February 24, 2024

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Innovation in the Automotive Realm

10 Custom Car Builders Making Them Better Than New

7 min read

Even the best of automobile manufacturers aren’t above the law, and automakers have forever been restricted by multiple sets of regulations. These restraints of safety and emission norms along with budget constraints force carmakers to limit the performance of their products, including performance cars at a particular threshold, and not take them up to full capacity. This is where tuners come in, offering to unlock the untapped potential of a stock vehicle via a range of upgrade processes.

These procedures include minor tweaks such as remapping the ECU to liberate the automobile from manufacturer-set performance limits to full-on transfiguration of the vehicle into altogether a different beast. Today we focus on car builders specialized in the latter, i.e., in creating far more powerful, better-looking, overall enhanced versions of stock cars. Some of these tuners have achieved legendary status with their unmatchable expertise, and the following 10 are among the best of them.

10 Singer Vehicle Design

Beige 2023 Singer DLS Turbo parked indoors
Singer Vehicle Design

What’s Better

  • Boundless customization options
  • Strengthened chassis and carbon fiber components
  • Builds the ultimate air-cooled Porsche 911

A 964 generation Porsche 911 reimagined and transmogrified by Singer is hands down the best air-cooled 911 that money can get you. Singer Vehicle Design takes a 964-generation donor car and strips it down to the chassis. The monocoque is then strengthened, adorned with a multitude of carbon fiber components, and installed with a roll cage. The stock engine is replaced with an upgraded motor from “Ed Pink Racing Engines” with up to 390 horses on tap.

Suspension duties are taken care of by KW coilovers or a more aggressive track-spec Öhlins setup, depending on the client’s preference. There are 75 exterior shades on offer, along with a superfluity of interior customization options to choose from. However, the waitlist for a Singer Porsche is long, and you can expect to spend around $600,000 for your dream Singer 911.

9 Hennessey Performance Engineering

Hennessey Venom 1200 Ford Mustang GT500 driven on the track
Hennessey Performance Engineering

What’s Better

  • Up to 1,200 horsepower on offer
  • More affordable than similarly capable stock machines
  • Offered with a warranty

Hennessey Performance Engineering is an American hypercar manufacturer and revered tuner, specialized in creating monstrous 1,000-hp versions of stock vehicles. John Hennessey founded the company back in 1991 and entered the automotive scene by building the Hennessey Venom 650R, an upgraded 650-hp version of the 1996 Dodge Viper GTS.

After introducing its first hypercar, the Hennessey Venom GT in 2010, the brand gained recognition and catapulted to fame. Versatility is Hennessey’s greatest weapon, and their current portfolio includes a number of Herculean beasts. These include beefed-up family SUVs, muscle cars, sports cars, and sports sedans, all tuned up to 1,000-1,200 horsepower, along with a couple of hardcore, off-road-ready pickup trucks.

RELATED: Our 10 Favorite Cars From Hennessey Performance

8 Liberty Walk

Green Liberty Walk Nissan GT-R R35 parked outdoors
Liberty Walk

What’s Better

  • Gives a JDM look to exotic supercars
  • Super-cool widebody kits and performance enhancements
  • Available for lowered cars too

Established in 1995, Liberty Walk is a Japanese tuner proficient in creating chopped supercars decked out with gigantic body kits and an aggressive stance. Simply known as LB Works, at present, the brand is divided into multiple sectors specializing in different types of bodywork. Remaining true to its lineage, LB Works produces aggressive widebody kits for supercars, whereas the LB Silhouette Works GT range consists of body kits resembling Japan Grand Champion Series Silhouette Cars. LB Performance, on the other hand, offers subtle yet assertive body panels for supercars if you want to add some flare without a complete overhaul. LB Nation is the entry point to the brand, putting forth affordable body kits for less expensive automobiles.

7 Brabus GmbH

Black Brabus 6x6 XLP 900 dune-bashing in the desert

What’s Better

  • Turns Mercs into rockets
  • 900+ horses on offer
  • Bespoke craftsmanship

The Brabus lineup is a Mercedes-Benz fanatic’s paradise, especially for enthusiasts who yearn for a more powerful Mercedes-AMG. Although occasionally, they tinker with a Porsche or enhance a Rolls-Royce, Brabus is predominantly a Mercedes tuner, offering exclusive tuning programs for almost every three-pointed star model. Available modifications include larger-displacement engines, widebody kits, aerodynamics-enhanced carbon fiber body panels, adventure packages, exhaust systems, custom wheels, a plethora of interior customization options, and plenty more. If you’re looking for a more comprehensive product with warranty coverage, Brabus also offers a diverse range of tuned-to-the-extreme supercars, comprising various on and off-road iterations of the G-Class and plenty more.

