Behind the shutters is a series of interviews in which we get to know the people who bring power to the people; Revo Authorised Dealers. We find out what projects they’re working on and discover what it takes to run a full time tuning shop.
This month we go #behindtheshutters with TK Engineering and speak to owner Toni Kraus. Based in Bavaria, Germany, to find out how TKE started, where his passion for all things VAG comes from and how the tuning industry has changed over the years.
Who are you, what do you do and where do you come from?
My name is Toni, I’m 33 years old and I am the founder of TK Engineering. I live in a small village near Nuremberg in Bavaria, Germany which is also where I run my business from. It’s perfect as the bigger cities like Nuremberg, Regensburg and Munich are close by, but I still get to enjoy the countryside, and more importantly the quiet roads.
When I’m not working on or driving cars, I’m lacing up my running shoes or on my mountain bike. It’s beautiful here so anything that gets me outside i’m in to, especially rural drives in my 2018 Audi RS3 Sedan, MINI R56 GP2 (Track Tool) or with one of my old-timer Vespas (40-50yrs old). 😉 🛵
The first Revo Authorised Dealer in Germany
I started training as a motor mechanic when I was 19, got my driving licence and met most of my petrolhead friends. I bought my first car, a Corsa with 45HP and spent most of my time after that meeting friends at a well-known petrol station in Neumarkt, as well as some stations near our famous German Autobahn. After a month I replaced the Corsa with the more powerful 101HP Corsa GSI. This was my first taste of tuning and I managed to squeeze 130HP out of it – which was not fun to achieve. 6 weeks of work on the cylinder head, cams, inlet and exhaust all to get 30HP – crazy how things have changed!
Before that, I had no special interests in cars, tuning and all that stuff. The apprenticeship was because of a lack of opportunities at the time. So it was more or less fate that led me to find my true passion there. I worked as a mechanic for the next decade but it was not enough for me, I wanted to be my own boss. That was when I decided to study mechanical engineering and get the necessary qualifications to start my own business. I received my state-certified exam and the rest is history, it wasn’t long after that I started talking to Revo and set up as the first Revo authorised dealer in Germany. The beginning of a true love story.
Tell us about the car you should have never sold.
After my Corsa phase, I moved on to a 6-speed turbocharged car; a Calibra Turbo 4×4. I wanted more power, but in standard form, it still wasn’t enough. So, I worked on ‘chipping’ the car on my own, taking the standard output up to 300HP. I loved it, it was a dream car with a very rare paint, Coscast cylinder head – only a few of these were built in Uusikaupunki at Valmet Automotive – which got rid of any rust risks. The C20LET engine was some great engineering, definitely one I wish I had held on to.
What are you currently driving, and what modifications have you made?
I’ve got two main cars that I’m driving at the moment, a Mini GP2 and an Audi RS3 8V. Both really fun in their own ways, and both with a long list of fun modifications. My main project is the RS3 which I chose for the legendary 5 cylinder sound and drivability. I’ve always wanted to own a sedan RS3 and after Audi released it, I placed the order. But that did mean selling my lovely S3 8P, sad times.
Audi RS3 8v
- Revo Carbon Series air intake system
- Wagner Intercooler Competition EVO1
- Edel01 Handmade Downpipe with thermo-isolation and 2 x Porsche Cup 100CPSI
- Revo ECU Software
- OZ Racing Leggera 9×19“ with 255/30/19 in front and 235/35/19 in rear
Other available Revo products for Audi RS3 8v
- ProPanel Air Filter -Revo
- SPS Software Switch – Revo
- Big Brake Kit – Revo
- Disc Upgrade Kit – Revo
- RV019 Wheels – Revo
Do you like a race or are you more of a weekend cruiser?
Both – I nearly have the right vehicle for every occasion. I’m using the Audi RS3 8V Sedan for 300+ km/ph speeds and drag racing, with some daily driving in between. The Mini GP2 was built for the racetrack.
I really enjoy mountain pass roads, which is why I love Austria, Switzerland and of course Italy – not least because of the espresso. Nothing beats the sound of a five-cylinder howling through the hills, topped off by an incredible view at the top. Perfect for a little Instagram post 🙂
For sunny, relaxed days I have a 1968 Vespa 50cc with 4 speed and tuned with new cylinder 75cc from 2.5HP to 3.5HP. It’s running 66 km/h GPS.
What’s your favourite race circuit and why?
Easy question! The legendary Nürburgring Nordschleife. I love this course, nothing beats driving around the most famous racetrack in the world.
