The interior of the light industrial unit that houses DMS looks very much the race car and specialist tuning workshop that it is. A couple of 996 and 997 Turbos sit on hoists undergoing brake and suspension refurbishment, and in one corner an imposing four-wheel dynamometer suggests that DMS Automotive is a serious enterprise.
An unpainted, fierce-looking 997 RSR racer belonging jointly to proprietor Rob Young and co-drivers KC Cico and Alex MacGregor also occupies the centre of the extensive floor space.
“That’s an ex-Far East Supercup car which we’ve recently bought from our Singapore-based business partner,” says Rob. “It’s extremely loud as there are no noise limits in the Far East, so we had to put a silencer on it before we took it to Donington for a shake down.
“We’re going to race it here in endurance events. We’ll do some driving ourselves, but will also employ a pro race driver to do the longer stints.”
Rob is a certified Porsche fanatic, and has come a long way since utility power distribution, where he began as a software engineer in the days when this branch was still called electronics and he was a micro-electronics specialist.
Always into cars, there was a point for Rob about 20 years ago when electronics and cars converged. By the late Nineties he was already operating independently, and in 1997 he set up DMS Automotive: for an engineer who knew his stuff, manufacturers’ standard ECUs were full of untapped potential.
Today, the company undertakes most upgrade work on prestige marques, but Porsche is its real speciality. “We’ll do nearly everything except panel and body work,” says Rob, “but I like to try and keep it simple: with a Turbo you can get a 120bhp gain straightaway with a remap and a 200-cell catalyst.
“We have lots of customers who aren’t necessarily petrolheads at all, but are interested in efficiency and performance enhancement. All it takes is some ECU and exhaust work, and the car can be noticeably better to drive.”
Rob explains that half of DMS’s output is pure remapping, with the rest involving hardware upgrades too: “There’s nothing that can be done in an OPC do that we can’t do here,” he says.
The company has a machine shop on site that undertakes any mechanical rebuilds necessary, while DMS uses Porsche parts as a matter of principle and fits the usual heavier duty aftermarket brake and suspension kits.
As well as representing Akrapovic, DMS also fabricates its own exhausts. But its real strength, and the core of DMS, is in diagnostics and mapping – and premium bespokery, at that: “We develop all our own software,” emphasises Rob, which is where DMS differ from other tuners.
Remapping is not, however, just about achieving higher rpm and terminal velocity. “ECUs no longer control just the engine; increasingly they are managing suspension, traction – the whole running gear.
On a Mercedes-Benz we can already reprogram the suspension and gearbox; Porsche is going this way too, with the 991 GT3’s rear wheel steering, for example. At DMS we can reconfigure the base Carrera (like the GT3) if the demand is there.”
This is a bold assertion, but he goes on: “Look at Porsche’s Active Engine Mounts: a brilliant idea, so simple. You just magnetise the particles when you want the suspension to firm up. We retrofit these mounts with a bit of work, it’s quite straightforward as it’s all ECU-controlled.”
Rob has the commitment of a man who has a much deeper understanding than most of us.
“Look at the 918: this application of technology fascinates me. I believe the future is about hybrids like this and the P1 and seamless transition between power sources. I think the 918 will surprise a lot of people.”
He thinks emissions legislation will push manufacturers from natural aspiration increasingly towards turbocharging and smaller engines, citing the new Maserati Quattroporte, which is a blown V6, and wonders aloud how long Porsche will be able to resist turbocharging the Cayman/Boxster.
From a tuning standpoint, the medium term is simpler, though. The engineer – as well as the businessman – in Rob means that he is also interested the potential of turbo diesels, and has fettled various top end makes from Jaguar to Audi in his workshop.
DMS’s development has the latest 4.2 V8 diesel Cayenne delivering 450bhp, not far short of the petrol version, revving to 5,500rpm and remarkably even sounding decent!
The firm has also worked on many of the later 997 Turbos, but for the Gen2 997T, Rob sees “easy” power gains of 100bhp-plus by virtue of larger catalysts instead of the factory pair (“which stifle it”) and a remap.
For a 911, the benefits of Rob’s work means better response, improved acceleration and an increase in driveability due to higher mid-range torque. But can remapping and tuning go too far?
“Yes it can,” Rob says, “but this is something we are well aware of and never tune any car to the point where it negatively affects longevity and reliability.”
Rob continues: “The 911 often needs much less aftermarket tuning than a BMW for example, as it’s designed as a sports car from the ground up, meaning a power upgrade works very well with the rest of the car in standard spec.
“There is so much tolerance in the engines that big power increases can be had without sacrificing its original qualities.” This is the work that’s the essence of DMS; no mere provincial tuner either, but a business with as much turnover overseas as it has in Britain.
The firm is strongly implanted in the Middle East and Far East with an office and workshop facilities in Singapore, representatives in Hong Kong, Australia, Indonesia and Thailand, South Africa and a growing customer base in South America.
ECU wizards they may be, but DMS’s main output is enhanced 911s, and 500 satisfied 996 and 997T owners around Britain would no doubt attest to that.
|Number of Porsche clients||2,000+ (in the UK)|
|Rarest/Most unusual 911?||997 RSR Supercup|
|Workshop capacity||6-10 cars at any one time|
|Most unusual assignment?||To upgrade performance and operation of 200 BMW X5s belonging to Middle East country’s military|
|Telephone||0845 850 1845|