On the road during lockdown

Here's what motorists should know.

Meet Smokey Nagata

The man behind the legendary twin-turbo V12 Toyota Supra build.

That special car touch - What is gentleman tuning all about?

2019-02-24 13:00

Robin Classen

Image: Keanan Gallant's 2014 VW Polo Vivo fitted with OEM Polo GTI wheels

Not every modification done to a car needs to be seen or heard. While that is the overall objective for most, there are some that catch the eye without the driver even doing much at all.

Gentlemen tuning or OEM+ is something of a hidden art, only practiced by the purist motoring enthusiasts priding themselves on the sleek, stock look without changing any of the car's aesthetic dynamics.

So what is this OEM+ business?

Simply put, OEM+ is improving a car's (mostly) visual appearance by fitting factory parts off of other cars in its stable or different brands altogether.

READ: Classic cars SA: What makes this VW Jetta MkII so special in Uitenhage?

Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) - Maybe you've heard about it before, maybe you've seen it and never knew what it was, but the art of OEM+ tuning has become popular for some time now.

A guy who owns a normal run of the mill VW Polo Vivo for example, and is not too happy with the current wheel on the car, but really fancies the stock wheel of the Scirocco or the seating of a Golf GTI MkIV, can use that as a base.

The itch is always there to improve aesthetics, telling yourself not to go overboard - next thing you know, the car is scraping on speed bumps and the wheel arches are rolled.

While those aren't straight fitting parts, fabrication and 'made to fit' effort is required. Brand swapping is no longer a frowned upon thing, it is all about how everything compliments the car. 

Volkswagen and Audi are probably the most popular choices for OEM+ upgrades, with most performance and aesthetic parts interchangeable - well, they are family after all. The Seat Cupra front spoiler is a popular accessory.

Changing the game

A base model Golf 5 has modern features (depending on the spec) like airbags, electric windows etc and while a GTI isn't always attainable, people often try to replicate the exact look.

Trying to convert an ordinary model to that of its faster version can prove to be expensive, making buying the actual model a much better choice. With that said, people are steering away from building replicas, to just using what they already have and using it as a base to work from.

                                                                           Image: Keanan Gallant

Bigger aftermarket wheels and a drop in suspension either with a coilover kit or air ride suspension is the norm - giving rise to the 'stance' culture. The car you use doesn't matter, originality is what sets you apart.

To put it into some sort of perspective, the 2018 VW Polo has already been fitted with air ride suspension - it is not even a year old yet! Everything from widebody M3's to Hilux's fitted with this modification is just some of the (somewhat expensive) cars that aren't safe from the tuning scene.

The OEM and stance scene is rapidly growing in South Africa with guys constantly changing the game of what to do next. We are getting there.


There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.