I spent a lot of time (and money 🙂 ) at the ring, it’s more than just a race track. I’ve made new friends and acquaintances, met new customers and for sure had a lot of ‘petrol talks’. It’s this unique flair and the respect of the most dangerous racetrack in the world that makes it so special, and at the same time so challenging.
It’s a place to forget everything else for about 8 minutes – my first experience was back in June 2016. By the end of 2017 I must have counted 156 laps, mostly driven in tourist trophy and two track days. I did my first record with my Polo R WRC, 350 HP with Revo Stage 2 – Time: 7:52.
My current record is 7:39, done with my Audi S3 8P, 450 HP powered by Revo software and parts. There is this internal ambition to get better with each lap…
And btw, I’m not a member of legendary Bongard Club!
So tell us about TK Engineering
TK Engineering, or TKE for short was started based on my mechanical engineering background. We’re based in Schwarzach, a little Bavarian village in Germany and offer everything needed to take a car and make it ready for the racetrack.
TKE was started in 2012 and after working with quite a few different tuning companies, I got tired of bad experiences and wanted to work with someone reliable. Working with hardware is fairly straight-forward, but when it comes to ECU Software, you’re dependant on others for support. After a few projects that involved a lot of money, for sobering results I knew it was time to find the best option available.
Around that time I became aware of a company based in Denmark that, working with Revo built a Stage 4 SEAT Cupra running over 550HP. At the time Revo were the only tuner that was capable of creating over 500HP, and I wanted in. A year later I signed up with Revo as their first German Revo authorised dealer.
So what’s different about TKE?
We work with a network of other companies that specialise in different aspects of tuning. This way I can deliver what my customers want, rather than push them to buy what I have in-house.
As a Revo Authorised Dealer too, we offer the full range of Revo hardware and software. Everything from brakes to intakes, trusting the products that you fit to your customer’s cars is extremely important to me. It’s not just quality either, it’s about delivering power in a way that gives my customers what they want; a fast, reliable car.
Work is carried out very professionally and without compromise. We have a friendly, familiar, relaxed atmosphere and I try to be as flexible as possible to fulfil all the requirements my customer have. Detailed & extensive prior advice is just as important to us.
I have a very high expectation set for myself and for everything I do at TKE. I’m only satisfied if my customer leaves my garage with a broad grin on his face and a perfectly tuned, Revo powered car. And that’s also the feedback I get from my customers.
Have you always had a passion for VAG?
Yes, and my choice of vehicles over the years supported that. Just to mention a few of my favourites, I’ve owned a Golf 2 GTI, a Golf 3 VA6, a Golf 4 GTI, an Audi A6 2.5l TDI, an Audi S3 8P… I imagine the list will continue to grow haha
At the beginning of my ‘tuner career’ I was a fan of some Opel models and I won’t miss that time. Now I will stick with VAG, with maybe one or two ‘experiments’ on the side like my Mini GP2 😉
What favourite projects have you worked on?
- Audi S3 8P – EFR6758 with 460HP 600NMN
- Enzo’s Audi TTRS 8J
- Werners 2012 Audi S3 8P – EFR7064 with 500HP 640NM
- Michael’s Mk5 Golf GTI – GT3576R with 530HP
- Dominik’s Mk5 Golf GTI – GTX3076R with 602HP 713NM
Three tips for anyone tuning their car?
- Love it, use it and enjoy it!
- Don’t try to save money in the wrong places. Use the experience of your tuner and save for the best products you can afford – you’ll only spend the money you saved on fixing problems afterwards.
- Be different, but remember, different costs a lot of money.
How has the tuning industry changed over the years?
There are more and more possibilities to get a lot more of performance upgrade with less effort. “Old-school Chip Tuning” almost doesn’t exist anymore and there are so many companies offering ‘tuning’. The fact there are so many more suppliers on the market makes it much harder for customers to work out what products are the best. This isn’t helped by shops setting up without the right qualifications or experience; suppliers or shops don’t know what they sell and how to check or set up the car correctly. But there are plenty of reputable businesses to help you, just do your research before choosing. Revo only work with the very best, so their authorised dealer locator is a good place to start, and most will offer other products like suspension too.
Thanks for reading
Thanks to Toni. To keep up to date on TKE’s latest projects and builds, or to find out more about Revo products, head over to their Instagram or visit their website.
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Revo products are available in over 40 countries through a global network of over 400 authorised dealers. Far from your average garage, these guys know their stuff when it comes to performance products and fitting them – we have strict standards for those who wish to fly the Revo banner. Backed by a dedicated support team here at Revo HQ, and with decades of experience working on Volkswagen Audi Group (VAG) and Ford vehicles, our dealer network offers advice and support to help you on your path to more power and greater enjoyment of your vehicle.