Tornado Sports Cars- Something to Think About

I wrote the text of this post three months ago, saved it, and didn't look at it or this forum again until today. I wanted some time to cool off and to see if I still felt the same way when I returned. After all, this post is going in the same section as pages of transaxle and part scam threads, and while it may not be as horribly bleak as those stories, it is something that I don't take lightly. After reflecting upon it, I felt I should share my feedback so that others (and maybe Tornado) could learn from it and make better decisions. These are a few of the instances that stick out to me over my roughly 2 years of dealing with them so far.


-I was told multiple times by Tornado that the GT40s.com PM system is not 'secure', so no information is discussed there. Beyond being at tin-foil-hat levels of conspiracy theory, it immediately made me uneasy speaking with them. Why is Tornado even on this forum if there are secret forces using these PM's against them?.... I had to laugh when I saw (banned) George's posts, because one of them specifically mentioned Andy/Scott telling him the PM system here was not secure and it was the foundation of some of the wild accusations he was throwing around a few weeks ago.

-'Older' Tornado A-arms have structural deficiencies that are well known. I own an older chassis and suspension bits. I asked multiple times for information on new 'upgraded' a-arms to purchase, but that question was avoided. The deficiencies that appear after even moderate use of the thin walled, non chromoly tubing of the Tornado A arms are well-documented in several threads here and even articles elsewhere. I asked about the status of my a-arms, because there are 'new' and 'old' styles floating around according to Andy on this forum, but no direct information was ever provided as to what year they were changed or what the changes were. From roundabout information gathered from several posts, these changes were supposedly purely in material/wall thickness, and do not relate to any changes in actual geometry. I don't think I ever even got a straight answer on what 'style' my own arms were! This is, in my mind, a safety issue and it was handled with the same air of secrecy and purposefully obfuscated statements that seem to pervade every interaction with Tornado.

-I asked to purchase a PDF or upgraded version of build manual and supporting instructions, and was told it doesn't exist; but Andy has mentioned (and his website mentions) that the kit purchase currently comes with a PDF/CD with build photos to accompany the manual. Why say this is not the case? If you don't like dealing with me and don't want to sell it to me, why not just say that?

-I asked about the upgrades Tornado does to the UN1 box when I was considering buying the transmission through them. They claim several upgrades, specifically with 2nd and 3rd gears and, straight off their website, drilled out oil ways. When I asked what these upgrades were and what they did, I was told they are proprietary and cannot be shared. I find it hard to justify spending money on something that simply has mysterious 'upgrades' for which the item price is drastically increased.

-I asked for a Manufacturer's Certificate of Origin for my frame- I was told within 10 minutes of me asking Scott here in the US that my frame was now worked on/modified and they could not provide original certification. Then, somehow Andy was magically contacted an hour later, which was between the hours of 12am and 1am in the UK, and Scott got back to me and said it was decided that for 100GBP, a certificate could in fact be issued by Andy.

-I ordered a windshield from Tornado. No estimate was given for shipping and crating costs; I was told it was supposedly impossible to tell in advance. I was further told I had to give my credit card number and the charges would be billed after it shipped. Shipping and crating charges were exorbitant- anywhere from 20-55% over other quotes from UK manufacturers I sought out after seeing what the Tornado windshield ended up costing me. The worst of it was, the windshield was damaged when I got it!- chipped on the edge of the glass. The windshield was completely wrapped in plastic. The missing chip of glass was not in the plastic bag, and was in an area of the windshield that was totally suspended during shipment and could not have possibly cracked from handling damage. In other words- the damage occurred before the windshield ever went in the packaging. I was told nothing could be done, and to just patch the chip and run it or buy another windshield. That one hit my wallet pretty hard.

-I feel I really need to make note of what is, frankly, incredibly odd/Bipolar treatment- from hostility/suspicion to graciousness. Scott offered to let me come up, meet him, and see his new Tornado Carbon Fiber frame back in 2012. When I asked again a few weeks later about visiting, I was told an absolute no- that this is a boutique cottage industry and Tornado cannot allow the chance of information on their parts getting out there. After another email exchange, Scott said again that such a visit would be fine...? This is quite literally the script for almost every interaction I've had with them. Why do I, the customer, have to work so hard to maintain a relationship with the company? It's exhausting!

