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”?