Turbo Technics 1981 - 2021
Turbo Technics first opened its doors on Mon 1st June, 1981, in Market Rasen, Lincolnshire. Starting out with a team of just 5 people, this would be the start of a Journey that would last 40 years (and counting...)
Turbo Technics' launch product was the Metro TT Turbo Kit. Supported by British Leyland, it was available through selected dealers for a grand total of £825 plus VAT (about £2,850 in today's money). Based on a Garrett T3 turbocharger (the smallest turbo available at the time), the kit included manifolds, exhaust, airbox, carburettor and ignition modifications, and all required pipework and fittings. The end result was a power increase from 70bhp to 95bhp, which in turn improved the top gear performance (the main goal for the kit) reducing the 50-70 time from 14.5 seconds to 8.2!
Turbo Technics began the first of many partnerships with major manufacturers by developing the engine and turbo system for the Metro Turbo Group A race car, based on the newly released Metro Turbo, and delivering over 200 BHP. Several of these cars are still running today!
Not long after the release of the Metro TT, Turbo Technics teamed up with renowned German Tuner Dr. Schrick to bring a T3 turbo kit for the RHD Golf Gti 1600 to market. The T3 equipped turbo kit increased power from 108bhp to 140 bhp, with a 0-60mph time of 7.3 seconds and would be the first of many TT conversions and turbo products for the VW in the following decades.
Ford Motorsport approached TT to develop a turbo kit for the XR3, to be used in a single-model rally series. Although the series never came to be, Ford bought the designs and patterns for the manifold and turbocharger, which they used for the legendary Escort RS Turbo. This was the start of a long relationship between Ford and TT. The turbo installation was used as the basis for TT's own conversion.
In December, 1982, Turbo Technics left the original factory in Market Rasen and moved to new premises at Harrowden Road, on Brackmills Industrial Estate, Northampton, a more central and convenient location for the business.
At the launch of the updated XR3, TT was quick to adapt its turbo system to the injection version which rapidly became a top seller.
By mid 1984, the business had outgrown the Harrowden Road unit, and moved 'round the corner' to a larger building on Gallowhill Road.
In 1984, Turbo Technics completed their first turbo balancing machine - the Vibration Sorting Rig (VSR®). The machines developed at Garrett during Geoff's initial investigations into turbo noise and balance were functional but very large, and required multiple personnel to operate. Garrett approached TT to develop a machine that they could sell to their dealers around the world, and could be run by a single person. Based entirely on analogue electronics, the original VSRs enabled a simple pass/fail check to be carried out (hence vibration "sorting" rig - to sort the good from bad), the only adjustment for noisy turbos being a reorientation of the compressor wheel to achieve a more favourable alignment. Turbo Technics have continued to lead the market in high-speed turbo balancing equipment ever since, and this first VSR® (a trade mark still held today) was an important and significant step in that journey.
Launch of the iconic V-6 2.8 single turbo kit. More than 1200 would be delivered over the following years.
Turbo Technics played a significant part in achieving a Guiness World Record in 1985, when a TT modified Sierra XR4i was used to set a world record for "Rooftop Skiing" at newly opened Bruntingthorpe Proving Ground. World-class speed skiers (the Wilkie brothers) had approached Ford for the stunt, who promptly directed them to TT as they didn't have anything fast enough. After a few failed attempts, Geoff turned the boost up and took over the wheel for what turned out to be the record-breaking run, setting a recorded speed of 125.9mph.
Throughout the 80's Turbo Technics developed turbo conversions for numerous different cars, but perhaps the most significant was the Sierra XR4x4. Since its release in 1985, TT developed and sold a range of kits for the all-wheel drive V6-equipped Sierras, which proved hugely popular thanks to quite astonishing performance for the time. Several different levels of kit were developed over the years, providing customers with a choice of power outputs from 200bhp to 280bhp (up from the standard 148bhp). Modifications weren't limited to the engine alone, with upgrades carried out to the suspension, brakes, gearbox and even aerodynamics, depending on the level of upgrade. This would ultimately culminate in the pinnacle of TT's turbo conversion business at the end of the decade...
