With tuning/performance shops going with the ebbs and flows of the automotive scene in New Zealand, it would be no surprise to hear of new companies starting up and older more established ones fading away and locking their doors.
Thankfully this feature is pointed toward the direction of a well established shop keeping it’s doors open a little while longer than most survive in this cut throat industry. Cut throat seems a little harsh and exaggerated since should you take it literally…People would be dying, while that sounds far fetched it can actually hit a little closer to home. Expanding on said phrase above, you could easily count the number of “performance” shops around the place/world that claim to be professionals and experts while providing under hand service and very untrustworthy methods of workmanship. I would not name shops that I have seen perform services for customers that are worse than when the car arrived but from my recent visit to a friend that is building a Skyline, upon tearing it down we found a socket welded to the slave rod to add more length, engine mounts not bolted to the sub frame along with a few other discrepancies!
While a negative start to the article this is not where the ST Hitec team come in, rather, the above is to highlight why keeping and supporting shops like ST Hitec is so important. Soichi Tate is a name very well known in New Zealand, his workmanship, dedication and attention to doing things the right way has earned him a reputation among enthusiasts and gear heads as being the go to man for something done right and reliable. After being broken into twice however, Soichi sadly lost some of that original optimism and eagerness to promote his craft and retracted the shops name to only those who knew him, with that being said, he still continued to pump out amazing cars with brilliant reliability. Having had him work on my own Supra, I was more than impressed at the way he conducted both himself, his team and the nature of how he tuned.
Soichi sold the business he built toward the end of last year to a pair of new owners with Ian Clegg being the frontal driving force. Ian has taken the opportunity and ran with it, as ST Hitec has maintained the full quality experience people associate with ST along with upgrading the facilities to further improve the dynamics and their capabilities. Fully functioning clean engine building room, sound proofing the dyno room along with clearing up the waiting room upstairs so that owners can wait in comfort for their pride and joy to be ready has all helped expand the reputation of ST Hitec as being a leader that is here to stay.
While the shop may sound impressive, it is the fact that Ian has a crazy 1000HP plus R35 GTR that he campaigns in both the New Zealand Superlap series and tears down the drag strip when he can get traction. While he is pushing himself as a driver, it is really refreshing to see such a brilliant shop maintain the reputation and status as being a go to point for people wanting perfection. Stewart Mearns is the resident tuner now and while he is more than qualified having many motor sports platforms to add to his resume he is still a down to earth bare bones person who will do the best he can for the customer to ensure they are happy while keeping the car safe and reliable.
Having been invited to their meet and greet, I was very fortunate to meet the team and walk around the shop to see some of their incredible cars such as the R35 GTR that is poised to clean up Superlap next season, a in the works R33 GTR along with an Evo and even a early Soarer. Food was a plenty along with drinks and a very warm welcome from Ian which made the whole night brilliant despite the weather being wet and windy. I can hopefully say I will tour their shop again to bring you more coverage but from the first open tour I can say expect bigger things to come.
While Soichi may have sadly moved on, ST Hitec will continue to shine with Ian and the team putting their best foot forward and pushing the boundaries of what the tuning shops this side of the world do. Referring to shops like HKS with their festival, Tomei being a large stand provider, Amuse getting among it’s customers and Trust throwing on circuit days, if anything at all has inspired ST Hitec to follow in their foot steps I am sure this will bring a much welcomed following to this amazing shop.
A massive thank you to Faizal for the invite to photograph the night, along with Ian and the team for being more than hospitable. I look forward to more from these guys.
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