2014 Has been an exceptionally busy year for us here at Black Forest Industries, as we've covered a lot of miles- released a ton of new products, said goodbye to a few projects - and picked up a few new ones. We are eternally grateful to our very loyal customer base who has continued to support us and move us forward into the new year. We plan to continue our momentum as we roll into 2015 as we have quite a few new plans for new products as well as some additions to our business. Looking back - we started 2014 off by releasing one of those products that was a result of our customer's feedback. Our MK3 and MK4 motor mount spacers are a perfect compliment to our existing line of performance engine mounts and they are designed to work flawlessly together. Raising your engine up out of harms way definitely saves a lot of headaches down the road and so far these new parts have been a great success!
Following the release of our motor mount spacers, we released another product that the result of customer feedback. While our original Clean Catch oil separator was and is a very popular selling item, there were those customers who were looking for a more basic kit that still had all of the functionality without the same level of fit and finish. Enter our Clean Catch EK, or Essential Kit. This catch can set up is everything you need at a more affordable price- coming it at only $299.99. These kits have since been wildly popular and have been great sellers along side the original Clean Catch.
Next up after those product releases, we loaded up and headed to APR's annual distributor conference. During the conference we were able to hear about their roadmap for 2014, of which most of their goals were achieved. Most notably, their release of the port flashable MK7 / MQB software for both 2.0t and now 1.8T TSI engines as well as select hardware upgrades including their James Bond esque mobile dongle. While 2014 was not all sunshine for APR, the rumors and speculation have been blown widely out of proportion as APR continues to dominate the market and maintain their strong foothold in the industry. We look forward to continuing our partnership with APR in 2015 and are excited to see what new innovative products they bring to market in the coming year. After all of that work in just a short time in 2014 we need to take a little break and kick our shoes off (while still being productive) so we jumped at a chance to combine a little vacation time with some work time and we flew to Puerto Rico to visit Eurohouse , our dealer there. Their breezy and laid back shop was bust cranking out some impressive cars, including their big turbo MK6 GTI that tore up those island backroads near the sleepy little airport in Ponce. Many Medalla were consumed, we caught a "tarantula", jumped off some waterfalls and just generally enjoyed the culture. Expanding our dealer network has become a top priority and for 2015 you should be seeing a stronger presence in the European countries.
After returning from Puerto Rico and seeing all of Eurohouse's projects, we decided it was time for us to mix things up a bit. In order for that to happen we needed to make some room in our stable and that meant getting rid of our beloved MK6 Jetta Dieselpunk. We had completed everything that we set out to with that car, including narrowing the rear beam to accommodate massive lipped BBS E88 wheels, as well as being the first to fit a MK6 GLI body kit to a toffee brown diesel. The combination was nothing less than spectacular in our opinion, and it seemed that the guys over at Performance VW magazine agreed too, as they contacted Sam Dobbins to snap a few shots of the 'ol Jetta to be featured in their legendary print publication. We were very sad to see this wonderful car leave, but we're confident the new owner is enjoying it somewhere in the Pacific Northwest.
After saying our farewell to the MK6 Jetta we got back to work developing some new performance parts and go fast bits. We already had released our line of performance clutch kits for 020, 02J /02A transmissions, but we still had a few gaps in our offerings for the newer cars. We had a resounding response and demand for the same options for the 2.5l and the 2.0T FSI and TSI engines. We lined everything up , and now we are proud to offer a significantly increased clutch solution for your VW / Audi. Available in a variety of stages, we have a kit to suit any goal or power application.
Keeping it moving with new products we released the very first MK7 / MQB Torque Arm Insert, in both Stage 1 and Stage 2 to help keep the immense amount of power coming our of the new 3rd generation TSI engines in check. These torque arm inserts are a very affordable and effective modification, and to date we have sold hundreds in just a short time.
But we know you guys really like eye candy, and as cool as these go fast parts can be, they just don't have that shiny factor that instagram / tumblr / is looking for. That's why we ramped up our custom wheel parts and have begun offering select parts for converting and upsizing some popular existing wheel makes that are already floating around. By doing this you can achieve a perfect fit and a very custom look without the high barrier of entry that some of the other names in the industry ask for. Our parts are reasonably priced and they leave the treasure hunting and deal finding to you for that original set to build as your starting point. We like the idea of recycling those old rare wheels and making them relevant again. The first set we did were these 18 --> 19" AMG Aero IIs. These have found their way onto our K04'd Audi A5 and we think they look right at home. For 2015 we will be expanding our custom 3 piece wheel parts offerings with the addition of BBS Style 5s upconverted to 18" as well as some proprietary new hardware pieces that you'll just have to check back for updates on. Suffice to say 2015 looks very exciting on the wheel front and we think we have all the right pieces to put together a tempting catalog for your next build.
Turning our attention again back to one of our halo products, we decided to again listen to our customers and hear what they had to say about our top selling engine mounts. We have heard nothing but good things regarding the performance, and value of our engine mounts but many of you seemed to want the mounts to be heard and not seen. In an effort to demonstrate that your opinion matters, we dropped the existing yellow color scheme from our Stage 1 line, and instead replaced it with a stealthy and understated black polyurethane. We hope that this means our engine mounts will find their way into more high profile builds, so that those do not have to sacrifice performance and comfort by buying an engine mount from the competition solely due to the color. Our mounts still reign supreme in the aftermarket and are hands down the best option out. With 25% more bushing area, and hip-to-be square design, our mounts give better dampening than any other mount on the market- which is why we continue to struggle to keep these things on the shelf!
