May 1, 2000

Tuning Perspective: Neuspeed's New Brew
Article and photos by Steve Sherwood and John Stahmann

Mix one part Imola S4 with one part Neuspeed...and what do you get? You get a very competent yellow rocket. AudiWorld contributing editors Steve Sherwood and John Stahmann recently finished a two-day visit at Neuspeed to see what this long-time tuner was doing with their current Audi project cars.

Neuspeed History

For those who aren't as old as the rest of us...you might not know that Neuspeed started some time ago, actually way back in 1975. Bill Neumann and his two sons, Gary and Aaron started Neuspeed in a small 2,000 sq. ft building in Burbank CA. Bill had already established himself in the industry with his work with Petersen Publishing (the owner of european car magazine and a number of other publications) but had decided it was time to venture off on his own. He started off with high performance parts for V8 engines, but with the gasoline crunch in the mid-1970s, Bill decided that there had to be a better way to make a buck. That's when he decided to concentrate on European cars. In 1980, Bill visited Germany and a number of tuners, finally working with Oettinger to bring a special 16V cylinder head over to the US to place in the Volkswagen Rabbit. This car (named the "Thunder Bunny") was developed and was tested by both Road & Track and Motor Trend magazines. Suffice it to say, the public and media were very interested. Bill, trying to explore the limits of Rabbit tuning, sent copies of these magazine articles on to top executives at Volkswagen USA and begged them to consider a sporty version of the Rabbit. Something must have clicked because in 1983 the Rabbit GTI was released in the US. Bill and the rest of the Neuspeed staff then worked on a number of aftermarket performance parts for these Volkswagen "pocket rockets".

In 1995, Honda and Acura parts sales nearly equaled the VW parts sales during that same period, so Bill decided to expand on the offering of aftermarket parts for Honda automobiles. To promote his efforts, Bill agreed to fund a Honda in the 1996 North American Touring Car Championship (NATCC). In 1997 the company decided to expand again, this time adding Audi components under the Neuspeed nameplate. This decision came naturally as the Audi A4 and VW Passat (B5 chassis) share many components. More recently, Neuspeed has also undertaken concurrent R&D efforts on the Audi TT and VW Beetle 1.8T, two cars strikingly similar underneath their skins.

From their small shop in Burbank, to the existing shop in Camarillo, CA, Neuspeed continues to grow and develop products. They never imagined that this singular "Thunder Bunny" would lead to such an overwhelming response by VW, Audi, and Honda owners alike. Neuspeed is now the largest brand of high performance water-cooled parts in the US, and a leading name in Audi, Acura and Honda performance parts. The company today has two business identities -- APS is the retail unit and Neumann Distributing is the wholesale unit. Both divisions sell Neuspeed products as well as other quality lines such as KONI, Bilstein, MOMO, and Hella.

In the past 25 years Neuspeed has developed over 24 different project vehicles. For 2000, Neuspeed is working on three new projects: an Audi S4, a VW Golf 1.8T, and a Honda S2000. The S4 project is still in its early stages, but so far Neuspeed has developed a rear anti-sway bar, sport lowering springs, and a stainless steel cat-back exhaust system (estimated July release). A short shift kit and an engine control 1.0 bar chip are in prototype stage right now. In the future, a turbocharger upgrade will be evaluated to determine sales potential. For the TT, Neuspeed has already released its suspension parts and P-Flo air intake. An exhaust system and an engine control chip are finished, and are awaiting approval from the R&D staff. A turbocharger upgrade will also be evaluated.

What's new at Neuspeed?

Neuspeed has entered the S4 market a bit behind the other Audi tuners. Why? According to Neuspeed it's because they wanted to get the job right the first time. Neuspeed spends a significant amount of time in product development; Aaron Neumann's job at Neuspeed is to develop new products for VW, Audi, and Honda. Neuspeed has recently gone into a partnership with a high-end machine shop to design and develop their own parts rather than working with other outside vendors. The result is quicker time to market, increased ability to make subtle changes in the products, and better control over the end product. This machine shop uses very high quality 5-axis CNC milling equipment. In addition to the aftermarket parts already identified above for the A4/S4, Neuspeed will soon offer projector lenses (eliminating the annoying amber corner lenses), slotted OEM size front and rear brake rotors and specially designed lowering springs.

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