A lot of people in our indus-try bemoan the fact that the passion and innovation of the game is getting diluted by the influx of fly-by-night Asian companies that are in the business of making cheap knockoff parts, like the ones made by the established performance companies. These companies sell their fake wears for a fraction of the original's price, using no-cost marketing ploys on eBay and other inexpensive direct-selling arenas.

This practice pisses me off to no end. It's ruining our industry and our hobby (or passion depending on how important cars are to you). The rip-off artists incur no engineering costs and have much lower tooling costs (it's way easier and cheaper to copy and reverse-engineer things). They even benefit from the marketing expenditures an original manufacturer puts into their products by making them look exactly the same or even claiming them to be the same with counterfeit labeling and packaging.

I've heard many times after seeing something cool and innovative at the track that a company will have no plans to sell a said object "because it will just get ripped off and sold on eBay before we can even recover the development costs." If you feel that products from established companies are becoming stale and boring, or there is no rush to develop parts for your car, blame the copycats. The number of smaller, more innovative, and nimble companies that drive innovation in a fairly small and dynamic market like ours are dropping like flies because of the rip-off artists.

Sometimes the quality of these knockoffs is OK (but never as good as the original), but most of the time it's quite shoddy. Many times the quality is so bad it can actually harm your car or put your safety at risk. A good example of this is an SR20 oil pan I saw the other day. It looked just like a GReddy oil pan at first glance. I'll call it a FReddy. The FReddy was installed on a drift car that was being worked on for a spun rod bearing at a friend of mine's race prep shop.

The FReddy made me do a double take because the poor quality of the casting caught my eye, 5 feet away. I thought, WTF? GReddy doesn't make something bad like that. On a more careful inspection, the FReddy was sand cast using some kind of poor-quality sand that was stuck in the metal. Rubbing the surface of the casting caused it to shed partially embedded sand! The sand had gotten loose inside the engine and had wiped out the bearings, scored the crank, and scratched up the cylinder walls. That was one expensive cheap oil pan

Another thing was a rip off of a Ground Control coilover conversion kit. It looked like a Ground Control kit from a couple of feet away but the anodizing was a cheap color flash, not the corrosion-resistant, hard-anodizing Ground Control uses. The machining was not as clean, and who knows what alloy was used. What has made me really angry were the springs. Ground Control uses top-notch Eibach ERS springs and the faker's used, uh, red springs. Who knows what spring rate these were. The wire diameter and coil count seemed identical for all four springs for many different applications. Not too many cars I know handle well with the same spring rate all around. This effects user safety and is morally apprehensible. Universal spring rates for all applications?! WTF?

The latest pisser was a fake turbo I just saw on the Net. It was a knockoff of the Garrett GT28RS. It was called the Disco French Fry! The real Garrett GT28RS turbo has an insider's nickname, the Disco Potato. This was because it was developed for a Nissan Sentra concept car that was nicknamed the Disco Potato by the motoring press because of its tuberous shape and iridescent paintjob. When the new turbo hit the market, the car's nickname stuck to the turbo and it became known as the Disco Potato turbo to denizens of chat rooms. The copycats even ripped off the turbo's sort of lame nickname. They should've called it a carrot or something!

What can be done about this? Don't buy that sh*t! It's not cool; it's as lame as a fake Rolex. You might be proud of your ride, but the guys in the know will clown it. Inferior parts will hurt your performance, your car's durability, and maybe even your life. It's false economy.

Fight the power, support our industry.-Mike