“It’s a dark art,” says DNA Autosport director and owner Andre Nader.
Still in his late 20s, he has spent the past 18 months setting up his workshop in the industrial-heavy Western Sydney suburb of Wetherill Park.
I know the area well – I grew up around the corner.
Nader’s experience speaks for itself. Growing up, he spent his time – with other bright minds – understanding the challenges that prevent race cars from going fast.
I’m talking about stuff in the Supercar, GT3 and LMP categories. He understands data, has great mathematical acumen, and races a car himself, too.
He’s also spent time in Europe with Bilstein and co, learning the ins-and-outs of vehicle suspension and dynamics to the highest degree. So when it costs a touch more than usual to spend an hour picking his brain about my own car, it felt like fantastic value.
My silly 2009 Toyota iQ GRMN is a daily driven car first and foremost. I do plan to visit the racetrack with it occasionally; however, my wife also likes to use the car, sometimes with my son in it too (sparingly).
In other words, I’m more focused on good road manners than anything else. It forms a great base for a weekend racer anyway, I’m told. Nader understood the brief in one go, as I’m not alone in my desires of just chasing something that stops and turns as it should.
After driving the car and providing me with his feedback, the boys got to work.
The machine they use is a 3D-imaging-type aligner, different to the usual laser-powered jobbie you find at most places.
“The difference is this machine provides live data,” says Nader. “Alignments are dynamic, and this machine allows us to quickly load and unload the vehicle’s suspension to ensure accuracy.”
His latter point makes sense when you view the image gallery below, as the vehicle ramp has a clever sliding pneumatic lift that pops up the car almost instantly. Clever stuff.
The 2009 Toyota iQ GRMN is the world’s smallest four-seat vehicle, measuring less than 3.0m long. Its odd wheelbase and track – 2.0m long by 1.47m at the front axle – mean it’s utterly unique. It’s also a skunkworks-‘tuned’ car that Toyota made just 100 of, meaning finding the specs it may have once used are likely impossible.
But we didn’t need those anyway, because I was in good hands. More good luck was that my delivery from Automotive Superstore – containing a pair of Whiteline eccentric suspension bolts – arrived the day before. Given my car retains its GRMN-tuned yet original suspension, there isn’t much adjustment to play with.
The bolts offer a touch more freedom with generating good road manners. Merely watching as a bystander, I saw others dragged in to get involved and understand what was going on.
Like a good race team, it’s all about fostering talent, and I get the sense that Nader’s race mentality extends through into his work mentality.
After a couple of laughs at the whacky engineering underneath the Toyota iQ – with one commenting “this was never made to go fast” – we headed out to test the set-up.
“It’s not done yet, proof’s in the pudding,” I’m told. After a quick buzz around the block, and a few more truths discovered about the car, I took the time to explore what else was on offer at DNA Autosport.
Andre Nader leads a team of people who genuinely spend their time making people and cars go fast around corners or in a straight line. The approach is generally catered around the purpose of the car, not necessarily the driver or the car specifically.
“We work with people who want to better their driving, be it at grassroots level or at the highest tier of privateer racing,” Nader adds. “The gamut of cars is great, and it keeps us plenty busy and entertained.”
They’re also the Australian Agent for TracTive suspension, producer of the world-best and most dynamic suspension components known to the world.
I know I’m not going to entertain such things personally (yet), but I know the minds here are the sorts you want making sure your partner’s, son’s or even friend’s car stops and turns like it should.
And for a few bucks more every six to 12 months, it’s well worth the spend. I plan to put the set-up to the test on-track in a future update.
Also, please find a small gallery below of some of the tasty metal I saw.
After more than a decade working in the product planning and marketing departments of brands like Kia, Subaru and Peugeot, Justin Narayan returned to being a motoring writer – the very first job he held in the industry.