September '17

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SEPTEMBER 2017 THE SHOP 43 PERFORMANCE T he sport compact market is one of those genres that fits the It's compli- cated description. On one hand, it's been around long enough for its early cars to now be listed as relics and become popular again as clas- sics. Yet, today's sport compacts are viable and evolving at a fast pace with help from the OEMs as well as the aftermarket. Both of those sides are passionate about their cars and the intensity is still quite high. That makes this market a moving target for both participants and shops serving its members. We checked in with suppliers to the small car market to find out what's hot, what's next and tips for how shops can take full advan- tage of all that sport compacts have to offer. TECH TALK Technology is big in almost every car market, and sport compacts are no excep- tion. So, how are technological advance- ments affecting the sport compact market these days? "New technology in the manufacturing of sport compact cars has been good for this industry," says Sean Crary, sales manager for Energy Suspension in San Clemente, California. "I never thought in my lifetime that I would see a Honda Civic with an Adaptive Damping System (ADS). This ever-evolving push from OE manufacturers keeps the aftermarket on their toes!" Lawson Mollica, marketing & PR director for AEM Performance Electronics in Haw- thorne, California, says one area where sport compacts are making huge advance- ments is at the drag strip. "Specific to sport compact drag racing, racers have always been more accepting of trying new technology, because of the inherent challenges that go with FWD drag racing. So, it is affecting the market in a very positive way." He notes that 12 years ago, Stephan Papadakis was piloting the AEM FWD Drag Civic to mid-8-second ETs at 180- plus mph. "This was in a purpose-built tube-frame chassis car with a longitudinally mounted Honda engine to get more weight over the front wheels," Mollica recalls. "Today, we have Sport FWD drag cars that are dip- ping into the 8.1X ET zone and one of our race teams—Rolando Blanco from DPRa- ceparts—just set the record with a blast over 190 mph. These times and speeds are now happening in unibody FWD drag cars with no real changes to engine configura- tion. This has all been accomplished by hard parts development, but also with the way electronics are able to control every SEPTEMBER 2017 THE SHOP 43 By John Carollo Party Fun & games with the sport compact crowd. Innova- tion and old- school passion are driving today's sport compact market. (Photo courtesy Falken Tires)

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