To predict the future we must examine the past.
The first modification I ever made to a car was a set of Skunkworks (now Skunk2) coilover sleeves on my Honda Civic. I had saved up my afterschool part-time job money and brought the car to Bozz Performance. Bozz Performance was a well known speed shop located in an industrial complex across the street from the NUMMI automobile plant in Fremont, CA.
As an annoying teenager, I loved visiting speed shops. Even if I had nothing to buy, I would drop in to see what accessories they would carry in stock because I wanted to be around cool cars. Bozz had a gold Top Secret MKIV Supra and an assortment of fast cars in various states of disassembly. Streetwize across town always had a slew of BMWs lined up out front. If I needed tires or an alignment I would always go to a race prep shop rather than big box retailers. I felt I was supporting “my people”.
For my 21st birthday I bought an Arrogant Bastard Ale and applied for a business license. Radius Motorsports was an ecommerce site I operated out of my college apartment in La Jolla, CA. As I built the brand, I delivered parts all over Southern California and was able to fulfill niche parts that many sites did not list at the time. I distinctly remember shipping a customer an esoteric AEM fuel system component to Massachusetts because no one else would answer his emails.
When it came time to graduate, I knew it would be tough to continue with Radius Motorsports. I had finished my Electrical Engineering degree and my family had expectations that I would put my education to good use. To chase my speed shop dream, I knew that it would require a significant capital investment. I simply didn’t have the money.
To predict the future we must examine the past. Over the years that passed in the corporate world, one thing remained true. I still spent all the free time I could around cars. My front-wheel drive sport compact was traded for an all-wheel drive track wagon. The all-wheel drive track wagon traded for a rear-wheel drive track sedan. The rear-wheel drive collection then grew and needed 4-wheel drive to tow.
While the breadth of my automotive experience and taste has changed since my import tuner days, the world has also changed. The Gran Turismo and Need For Speed video game franchises are no longer as popular as they once were. Illegal street racing has given way to illegal side shows. The easiest way to prevent car theft is to buy one with a manual transmission. Today, Streetwize, Bozz Speed, and even NUMMI are long gone. Speed shops have become far more single brand-focused. The NUMMI Factory was purchased and is now the Tesla Factory.
During the COVID pandemic I spent an inordinate amount of time watching YouTube. As one could probably surmise from reading the last few paragraphs, I was mostly watching car videos. I was born in Atlanta, GA and spent much of my childhood there. I grew up a NASCAR fan and I wanted my first car to be a ‘68 Camaro. I love V8s and when I first saw the Tesla Model S popping up in my neighborhood in 2012 I swore I would never own an electric car. But time changes people and a growth mindset necessitates change.
First there were the Teslas out setting extremely fast laps at Laguna Seca. There were Fords tearing up drag strips and skidpads. I dove head first in to the technology and history of EVs and Porsche’s advertising around the Taycan was especially compelling. The first Porsches developed in the 1890s were electric. As much as my V8 owning heart was in denial, I began to slowly believe the future of electric. The future IS electric.
I started Emotive Engineering to embrace the internal combustion past and carry it in to the electric future. In the last year we have seen Texas freeze over while Canada and Siberia are on fire. If we want to save the V8, we have to embrace the EV. There has also been a nice side effect as new EV owners experience torque. They start to feel the emotion that can come from driving a car that isn’t an everyday appliance or sofa on wheels. That emotion is the thing I hope to build and nourish. Emotive Engineering exists to make more automotive enthusiasts. With enthusiasm comes knowledge. And with understanding comes enjoyment.
So here we are. A family man who quit his relatively successful career to live in his obsession with cars and finish a dream he started decades ago. Most aftermarket ecommerce sites today do not have so much as an about page to know who you are buying from. Emotive will not be like most. It is a part of my life story and if you have read this far, you are part of this story. I hope you enjoy the drive.
Steven Chen, Founder and Chief Engineering Officer.