4 lesser-known automotive tuners that built awesome cars

When we asked you who your favorite automotive tuner is on the Hagerty Forums last week, we expected a flood of Yenko and Shelby answers. Of course, those voices were represented, but also in the mix were a handful of lesser-known outfits that nonetheless have a loyal following.

Here are four examples of lesser known tuners that created sweet rides:

Nunzi’s Automotive

The name to know when it comes to Pontiac racing, Nunzi’s Automotive in Brooklyn, New York, started as a Poncho tuner in the early 1960s. Based out of New York, the shop claims to be the first to run in the 11-second range in legal NHRA trim, and specialized in creating high performance parts for the die-hard Pontiac racers. If it was Pontiac and you wanted to make it fast, Nunzi was who you needed to call.

Mr. Norm’s Grand Spaulding Dodge

Opened in 1962 by a young Norman Kraus, Grand Spaulding Dodge quickly elevated itself to become the go-to place for Dodge performance enthusiasts. A believer in “race on Sunday, sell on Monday,” Grand Spaulding Dodge campaigned an altered-wheelbase Dodge Coronet in 1965, which surely helped drive performance car buyers to the Chicago-based dealer. You can even still call up Mr. Norm for performance parts for your Pentastar.

Koenig

To tune cars from brands that pride themselves on heritage is bold. That doesn’t stop Koenig, which added twin turbos to the Ferrari F50, Lamborghini Diablo, and the BMW 850, creating horsepower numbers in the 800 range long before Dodge made it trendy. Koenig is still selling parts and supporting its models from its Fahrenzhausen, Germany, location.

Tasca Ford

KR-8 Mustang behind the Ford GT40
That’s the KR-8 Mustang behind the Ford GT40 in this famous shot at Tasca Ford. From left to right are Bob Tasca Sr., High Performance Manager Dean Gregson and Ford New England representatives. Gregson’s aluminum-body Ford Cortina SCCA racer sits under the billboard welcoming Mario Andretti. (Photos Courtesy of Tasca Ford)

When the $622 for the optional 427 cubic-inch V-8 proved too expensive for young Mustang buyers in the late 1960s, Tasca Ford was there to step up with a solution. The dealer spliced together a combination of the high-flow 427 cylinder heads with the police-spec 428 bottom end. Sure, the pistons required clearancing for the larger valves, but that was a small price to pay for the performance gains. Tasca Ford’s dealership can still be found in Cranston, Rhode Island, but the current management isn’t involved in old-school hot rodding like cylinder-head swaps anymore.