Martin: Tim and I made an intercooler kit that managed to retain the factory bumper and reinforcements without having to hack or chop it up. As you know the VR-4 was a four-door sleeper with a factory turbocharged engine, which I thought was pretty cool. I made a custom down pipe, exhaust, and added a boost controller. With those simple mods I thought my DSM was the fastest sh*t in the world. From the factory, the VR-4 was rated around 200 hp or so and with the homemade bolt-on stuff and controller I was able to bring it up additional 60 to 70 hp. I managed to make some 13-second passes in it back in 2001. From that point on we focused out attention toward working on DSMs.
Arne: Martin didn't want to upgrade from the factory 14B to the larger 20G turbo's on the VR-4, because of the turbo lag so we took what we learned from the Merkur and bolted on a Garrett T3/4 hybrid using an adapter plate to the stock manifold. Back when the 20G was king we were one of the first to run a hybrid Garrett turbo in a Mitsubishi. The money we made selling the Mitsubishi products was dumped right back into the company, as we scraped up whatever funds we had and purchased welders and tooling machines. Martin was living with me at the time and paying little or no rent while I was working minimal hours at the tow yard. I don't know how we pulled it off but my wife and I managed to pay our mortgage while Martin and the guys spent day and night building and designing performance parts to sell. The first two years after opening the shop, we invested all the profits back into the company not even taking a paycheck. Every cent we made we put it back into the company and managed to keep on expanding.
Turbo: Did you guys have a dyno at the time?
Martin: The dyno; I had to get a home equity loan on my first house just to buy one. We didn't have one back then. March 2001 was when the company was incorporated. We didn't start working on customer cars till August of 2001. That's when we first opened our shop and moved out of my dad's shop. I'll admit I wasn't a mechanic at first but getting the shop going I had to be a mechanic, engineer, and sales rep. I told myself, "Hey, I can't do this with only Arne," so we hired three others. Over the years we've grown in staff to 32. At one point we had 23 employees in a 6,000-square-foot facility. We were ass to elbows in terms of workspace. At that point we decided if we wanted to grow we had to move out to a bigger place.
Turbo: What would you consider was a breakthrough year for AMS Performance?
Arne: It was 2004. The year after the Evo came out and we designed our first Evo VIII turbo kit. At the time we were one of the Top 3 fastest Evo 8s in the world, which was running mid 10-second quarter-mile times in full weight street trim.
Turbo: Was your goal to be the quickest in the world or did that just fall into place?
Martin: We wanted to be the quickest right from the get-go. We wanted to attack the car and make products for the Evo XIII to help improve its performance.
Turbo: Whom were you gunning for at the time? Who had records you were looking to smash?