Knock It Off
By the time you read this it'll be old news, but Trust Co. Ltd. Japan - GReddy's parent company - just filed for Minji-saisei-hou, the Japanese equivalent of U.S. bankruptcy. I'll leave the speculating as to what exactly will become of GReddy to the forum monkeys who've probably never been to Japan, let alone GReddy's Irvine, California, facility, and instead focus on the root of the problem...or at least one of them: knock-off parts. Copycat parts are nothing new, but their presence is growing and slowly deteriorating the aftermarket industry. It used to be that if somebody didn't have the brains or wherewithal to develop an original part, they'd at least only copy 80 percent or so of somebody else's, change up the final appearance a bit at the end, and then market it as their own. If you were around during the late 1990s, you'd have seen all of the engine mount clones that all followed the same basic design but sprayed theirs a different color, used a different material, or sold theirs with different bolts. It wasn't right, but it was a heck of a lot better than what's going on now.
When you install something from GReddy, Neuspeed, Hasport, ARC, Mugen, or any other reputable company onto your car, you know you're getting more than a pretty piece of metal, or plastic, or rubber, or whatever else it's made of. Reputable companies like these do a little thing called R&D, a term the knock-offs know nothing about. It stands for research and development and it's often the only thing between something that works and something that doesn't. After that, a good company's products will undergo some sort of quality control. This means that they actually check to make sure that the part they're going to sell you won't fail, hurt you or your car, or kill you. Of course, eliminate both of these processes, copy someone else's work, and it's easy to sell a part for dirt-cheap, just like the knock-offs. Yeah, it's really hard to make a B-series fuel rail that doesn't resemble another brand's, but it's obvious which companies are outright knocking off other designs and which ones are just trying to manufacture and sell something that there's a proven market for. Take a fuel rail from Benen and another from BDL, for example. I mean, jeez, they're both made of aluminum, they both have holes on each end, and they both have some place to bolt up a fuel pressure regulator. Aside from minor aesthetic changes like shape, size, and color, there's not a whole lot companies can do to differentiate parts like these from one another, but you can tell who's trying and who isn't. For the record, both Benen and BDL are trying. It's different than outright copying a B-series HyTech Exhaust header and marketing it on eBay as a HyTech replica, as if having the word replica in the product's title is something to be proud of now. But you get what you pay for. Sure, anyone can copy HyTech's stepped-header design and get a similar collector, but don't expect the same quality or same grade of stainless steel. Try comparing HyTech's fitment and weld beads with the knock-off's without laughing. It's hard. Unfortunately, it doesn't stop with headers. Everyone knows about the fake Mugen RnRs and Volk TE37s, the imitation Mugen lips and fake HKS exhausts. Those in the know can spot this stuff from a mile away. If you can't afford the real thing, there are alternatives that don't pretend to be something they're not.
If GReddy's situation is any forecast of what's to come for other industry leaders, we're in trouble. Take Hasport for example. What if they disappeared tomorrow? Yeah, a shortage of B- and K-series mounts isn't going to happen, but who will pioneer the V-6 engine swaps? If trends continue, the knock-offs will phase out the originators, leaving nothing new to knock off. Oh, for the record, Hasport isn't going anywhere as far as we know.
To be fair, and contrary to how it might sound, it doesn't matter much to me what some other guy does to his own car. I'm not one to critique anyone's paint color, wheel, or engine choice unless asked, and even then, I don't really care what anyone else ends up doing. I'm not losing sleep over the guy with the fake GReddy blow-off valve and I'll be the last one to flame some guy on a forum with knock-off CPFs - even if he has the fake sticker to go with them. But I don't like what knock-offs are doing to our industry, and for that Honda Tuning will continue to only showcase cars that avoid this ugly trend. Support the industry; buy the real thing. -Aaron BonkContact: firstname.lastname@example.org