I had the most fabulous day! I was granted what I can only describe as a VIP, Full On Back Stage Pass to one of the coolest toy stores ever! Okay.... so maybe I should not call it a toy store. However, there is just so much cool factor in the place. The place is of course DINAN Engineering in Morgan Hill, CA.
For anyone who has been following this ole saga of mine, you know that I have been receiving support and assistance from DINAN to modify my car for the road trip across America. One of the main reasons I picked DINAN is I wanted a more powerful car, but one with reliability, driveability and still be able to deliver decent gas mileage. That ruled out things like a super charger, turbo and all those other fire breathing type of modifications.
I have owned a number of DINAN modified cars in the past and so it was no difficult task to pick DINAN modifications for this car. When I contacted DINAN, as enthusiasts themselves, they were excited about the idea. I cannot thank them enough for their support and time. It's nice to know that for a world wide known company, they still have time for their individual customers.
I have been in contact with Nathan Fette - the Marketing Director at DINAN and when he offered me an invitation to visit, there was no way I could turn that down. I hopped into my now completed E39 DINAN ///M5, replete with stickers and all and headed down to Morgan Hill. Upon arrival, the first person I met was Scott Leandres. Even though I kinda dropped in unannounced (I did not notify them I was coming that day), he offered a warm welcome after plying me with a refreshment, he had me wait for Nathan in the main lobby - which was fine by me as I could gawk at all the DINAN goodies on the wall. Nathan showed up shortly after and then we got to tour the toy store.... I mean DINAN :)
I have to say, I was uBer impressed with the whole set up. I don't think as customers we always realize how much work and effort goes into the products we purchase. At DINAN, ALL, and I mean ALL the products they offer are developed and built at Morgan Hill. Yes, they may indeed farm out the mass production of a product after development, a ton of organizations do that. However, the actual first product is developed and made here. The size of the operation can seem deceivingly small from the outside. I actually got to see where my exhaust system was built! I mean.... how cool is that ?!?!
While I was there, I got to see a number of great things. From the Dyno room to the R&D team at work. From the packaging area to the stock of exhausts flying off the shelves and their winning race engines in the back. Very importantly, I also got a comprehensive education on how products are developed. I was very impressed with the level of innovation and dedication at DINAN.
On the day, they had a new M2 on the alignment rack. They were in the final stages of developing and testing the DINAN suspension for this model. Now....... DINAN does not call the suspension kit a coilover kit - I on the other hand do! Why? Because it has all the awesome features of a coilover kit. They have however found that the OEM shocks are more than up to the task of handling the car fine, so they augment those with springs and height adjustable perches. The car was getting the alignment specs dialed in. It was cool to see how they test and develop the cars - particularly in regards to the suspension set ups. I was able to have a chat about this. We talked about how the alignment is geared towards a high performance "road car". They take into consideration things like handling characteristics - will the set up induce oversteer or understeer? How will it affect tire wear? How will it perform under acceleration and braking? All these things are factored into the specs, so when you receive your suspension kit - if you set it to the specs provided by DINAN, they have done all the thinking for you.
Next, we discussed things like the programming from the DINANTRONICS line. What they do here is pretty impressive. Now do take note, I am not an engineer so some of what I learned was like a new form of engineering Latin to me. So, taking the new era of turbo charged cars - it is easier to get more power from them by tweaking the programming on certain sensors, a lot easier than trying to get more power out of a normal aspirated engine. To up the power on the turbo cars, you basically tell the sensors responsible for turbo boost to increase the amount of power output. Some cars are known to get up to 100 BHP increase from such programming - I kid you not!
That all sounds great right? However there are issues to consider here. There are potential driveability issues with the car. If you are just boosting the turbo's output my so many PSI, there is a very good chance your DME is not set up for this. So.... while you mash your throttle pedal with devilish delight, your DME is freaking out a bit and constantly trying to figure out what to do with the increased boost. So, often as you drive, there is a lag, there is a hiccup,etc.
Here is where the DINAN difference comes in. They develop their programs directly in the DME programming so everything is synced up. The sensors are not just off on their own waging a rebellion, they are talking with the DME, they are working with the DME it is a party everyone is invited to. What does this mean for you? Not only more power, but also smoothly delivered power. So, if your thing is to be able to drive a refined, powerful car that puts a smile on your face - you know who too call. The name starts with a D :)
I got a chance to see the Engine and Chassis Dyno rooms as well. DINAN don't just guess what the power increases are, they check it, they verify it - and it's not just on the Dynos - they test the cars on the road as well. There is a lot of investment of time and resources in these products.
Something REALLY cool I got to see was the very engine that was in Steve Dinan's SCCA 540i Race Car. You remember that monster? It reportedly had 800 BHP - it was a turbo charged, track charging monster!
I hate to have to admit here, but I was one of those concerned when DINAN Engineering was acquired by Flow Master. What would happen here? Would there be a dilution of the DINAN brand? I am happy to report that there is NOTHING to fear. As I indicated earlier, all of DINAN's products are developed at DINAN. Having Flow Master as the parent allows DINAN to benefit from mass production of things like the exhausts that we all so desire. So... DINAN develops and comes up with the product, Flow Master uses their might to help make production in larger numbers and faster turn around. Can you imagine one guy welding all those exhausts for all of us ?!?!?!
I had a blast visiting DINAN. I could fill a hundred pages with all my thoughts. If you have a chance to drop by and see them, do so. They are a great bunch of people and enthusiasts just like us. It's amazing that everyone wears a smile at DINAN. I guess Happy People = Happy Products and Happy Customers! I think the got the formula right!
Thanks for hosting me guys! Look forward to reporting from the road!