THE FOUNDER OF TURBO TECHNICS
Geoff Kershaw developed a passion for making things from a very early age, a passion he has retained for more than six decades.
This led directly to an interest in many aspects of engineering, and eventually graduating with a degree in Mechanical Engineering from Queen Mary College, London University.
Geoff’s industrial experience began with a post-graduate training programme at Rolls-Royce Aero Engines, followed by several years working with R-R diesel engines. This period included Geoff’s first patent, his project truck engine achieving the first British Standard smoke emissions approval, followed by a Design Council award.
Following an invitation to join Garrett AiResearch in 1974, Geoff took on technical and sales responsibility for their Scandinavian customers. At the time, Garrett was very new to the European marketplace, competing with well-established turbo manufacturers. Despite this, over the next four years of Geoff’s involvement, Garrett grew to be the dominant supplier to both Volvo and Scania.
Shortly after Geoff joined Garrett, the T3 passenger car turbo project was born and, as SAAB was already working on a turbo version of their 2.0L engine in the 99 body, this became the lead development programme for gasoline engine turbocharging. This developed into Geoff’s major preoccupation over the next four years, culminating in the launch of the world’s first production turbo car in 1978. As the 99 Turbo went into production, Geoff was given the opportunity to buy one of the two test cars which he still owns today.
It was during this period that the problem of turbocharger noise and balance was first encountered. SAAB were running several prototype turbos, some of which were quiet in operation and some noisy. A phone call from Anders Johansson, the SAAB development engineer, resulted in Geoff travelling to Södertälje ‘for a few days’ and returning seven weeks later, having spent several weeks at Garrett’s facility in California working on understanding the causes of the problem!
A short period as Chief Applications Engineer with Napier Turbochargers gave Geoff an insight into the world of industrial and heavy marine engines, with projects ranging from container ships to gas-fuelled Wankel pumping engines.
He then returned to Garrett to oversee their European commercial vehicle turbocharging activities which included a particular responsibility for German customers.
During this period Geoff was aware of a potential opportunity to apply his turbo knowledge in the ‘tuning’ market, and as he had always harboured an independent streak, this set in motion events that eventually saw the launch of Turbo Technics Ltd in June 1981, initially to exploit an opportunity in the tuning market, but very quickly becoming involved with the manufacture of high speed balancing machines.
Several patents have been granted over the years, relating to both turbos and machines, following the development of design ideas to improve the products.
Outside his life as an engineer, Geoff has a passion for motorsport, starting with rallies while at university and developing through sprint and hillclimb activities to Time Attack. He built his first car while at university, a glassfibre-bodied 2-seater based on a Ford chassis, which eventually evolved with an MG engine and independent suspension. A turbocharged ‘special saloon’ Ford Anglia in the 70s was a very early application of forced induction followed by two turbocharged V-6 Sierras in the 90s through to 2016. This allowed him to indulge the dual interests of building and driving. His involvement in motorsport continues with the current project being a Ford Focus based car to compete in Time Attack and sprints/hillclimbs.