Friday, 30 November 2012

M/M Interview with Hartmut Feyhl

Image of Hartmut Feyhl provided by Renntech. All rights reserved.

Interview with Hartmut Feyhl founder of RENNtech was conducted by Nicola Linza and Cristoffer Neljesjö in Lake Park, Florida during October 2012

What was your career prior to Renntech?

I started my apprentice program at AMG Germany in 1978. At that time AMG employed only about 8 people and their place of business was still the original “old Mill” location in “Burgstall”. During my apprenticeship AMG relocated to their new location in Affalterbach which is where they still are today only much expanded. After the apprenticeship in ’81 I served my 15 month Military in a technical division.

Back at AMG I finished my masters degree as an automotive technician. I was primarily involved with special projects and engine developments and finished my bachelor degree in automotive engineering just before being send to AMG of North America in ’87 to Chicago in order to lead special projects and manage the technical aspect of AMG North America. In ’90 I had a gentlemen’s agreement with Hans Werner Aufrecht, the owner of AMG to be the “go to person” for US customers but under my own company. This is when Renntech was created and I was taking care of AMG customers and their repairs and warranty work for the next 4 years. During that period, AMG of North America was dissolved since Mercedes has taken over AMG and it took Mercedes North America that long to organize and understand the business of AMG.

Renntech then transitioned more into their identity and products, doing basically what AMG used to do but can’t anymore, which is completely customizing Mercedes cars to the individuals preferences whatever that may be. With the success of AMG and AMG cars Renntech’s business shifted more and more to those models. However, we also have expanded into other brands like Porsche, BMW, Mini, Bentley and even Ferrari.  

What inspired the formation of company?

I always wanted to continue to work for AMG and to possibly become an AMG agent or dealer. In ’90 here the USA I saw this opportunity when Mercedes bought AMG and there was a need for a company to act like an agent at least during the transition. That’s when I approached the owner Hans Werner Aufrecht to become that agent under my new company Renntech.

When did your passion for automobiles being?

I always had a passion for fast things, mechanical things, things with an engine. Early on the interest was more for motorcycles and airplanes. But that changed and solidified to cars when I started with AMG.

Do you have a particular project that stands out in your mind?

There are too many to list, but the most significant ones are the motorsport projects at AMG with a 450SLC in ’80 and then later in ’85 with the 190E 16 valve. And even more so the development of a 4 valve cylinder head conversion for the 5.6l V8 engine in ’84.

The design and build of the “Hammer”, a conversion of a 300E sedan into a high performance sedan in ’85. This actually was one of the reasons I came to the US, I had to build a few of those special cars for the US market.

The design and build of the “Bad Ass Benz” on the cover of Car & Driver, also a e class sedan with a V12 engine.

What do you feel is the most important upgrade to a high-end German auto?

I am not sure if I can answer that question since it is a moving target. The answer changes constantly through time, the different brands, different models and of course the customer and stand point.

What is the meaning behind the name Renntech?

Renn is German for motorsport, racing. “Renn sport”, and tech I guess is obvious, so the name stands for me as “race technology for the road”, or high tech from the track for the road.

The above interview with Hartmut Feyhl 2012 © Manner of Man Magazine. All rights reserved. Reproduction is strictly prohibited without written permission from the publisher.