-Back in June, I cut apart my gas tank to put a partition in it. (There's a thread on this as well- the last one I posted before I took a hiatus from this site.) This was supposed to be one of the more expensive pieces of the kit, as it was foam-filled directly from Tornado. This is a £200 premium over regular tanks. When I went to pull the foam out, I discovered that there were only two 'end caps' of good solid foam, and the middle was full of foam castoff pieces, slivers, and foam stringers and dust. Naturally, this cannot be seen if you peer in the holes at the either end of the tank. Not only is this pretty inefficient baffling, but it's a massive price increase for what look like extra junk foam. I suppose I expected to find more than just dumpster castoffs from the local foam company for the significant premium these tanks command. To touch upon this briefly, another member here bought the same tanks, filled with explosafe now according to Andy. Upon inspection by the member...still foam. Do they not know what goes in their own tanks? Are they still getting rid of old inventory? Was this a vendor mistake? The worst part...if Andy told us what it was, I'm not sure I would believe him!


Tornado makes some decent parts at reasonable prices, and I'm happy to have a Tornado frame to hammer on, but this air of secrecy and general sheisty feeling hangs over my every communication with them, and to say that it is off-putting is an understatement. I will honestly say that one of the reasons I did not post anything that might be construed as negative was also because I was woried about being cut off from buying Tornado parts. Tornado, moreso than others, is a place where you have to be careful to always smooth ruffled feathers (perceived or real) if you want to continue to talk to them. Dealing with a company that seems to be paranoid and evasive is not a pleasant experience. As Scott mentioned many, many times to me, there have been legal issues in the past between Tornado and other manufacturers, but to carry this chip on your shoulder when talking to potential and current customers about your product- well...again, this doesn't make for a pleasant experience.

I hope I'm the odd duck out, and I hope that seeing their actions from a different angle can help improve how they treat their customers and handle their mistakes.

-Dylan
 
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Andy Sheldon

Tornado Sports Cars
GT40s Sponsor
Dylan

I feel this post is completely unjustified but is the kind of thing these forums leave manufacturers like us open to.

We will not operate our business using any third parties pm system. We have our own email address and that is what is to be used after first contact. We also have our own web address, postal address and telephone number.

The wishbone situation is no longer an issue as they have been upgraded years ago. Even major manufacturers have problems such as this. I am wondering how many other kit manufacturers will have similar problems when components they have manufactured become over 20 years old.

We do not sell build manuals without a kit package. We have the best manual out there and that is why its not available on its own. You did not buy your kit from us so as far as we were concerned it may not have even been our kit.

Our gearboxs are upgraded and a considerable amount of time and money in development goes into these things to simply give the information away to anybody who asks for it.

I issued the certificate for you to help you out and I think we can all see the result of that.
Please do not ask for any more favours.

We do not unbag windscreens from the supplier. If the chip was not in the bag you must have chipped it yourself. As I understand it the chip was so small it would easily have be covered by the windscreen outter seal so really was not an issue.

I instructed Scott not to let anybody see his carbon chassis in component form. We do not normally supply chassis in that form but have done so for Scott as a special case.

As for the tanks based on the above and your attitude towards our company who is to say what was in them when you cut them open. They are probably 15 years old and anything could have been dropped in them by anybody.

As they say you can please some of the people some of the time but not all of the people all of the time.

I guess you are just one of those you can please none of the time.

Thanks

Andy
 
If you don't want to sell manuals, if you get the windshield in a bag from the supplier, if you instructed Scott not to show anyone his chassis... why not give me these responses when the issues came up? Why give your customer a different answer every time he talks to you? Why defend the foam put in your tanks to me in a different post, and then call into question my integrity on this post? This is exactly why most of this was written!

Your tanks are listed as foam filled on the website. You said in another post they are now filled with explosafe. Customers are still receiving tanks with foam. What is the real answer here? Why do we even have to ask you or search through posts to try and figure that out? How do you go about selling something if neither you nor the customer knows what you are even selling?

I was told the windshield was checked and was shipped out with 100% certainty it was not damaged. Now, they're apparently in bags from the supplier and shipped out without ever being removed? Trying to nail down a story here is pretty difficult! I hope you can understand that when I pay well over FOUR FIGURES for a windshield and shipping, I am not a happy customer being told too bad, I must have chipped it myself! But I ate the costs of that one and swallowed my tongue for a year before saying boo about it.

As was mentioned in my first post, everyone knows the wishbones were upgraded! No one knows what the upgrade was or when it was done! Why keep that a secret? You're pushing people to have other suppliers make them a-arm replacements because you simply will not inform them of what they even bought from you.

