– Words: Ryan Lewis. Photos: MJ Digital.
For any business it’s important to maintain a good reputation when you’re dealing with things as wildly variable and personal as cars. It takes time, it takes consistent quality and it takes innovation to separate yourself. When the topic of Sydney workshops comes up within import circles, the same few names always seem to get a mention. Some of them have had their image dragged through the dirt over the years, some have seemingly appeared overnight and are yet to prove themselves, and just a select few have managed to establish themselves as leaders in the field for years. One workshop from the latter bunch is Just Engine Management; a tuning house with legions of loyal followers, world-class builds and results that speak for themselves.
These days, the name ‘Just Engine Management’ is actually a misnomer. Once upon a time Adam spent his time solely tuning cars, but from humble beginnings great things have grown. Today, JEM is a cornerstone of the local tuning scene, plying their skills on cars from all over the country. We met up with head tuner, Adam Neish, to talk about all things JEM.
TLD: Tell us a bit about how JEM started and what your first projects were.
JEM: JEM was founded by myself in the year 2000. Before that I had worked for Haltech for 4.5 years. After many ECU installations and road tunes I opened my own workshop in Moorebank in 2002 dedicated to aftermarket ECU installations and dyno tuning. In 2008 Bobby came up with the master plan of moving JEM to the bigger premises in Ingleburn and expanding the business into what it is today – a fully furnished mechanical workshop with hoists, mechanics, engine building in-house, fabrication, wiring bay, sales room, parts storage, and a nice dyno room with two dynos, fully setup.
TLD: Did you have a dream for what you wanted JEM to be like?
JEM: Bobby and I had the same dream of JEM being what it is today, and we are still coming up with ideas to expand our range of services, to keep up with the times, and bring out new tuning/setup techniques which no-one else has imagined.
TLD: We see JEM as a business that is constantly pushing the boundaries. What’s the next point for you guys?
JEM: We have passed the point we initially envisioned, hence “the point” is continually moving away from us as we come up with new ideas to develop the business. We are continually striving to chase a new target. As new products are introduced to the industry we are always trying new things to refine our vehicle setups and tuning techniques, to deliver smooth, fast, reliable, and very powerful cars for street and track.
TLD: Can you tell us in a bit more details who is on the team there and what their roles are?
JEM: We have full time sales/management staff who tirelessly handle customers and their needs and manage the business in a way that ensures all work is carried out properly and in a timely manner. Our two gun mechanics Adz and MR are the master technicians meticulously putting the beasts together. Then there is myself, Adam, out in the back dyno room generating the kilowatts. We also have other part time staff who help fill in the gaps on the busier days.
TLD: We noticed Bobby’s wife has a Subaru WRX STi and it’s far from standard! I guess being married to someone at JEM comes with extra perks?
JEM: That’s Bobby’s pet project. The aim was to maximise the 2.5L grunt sensation without compromising factory drivability and response. So we rebuilt the engine with forged internals, Bobby carefully selected and calculated which components would help achieve the aim. The end result is 289awkW@20psi with full boost before 3500rpm and power pulling to 6400rpm. It’s still running the factory cams and has completely factory manners with max grunt sensation achieved, not to mention torque steer out of roundabouts. This car is hard to catch at street speeds.
TLD: VE head swaps have been rising in popularity over the last few years. This one looks special. What can you tell us about it?
JEM: This is Ninos’ Nissan 180SX. It’s a stroked SR22VET built by Advance Motor Mechanics and tuned by JEM. It makes 564rwkW@35psi and is built for well mannered street driving. It runs a Haltech ECU with additional sensors for logging, tuning, and engine protection purposes.
TLD: Incredible! So how does JEM distinguish itself from the others out there?
JEM: In this day and age with online resources, there’s no secret to putting together a powerful, fast car, as proven by some crazy backyard builds and amateur workshops. Where we have the upper-hand is from our combined team experience and attention to detail. We are able to put together a package that will make the intended power, with the smoothest possible drivability, and still maintain good vehicle manners such as cold starts, fuel economy and throttle response. Our cars make the power, and are still drivable!
TLD: What are the key services you offer at JEM?
