FTI Performance - Torque Converters Built By Drag Racers


Here we see the main subcomponents of a torque converter. 1) At the top is the front cover. In this example the torque converter is equipped with lockup clutches which fit into the well in the middle. The front cover is bolted to the flex plate on the engine. 2) This is the turbine which is splined to the transmission input shaft. 3) Impeller with stator. The stator is the smaller diameter piece with the large blades in the middle and the impeller is the rest of the assembly shown here. The impeller will be welded to the front cover (we guess you could call the impeller the "back cover") when the converter is finished.

Greg Samuel is a drag racer. He's deeply passionate about it and has many decades of racing experience with a whole lot of success. But everyone needs a day job and Greg supported his racing habit with his own transmission repair facility. His shop built 900 transmissions a year for mostly regular, stock daily drivers. The kind of cars and customers that just want their car to work and for whom a rebuilt factory torque converter was all they needed.

But Greg noticed something, he couldn't really get high quality rebuilt factory converters. Greg is the kind of person for whom "good enough" is absolutely, positively NOT good enough. So Greg went into the factory converter rebuilding business, making his own replacement converters for his transmission shop customers.

In 2005 Greg sold his successful transmission business. What to do next? He decided to have some fun (his words) and got some of his racing buddies together to develop better racing torque converters. They spend two full years doing research, design, prototyping and testing. They learned a lot and concluded that they could built a better converter, not just for their own racing efforts but to share with the racing world the fruits of their knowledge and labor.

There's something you need to know about FTI Performance, everyone on the shop floor, everyone who touches the parts and builds the products, is a drag racer. And we all know that racers are never satisfied, no matter how well they're doing, how fast they're going, how consistent they are, they always want to improve their performance. Having a company staffed by racers brings that mentality as a core value to FTI, they never stop researching and improving their parts and processes, they never sit still.

The folks at FTI quickly learned that many of their ideas couldn't be implemented because no one was making the kind of parts they wanted, and if they did make it they weren't making it to a level of quality that would satisfy the demanding task masters at FTI. So the company started purchasing CNC machines and designing and machining their own parts. If you want something done right, sometimes you just have to do it yourself.

Of course, as a transmission builder it wasn't very long after they sold their first FTI converter that Greg went back into the transmission business, this time for race only parts. Taking the same single minded approach to quality and continual improvement that they do with their torque converters. No one makes a particular drum with a particular material that FTI would like to use? Then they fire up the CNC machines and make their own. Transmissions and converters built by racers, for racers.

Greg learned a lesson back in his transmission repair shop days, treat the customer right, offer the best customer service possible and as a business you can't go wrong. You can make the best product in the world, but if you have bad customer service people aren't going to want to do business with you. And FTI's goal isn't just to avoid bad customer service, it's to provide exemplary customer service. Greg and everyone at FTI strike us as genuinely concerned with making every customer happy before and after the sale. When was the last time you received a Thank You card in the mail (old fashioned snail mail) from a company from whom you bought a performance part? Does FTI need to do this? No, they just think that it's right to show you that they truly value your business and are grateful to have you as a customer.

We asked Greg what's the most important thing for customers to do when ordering an FTI converter. He replied that they need to be very honest with themselves about their vehicle (they build converters for racing trucks too), their usage of the vehicle and their needs and goals. FTI has a build sheet you fill out on their website. From the specs that you provide FTI builds you a custom converter for your application. If you ever have a converter builder that doesn't bother to gather your data, find another builder.

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