4S Auto: SoBo's leading speed shop!
In a tale as old as time itself, enthusiasts have always gone about finding ways to make cars go faster. Take for instance the SO-CAL Speed Shop in California, a small performance parts store which went on to become the go-to name for speed, especially at the height of the hot-rodding heyday. While hot-rod culture never seemed to catch on in India, the passion for tinkering with cars has never been lost on us, and one of the best examples of this is Four Seasons Automobiles, one of Mumbai’s leading speed shops.
If you’ve ever driven through south Mumbai, you are bound to be starstruck by the various luxury cars and SUVs that will fly past you in traffic. But when you pull up to the 4S workshop that is located unassumingly below the Mahalaxmi station bridge, you will definitely be thrilled at the sight of the metal parked up. One, two, three — I count four of The Speedfest Porsches being worked on at the moment. There’s a gorgeous Aston Martin Rapide parked up next to a 997.1-gen 911 Turbo, fresh off a track day outing at the BIC. And amidst this lot of sports cars and luxury sedans was a Honda Jazz SUV from the ’90s – I felt like a kid in a candy store!
Before it was known as a performance workshop however, 4S Auto started out life as a garage which dealt solely in car air-conditioning installations. Lalit Jogani, whose family had been in the tyre business since 1970, bought the workshop in 2001. “We knew tyres, we knew alloy wheels, so we added that to the business. We had enough space and since we did wheel alignment, we started doing suspension jobs ourselves.” Lalit adds that they constantly had to learn and upgrade themselves and a lot of that was down to the clientele that 4S Auto catered to. The most prominent example of this are the guys at The Speedfest, a group of enthusiasts who possess some of the finest sports cars in the country. Given that they are raring to exploit the full potential of their cars on the racetrack, these sports car owners are always researching ways to make their rides go faster, and often acquire aftermarket performance components for the same.
4S is where the installation of these parts would take place. It was such experiences that allowed 4S to forge further partnerships with these companies and this has resulted in them being the dealers of BBS and Vossen Wheels, in addition to offering performance products from companies such as K&N, BMC air filters, Koni and Tein suspension as well as Sparco gear. In 2015, 4S Auto would move from its earlier location in Tardeo to its current premises and it added a paint and body shop to its operations, providing an end-to end solution for their clients.
4S Auto also plays a crucial part in the buildup to The Speedfest track days at the BIC. “Basically if the event is on a particular date, seven days before the cars are loaded (in trucks) and two weeks before that, we always look at those cars,” says Chirag from 4S Auto. Prepping these cars for the event entails a lot of small but essential tasks such as changing of spark plugs and coils, brake discs and pads, essential fluids and of course, tyres.
Sometimes the owners also get the cars aligned in a certain manner, depending on the camber setup that they wish to run on the track. The support and technical knowhow of 4S is not just limited up to that point however. During The Speedfest track days, a crew from 4S is always present to provide support, making sure the vehicles are running at peak performance.
“Our business runs purely on trust,” adds Lalit, referring to his clientele. Most clients of 4S Auto have been referrals, although the recent influx of social media has meant that the popularity of the performance shop is rising. And with good reason. When I visited 4S, I bumped into Sahil Contractor, whose 911 Turbo was fresh off a track day and the slicks were being swapped for road tyres at the workshop. Sahil mentioned that he has been sending his cars to 4S for many years, and the experience had always been a flawless one. And coming from an enthusiast such as Sahil, there’s no higher compliment.
When asked about his future plans for 4S Auto, Lalit talks about the revolution that electric vehicles would bring to motoring. “Because the ecosystem is so dynamic right now and we don’t know how long the ICE engine will survive, we are waiting and watching. We’ll be prepped for where the EV revolution takes us,” he says. Nevertheless the prospect of speed shops such as 4S stepping into the EV-era with performance mods is one that is pretty exciting! For now, the thundering exhaust notes of fast cars continue to rule the streets of Mumbai and there’s no doubt that the best of the best would have paid a visit to the SoBo speed shop that is 4S Auto.