JEM: Our services include dyno tuning for stock and aftermarket ECUs, vehicle maintenance and upgrades including servicing, ensuring reliability, intercooler piping, fuel systems, turbo upgrades, engine building, on-car camshaft/valve spring upgrades, ECU upgrades, boost controllers, suspension, E85 conversions, engine wiring, clutch upgrades, diff upgrades, basically everything thats required for your car to go from stock to an all out tyre-frying monster, we have a plan ready to suit your application.
TLD: What are the best projects you have had through the workshop?
JEM: Bobby’s R34 GT-R has been the most amazing project JEM has ever been involved with, this car is physics and engineering theories brought to reality that no-one has ever seen from a street car before. Although it is still in build, everyone who has laid their eyes on it has given a “far out” response. We have built numerous GT-Rs pumping out 600+awkW, and still street driven, Dean’s R32 GT-R puts out 602kW@30psi and that’s his daily driver. We had Kris’ R34 GT-R nicknamed “Gold Finger” sent to us from Perth which makes 642kW@35psi , also fully street-able, Bobby even gold plated the engine covers. There’s also Pauly’s Lamborghini Gallardo, we fitted a twin-turbo setup to it and it put down 505rwkW. There are many other memorable cars we’ve built over the years.
TLD: You mentioned Gold Finger in the list above. We were totally blown away by that car’s engine bay. Can you share a bit about what’s gone into it?
JEM: As mentioned it’s owned by Kris from Perth. He sent the car to us for a full JEM going over. The car left us with a built engine, new turbo manifold with custom hi-flowed HKS T51R, dog box, new fuel system, new Haltech setup with extra sensors and features for fine-tuning and engine protection, engine bay detailing, we even had the car resprayed black with Z-Tune panels fitted. This has been another of Bobby at JEM’s pet projects and Kris let Bobby express himself with this build. The outcome is a crazy streetable 642awkW @ 35psi on E85, with full flex tuning so the car will drive on any ethanol content. The car is back in Perth now and Kris is loving it. We have even connected to his car over the net to check data logs and ensure the car is running properly. One of our favourite builds.
TLD: What would you say are JEM’s specialities?
JEM: Our specialties would have to be delivering to the customer a better package than they envisioned, something that they are ‘wowed’ by when it comes to engine bay detail, and the way the car accelerates. When we finish a build we test the cars ourselves, and iron out the bugs before we give the car back. It’s attention to detail that matters to us.
TLD: We noticed a unique Evo out there, something we haven’t seen in Australia before. What’s that about?
JEM: It’s a Mitsubishi Evo 8 FQ400 imported from the UK that belongs to Fred. It’s running a MoTec plugin ECU we fine-tuned to get the motor running to its full potential. It’s now making 251awkW@24psi on BP98.
TLD: Is there anything JEM can do that others can’t?
JEM: We have a mixed and talented staff who all get to contribute to each build. We discuss current jobs and future combos during our lunch breaks because we are all passionate about cars. I dont know of another workshop who has a tight-knit team like ours. Not to mention we always get cars the other workshops can’t sort out, so we must be doing something right.
TLD: We’ve snapped a few photos of the beautiful Midnight Purple R34 GT-R V-Spec, ‘Tomei’. What can you tell us about its setup?
JEM: It’s running a stock engine with JEM bolt-ons: cams/gears/springs/head studs all without removing the head. It has Tomei Arms turbos, FMIC upgrade, fuel system, Apex’i Power FC and makes a reliable 412awkW@23psi on E-Flex with a beautifully detailed engine bay. It has been regularly driven for well over a year now and proven reliable, even with Ali behind the wheel! Next will be turbo upgrades again for high 400kW without building the bottom end.
TLD: There’s a Nissan R33 GTS-t here that looks far from normal under the bonnet. What’s the story there?
JEM: That’s Dave’s R33. It’s got an RB30/25 with HKS T51R turbo, prepared by JEM it puts down a reliable and streetable 546rwkW@25psi. It’s running a Haltech ECU with sensors and engine protection and machine gun anti-lag, it’s one exciting Skyline!
