August '17

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20 THE SHOP AUGUST 2017 20 THE SHOP AUGUST 2017 clutches bring new designs and new friction materials with them, allowing the clutch to handle larger increases in power and torque while still being able to be driven on the streets," he says. "With vehicles con- tinuing to make more power, the demand for new technology in the clutch market will remain." Dirk Starksen, president of Advanced Clutch Technology (ACT), credits true driving enthusiasts with keeping the manual transmission market alive in the face of new automatic transmission designs. "The purist enthusiasts will still seek out the manual transmission models," he says. "On these latest versions, we are finding more complicated designs that reduce feedback to the driver and are limited in torque capacity to preserve the driveline parts that are under warranty. Plus, more turbocharged models are being released, allowing for easy engine performance increases." These changes are prompting car owners to search for clutch upgrades that can handle the extra power and also provide a more responsive feel and driving experi- ence, he explains. Will Baty, who works in R&D and media relations for Centerforce Clutches, notes that new technology is helping manufac- turers do more with less. "I would say trying to hold the power with smaller clutches is the largest hurdle, but so far we have done pretty well. We just developed our new Triad triple-disc that is working awesome." And Krista Baldwin, creative director for McLeod Racing, reminds us that new developments in engine technology mean today's clutches are asked to do more than ever. "Increasing engine horsepower capabili- ties is more affordable than ever," she says. "The customers are increasing the car's horsepower, so they will need to install a clutch that is capable of holding that horsepower. Our clutches have a variety of horsepower ratings that customers can choose from." LET'S GROW An appealing aspect of the aftermarket clutch market is that it translates to perfor- mance vehicles both import and domestic, meaning a strong customer base for shops. "Anything GM LS-based is growing rap- idly, since ACT offers such a wide range of choices for street, drift, drag, swaps, etc.," says Starksen. "Both the European and off-road applications are taking off (as well). There is a higher percentage of manual-shift vehicles in those markets, and enthusiasts are defi- nitely modifying them. Instead of just the economy base model being offered in stick shift, the European automakers tend to focus on the driving experience and do not sacrifice performance or luxury on their manual-shift cars. Baty, too, references the potential that diversity provides—and a trend toward combining the two. "The LS market has been one of the movers, because people are putting the LS engine in just about every car they can think of, from domestic to sport compact." Baldwin has seen growth in the import market. "We've introduced our Tuner Series line that includes applications for the import scene," she says. "The line carries clutch kits, flywheels and throw-out bearings. That market is unique because GRAB & GO New developments keep the performance clutch market on the cutting-edge of innovation. (Photos courtesy McLeod Racing)

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