Generally, when someone puts a quarter of a million dollars into an already expensive car like a Nissan GT-R, they don't expect the car to be a cluster of shoddy work and bad decisions, which is exactly what one enthusiast is alleging against a well known tuning company.
GTRLife forum member Boxterr1's experience with Forged has blown up across the Internet this weekend, shocking people with the massive figure.
Forged, of course, has a very different story to tell, starting with that attention-grabbing $250,000 figure. Their general manager, Sharif, told me on the phone that that number is wildly inaccurate, representing over four years of otherwise excellent work on the car. Sharif also disputes that the poor review was written by the car's owner, who is being used "as a pawn" in an orchestrated takedown by another competing tuning shop he says.
The issues Boxterr1 are claiming he's had with his car while at Forged over the 22 months (that figure is disputed by Forged as well) the car was being modified in their shop include sub-par welding, a clumsily hacked-up turbo kit that required sloppy washers, spacers, and other hacks at various points in the car to fit at all, ill-conceived clearances for crucial parts and wiring, ground-down parts to facilitate poor installation, and, most shockingly, a transmission cooler that appears to be made of the finest invisible non-existium known to science. There's even a hole cut in the bumper so you can not see where it isn't.
The owner has provided photographs to illustrate many of these complaints, and, without making any final judgements, the photos do tell a story of a very poor standard of quality and almost no quality control. Some of what is shown has the potential to be genuine safety issues.
When it came time to dyno the car to assess how close to the client's 1300 HP goal was reached, the engine was destroyed. As Boxsterr1 writes:
We are now in December, and finally the car goes on the dyno for final tuning. However, it does not go on the Forged dyno. Sharif tells me that it cannot handle 1000 hp cars, so they have to rent time on a different dyno down the street. That sounded odd to me, but I didn't put up a fight. The plan was to tune the car on Cobb for the time being, and bring the car back up to Forged once the Motec is finally ready. On the other dyno Sharif mad a little over 1000 whp on E85. I was told around Christmas time the car was finished and about ready for pickup. So right before I was to drive up and pick up the car Forged thought the wheel alignment looked off, so they took it to the alignment shop. While the car is at the alignment shop, oil starts pouring out of the motor. Keep in mind, this was a fully build Forged FP1R 4.0L engine that has not even been delivered. After they got it back to the shop and dug into it they found that a spun main bearing had protruded through the rear main seal on my brand new engine. Sharif tells me that they do not want to take any chances, so they decided to use a brand new engine instead of using the existing engine that spun the bearing. He tells me he will be paying for this out of his own pocket (like he is doing me a favor).
Forged did replace the engine and finally delivered the car to the owner on January 26th of this year. The owner found the car's idling and performance to be questionable, with the car feeing jerky, idling rough, and hitting the rev limiter at inappropriate times. A few months later, this occurred:
Shortly before the TX2K13 event in March, I was driving the car in a good bit of traffic on the way to and from work. The car never got above 40 mph. In 4th gear, I went to downshift and the transmission would not shift. I tried again, and once again nothing happened. The transmission light comes on and throws the car into limp mode. I limped the car home and pull it into the garage. I immediately call Sharif and tell him what happened. He tells me to try a relearn. This does not fix the problem, but the transmission feels like it is lurching forward and backward slightly and will not get past the transmission check on startup. At this point, the car will not get out of park.
So, at this point the owner has waited 22 months and spent (his estimate) around $250,000 on a lovely, GT-R-shaped driveway sculpture. He requested Forged return his original parts, requested a refund, and has taken his car to another shop for repair.
Forged has responded to some of the complaints in a post on the same thread, where the general manager, Sharif, has taken responsibility for a few of the issues, stating that an employee has been fired as a result, but has not addressed the build quality concerns, and blamed "half" of the delay on the client's decisions. Also, strangely, Sharif alleges that the owner's original complaint post was not written by the owner. Here's a portion of the response:
First, Todd did NOT spend $250K on this build. He has spent $250K with Forged over the past 4 years including 3 different builds, plus a couple sets of wheels, and tons of misc parts over the past FOUR years.
It's been said several times, that Todd's car took 22 months to complete. What he failed to point out, is that more than half of this delay was related to decisions that Todd made on the build plan for his car and changes that were made as we progressed. Cars that come to Forged with a defined and straightforward build plan are in and out very quickly. We preorder parts, segregate space in the shop and production calendar in order to minimize the turnaround time. But in the case of Todd's build, there was a constant stop/start process and parts changes and new directions that were initiated by the CUSTOMER...not by Forged. For instance, Todds car was up and running last summer. But after talking things over with Todd, he decided to wait on the Motec which we were told was just a few weeks out. I never said that a Motec is required, as I'd already tuned numerous cars into the 1000hp range with the Cobb AP. But MoTec offered some key features that Todd wanted and I was excited to tune the car with it. Ultimately, the decision is made by the customer, and we should not be blamed for that 6 month delay.
