No Smoke No Poke

PROFILE: Darkside Developments, A year on…

21st January 2013 | BY NSNP

Almost twelve months ago we made the journey up North to Darkside Developments HQ in Barnsley. After spending the day with Scott and Ryan the company directors, we were impressed by the quality of workmanship that we witnessed and their knowledge of all things TDI. The overwhelming feeling we were left with though, was a hunch that exciting things were to come from this humble diesel tuning venture on an industrial estate in Monk Bretton.

Last Wednesday we went back to see how things had changed…and boy were we not wrong!

The Darkside A-squad comprised of three main players this time last year, Scott, Ryan and their full time mechanic. The services of others were called upon as and when necessary, with mapping, fabrication and machining being taken care of off site. Keeping overheads to a minimum this way has played a key role in Darkside’s growth in the early stages. The business was operating out of a reasonable sized unit with a two post ramp and walls full of racking for the spares for parts side of things.

As we drove back through the industrial estate this time around, we were greeted by the sound of a TDI engine being put to work and a trail of technicians in overalls toing and froing between the unit we’d visited before and two more across the car park. It appears that a lot has changed in the twelve short months since our last visit and the theme has been “expand, expand, expand”.

The NSNP Leon had been booked in for a service and cam belt so the keys were handed over and we were taken on the guided tour of the new workspace.

The biggest change is the addition of their new dyno cell, allowing them to offer a complete in house tuning/mapping/dyno testing package all under one roof. They’ve taken on Kris, a northern version of Jesse in The Fast and the Furious, who takes care of the file writing and ECU wizardry. While we were there they had their Skoda Octavia VRS development car on the rollers.

Aesthetically it’s a million miles away from their slammed, widened, tinted, garishly re-upholstered Jetta of top speed run fame. But it’s not a million miles away in terms of performance, posting a respectable 271bhp and 420lbft – a proper sleeper!


The dyno has only just been installed in the new unit, which will be turned in to a development area with the addition of another ramp and tools to speed up the “fit it, test it” process. As you’d expect, with an ever growing footprint Scott and Ryan have taken on more staff and now have nine guys under them. During a conversation with Scott, he told us that having more staff allowed them to operate far more effectively. While many garages would wince at the prospect of paying nine lots of wages, Scott told us that the extra man power had more than paid for itself, enabling them to take on much more work and complete the difficult jobs in a fraction of the time. The full service, cam belt and water pump change plus some turbo tinkering and map reading on the NSNP Leon took less than two hours from driving in to driving out.

Whilst completing a major service in a respectable time is to be commended, there are better things for us to shout about on here. The Darkside Jetta has become somewhat of a bench mark for many on their quest for high power TDIs. The companies Facebook page is full of comments from people asking which limbs or organs are needed in exchange for a big turbo kit like that on the Jetta. Thankfully for the NHS’s organ donor numbers, getting big power from these engines is something that can be done relatively cost effectively and Scott and Ryan proudly inform us that they only have a few arms and legs ‘out back’ that they’ve exchanged for a GTB2260Vk or two.

The downside (if we can call it that?) is that now there’s plenty of DERVs rolling around with 250+bhp. The upside (we can definitely call it that) is that the lads have had to up the ante somewhat.

Enter the twin-turbo, 4WD Golf TDI…

Deciding that one turbo just wouldn’t quite cut it for their next show stopper, the pair installed a custom compound turbo set up using a hybrid GTB1852v high pressure turbo and a Holset HX35w. The Holset turbo is usually found on mid-nineties Dodge RAM trucks running Cummins diesel engines, so we’d guess it’s fairly potent when bolted to a Euro hatchback weighing half as much with half the displacement.

Scott and Ryan have never been accused of doing things by half, nor being conservative with their designs and the 3” downpipe and 1.5” screamer pipe poking through the bonnet almost doesn’t come as a surprise…almost. Firad 120% race PD injectors keep the jungle juice flowing and the twin custom intercoolers poke out subtly obnoxiously from behind the front bumper.

There’s a custom camshaft, a Passat inlet manifold, an Audi TT gearbox, Peloquin diff, hard pipes, 50+PSI boost thanks to the custom darkside remap…the list goes on. It’s a mental bit of kit.

This is very much a work in progress and we’ll be the first to admit that it’s not really much of a looker yet. But you only have to peer inside at what’s left of the interior to know that this is going to be a little bit special when it’s finished.

We spent the rest of the afternoon talking shop and digging for clues about what’s to come in 2013. As we said earlier, expansion seems to be the mantra at Darkside and whilst we’re not allowed to tell you any more than that right now, we can say that things are looking to be considerably different again this time next year.

Some people are scared of change, but as Scott and Ryan are proving, to run a successful tuning business you need to have your head screwed on and be constantly pushing the boundaries, getting out of your comfort zone and evolving with the demand of your customers.

It also helps to be a little bit mad and have your head in the clouds (of diesel smoke) too…

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