As far as the transmission, I'm sure there is a middle ground in between "Give us more money for a mysterious black box with special things in it" and "Here are the blueprints and process sheets to our highly secretive race-winning used gearbox upgrades." Who is going to pay for something totally intangible and unexplained? Especially when all it would take is a guy with some knowledge to buy it and disassemble it to see what your improvements actually are? You're a company selling good parts at good prices, not an F1 supplier selling parts that have to stay under covered sheets and in briefcases handcuffed to a courier! Why drop the blanket of secrecy over everything?! It frustrates your customer and makes you look like a tin foil hat wearing loon!

I can't even describe to you how most of these conversations go because I've never bought a perpetual motion machine and tried to return it, and I feel like that's the closest comparison I can make.
 
FWIW, I think Tornado has a much nicer product now having seen one up close. Very good quality fiberglass for the most part (one section I saw left me wondering how that got past inspection, but for the most part it was very good). I think the suspension has been improved too. Did see one other quirk on a part they supplied that was really hard to fathom but that probably happens in most makes.

Now, as you have found out, for some reason they do not seem to be overly, customer friendly, let's say. I've had similar issues where they flat out refused to sell to me because my chassis was from a competitor. I guess this is their right but why punish a customer wanting to give you money?

Back to the actual parts though, to be fair, I'd say overall good quality for the price you pay if you want to use them as a one stop shop and my guess is they would treat you OK if you bought everything from them so I wouldn't hesitate if I were local. Given that you are in the US though, if there are any other parts you want I'd strongly suggest RCR. They have always had great service and I've always been more than pleased with the quality of the parts. Fran has been up front when something they had wouldn't work out well for me too instead of just trying to sell me something. It's really been a breath of fresh air dealing with them compared to what I have went through elsewhere. Other suppliers may be good too but RCR is the only other one I've worked with here in the US and I plan to keep it that way if possible.
 
Andy, I think you would benefit from seeing more Tornados on the road, so whether it's and old one brought back to life or a new, if she's on the road you have the best rolling advert, a Tornado being seen and talked about by thousands of people every year.

If people criticise you, for goodness sake take it on the chin and improve (if you care, examine yourself and your actions) to bite back is not cool.

If you continue to interact with people in the manner in which I observe then Tornado will become an 'also ran', maybe a 'DNF', as opposed to the premier UK brand of replica GT40, it could and possibly should be.

Sorry really is a hard word to say, but it is even harder to act it out. Start by being open and you will see there are good people out there, prepared to repeatedly give you money, providing they don't feel screwed.

K
 

Doug S.

The protoplasm may be 72, but the spirit is 32!
Lifetime Supporter
I don't have a dog in this race...yet...but when I am ready to sell the cobra and dedicate the $$ to a GT40 build the Tornado product is high on my short list because the kit is so complete.

I do understand Andy's desire to maintain the information regarding the proprietary improvements regarding the transaxle upgrades. However, living all the way across the Atlantic ocean from Tornado, the "tone" of the conversation between the two parties in this dogfight causes me to wonder whether or not my funds should be sent so far away, particularly when secrecy seems to be such an issue in this matter. I have never built a full kit before, have bought my Cobra as an already running vehicle and have made many repairs/upgrades, but the thought of investing this much $$ into a project where I may not get answers to my questions is cause for second thoughts.

I have the utmost respect for the Tornado product...think the world of Scott C...and yet I cannot for the life of me figure out what the reason for all the secrecy is...for ecample, regarding the CF chassis. I understand it may be an engineering masterpiece...but would a photo or two give away enough information that it could easily be replicated by an unscrupulous party? I ask this in all sincerity, not as a criticism.

Cheers, and I hope there are positive developments in this topic of discussion.

Doug
 
Dylan, thanks for posting and also for the having the restraint to wait a few months before making your experience public. I think it is really helpful to the prospective replica owners.

Doug, I share many of your thoughts. I agree the tone of the messages troubled me more than the content.

It is not just the initial purchase that is important. You really hope for a good relationship with your manufacturer that goes well beyond the delivery of your GT40 project. Whether you purchase a brand new kit, a complete car, or an unfinished project ....... things will be difficult without a good working relationship with the manufacturer.

Tornado needs its customer service to match the quality of its kits. Basic customer service skills would have avoided Dylan's original post. For me, Andy's response was actually more alarming.
 
Thanks for sharing and sorry for the hassle that you received especially from a company that you spent a lot of $$$$ with. Hope everything works out.
This is just another confirmation why I will keep my money close to home. Real close to home about 20 minutes.
 
I too do not have a dog in this race, but one thing I do know, is that Andy Sheldon should be congratulated on all he has, and continues to do, for the GT40 replica market.

All Hail Andy, and the products he produces.
 
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