Mercedes-Benz has a long – and successful – history of motorsports competition. Since the 1960s, the fine-tuned engines behind the race-winning Mercedes vehicles have come from AMG – first as an independent company started by two Mercedes engineers, and today, as the company’s in-house performance division.
Mercedes-AMG automobiles exude sporty styling, luxury, and, above all, impressive power. But some AMG owners, although quite satisfied with the luxury and style, crave even more power – lots more power. These Mercedes-AMG owners increasingly turn to Weistec Engineering to take their cars to the next level of performance.
Co-owners Michael Weiss and Steve Atneyel started Weistec Engineering in Santa Ana, California, to satisfy their own appetite for speed – and that of other Mercedes-AMG owners. “My background is mechanical engineering,” explains Weiss, the company’s technical director. “Steve and I worked together in the performance aftermarket, and really enjoy what we do. Although we worked on American cars, mostly Mustangs, we drove Mercedes for our personal vehicles. We saw a niche in the market for offering performance products for these cars, so we put our heads together, worked out a game plan, and came up with Weistec.
“We make and install performance products for Mercedes-AMG vehicles,” he continues. “Supercharger upgrades, turbocharger upgrades, exhaust systems, transmissions, ECU tuning solutions, drivelines – everything that allows cars to develop more power and better drivability. More power,” he explains, “means engines producing anywhere from 500 horsepower to well over 1000 horsepower, depending on the platform, how much power the customer wants, and whether racing or CARB legal (California Air Resources Board) is the priority.” Except for their racing products, Weistec components are 50-state emissions compliant.
Weistec engineers its products specifically for the E55 AMG with the M113K engine, the SLS AMG with the M159 engine, and the ‘63’ model AMGs – like the CL63 AMG and E63 AMG – with M156 and M157 engines. All components are designed with the concept of carrying over the Mercedes style to their products, so they have the look, fit, and excellence of design and materials found in OEM parts.
For example, Weistec superchargers use high-quality castings that closely match the Mercedes style. They turn up to 18,000 rpm and produce more than 10 psi boost. Their racing engine superchargers produce over 30 psi boost at more than 30,000 rpm. They are engineered for high performance and dependability, with components precision-machined to exacting tolerances on Weistec’s Haas VM-3 CNC Mold Making VMC and ST-30 turning center. The superchargers fit the engines precisely, and work seamlessly with supporting Weistec components to efficiently get the power to the wheels. And Weistec’s ECU tuning solutions get maximum performance from the supercharger system.
“One of the main things that differentiates us from our competitors,” points out Steve Atneyel, director of operations, “is that we have a very good system in terms of putting the hardware and the software together to get everything running right. That’s how we get our products CARB legal. There is a lot of OEM integration, so we really have to think everything through. Some manufacturers just do hardware, and some just do software. We do both, and we put them together very well.
“I was a computer calibrator for ten years on Ford, Chrysler, and other American car models,“ Atneyel adds, “but working on Mercedes was always a hobby. We’d do it on the side or after hours. I’ve always done the calibrations, but I also have a business degree. So, for the business, Mike is the designer, and I am the calibrator. Those two skills go together very well. It is a perfect synergy of getting everything working right.”
And Weistec certainly gets everything working together right. In just four years, the company has forged a reputation for offering products and services that provide high performance without sacrificing reliability.
“We have multiple Mercedes world records, but our customers mostly want to see things like quarter-mile times, and 0-to-60 mph speeds,” says Weiss. “We’ve beaten our own record twice in the quarter-mile, and right now the overall Mercedes world record stands at about 9.60 seconds and over 153 mph. That is using our 6.2* liter, M156 supercharged engine in a CLK 63 AMG. It is naturally aspirated from the factory, and we add our supercharger and all the complementary parts to handle the power increase – the electronics, intercoolers, transmission, oil coolers, and things like that.”
*Although the AMG version is a 6.2L V8 engine, Mercedes finds it appropriate to stay in touch with their roots and use the “6.3 V8” badge and “63” model designation as a nod to the famous Mercedes 300SEL 6.3L engine, used in the first S-Class.
“It is zero-compromise performance,” Atneyel emphasizes. “We do not compromise the drivability, or the look, the quality, or the luxury of the car when we install our products. We have a passion for what we do – it is as refined as the AMG Mercedes was when it came from the factory. That is hard to find in the industry today. There is a lot of compromise in the parts that some companies sell, and that is where our customers hold us in a different light. Zero compromise.”
