Not all of us build high-end custom vehicles or race cars professionally for a living. However, that doesn’t stop many of us from wanting to use the same parts the professionals use when we can. Fortunately, in today’s market, companies offer the same catalog of components to DIY’ers as they do to the pros. One such company is Design Engineering Inc. (DEI), a leading manufacturer of high-performance heat-protection products.
Heat is something that has to be considered when building custom or high-performance vehicles. It can cause damage to electrical components and ruin painted surfaces. Additionally, heat robs horsepower, so for every degree you can lower temperatures under the hood, the better your engine will perform. This is where DEI shines.
For 25 years, DEI has been designing and developing its “Thermal Tuning Products” to solve the ongoing struggle with underhood power-robbing heat. From exhaust wrap to turbo blankets and heat-shielding products for wiring, if you need to protect something from heat, DEI most likely has a high-quality product for you. As a leader in automotive thermal protection, many of the top custom car builders use DEI products on their projects.
One such shop is Dutchboys Hotrods of Vicksburg, Michigan. The Dutchboys team is led by Joe Van Nus and his son, Paul. Together with the help of their talented employees, the duo turns out incredible complete custom builds. We caught up with Joe and Paul to take a look at an amazing Buick Grand National they are building and discuss what DEI products are being put to use on this amazing car and why they choose DEI products on all of their builds.
The car is a 1987 Buick Grand National that came to the Dutchboys shop as a stock vehicle. Because no one at the time built an aftermarket chassis for the Grand National to do what they wanted it to do, the Dutchboys team set to work building their own chassis using components from Detroit Speed and one-off framerails. The idea for this car was a powerful pro-touring style, so to get the car low enough for Paul’s liking the body is channeled down over the chassis and is welded together at multiple points to create a stiff unibody construction. The fenders and quarter panels have been flared to house the wide Greening Auto Company wheel and tire package as well as to help with nailing the stance and look that Dutchboys is known for.
Powering this beautiful creation is a twin-turbo LS engine that uses mirror-image turbochargers from Nelson Racing Engines to keep things symmetrical and make plenty of power. Connecting the engine to the GearFX 9-inch rearend is a Bowler 4L80 automatic transmission. No doubt this ride will be rowdy, and with that performance comes heat and loud sounds. For a car as nice as this that will see plenty of street miles and feature creature comforts like A/C, ABS, and traction control, keeping heat and sound in check is paramount to an enjoyable driving experience.
This is where DEI shines by handling heat and sound protection while looking good too. On a high-performance show car like this Grand National, every component has to match the look, quality, and performance of the rest of the car, and DEI’s products check each of those boxes. “We’ve been using DEI products for years on our builds,” Paul says. “More recently in the last couple of years, we’ve really developed a great working relationship with them and we dove into their entire product line.”
We have started using even more of DEI’s products on our builds and it has been a real game changer for us. – Paul Van Nus, Dutchboys Hotrods
Starting with the most commonly used DEI products, Paul pointed out the turbo blankets, wastegate shields, header/exhaust wrap, and Boom Mat interior liner. For display purposes on the car, there was one Onyx and one Titanium turbo blanket, with both being the Gen-3 model, and are good to 2,500 degrees Fahrenheit. The turbo blankets are plenty flexible, feature stainless steel thread and anchors, and have a silicone outer shell for increased durability that minimizes oil and chemical soaking into the shell. Not only does the turbo blanket reduce underhood temperatures and protect areas around the turbo from heat, but it also helps the turbo spool quicker by keeping the heat in the turbocharger housing.
DEI’s exhaust wrap can be seen throughout the engine bay. Paul said they even wrapped the exhaust under the car, all the way to the tips at the rear. The Titanium series wrap is made from pulverized lava rock and can withstand direct temperatures of over 900 degrees Fahrenheit. The material is very flexible and unlike exhaust wraps of old, the Titanium series does not require wetting of the material before installation.
We like DEI’s products so much that we have had customers bring their cars back to us so we can add more of DEI heat- and sound-protecting products. – Paul Van Nus, Dutchboys Hotrods
Other heat shielding products you will find on this Grand National are Reflect-A-Gold heat-reflective tape, black seaming tape, and black Floor And Tunnel Shield. To protect hoses, air lines, and wiring and connectors, Paul used DEI’s Fire Sleeve, Fire Wrap, and Sensor Cover products.
Moving to the car’s interior, Paul used Boom Mat to line the entire floor plan. This product provides extreme noise and vibration damping thanks to its 4mm thickness and its asphalt-free, pure-butyl, noise-cancelling layer. Boom Mat’s easy-peel backing and flexibility make for minimal prep and install time. This product is used as a first layer, and once the interior’s carpet goes in then additional DEI Under Carpet Lite sound absorption insulation material can be installed.
From talking with Paul, it seems that DEI products are an integral part of this build and many others at Dutchboys Hotrods. The products in use on this Grand National not only add excellent heat and sound protection, but they also add to the aesthetics of the build. It’s easy to see why the Dutchboys Hotrods team, and many others across the country, choose DEI products for their builds. To see the complete line of heat and sound protection products visit DEI’s site here.