6 Alpina Automobiles

Blue 2023 BMW Alpina B5 GT parked indoors under studio lightning

What’s Better

  • Builds beefier, next-level BMWs
  • Stronger turbos and plenty more power
  • Exquisite, hand-crafted interior

Much like how Brabus enhances Mercs, Alpina plays a similar role for Bimmers. Alpina works closely with BMW, hand-assembling their higher-output engine and sending it to a BMW plant in Germany for installation. After the engine is mounted, the car is sent back to Alpina to complete the rest of the build. After 57 years of hand-in-hand partnership, BMW acquired Alpina in 2022, and starting from 2025, the development and production of Alpina automobiles will entirely be handled by BMW itself. Presently, Alpina’s lineup comprises pretty much every gas-powered BMW available today, augmented with a lot more power. These models are also embellished with sportier body panels on the outside and hand-crafted elements inside the cabin.

RELATED: Why The Japan-Exclusive Alpina B4 Gran Coupe Will Be BMW’s Rarest Luxury Car

5 Mansory

Black Mansory Maserati MC20 First Edition parked indoors under studio lighting

What’s Better

  • Flamboyant colors and exterior elements
  • Armored vehicles
  • Extra-luxurious interior designs

Mansory is another ultra-luxury car tuner based in Germany that makes some of the glitziest modded monsters money can buy. Mansory was founded back in 1989 by Kourosh Mansory, an ardent admirer of British luxury cars. Initially, Mansory focused on modding Rolls-Royce, Bentley, Aston Martin, and Ferrari cars, later on expanding their portfolio with all popular luxury brands. Mansory takes super-powered high-performance luxury cars to the next level, injecting them with colossal amounts of extra horsepower and reshaping their bodywork to deliver superior aerodynamics. Even though most Mansory cars flaunt a polarizing design language and color theme, there are some elegant and truculent models on their roster.

4 Novitec Group

Violet Novitec Ferrari F8 Spider parked outdoors

What’s Better

  • Weight reduction and performance enhancements
  • Transforms supercars into hypercars
  • Elevates hypercars onto God-level

Novitec holds expertise in elevating cutting-edge Italian and British exotics to even more sublime masterpieces. Novitec produces performance parts and custom exterior styling elements for Ferrari, Lamborghini, McLaren, Maserati, and Rolls-Royce, all of which are clearly exquisite automakers. Pretty much all modern models from these brands can be given the Novitec treatment, which includes outfitting them with wider, more aerodynamic body kits and upgrading their internals to produce substantially more ponies. Contrary to their reputation of modding V8s and V12s, Novitec also provides adjustable suspension setups, forged wheels, and exterior panels for Tesla models.

3 Gemballa GmbH

White Gemballa MIG parked indoors under studio lighting

What’s Better

  • Upgrades hypercars to omnipotence
  • Builds more puissant, one-of-a-kind Porsches
  • 818-hp 991-gen Porsche 911 Turbo

Gemballa is another German tuning company that mainly manufactures bespoke automobiles based on popular Porsche models. Exceptions to this are the Gemballa MIG based on the Ferrari Enzo, one of the most iconic Ferraris of all time, and the Gemballa GT based on the McLaren 12C. The Enzo isn’t the sole member of the 2000s holy trinity to receive Gemballa’s touch, as the Mirage GT is another Gemballa tour de force, based on the legendary Porsche Carrera GT. Both of these uniquely tailored hypercars were made in very limited numbers, along with a few other one-of-a-kind Porsches. At present, the brand proffers a number of full modular individualization packages for last-generation Porsche models and the McLaren 12C.

RELATED: This Is Why The Gemballa Mirage GT Is Appreciating In Value

2 ABT Sportsline GmbH

Red ABT Audi RS6 LE parked outdoors

What’s Better

  • Largest tuning provider for Volkswagen and Audi
  • Aggressive body kits
  • Wide range of performance enhancements

Johann Abt, a blacksmith, founded the company Auto-ABT as an innovative workshop more than 125 years ago, which then evolved into ABT Sportsline over the decades. ABT Sportsline has a notable history in motorsport and happens to be the world’s largest tuning provider for vehicles from the Volkswagen and Audi Group. ABT essentially tunes all modern VW and Audi vehicles as well as a handful of models from Škoda, Seat and Cupra along with the Lamborghini Urus. ABT enlivens their machines with more power without overdoing the exterior design, even while adding a profusion of nuanced yet tasteful exterior elements.

1 Ruf Automobile GmbH

Gray 2002 RUF Porsche 911 GT2 parked outdoors
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What’s Better

  • Super-powered Porsche sports cars
  • Bespoke sports car built from grounds up
  • Extremely lightweight carbon fiber underpinnings

Ruf used to be another Porsche-exclusive tuner before gloriously evolving into a standalone automaker that produces in-house sports cars that conspicuously resemble Porsches. Built-from-scratch cars on their spectacular array of models includes the 710-hp Ruf CTR Anniversary, the Ruf SCR, and the range-topping 777-hp Ruf CTR 3 Clubsport. On the other hand, Ruf Performance Parts is the division entrusted with the task of producing high-performance components for Porsches. They currently produce enhanced components for every generation of the Porsche 911, Boxster, Cayman, and Cayenne. Ruf can be termed as one of the absolute best Porsche tuners on planet Earth, both in terms of performance and aesthetic.


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