September '19

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48 THE SHOP SEPTEMBER 2019 Thompson Racing Fabrication p.54 Museum Work p.58 Performance Products p.61 SEPTEMBER 2019 T hey're still out there. And their numbers are still strong. The sport compact market remains solid and viable as we approach 2020. From vintage sport compacts (yes, there's a culture and market for those) to today's smaller imports, parts and services are readily available to reliably build 1,000-hp street crushers. And fans of these cars help drive the market, using social media and car shows to share their passion. All this makes the market one to watch for speed shops looking to expand their borders. Below, manufacturers and per- formance outlets catch us up on this exciting niche. ADVANCED PLACEMENT Known for being quick and nimble, most sport compacts—and their drivers—are also big on electronics. "In one word, technology has changed the sport compact market over the years," says David Oden, owner of The Shop Houston in Houston, Texas. "I started modi- fying Hondas and Nissans in the late 1990s before The Fast and the Furious. We'd get all the limited parts available for sport compacts and figure out a way to make them work on our cars, then go race them." For the most part, he recalls, aftermarket forced induction systems of the time were crude and unsophisticated. "We'd hear of guys making 500 to 600 hp on a Supra or something crazy and those power levels were king of the hill back then. Today, at least in the Houston market, if you don't have 800 to 1,000 hp, you may as well save your gas and stay home!" He attributes the advancements to tech- nology. "If you look at forced induction tech- nology, in the late '90s it was crazy to make over 300 hp on a stock, turbocharged Honda. Now, we are seeing over 400 hp on stock-motor sport compacts and even more on forged motors." Engine management is another area that has seen major advances in performance, he adds. "Processor speed and input capabilities have allowed tuners to more precisely cali- brate every aspect of a vehicle ECU. We are now able to collect more data than ever before and precisely tune vehicles for optimal performance," Oden says. "Vehicle manufacturers have helped the process by including more sensors on stock configura- tions, allowing aftermarket engine manage- ment manufacturers to access more data through plug-and-play systems." Finally, he notes, the last major con- tributing factor to market changes is the consumer. "The market drives demand to make 48 THE SHOP SEPTEMBER 2019 WIDE WORLD THE OF Sport Compacts Successful strategies for servicing the small-car & import crowd. By John Carollo Technology has changed the sport compact market over the years. (Photo courtesy The Shop Houston)

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