The Continental tuning department is currently celebrating its 25th anniversary. Its customers from the early days still rank among the key players in the business of vehicle conversion, performance enhancement and handling optimization. Among those early partners were Abt and AC Schnitzer, Lorinser, Heico and Techart. More recently, they have been joined by other heavyweights on the scene such as Brabus, Startech, Arden and Edo Competition. The department’s good reputation soon spread. Back in the day it was based at Continental’s subsidiary Uniroyal in Aachen where it went by the name of “IT’S” (Individual Tuning System). The first sports tire was the Uniroyal RTT1 with its directional, arrow-shaped tread. This legendary performer made its first appearance in 1992, having been optimized together with the tuning companies to meet the requirements of their ultra-fast, handling-optimized sports cars. This involved adapting what was already a sporty rain tire to extreme speeds, delivering a tire that was capable of putting the full power of the engine down onto the road.
From 1995, the tuning department used more and more Continental tires. From the outset these included the family of SportContact tires which are produced in various sizes and specifications to meet the tuning partners’ needs. For AC Schnitzer and Techart they worked with the motoring editors of sport auto magazine to develop the ContiForceContact – a tire for driver training which was also approved for road use. In fact, tire developers have been an integral part of the department since the early days of tuning activities, providing a high level of technical expertise. Perfecting the tires has allowed extreme speed records to be set time and again. In 2007, a Lorinser SLR 320 fitted with the ContiSportContact2 clocked 325 km/h on the test track at Nardo in Italy. A Techart Magnum, probably the fastest full-size SUV to date, notched up 321 km/h on the specially developed ContiCrossContact UHP. The TR 1000 and GT9-R Porsches tuned by 9ff, also on sports tires from Continental, set high-speed records of 376 and 409 km/h respectively. But sustainability also has a part to play for the tuning department and, fitted with low rolling resistance ContiSportContact BlueEco tires, a Z4 conversion by tuning partner AC Schnitzer reported CO2 emissions of 99 grams per kilometer.
Along with the development of high-end tires, collaboration with the car magazines also plays an important role for the tuning department. The Contidrom recently hosted the 36th Tuning Day organized, true to tradition, in conjunction with Auto bild sportscars magazine, giving their tuning-mad readers a chance to experience super sports cars at first hand. Then there is the Continental HighSpeedEvent, held in Nardo at irregular intervals, which ranks as a serial record-breaker. Here, top tuners line up to set or break speed records in a range of different categories. The performances are supervised by German technical inspectorate TÜV with Auto bild sportscars on hand here too to provide magazine coverage.
A presence at the Essen Motorshow is compulsory for Continental’s tuning department. Shared with six tuners, its 1,000-square-meter booth is at the heart of the action. Continental’s commitment to Europe’s largest trade fair for vehicle tuners enters its 20th year in 2017, impressively underlining the high level of expertise and customer focus exhibited by the tire specialists from Hanover.