As more vehicle models began to appear with turbochargers equipped as standard, a new market opportunity appeared - upgrading or modifying the standard turbocharger to achieve greater performance or reliability (or both!). The first example of this was for the Escort RS Turbo, and consisted of modifying the compressor housing for a slightly larger compressor wheel, recalibrating the actuator to achieve a higher boost pressure, and adding selectable boost. The practice of creating "hybrid" turbos, by mixing and matching parts to achieve the desired performance, would ultimately grow into one of the main avenues of business for Turbo Technics.
Turbo Technics begin turbo remanufacturing with a first offering for the Renault 18. Although a seemingly minor milestone, this marked the start of a growing market which would become a major area of business for TT and the industry as a whole.
The first TT turbo kit for the Peugeot 205 Gti was launched for the 1.6l variant, taking power from 115bhp to 160bhp. A 1.9l Gti variant would follow a year later, boasting peak horsepower figure of 175bhp and an impressive 6.3sec 0-60 time.
TT South - satellite fitting and service centre opened in Aldershot to bring fitting and service support closer to the southern customer base. TT South was a part of the main TT company
Although the 2.8i Capri kit was already well established in TT's range, Ford approached Turbo Technics about creating a special kit as an offering alongside the final edition of the Capri - the Capri 280 'Brooklands'. This was available through all Ford dealers for installation pre-delivery.
One of TTs more unusual conversion offerings was for the second generation Ford Transit, with turbo conversion kits offered for both the 2.5l diesel and 2.0l petrol models.
TT support Graham Goode Racing with T34 turbo chargers for use on his Cosworth 500 Gp A car in the BTCC.
TT was again approached by Ford, on this occasion to apply the T25 turbo kit to the XR2. The kit was marketed and recommended by Ford through their dealer network, and was available to be installed pre-delivery. Promotion included a competition to win a car donated by Ford.
Throughout the early days of designing and selling turbo conversion kits, Turbo Technics built up a large network of dealers and fitting centres. At its largest in 1988 there were no less than 38 fitting centres around the UK, and 5 overseas.
Turbo Technics continue their line of successful Golf Gti conversion kits with the launch of the kit for the 16v Mk2 Gti. The 0-60mph time was reduced from 7.9 to 6.0 seconds, pulling through to a peak power delivery of 180bhp.
TT launch the twin-turbo upgrade for the 3.6L XJ6, increasing the horsepower from 220bhp to a healthy 299bhp. This was later followed by the 4.0L and the Chasseur
With Ford support, Turbo Technics developed the Scorpio 2.9 twin turbo, followed by the Sierra 2.9 twin. Ford engineers were keen to pursue a twin turbo setup for driveability despite the increased cost.
In 1990, Turbo Technics launched the swan song to the range of Sierra XR4x4 conversions - the Minker. Using a twin T2 turbocharger setup based on the top-level XR4x4 kit, the Minker carried an extensive list of additional performance modications to the engine, transmission, brakes and suspension as standard. It even came with newly specced tyres and light weight alloy wheels, and a modified bonnet and grill for improved cooling flow. The Minker was available in two versions; the Minker K-1 which came with a bodykit for styling and aerodynamic benefits, and Minker 323 (the 323 reflecting the peak power for both models of 323bhp) with no bodywork modifications for the ultimate 'sleeper' look. The result was a saloon with supercar shaming performance, boasting 0-60mph times well under 5 seconds thanks to the super-responsive twin turbo setup.
TT start building Grp A and Grp N turbos for Ford Motorsport in support of their Rally programme. This included a TT-designed bearing upgrade among various features, for enhanced reliability.
TT launch their kit for the 3.9L V8 Range Rover, with horspower increased from 185bhp to 258bhp, and nearly 100lb-ft of torque increase resulting in a 0-60mph time of 8.1s!
