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Strap on your seatbelts for Turbo Month

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All you petrol heads get ready, as next month Discovery Networks is introducing Turbo Month. Turbo Month will be airing in a one-hour block from Monday to Friday at 20:00 with an extended block every Friday from 21:00 to 23:00. SEAN BACHER speaks to local car customiser ‚ Chad Wentzel, who believes the cars that come out of his showroom closely resemble those of the ones of Street Customs.

As many of you may know, Turbo Month will be broadcasting shows such as American Chopper and Street Customs, but, however cool the vehicles that come out of these chop-shops are, we in South Africa will never be able to experience them first hand. That is of course until Discovery stumbled across Chad Wentzel, MD of SporTech Cars.

Wentzel started his car and bike customisation shop a few years ago and it wasn’t until recently that South Africans realised what he has to offer when is comes to taking your stock standard car and kitting it out with every gadget known to man. ‚In the past, cars were cars. You got a steering wheel, accelerator, brake and clutch pedal and a stereo of sorts. However, once the likes of BMW and Mercedes started integrating these weird and wonderful gadget into cars, drivers with older cars also wanted these gadgets installed,‚ he says.

He gives the example of in-car DVD players. ‚When the idea first came about, it was expensive and many people did not really see the point of having a DVD player in their car. After all, you will be driving and thus won’t have the time to watch a DVD. But when these systems started coming out as optional extras in new cars, people around South Africa started cottoning onto the idea and as a result prices started to come down.‚ He goes on to say that these sort of installations are now pretty standard practice in his shop.

‚It’s when you get something like an old 68 Dodge Charger and a client with and endless budget that things start getting really interesting. A while ago, I had a client come in here with a Dodge and wallet full of money. He wanted a brand new engine fitted, new mags, new tyres and he wanted keyless entry. However, this is no ordinary keyless entry. He wanted no door handles, no key locks. His instructions were simple ‚ ‚I want to push a button and the car needs to unlock and open the door by itself,’‚ says Wentzel.

Taking on a build of this magnitude is no easy task he explains. ‚We assemble and dismantle the car numerous times until we are absolutely 100% happy that the build will hold up under speed ‚ after all safety is a top priority.‚ He goes on to say that a complex build such as this one would take up to a year to complete.

When asked what the most common customisation job request is, he said it was the smash and grab protection on windows. People all want this put on their windows ‚ and quite understandably ‚ they want to feel safe when stopped at a robot. Second to this is a tracking device. At this point we had to ask what was so special about a tracking device, after all there are dozens of companies that offer this service in South Africa. ‚Many of these new cars come with warranties and as such you are not allowed to fiddle with any of the wiring in the car. The tracking units out there today all require some sort of a power supply ‚ even though they have a back-up battery. The one we install does not require any external battery source. All we do is activate it and hide it in the car, no wire splicing, nothing‚ .

When asked what the most outrageous build he had done, he mentioned a bar. ‚Now this is no ordinary bar that you will sit in front of and order beer from. This bar had to fit in the back of a Landrover. It consisted of a fridge, ice and water dispenser.‚ He said the guy that ordered it often went out with his friends to a park and would sit around pumping the music a drinking beer. However, the driver of the Landrover preferred whiskey and as such wanted to be able to get fresh ice and cold water out of his car all night long.

Wentzel goes on to say that these builds are not cheap at all. Besides the cost of the car, the build can range from R100 000 to R800 000, depending on the client’s requirements. ‚However, the guys that come in here are passionate about cars and more than often don’t drive their customised cars everyday,‚ he concludes.

Chad and his team at SporTech.

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