TLD: There may be too many to mention, but if you can, tell us about any racing achievements or goals.
JEM: Over the years we have had numerous cars set records, win races and trophies, get front page of leading magazines. Any event you go to there’s bound to be more than one JEM car there. As you say, too many to mention.
TLD: There’s something particularly insane sitting on the dyno in our photos from the workshop. Are we right to think it was once a Ford?
JEM: Yes, that’s a Ford EB Falcon, owned and built by Michael who is one of the customers JEM has been looking after longest. I installed the EMS 8860 (which it’s still running) in Michael’s driveway back in early 2000 and tuned it on the freeway. Eventually it evolved to make 440rwkW with an unopened engine. After years of abuse and no sign of failure Michael’s itch grew to the point where he de-registered the car and prepped it for drag racing. His best ET with the stock engine was 10.0s@132mph.
JEM: Eventually Michael transformed the car with a new engine setup as you see today which is putting down 1043rwhp@39psi. His best ET so far is 8.97s@152mph with only 25psi. Currently he is rebuilding the rear end, so its next outing will be on high boost and hopefully see high 7s over the 1/4 mile. All work has been carried out by Michael himself at home in the garage, with advice, wiring and tuning along the way from myself here at JEM.
TLD: What unique equipment do you guys use in the workshop?
JEM: We have a smoke machine which allows us to find air leaks that would have otherwise gone undetected, we have scanners, electrical testing equipment, and cabinets full of specialised equipment for vehicle building and diagnostics.
TLD: Your workshop is packed all the time, there’s always something crazy on the go. What projects are in the workshop right now?
JEM: Right now we are nearing completion of Bobby’s R34 GT-R and refining our AE86 4A-GTE 16valve which is currently making 360rwkW. Nearing completion is ‘MR33’, a sleeper R33 GTS built to make 500+rwkW, Alex King’s Evo 8 street/circuit car with 400+awkW, Blake’s 180wkW Ralliart Colt circuit car, we’re rebuilding a poorly built S15 engine that wasn’t put together properly elsewhere, there’s a ground-up build of Mat’s R32 GT-R with Nitto 2.7L stroker (500+awkW) to enter in the Temora 1000 challenge plus a few other little projects, not to mention the in and out jobs.
TLD: Tell us a bit more about your own personal AE86 and its crazy 4A-GTE setup.
JEM: It’s a low budget in-house build for recreational use. It uses a 4A-GZE 1.6L 16V big port head, RWD plenum, GT3082 making 360rwkW@34psi. It runs a Haltech PS2000 with Haltech dash and as many sensors as we could hook up to it. My spare time is spent tinkering with the data logs to monitor what happens in the real world of driving. It’s a relatively cheap build for my enjoyment after hours. Not a traditional drift AE86, rather full traction to feel the wrath of the power to weight ratio. Its good on fuel too.
TLD: There was one other RB build which caught our eye. It looks wild! What sort of power is this setup making?
JEM: That’s Hamza’s R33 GT-R. Another backyard owner built monster! It’s making a massive 627awkW@33psi with a Haltech setup again plus extra sensors and protection. That is one tough street GT-R.
TLD: If you could build your dream car what would you do?
JEM: My dream car would have to be an R35 GT-R with 1000awkW and the looks and handling to match.
TLD: Thanks a lot for your time, Adam. We can’t wait to see the next round of projects to come from JEM.
JEM: If anyone would like us to tune their car, or transform it in to a monster, get in touch with us via Facebook, email or phone. Like our page to keep up to date with what we are up to, and visit our website also.
The list of significant cars to have passed through the dyno cell at JEM is huge. Their wall of fame shows a selection of the highlights with several thousand kilowatts represented on these pages!
If you own something worth modifying, there’s likely to be an example on the wall showing you what’s possible should you choose to go all out on a hypo setup. JEM have everything under one roof to take your car from plain to insane and a list of successful builds to give you peace of mind. Trustworthiness can be hard to find, so let us steer you in the right direction.
JUST ENGINE MANAGEMENT
2/2 Noonan Road,
Ingelburn, NSW, Australia
(02) 9618 6001
JEM Twin Turbo Gallardo