Making a living playing with powerActive Autowerke has been officially making BMWs go faster since brothers Mike and Karl Hugh founded the company in 1981. But in fact the two were making BMWs go faster even before that. As Karl says, he picked up a '72 2002tii and "got hooked." Then came an E21 320i turbocharged for a 55 percent increase in power, and it wasn't long until they decided to turn the hobby into a business. The fledgling company soon became the largest independent BMW service center in all of Florida, with a sophisticated equipment arsenal and certifications from leading industry suppliers.
By 1995, Karl, a graduate from the University of Miami's School of Engineering (specializing in the internal combustion engine), had re-focused on the company's true roots: the thrill of turning fast BMWs into faster BMWs. In time Active Autowerke drew down its service support and today focuses exclusively on improving performance. While the bulk of business is conducted largely through mail order and a worldwide distributor network that serves nine foreign countries (including Germany), the company's on-site installation facility still stays busy. The day we visited, the shop floor featured pretty much standing room only.
Known originally for its turbocharged applications, today Active deals with supercharging as its main means for boosting power for a variety of reasons, cost efficiency and reliability chief among them. In addition to its signature supercharger packages, the company offers an array of proprietary performance upgrades like anti-roll bars, shift kits, pulley systems and brake upgrades, as well as supplying goods from respected aftermarket sources like KW Suspensions, BBS, and BMW Motorsport to name just a few. Services run the gamut from basic bolt-on upgrades to full racecar prep.
Active Autowerke also avidly supports and participates in BMW enthusiast and motorsport events. As this story goes to press, an Active Autowerke-prepped E46 M3 driven by Catesby Jones finished first in class and third overall in the 2009 One Lap of America (out of a field of more than 60 cars), while the prototype E90 began its long journey back from California's spring Bimmerfest. --KF