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Old 05-09-2009, 10:30 PM   #1
Drives: 2010 Camaro 2ss
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What makes a car a "tuner" car?

What is that fine line the differentiates a "tuner" car from a "muscle car"?

Here's what I found in wikipedia for "tuner (car)":
"The essence of modification of a Tuner Car is an attempt to extract the greatest possible performance from the base motor vehicle through the addition, alteration or outright replacement of parts. Although this largely involves modifying the engine and management systems of the vehicle to increase the power output, additional changes are often required to allow the vehicle to handle this power including stiffened suspension, widened tires, better brakes, improved steering and transmission modifications."

With that definition, how can you actually call a car a Muscle Car? Put in a CAI and you just tuned your vehicle. Now you've just made your car in the same league as the twin turbod, nitrous beasts. Can only stock V8s or greater be considered a true muscle car?...

Here's what I found for "Muscle Car"...

"Muscle car is a term used to refer to a variety of high performance automobiles.[1][2] At its most widely accepted the term refers to American 2-door rear wheel drive mid-size cars of the late 1960s and early 1970s equipped with large, powerful V8s and sold at an affordable price for street use and drag racing, formally and informally". Ok.. so anything past the early 70s can't be called muscle... I'll leave that alone for now.

Taking away the extremes of those two "Definitions", how would you guys differentiate between the two?

Personally I'm not a big supporter of the tuner world. Cars mostly using turbos and nitrous to make the car faster. There was a SPEEDvision special where two high schools competed against each other in the 1/4 mile. The 450HP~ car with nitrous beat the car with 750+HP. I would put that in the same category as a person taking drugs to feel good. Cheating I say!

I fell victim to the Fast and Furious series. It came right when I turned 16! There was no escaping the craving for NOS and TURBOS. And yes, because of that movie, I am still a recovering Rice Burner. Lights under the car, on the tire valve caps, in the air vents, on the pedals, and an exhaust tip so big I could fit my whole foot in. I was also surrounded by true "muscle" with the trans ams, camaros, and mustangs growing up. A fan of both genres at the time.

I picked a side with the 2010 Camaro and it'll be my first vehicle with an engine bigger than a V4. Being a single male in a crowded aparment, there isn't really a good way to fuel a car hobby so the dream of fixing up a 60s/70s car will just have to stay a dream for now.

My goal now is for 500HP at the wheels. From what I"m seeing it may not be possible and cost effective to keep the car Naturally Aspirated and to keep the fuel efficiency at at least 15 MPG. What a headache!

This is where this whole topic originated from. Supercharges could make this goal easily obtainable but I don't want to cross the line into the tuner world! If I keep the car naturally aspirated, whenever someone would bring up a comparison or suggest a race with a car with nos or a turbo, I would easily just reply, "I won't race tuners". With Superchargers, it may be a little harder to use the same line.

:Time for another Drink!:

Ok, now originally, I made one softer description for both categories and said: well, whatever is FI is considered tuner whereas naturally aspirated is considered muscle. Well, some older muscle cars had superchargers right?

Here's a song that pretty much describes my current mood:

uh.. how do you embed videos? Anyway...

The bottom line is that I don't want to make the Camaro into the tuner world and be compared to other tuners and hear "That twin turbo honda can beat your supercharged camaro". Of course.. It's a cheap tuner! Keep the tuners away! Put nos and twin turbos on a stationwagon and you could prolly beat it with all the FAKE horsepower!

Yes, I'm pretty passionate on this subject as you can see

So I want some feedback! Is Supercharger considered Tuner? Is any type of FI engine considered a tuner for that matter to include Nitrous?

It would also be great if anyone knows if it's possible to get 500+RWHP from just a naturally aspirated engine (keeping at least 15mpg) so I can avoid this argument altogether!
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Old 05-09-2009, 10:50 PM   #2

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Old 05-10-2009, 12:04 AM   #3
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I think there are three tiers of tuners...

1. In-house tuners. This includes AMG, The M Division, SVT, ect.

2. "High-End" Tuners. NISMO, McLaren (although they're starting up they're own thing), Hennessey, Callaway, Brabus, Geiger, ect.

3. The bulk of them, just tuners. Zele, Mines, Hammann, Novitec, TechArt, ect.
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Old 05-10-2009, 12:23 AM   #4
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To me, a tuner car is "tuning" the small engine you have into something that unleashes some serious power.
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Old 05-10-2009, 08:28 PM   #5
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I generally consider tuners to be import owners that change nearly everything about their car: interior, exterior, and performance -both straight line and handling.

A muscle car is a domestic that has a big V8, huge power and torque, and handles well enough to head back and make another run at the drag strip.

You can't make something a muscle car. It either is or it isn't. But there are a lot of options to make something into a tuner.

Thats how I look at it anyways.
Note, if I've gotten any facts wrong in the above, just ignore any points I made with them
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Old 05-11-2009, 02:56 AM   #6
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so you are saying that you think if someone puts a TT on a V8 or even a V6 camaro/mustang/challanger/trans am/firebird then all of a sudden its not muscle?
thats kinda ignorant view. Like DGthe3 said, its either muscle or it isnt. You cant make it muscle, and you cant really make muscle a tuner (short of doing an engine swap with a 2jz or an RB26 or some other import motor)
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Old 05-11-2009, 06:13 PM   #7
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i dont quite look at it like that. i see muscle cars and tuners as different things, and it states it pretty clearly in the descriptions. DG said it best as its either muscle or it isnt. you cant take a supra and make it muscle. you can however make anything a tuner car. I wouldnt say that doing a k&n filter makes you a tuner but rather any mod that requires you to get a tune to make it driveable. a turbo needs a tune to make it driveable. a supercharger needs a tune to make it driveable. a stroker needs a tune to make it driveable. a cam needs a tune to make it driveable. an exhast doesnt. so basically your a tuner when you pass a certain threshold into performance upgrades. but it sounds like your getting caught up on a word instead of a meaning. there is nothing wrong with a tuner muscle car. i respect that. what you want to avoid is the tuner going for ornate numbers. a 850hp Nismo 350z isnt always that fast. a 1000+hp supra can still run 12s in the quarter. a 600hp chevelle? hang on to something. its all about how you approach that hp really. if you come at it from a "I want to go faster" after getting out at the end of a drag strip? good tuner. if you pull the car off the dyno and go "it only got 700 to the wheels, we need another 20% out of it"? bad tuner. you kinda get what im after? if not just ignore. 500 hp is a good goal though... and a supercharger is a good start to the "I want to go faster" leg.
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Old 05-11-2009, 06:35 PM   #8

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This thread brought back a memory of something I heard in pit row at the Memphis drag strip (got to meet Joe Gibbs and his team that day) when I was stationed out there, one of the mechanics was telling his driver ... "it's not how fast you go, but how quick you get there"!
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Old 05-11-2009, 10:19 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by Paperer View Post
To me, a tuner car is "tuning" the small engine you have into something that unleashes some serious power.
My car is a tuner! I went from 181 base wheel horsepower to 308 wheel horsepower.

Quite a feat with one bolt on :P
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