After building and tuning the car with the GT800 kit, Todd made the decision to have us build the engine, transmission and upgrade his turbos. After a few weeks went by, he then decided he wanted to go for REALLY big power. Keep in mind this was after we already sent the turbos off for upgrading which caused another 3 month delay. When we got the upgraded GT800 turbos back, then Todd changed his mind again and decided he wanted a turbo kit capable of 1200-1300whp with room to grow. When we discussed turbo kit options, the only other big turbo options were the Alpha 12, and the Boost Logic kits. (ETS big kits were not on the market back then). We determined that the Jun kit was the largest turbo kit currently available, running the big full size GTX35. Alpha 12 and Boost logic were on backorder several weeks, so we ordered the Jun kit. The Jun kit arrives and we wrap up Todd's engine. As we start unpacking and installing the turbo kit, we quickly realize that the kit is designed for a RHD GT-R. I immediately call Junichi at Jun, and he apologizes and said we can send the kit back for a refund. After I update Todd, I tell him we have a few options including returning the kit. But Todd didn't want wait for several more weeks until we could get a BL or AMS kit. So I told him we could modify the kit to fit a LHD car. He understood this would require quite a bit of additional labor (which I discounted by 50%), and would require permanent modifications to the kit and car. In the pictures he posted, BTW, those spacers on the exhaust and the chassis brace are NOT needed and were mistakenly left on the car during the mock-up stages.
The next point I want to address is the transmission. The transmission we built for him did not fail due to anything we did improperly. Todd's transmission broke due to a defective 4th gear, according to Todd himself. The manufacturer has agreed to supply a new gear. In fact over the phone, he said that he can't blame Forged for the transmission so I am curious why he is bringing this up on the thread.. I am sure something probably got lost in translation when the third part wrote this review. The clutches were installed correctly, as were the piston seals. The Promax clutch case can back out under loads so we apply a couple of spot welds to prevent this from happening. Dodson has since resigned the Promax seal threads so this process doesn't need to be done anymore.
We have reached out to both parties for comment. Car modifications of this scale are always going to have some hiccups, but the pictures of the work itself and the sheer amount of money spent here make this a conflict worth investigating. People put a lot of trust in businesses that work on their cars, and when you're dealing with machines that have the potential to end lives, a certain level of public scrutiny is warranted.
I was able to contact Sharif of Forged Performance and get his side of the story. Essentially, Sharif maintains that what is happening here is a complex and orchestrated attempted takedown of Forged by Top Speed Motorsports, the competing shop where the owner has taken his car.
Sharif told me that this is a "unique situation" and that he offered the owner the opportunity to bring the car back, where his shop would restore it to 100% condition, and then allow another shop to carry out any inspection the customer wants, at no cost to the customer. But Sharif then told me he felt things have progressed too far for this to be an option.
Sharif told me that tensions between Forged and TSM are very high, and there are three of his former employees at TSM who must have given TSM information about his shop that only an employee would know. Sharif maintains that "95% of what we did for the owner's car has been perfectly awesome work" and that much of what was said in the initial review is simply not true. Sharif did agree that the photos demonstrated a failing of quality control, stating "absolutely" and that those issues were being addressed. He did re-iterate that the spacers and other hardware left on the car were from the mock-up process and should have been removed. Sharif also claims the missing transmission cooler was a mutual choice by the client and Forged.
When asked how he knew that the owner's review wasn't written by the actual owner, Sharif cited "word choice, diction, sentence structure — a 3rd grader could tell it wasn't written by the same guy," based on previous customer emails. Sharif also said the entire "orchestrated" social media spread of the story to "over 120" forums wasn't just viral spreading, but a co-ordinated attack, and he has a grudging respect for whoever did it.
"It's like a nuclear blast in our driveway," he added, "Will it put us out of business? No."
Clearly, this story is hardly over, and we're expecting some email updates from Forged, which we'll add as soon as we get them.
UPDATE: We just received this email from Sharif at Forged. An invoice was attached as well:
Thank you for taking the time to speak with me today.
I didn't want to delay things by crossing out his contact info and scanning. I assume you will keep his personal contact information out of any publication. I attached the invoice from his last round of modifications. Here is a rough breakdown:
$25K Turbo Kit and Installation of Turbo Kit. The pictures he posted related to the turbo kit modification and installation. NOT the rest of the invoice.
Engine Shortblock: $9K (engine did not "fail". It made 1037whp at low boost on E85)
Transmission Upgrades: $45K (transmission broke due to a known defect with PPG 4th gear...not anything that Forged did improperly)
Seats, harnesses, roll cage/interior: $12K
Suspension and Brakes $15K
Wheels Tires: $10K
Forged Performance has stood behind our work over the past 8 years in business, and have thousands of happy customers. In this case, we definitely fell short and we will take responsibility in making things right with our customer. Weeks before this review was posted, we made numerous attempts to allow us to pick the car up and transport it back to our facility for correction, and even offered to have a third party inspect the car prior to delivery back to the customer. We are very sorry for the trouble this has caused Todd, and look forward to addressing this further in the future. I hope the automotive community will look at our entire body of work, and the numerous contributions we've made over the years, before passing judgement based on one case where we didn't perform at our best. Thank you.
UPDATE: I just got off a phone call with Todd, the owner of the GT-R, who wanted to make a few things clear. He specifically stated there is "absolutely no organized attack" on Forged's business by TSM, and he absolutely did write the initial review, stating that only he would have had the timeline information in the review, and he waited to write it until he had all his facts together and organized. The rapid spread of the story is simply a result of how anything goes viral and spreads, he maintains.
He has no relationship with Top Speed Motorsports, and is paying them like any normal customer. He selected the shop due to their proximity to Forged in case consultation or parts transport was needed, and was not aware of the depth of the animosity between the two shops.
He reiterated that all he wants is to be reimbursed for the costs incurred by Forged's alleged mistakes and mishandling of the situation.