AMS Performance was started in West Chicago, Illinois, as “Automotorsports, Inc.” in 2001. It came to fruition as a part-time venture for mechanical engineer Martin Musial, in order to develope what would eventually become the successful “AMS 2.3 Turbo Ford Camshaft.” Soon after, the 2.3 turbo Ford following died out, and Martin shifted the business’ focus to the neglected aftermarket of the Diamond-Star Motors (DSM) community.
16 years later, AMS Performance — along with their sister-brand Alpha Performance — has become one of the most lethal names in road racing and drag racing, and is often considered an industry leader in the world of Japanese and German performance parts development, ECU calibration and engine building.
An Engineering Company First
An AMS engineer using a Romer Arm to extract important dimensional data from the vehicle before a part is designed (left), and the 3D printed model created from that data being used for fitment and clearance verification (right).
AMS considers itself an engineering company first — but also happens to have a performance shop and dyno on-site as well — with parts and services that cover vehicles such as the Mitsubishi Evo VIII, IX and X, Nissan R35 GT-R, Audi R8 and even the McLaren 650S, to name a few. In the video above the AMS Performance team describes the the company’s research and development process that has made them an industry leader.
To develope a new performance part or package the vehicle is brought into the AMS shop, where skilled shop technicians will first disassemble the vehicle, with one of the company’s engineers will follow closely behind with a Romer Arm (portable coordinate measuring machine) to scan any pertinent components and use CAD (computer-aided design) software like Solidworks to create detailed 3D models.
Once the model has been signed off, a 3D printed version is created for mock-up fitting to verify fitment, clearances and alignment. From there skilled fabricators will create a first article for close inspection, where it will also be ran through a series of stringent testing procedures, depending on the part. Once all of this has been complete, the part is finally ready for production.
Engine Building Program
The engine building program at AMS Performance is lead by Scott Priebe. Priebe initially got into engine building many years ago when he was modifying his own DSM cars, which would always break, where he learned that it would be much cheaper if he just rebuilt the engines on his own. From there he worked his way through the ranks at AMS, being trained by the previous two lead engine technicians before him.
AMS is known around the world for building some of the fastest R35 GT-Rs on Earth. Now that the R35 platform is being pushed into new territory, they’re finding the limitations of the factory cast parts. The next big project for the AMS engine program is producing more billet parts for their Alpha GT-R performance package, where the goal is to break the 3,000 horsepower mark with a much more reliable engine package.
While most performance shops in this industry are in fact ran by highly skilled mechanics, not enough of those mechanics have even a basic understanding of mechanical engineering, and that’s where the AMS and Alpha line stands out. By employing mechanical engineers with years of motorsports experience to work alongside the company’s shop technicians, fabricators, engine builders and EFI calibrators; AMS was able to develope a solid research and development strategy and rigorous testing program that will never compromise quality or performance to cut costs.
AMS Performance’s “wastegate test cell” designed to abuse the company’s turbocharger wastegate designs for compliance using thermal cycling. This torture testing is done over a period 200 continuous hours at temperatures varying between 250 and 1,100 degree C, as each wastegate is opened and closed over three million times!