The next step in turbo balancing technology was taken in 1990, when Turbo Technics released the VSR® Mk2. The major development over the Mk1 VSR® was 'trim balance' with the inclusion of an indicator to show where the heavy point of imbalance was on the rotating assembly, which meant the operator could grind a small cut in the nosenut to cancel out the uneven weight distribution and 'balance' the turbo. The Mk2 still used analogue electronics, so the indicator was simply a ring of LEDs, with a single LED illuminating to show where the heavy point was relative to a reference marked by the operator.
Major economic recession caused a loss of market confidence and very difficult trading conditions.
Turbo Technics had developed kits for the Mercedes 300 series in conjunction with dealer Hughes of Beaconsfield over the first part of the 1990s, the final one being the 3.2 E series launched in 1993. The economic recession of the early 90's had resulted in a rapidly declining market for such products, and consequently this particular conversion was the last to be developed by TT, marking the end of an era.
Some years after the unfortunate decline of the turbo conversion kit market, an opportunity presented itself to develop a performance kit for the K-Series engined MG F (and subsequently, Lotus Elise). Due to the rear-mounted engine location and tight packaging constraints, it was determined that a turbocharger install would create too many heat-management issues for a commercially viable kit. Instead, Geoff teamed up with long-time personal friend Anders Kolstrup, who was developing a rotary supercharger design that would be ideal for this application. The conversion kit boasted strong, driveable performance, boosting power up to 260bhp (depending on specification), and Anders would go on to start the renowned supercharger company Rotrex.
Turbo Technics were approached by helicopter manufacturers Rotorway International for a performance boosting solution for their Exec 162F helicopter. A turbocharger was not suitable so the rotary supercharger design was revisited, with modifications being made to the bearing and sealing arrangement to allow for a vertical shaft configuration to be run. The improved performance increased the operational ceiling of the Exec 162F from 5,000ft to 10,000ft, and over 300 units were supplied over subsequent years.
In 1999, Turbo Technics launched the VSR Mk3® - the first computerised VSR®. As turbocharger design evolved the operational speed was ever increasing which in turn required more precise balancing. The analogue electronics in the VSR® Mk2 simply couldn't keep up with the speeds required, and lacked the precision required for these newer high speed turbo designs.
Turbo Technics moves into larger, purpose-built premises at its current address, Sketty Close (still on Brackmills Industrial Estate, Northampton).
Turbo Technics launches the VSR Mk4-H, a significant development to be used at Holset plants worldwide. Holset had been a customer for Turbo Technics balancing machines for some time, but were looking for improved cycle times from their Mk3 VSRs®. Rather than modifying the existing machines, Geoff and the team took the opportunity to work with Holset to develop a brief for an extremely high spec machine that would meet their needs. Mk4-H was the result, marking a major step into operational automation for the VSR® name, and leading to the market leading Mk 4 series.
Turbo Technics began supplying turbos to the Formula Palmer Audi one-make race series, during which Turbo Technics developed a high precision dual port actuator. The tolerances in the standard actuator created minute differences in the turbo response between cars - which is not ideal for cars that are supposed to perform equally! The precision TT actuator allowed for fine adjustment of the actuator spring load and position to ensure identical performance.
In response to an ever increasing number of enquiries to repair failed turbo units from Nissan Figaros, TT developed a solution using readily available Garrett parts (as opposed to the original Hitachi components that were unavailable). Strangely, this turned out to be a hugely worthwhile venture, with Figaro replacements becoming one of TT's top selling units for a period of several years.
In 2008, Turbo Technics began developing a VNT turbo conversion for the Land Rover Td5 engine. The application of modern diesel turbo technology transformed the driving experience with drastically improved reponse, and boosted peak horsepower by up to 50bhp. These units proved to be highly successful, prompting similar VNT developments for the older 200Tdi and 300Tdi, as well as other hybrids for more modern Land Rover engines. In fact, it may be surprising to know that Land Rover hybrid turbos have been amongst our best sellers ever since!
The VSR Mk5 was launched in 2008, designed specifically to handle larger turbo cores for commercial applications (trucks, marine, industrial etc). The key difference to previous machines was that the turbo core was to be 'front-loaded', which would make handling the larger parts easier for the operator. Later iterations of the Mk5 would go on to include high levels of automation to further ease the operational input of working with large and heavy turbo cores.