Weistec depends on their Haas CNC machines to make their precision, zero-compromise products, and meet their commitment to their customers.
“I think the whole experience with Haas, from dealing with the local sales reps, was very good,” says Weiss. “They were knowledgeable, personable, and very helpful. They asked to see the parts to get an understanding of what we do, and they were focused on what we needed and the best way to accomplish that.
“We discussed which machines to get for a week or more,” Weiss remembers. “We discussed table size, spindle speed, every detail, and Haas helped with that, too. We finally decided on the VM-3 Mold Making VMC, and the ST-30 for turning. The VM-3 came standard with most of the options that we wanted, which cost less than adding the options we needed to another model we were considering. These are our first CNC machines, and we are very pleased with the machines and the service.
“We really like the parts catcher on the ST-30 delivering parts through the door to a tray without shutting down,” he adds. “That saves a lot of time. The VM-3 has probing, programmable coolant nozzle, extra lighting, and a lot more. The machines we have are perfect for our operation. We really put the machines through a beating, and reliability has been excellent. They’re not just cutting aluminum all day; we cut a lot of stainless, steels, and some Inconel™, with a high load. Many times, we push the tools to their limit.”
“The ST-30 does most of our parts, because we make so many pulleys and round parts,” Atneyel points out. “But many of these get a final op on the VM-3, so we use multiple fixturing in the mill. Our head machinist has a reputation for thinking outside the box, and finds a way to make a common fixture to support several similar parts.”
“Normally, the table has low-quantity, multiple fixtures mounted on it,” adds Weiss. “We are a high-quality manufacturer, so sometimes we need thirty of something cut, anodized, and on the shelf quickly.”
Weistec employs high technology wherever possible. They often make rapid prototypes on their in-house 3D printer, before using the machining center to make a test part. Larger, more complicated 3D models are sent out for rapid prototyping. Using the 3D prototypes to verify placement and design concepts reduces costs. It permits an inexpensive model to be made and tested – with the flexibility to allow quick changes – before requiring more expensive machining time and materials.
In addition to the usual QC measuring instruments, the Weistec Quality Assurance Department is equipped with a Faro portable 3D measurement arm with both laser optical scanner and touch probes. A computer-generated scan can produce measurements as close as five ten-thousandths of an inch (0.0005″). Scanned images can be rotated and manipulated to display how a component will appear when it is installed in the vehicle.
Weistec also scans the engine compartment with the engine removed, and uses the images to check for interference. Scanned images of the engine with new components installed are “fitted” into the scan of the engine compartment to locate areas where the designs may need adjustment. This “reverse engineering” is necessary, because Mercedes does not make models or design information available to the aftermarket. Using this technology provides faster measurements, and helps ensure the parts fit and work together freely.
Weistec Engineering has earned an international reputation for quality. Most of their vehicle modifications and parts sales are to foreign customers, who tend to be young, successful, and have a passion for perfection, style, and performance. But lately, there is another demand for Weistec expertise.
“People see the quality in our products, and approach us to design or make parts for them, so we also do a lot of private-label work,” Atneyel says. “It is our quality, our fitment, and a lot of our design, but their label. Our company will also expand in that direction, because other suppliers can see that we are totally committed to making our products perfect.
“Naturally, we talk about where the company is going a lot,” Atneyel adds. “We have a passion for it. There are products that we are designing, and that we are constantly thinking about, that can really set the company apart and take us in a new direction. They will separate us from the competition, and make the business even more successful. And we want to cover more platforms, as well. Our competition has been in business for twenty years, and we have been in business for four. We’ve covered all the platforms they have – but in much greater depth. So we are ready to expand.”
“Good enough really isn’t good enough,” insists Weiss. “It has to be above and beyond. A lot of our sales go around the world. We have sales from the Middle East, where conditions are 120˚F plus, and in Russia, where it gets to -40˚F. All the materials, coatings, belts, and even the computer calibrations – everything – need to work perfectly. They have to be designed for and made to survive in extreme conditions, and that takes a lot of time, effort, and energy to produce.
“So quality is extremely important,” Weiss concludes. “It’s a different world out there. Internet communities that talk about cars are major pieces of the puzzle, so when one person has a good experience and goes online, they will show some photos, and maybe some videos. That is very important, from a marketing perspective. The word spreads quickly if you have a great product – but even more quickly if you have a bad product. In our mindset, there’s no room for even one dissatisfied customer.”