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The Tuners

Broadcast dates : 8th August 2004
12th August 2004


A good question to ask when reviewing a subject like Engine modifiers, or Tuners, as they have come to be known is: Why?

Why fiddle around with the inner workings of an engine that has had hundreds of hours development work behind it by some of the best motor company engineers in the world?

The answer to this question is two-fold: For some people the search for more engine power is endless. And as the top tuners in the world will tell you, the perfect engine has yet to be built. So thereís always room for improvement.

The Tuners in this programme are noted by many as the best in South Africa. And what is interesting about Roger Taylor Developments and Van der Linde Developments is that they both represent engine tuning dynasties.

Both Hennie van der Linde and Roger Taylor started in their craft over forty years ago. Both were car-crazy youngsters keen on driving fast on the streets and on the racetrack. And both today have sons who are just as fast behind the wheel or with a set of spanners.

Stephen Taylor is Rogers youngest son, and apart from being expert at porting cylinder heads or seating valves, heís also the Krugersdorp family firmís marketing man.

A past South African production car racing champion, Stephen has an innate understanding of the internal combustion process and what to do to improve matters.

Stephenís older brother Anthony is today one of the top production car drivers in South Africa, a factory driver for the BMW team.

He was also the youngest driver to win the South African Driverís Championship, a feat he achieved at the age of 17.

Stephen undertakes a lot of engine dyno work for Roger Taylor Developments, fine tuning a car, whether it be an old carburetor classic like this Shelby GT350 H, or the latest Merc or BMW with all the latest computerized engine mapping.
Roger Taylor is reckoned by many to be a mechanical genius. He has supplied engines for some of the top teams and drivers in the world and soon he will be on his way to Australia to develop one of the front-running cars in the V8 sedan series down under.

Now in his sixties, Roger is aware that his sons are well primed to take over the family business while he is putting four decades of experience into a completely different breed of racing car. But Roger says that if an engine sucks in air and fuel and a car has wheels, he can always improve on it, explaining that if The Theory was right, all cars would be exactly the same!
While the development of new ideas, no matter how far-out, is what drives the Taylor family, the Van der Linde Dynasty has a different approach.

Some years ago, Van der Linde Developments was awarded a contract to modify 4X4 pick-ups for Nissan and they have been doing production-line-type business on all sorts of bakkies ever since.
Hennie van der Linde started his racing career back in the mid-1960s and he worked with some of the South African greats of that period like Basil van Rooyen.

He found fame behind the wheel of various Nissans, and his Skyline from the 1980s is still one of the most successful racing cars in the history of South African motorsport, totting up over 50 victories.

Today Hennie says he is retired, but admits to coming into the workshop at Kaya Sands near Randburg most days, or supervising work on the BMW race cars, in which his younger son Etienne is a front runner in this yearís championship.

Shaun van der Linde is Hennieís eldest son, and he too is a champion racer. Unlike most young racing drivers, Shaun never did karting but started racing in an old Golf. In 1994 he won the South African Super Touring Car Championship and since then he has been winning regularly in various forms of sedan racing. He was also a dab hand at single seater racing.

Shaun manages the engineering side of Van der Linde developments. This involves the re-profiling of camshafts, porting of cylinder heads and assembly of engines, with a skilled team of technicians behind him.

Etienne Van Der Linde has taken over Van der Linde Systems, which manufacturers free-flow exhaust systems for cars and motorcycles.

So, what are the benefits of a free-flow exhaust? Is it simply to irritate the neighbours?

Both the Van der Linde and Taylor families are well aware that the car tuning or modifying business has come a long way from the Nineteen Sixties, when Roger and Hennie cut their teeth in the game.

But with the resurgence of interest in street racing, fueled by movies like the Fast and the Furious, youngsters are once again tuning to their second-hand Golfs and Opels, and lusting after a bit more power.

And as these master engine-men know, the satisfaction of modifying an engine and seeing the results on the engine dyno, together with better performance and fuel economy, is always going to be satisfying work.

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