The extension to the main building at Sketty Close is completed, providing a larger vehicle workshop, and more space to process increasing remanufacturing business.
In 2009 Turbo Technics launched the S205 hybrid turbocharger for the Mitsubishi Lancer (Evolution 4 onwards). Other than the T3 bearing housing, the entire unit and fitting kit was (and still is) built entirely from Turbo Technics designed parts, most notably the turbine housing which was designed to be a direct fit to the original exhaust and manifold. This marks an important first of a new concept, the first of many Turbo Technics bespoke performance 'hybrid' turbos - all the installation convenience of a modified standard turbo, but without the restriction of the standard parts.
2009 saw Geoff prove his engineering (and driving) talents by securing an overall win in the BARC Speed Championship, driving his highly modified Sierra race car.
The turbo assembly department moves into the newly built 'Building 2', to allow expansion for ever increasing demand for remanufactured units, and high-volume remanufacturing contracts for OEM manufacturers.
Turbo Technics secure a major, multi-year turbocharger remanufacturing contract with Jaguar-Land Rover for multiple turbo part numbers.
Turbo Technics opened a new chapter in Turbo Test equipment in 2012, with the Launch of the VTR (now known as the VTR 200). The variable vane boost control found on modern diesel engines requires careful calibration, and although turbo technics had previously developed a simple mechanical test rig for pneumatically controlled examples, the emergence of electronic actuators demanded a solution for both Turbo Technics and the rest of the turbo aftermarket. The VTR (Vane-flow Test Rig) was the solution designed by TT, a sophisticated flow test machine that would check the calibration of the turbine nozzle against a template, regardless of actuator type, and compensating for environmental conditions.
The Mk7 Fiesta ST saw the return of a turbocharger as standard to the top-level Fiesta for the first time in 20 years, and in 2015 Turbo Technics put their name to the UK's best selling model once again with the release of the S242 hybrid turbocharger (later revised to S270). This first release proved to be highly successful, exceeding 300bhp with very little additional lag, and ultimately proving to be very reliable.
Turbo Technics had been introducing simplified machines alongside the flagship models for some years, with the aim of enabling smaller outfits and garages to repair and service turbos themselves. In 2016, this culminated in the launch of the VSFR, by far the most successful machine for this market to date. The VSFR is a combination of the VSR®3 (a simplified balancing machine) and the VTR 100 (a simplified VTR), and is significant in being the only machine to date which combines both balancing and flow test functionality in a single machine.
Since development first started on a hybrid turbo for the Mk7 Golf R (and vehicles with the same engine) in 2015, Turbo Technics have developed a number of variations for this application. The most notable of these is undoubtably the S277 (sometimes referred to as the "V5"), yet another bespoke performance 'hybrid' boasting astonishing performances figures up to 550bhp. Unlocking the immense potential from VAGs impressive engine, shows just how far technology has come in a short space of time, far and away from the 140bhp achieved by the TT kit for the original GTi.
2019 saw the launch of the VSR4 Gen2, which introduced the market to the next generation of VSR® balancing machines. With knowledge and experience gained from over 35 years of developing turbocharger balancing equipment, the Gen2 features new functionality and improved processes to speed up production. It also covers a wider range of core sizes, from the very smallest through to the top of the commercial vehicle market.
Turbo Technics welcomed well-known automotive bloggers "Car Throttle" to film a video on the making of hybrid turbos.
Despite the onset of a global coronavirus pandemic, 2020 brought huge demand for the already popular S280 bespoke hybrid upgrade for the Mk7 Fiesta ST. Surprised by the timing of the spike in demand, 2020 is already referred to internally as "the year of the S280", with so many Fiesta owners opting for our 350bhp capable turbo.
The S285 hybrid turbo for the Mk8 Fiesta ST was launched, continuing TT's longstanding history of working with Ford vehicles and the Fiesta name.
After four decades of market-leading innovation and design, Turbo Technics celebrates its 40th anniversary. There is much to be proud of from our 40 year history, having played such a central roll in the development of the turbocharger industry and the turbo tuning after market.