRP are from other tuners who regard their pricing as undercutting and perhaps commoditizing their products.
What this means for consumers is huge. For people who are buying CPO, perhaps, non-AMG cars, using VRP parts allows builds which are economical and supported by a USA company. This simply would be possible with just the selections of high-end tuners.
This extends the Mercedes enthusiasts community and allows purchasers to go farther and do more. It also offers other tuners an expanding field of potential clients in the future.
For the first of our Meet Your Mercedes Tuner series, I decided to go with RennTech. I'd like to do a write-up and maybe interview these tuners in the future. RennTech if you'd like to send me any information to correct anything, or do a quick zoom interview. I'd love too. Ok let's get on to the review which will hopefully be more correct than incorrect!
RennTech can be thought of as AMG of the USA, before the Mercedes-AMG merger.
While likely not correct in any way shape or form. RennTech was founded in 1989 by Hartmut Feyhl. Mr. Feyhl worked at AMG for between 12-14 years and worked on the iconic HAMMER.
After the Mercedes-AMG merger, the details of the relationship are not exactly clear. But you can buy RennTech products and even tunes at many Mercedes-Benz locations. It is unknown if these tunes would be warranted by Mercedes-Benz. However, it does make sense, that Mercedes-AMG might want to keep a relationship with a tuner in a more deregulated environment, who is also able to work on other cars and provide insight back to the Mercedes-Benz corporate mothership.
RennTech is located in Florida near Orlando, perhaps even in Orlando proper. They have a very complete shop with world class engineering, fabrication, computer modeling, dyno, and perhaps aero.
RennTech offers complete cars, custom tuning, and plug-in modules, products, and bench tuning. In this way they differ from GAD who as far as I know do not offer their products in individual such retail type package.
RennTech is a premier tuner and recognized world wide. They would be considered a market leader with prices to match. In this way, they are similar to GAD, Weistec.
As for more pure speculation: Brabus and AMG have I believe closer relationships, and are able to switch pieces such as drivetrains, and very advanced engineering, or even build on their own Mercedes manufacturing line as AMG does.
RennTech likely has information from Mercedes, and can work with the engineers in a way that only AMG and Brabus might be able to exceed. Because of this close, but not too close relationship. Combined with Mr. Feyhl unique experience at AMG pre-acquisition, his location in Florida highlights the world class nature of RennTech Tuning.
As for forum feedback, every person I've seen who has had any issues, at all, have been worked out with exceptional customer service. Making RennTech a smart, high-end choice for Mercedes-Benz and Mercedes-AMG tuning.