Sad to read that Overfinch has gone into administration, if only because it’s one of the best-known British tuning companies in a dwindling band of such entrepreneurial endeavours.
Despite a rich heritage of tuners (think Downton Minis, Uren Cortinas, Blydenstein Vauxhalls), very few Brit tuners have managed to carry-on business over a long period.
Cooper, of course, is the exception, thriving today as the performance badges on BMW Minis. As is Cosworth, although the latter has always been a lot more than a mere ‘tuner’.
Mountune is another company that made its name with conversions of Minis, although starting in the 1980s rather than 1960s. Today it does good business as a maker of competition engines and excellent Ford road car conversions, particularly a rorty Fiesta that Ford dealers can supply.
But even Mountune has gone through a few corporate twists and turns recently. In 2004 it was bought by Roush and then sold a couple of years ago to a management buyout.
Long-term, battling ever-increasing electronic complexity just doesn’t make life easy for tuners.
In fact when I was researching a story a few years ago for an American car magazine, I confidently predicted that I’d be able to get together a list of exciting tuned Jags, Land Rovers and Astons.
Except that they didn’t exist and there was a good reason. Jag, LR and Aston used to use a Denso engine management system with a chip that could not be removed and reprogrammed. Hence why there were loud exhausts and bodykits, but no 500bhp turbo-nutter conversions.
I was told the German competition used Bosch and Siemens ECUs with re-programmable chips — why there’s a wide choice of tuned BMWs, Audis and Mercs.
With electronics likely to get more, not less complicated in future, it’s hard not to believe that the long-term future of these names ultimately lies, like Cooper and AMG as a division of a major car company.
So how about it, Land Rover? Overfinch is a rare opportunity – a brand name going for a song. With proper backing from the factory, it could be building extreme performance LR and RR models for the Middle East, Russia, Americas and China.
A profitable business open-goal in resource-based markets largely untouched by Europe and the US’s grim recession. Break open the cheque book, buy up Overfinch and turn it into a proper tuning arm of Solihull. Easy.