A few hours ago, things around here finally calmed down just enough for me to hop online for a few minutes and do some things that weren’t work-related. Of course, the first thing I did was “Google” the shop to see where we were at and spend some time “cruising” the new SPI website, but my workaholism isn’t what this post is about. Instead, I want to talk about the Moscow Unlimited.
Early on, the Moscow Unlimited was a huge deal for us. We worked to promote the event online, and the event served as a showcase for our products, with our P700 and P800 Porsches dominating in 2009 and 2010, and our P800 GTRs coming on strong later. After several wins and strong showings, though, at the beginning of 2011, we made the conscious decision to step away from the event.
Why would we do that?
I always wanted Switzer Performance to be something different from run-of-the-mill tuning shops. In building this business, I’ve been lucky enough to be able to surround myself with very talented people who shared my vision for, eventually, growing SPI into a small-volume manufacturer. Something more like Ruf and Callaway than a parts warehouse. Beyond that, I wanted to be proud of the cars we built, and I wanted my name (and my dad’s name, and my brother’s name, and my daughter’s name) to mean something when it was on a car. It would say that the car worked. That all the parts on that car were designed to work, and that all the parts were designed to work together. Most of all, it would say that the person who owned the car was happy with the car.
What we were getting from the Moscow Unlimited guys, at that point, were requests to push the envelope. Suddenly, there were 4 and 5 and 6 Switzer cars at the race, and every one of them wanted to out-do the others, pushing the envelopes of performance and reliability to their limits. We were getting requests do things we knew would damage components, all in a drive for that extra few mph.
To me, it was an easy decision to make. I said “no”.
Despite my reputation for being stubborn, I do believe that it is my responsibility to look out for the best interests of my customers. I didn’t say “no” because it was too hard to push those envelopes, but because it was too easy. Customers would ask for a few more lbs. of boost or a few more rpm. They weren’t asking for a developed package or a proven and tested and reliable package – they wanted a quick fix RIGHT NOW. Before the next race. Just so their Switzer car could beat the Switzer car in the next lane. When we said “no”, of course, some customers took their cars to other shops. Shops that don’t say “no”, and (as predicted) it was those customers that didn’t take “no” for an answer that ended up paying the price in the form of damaged cars – some of them after just a few short drives or (in extreme cases) a single hard launch.
As many of you may have read in Alex Lloyd’s article on Jalopnik a few weeks ago, our Ultimate Street Edition GTR is the opposite of a highly-strung tuner car. It’s an everyday supercar, and it’s designed to be just as docile as any other Nissan around town – and, after headaches and frustration with pushing their cars and their patience (not to mention their wallets!) to the limits building high-strung “time-bomb” cars, enough customers have come to “see the light” that we’re selling Ultimates as fast as we can build them.
Customers have demanded a no-compromise car, and they don’t want excuses – not from the car and certainly not from the shop that took their hard-earned money. I’m proud that so many of them, so many of YOU, have put your trust in the Ultimate Street Edition GTRs. So, I guess what I’m trying to say to those returning customers is this: thank you.