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Meet Kyle Tucker: a racer, engineer, and the founder of Detroit Speed and Engineering—a company that specializes in manufacturing upgraded aftermarket performance parts for classic American muscle. Their parts allow classic Camaros, Corvettes and Mustangs to handle as well as—or even better than—modern vehicles, while retaining their iconic status.
Detroit Speed’s company mentality can be summed up in one word: perfection. “I’ve always thought that if you build the best part you know how to build, people will appreciate it. It may not be the best price, but it’s the best value. Every level of detail, whether it’s a bushing or a weld or anything, it’s perfected,” Tucker says. “I sweat the details.”
Unsurprisingly, muscle cars from the ‘60s and ‘70s weren’t designed with future advancements in mind. “When you plug in tires from the ‘90s or 2000s, you get a lot more grip and you suddenly need a much better suspension and vehicle dynamics package,” Tucker says. “That’s where these cars always fell short. With us coming in, experimenting and designing parts to take advantage of the new levels of grip…it really started to surprise people what you can do with an old muscle car.”
As interest grew in this niche, Tucker’s philosophy remained constant. “We’re not going to compromise on any part of the design. We’re going to make the best design, we’re going to manufacture it the best way we know how, and we’re going to develop it until it’s perfect.”
After growing his business for a few years, Tucker moved to Mooresville, North Carolina, where Detroit Speed now occupies an expansive manufacturing facility and a small race shop. In addition to building parts for a variety of vehicles, Detroit Speed takes on a limited number of custom builds. They’re equal parts art and engineering. And of course, at the race shop, Tucker gets to continue pushing the limits with his vehicles on the autocross circuit. After all, what good is building muscle if you never flex it?
“I want to compete and do well for myself and the company, but at the same time, we’re competing against our customers,” Tucker explains. “We’ll go to weekend events, and we may have 15 Detroit Speed customers looking for setup or driving help.” But at the end of the day, if the frontrunners are using Detroit Speed parts—even if it’s not Tucker himself—it’s a win for everyone. “That legitimizes our products. While we put a lot of effort into making our cars prepared and ready to race, anyone can beat us,” he says.
Tucker hasn’t had to make many compromises on the things he loves. His business is well-respected and it’s thriving. He boasts a backlog of in-demand custom builds and a fully stocked race shop. But the price of success is always pushing for more. If you ask Tucker he’d be the first to tell you: there’s still a lot more to do.
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