No Smoke No Poke

A walk on the Darkside

15th February 2012 | BY NSNP

All too often these days people go on about “The Economic Situation” as an excuse for not following their dreams and going into to business; from the banks to the local butchers, it seems the downturn is scaring off everybody…almost everybody. We were invited to take a trip up to a small industrial estate in Barnsley to meet two brothers, Ryan and Scott, owners of Darkside Developments, who are not only bucking the trend, but giving it a good hiding whilst they’re at it.

We arrived at DSD on a cold Saturday morning, bleary eyed from the early start, but were soon being warmed in the offices of their shiny new premises with a cup of tea in hand and a day of High Tech Dervs ahead. Ryan and Scott come across as very genuine lads with real enthusiasm for the cars they build and a no nonsense Northern Work Ethic.

Chatting to them whilst the NSNP Leon was being lifted into the air for it’s new SouthBend SMF and clutch, it’s easy to see they are highly focused on pushing the diesel tuning scene in the UK. Working primarily with VAG Group cars, they are building on a global brand known for it’s reliability, meaning everything sold under the Darkside banner has to be as good or better than the Germans already offer. “We’re not about volume, we build turbo kits designed to last as long as the car. If you put your name to something that isn’t any good, you’ll soon be out of business.”

For a company that has been built by car communities and online forums, they’ve made their name without marketing hype or flashy advertising. Loyal customers do take time to cultivate, but with the speed at which word of mouth spreads online, it’s easy to see why business is growing.

The company has come a long way in it’s three short years, with it’s beginnings in a shed (a very nice shed we’re told) sourcing cars to supply the second hand parts market. The tipping point for them was when demand in America began to grow. Optional extras that were never offered in U.S. Showrooms were suddenly must have items for tuners and modifiers alike. A fine example of this is their six speed gearbox conversions. With manual six speeds as rare as rocking horse manure across the pond, Scott and Ryan were perfectly placed to begin shipping complete kits to replace the old slush boxes. With their turn key packages, even all new bolts (where the old items are single use) were included. With crazy attention to detail and super fast international shipping, they soon became trusted vendors.

But to dwell on the business supplying OEM parts would be to only tell half the story. Ryan is a keen tuner in his own right, you can see this is a man who needs to build fast cars.


This small saloon wears almost every upgrade that Darkside offer, boasting over 310Bhp it’s probably one of the UK’s quickest street legal dervs about. But with great power comes great responsibility, and to build such a monstrous engine without having a car capable of controlling it would have cramped the company style. KW V1 coilovers keep things on the tarmac with fully adjustable geometry adapted from an Audi TT. Couple that with the hoooge 345mm brakes and a full corner weight setup from Mick Gardner Racing and the Blue Beast was done. Week days it serves as the business demo car (as well as being Scott’s daily) and at weekends it’s let loose on the track. Capable of blasting straight through the (now removed) electronic speed limit of 140mph, this is the epitome of a Jekyll and Hyde road car.

Many people when faced with the challenge of doubling a diesel street car’s power would have shied away at the lack of performance components. In Darkside’s case if a part wasn’t suitable for duty they adapted it, and when it couldn’t be adapted, then they had it built themselves.

From custom manifolds that package turbochargers far larger than stock in the same space, to the one off oil lines that are needed to feed them, you get the feeling that these guys could make just about anything fit.

With the growing market for performance diesels in the UK and abroad, DSD have not only got in on the scene early, but have influenced where it is today. In the not too distant future you’ll see more and more people finding high outputs from the humble oil burner. We’ll be meeting again soon with Scott and Ryan to find out just what’s next.

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