By then it was time we finally got our hands on a new platform to begin development for the future. We knew that the MQB platform was going to be highly modular, so by that we did not have to stick to the Volkswagen badge to be able to develop parts for them. We eventually settled on a Shiraz Red Audi A3 which in our opinion offers a unique and interesting base to begin building from. To date we have developed engine mounts, a catch can, prototype coilovers, boost gauge, wheel spacers as well as fit several other parts including APR's intake and performance software. We look forward to continuing our development program for the A3 in 2015 as well as enjoying bolting on a few goodies released by other companies so that we can provide real world feedback to our customers.
With the success of last year's GS1 Heavyweight Shift Knob, we knew that we could not leave well enough alone. The sheer amount of GS1s sold told us that there was still potential and demand for something even more sophisticated to fit certain tastes. While not as beefy as our GS1, we developed the more refined GS2 Air Leather shiftknob, inspired by true OEM design. These knobs are painstakingly made in-house and cut, sewn, glued, bolted, vacuum sealed, and lovingly sent off to you so that you can feel the difference in your hand each and every single time that you shift your car. We're not done just yet though- as we have plans for a few more designs in 2015 to round out or collection. Also, keep an eye out for more limited edition colorways, like our GS1 Schwarz. We're always open to feedback too, so if you think you've got a great idea and that it could be a killer seller, then by all means drop us a line so that we can make your concept a reality.
With our own line of products and catalog filling up, we had our hands full just keeping up with production so we turned our attention to another brand to help distribute and begin pushing a product that we are very excited about and have full confidence in. The Pwrhaus coilovers offer an extremely good value, and in our opinion are superior to other budget kits on the market. While being priced just above the less expensive kits, you can feel every extra bit of dollar's worth that you spend. And at only 50 extra dollars on average, that feels real good. Other extra value that is not immediately evident are the included wrenches with exact fit, shortened endlinks, protective zinc coating, shortened shock bodies and in our opinion the best dialed spring rates and valving around. These are just a few reasons why we did not have to think too long and hard to make the choice to being offering these new coilovers to our customers.
With our inventory bursting at the seems, we needed a way to get our parts to the people. For the last what feels like 50 years we've been attending Waterfest in Englishtown NJ, and this year we were not about to break the streak. In it's 20th year, this show is still the largest single North American watercooled event and there is no denying its staying power. With great weather and a stress free trip there, we were able to meet a ton of you guys and show off our wares. This was one of the most pleasant Waterfest experiences to date and while the show takes a lot of hard work on our part we still feel it is a worthwhile experience for any enthusiast. We look forward to continuing our show presence in 2015 and will continue to be there as usual.
And speaking of projects- we picked back up with one of our more favorite builds ever- our MK3 1.8T. After a bit of back and forth, some tweaking of this and that, we finally were able to release our Stage 2 version of the 1.8T Conversion Kit for MK3 ABA cars. The results are exactly as we had hoped, and the car makes very impressive numbers on our Frankenturbo K04. The installation is still just as simple as with our Stage 1 kit, but requires just a few added components for a lot of extra ponies. This is still the absolute easiest and more straightforward way to install a 1.8T engine into your MK3. After that - more shows, in the way of H2O International. We loaded up once again and made our way to Ocean City to enjoy the great scenery and weather. As much hype as there was this year, things were still relatively calm and pretty much business as usual. We even got a chance to step out for just a bit and snap a few photos. Always one of our favorite events, we enjoy being able to get a chance to spend time with our friends in the industry as well as make a few new ones too. An unexpected Chipotle dinner with Jamie from Orchid and friends was a great way to cap off our trip.
We still had a few tricks up our sleeve to close out the year and we pushed hard to get a jump on the competition by bringing to market the very first catch can for the MK7 / MQB that utilizes the factory couplers and connections. Our MQB / MK7 2.0T / 1.8T TSI Clean Catch is an extremely affordable and effective catch can solution, that installs in just a few minutes. No other can is anywhere near this level of OEM fit and finish and at our price there is no reason to look anywhere else. Our proprietary can design also leaves little else to be desired with a multitude of ways to drain it, this is the most convenient way to protect your engine from the dreaded carbon buildup.
And no year would be complete without us opening our doors up to our customers and hosting our Oktoberfest. This year was our 4th annual celebration and there was no shortage of attendees. Things are getting a little cramped but fortunately we were able to open up parking just next door, which became an addition to the show as a whole. We have no plans to change anything for the future, we still want to maintain the relaxed vibe that we have sought to cultivate from the beginning. This event is absolutely not about winning prizes but just hanging out with friends and drinking good German beer, and eating good German food. We would like to again thank everyone who attended and we are excited to do it all again next fall.
Next stop after Oktoberfest was Las Vegas, Nevada. We do our best to keep in the know of everything new in the industry and to do that attending SEMA is a must. This year we were able to use the destination to meet with a few of our suppliers and manufacturing partners to ensure that we were all on the same page. We took the opportunity to discuss a few new projects and iron out any kinks. We also were able to snap a few photos in the process to share with all of you who could not be present.
And last but not least - we are very proud to be able to offer our MK7 / MQB Engine Mount. This represents one of our most difficult engineering challenges and we have incorporated everything we have learned over the years to make this the absolute best mount on the market. Utilizing several techniques we were able to isolate vibration while maximizing performance making these mounts the best compromise between keeping you sane, without sacrificing any of that precious horsepower. As usual, these are available in two stages and are a modification that you will not regret.