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A more affordable way to maintain your Lamborghini

MR Tuning Asia is a venture by luxury car workshops Exquisite Marques and Eurohaus, and an Australian outfit called McElrea Racing.

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"With this background, we know how to put a car back together very quickly, even when compared to agents and dealerships." - Benjamin Tan (above), one of MR Tuning Asia's directors.

Singapore

CAN a racing team take better care of your precious, exotic super car better than its authorised dealer?

The people behind a new workshop believe so, and are hoping to woo customers who drive Ferraris, Lamborghinis or Porsches, among other high performance machines.

MR Tuning Asia is a new venture by local luxury car workshops Exquisite Marques and Eurohaus, and an Australian racing outfit called McElrea Racing.

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The local companies have a combined three decades of experience, while McElrea Racing is a title-winning team in the Australian GT and Porsche Carrera Cup championships.

But can racing know-how benefit the average customer who spends all his time driving on the road?

"McElrea Racing was engineering a lot of race-winning cars, and as a race team, know their cars inside out," said Benjamin Tan, one of MR Tuning Asia's directors.

"They can repair a crashed car in under 24 hours and send it out again. With this background, we know how to put a car back together very quickly, even when compared to agents and dealerships."

Technicians in authorised dealers are usually factory-trained, meaning the same company that designed and manufactured a car is the one that teaches its dealers how to maintain and repair it.

Dealers also have a direct line to the parent companies, in case there are tricky problems that need troubleshooting.

But Mr Tan insists that knowledge gleaned from racing is just as valuable.

"Of course, our technicians aren't factory-trained, but they learn instead from the track. In a way, it's even more rigorous because putting together a race car is trickier than a road car," he said.

Having a racing operation is an advantage when it comes to sourcing parts, he added.

"All it takes is a phonecall from the race team to the factory, and it will get all the assistance it needs. But a phonecall from a (third-party) workshop, you're not going to be entertained," explained Mr Tan.

"Now parts arrive a lot quicker than before, which means we can get cars in and out of the shop a lot faster, instead of creating a bottleneck."

He added that MR Tuning should be able to service cars more quickly and at a lower cost than main dealers. The latter is important because even though supercar owners tend to be wealthy, they are not above seeking value for money.

"Clients usually don't want to pay dealership prices after the warranty, because they can sometimes be three to five times more expensive," said Mr Tan.

Porsche Asia Pacific could not respond to queries by The Business Times in time for this story, while a representative for Ferrari Asia Pacific declined to comment.

Apart from providing a better core service, MR Tuning Asia also aims to differentiate itself by leveraging its relationship with McElrea Racing.

"Next year, we're planning driver development programmes, putting clients in a race car, and teaching them the skills to be fast and safe," said Mr Tan.

That is part of a wider trend among workshops in a bid to raise their profiles and reputations, according to John Lee, the managing director of Avantage VAG, a workshop specialising in cars from the major German brands Audi, BMW, Mercedes-Benz and Volkswagen.

"Independent workshops today can offer the same or better levels of service as the main agent, and there's a personal connection as you're often dealing with the owner or someone who is close to the owner," said Mr Lee.

"There are also fewer places to hide, as customers have the opportunity to see their car being worked on and can ask questions as the work goes on.

"So there's more personalised service, more transparency, and obviously lower prices. Now there's no need to compromise if you go to independent workshops, it's actually a good thing."

Mr Lee expanded Avantage VAG's operations to capitalise on a growing population of European cars with turbocharged engines, while Mr Tan sees a similar opportunity from the high-performance car market.

Oil has traditionally been called black gold, but for workshops that cater to high-end cars, there is gold in performing oil changes, too.