I do not have a problem with new vendors advertising their products on the forums. I do not look to invoke controversy, but sometimes I am overcome with frustration at the audacity of some of these companies. Feigning superiority to all other exhaust systems out there, ARK Performance, a company founded a mere 15 years ago, posts regularly on the forums with outlandish claims and a manipulative insolence that I just cannot ignore.
Marketing puffery is to be expected. Every company touts their product as superior to all others. Naturally, every company wants a consumer to choose their product over the next. Every company wants the sale. Of course... However, there is a difference between marketing acumen and deception.
Maybe I am missing something, but the "signature design" of their mufflers, resonators, and tips to which they refer does not seem revolutionary or cutting-edge at all. In fact, it looks quite familiar.
ARK 'Grip' Exhaust System
HKS Dual Hi-Power Exhaust System
ARK claims superiority to the design they replicated...
"We have differentiated ourselves from HKS to a point where it is two totally different exhausts in sound, performance, quality, and at a better value... To put it simply, we made a better exhaust overall."
Really? Come on!
Additionally, in reading through some of their marketing materials...
First and foremost, we engineer all of our exhaust systems with only the highest grade metal, T304 stainless steel. Each component of our exhaust systems are thoroughly tested before it goes into production.
If an enthusiast looking for a new exhaust system does the proper research, I am confident they will find answers, but ARK does not make that easy. My main issue with their tact (or lack thereof) on the forum stems from the fact that whenever they are questioned as to design, quality, or integrity, they have a skill at ducking the issues. They close threads, they deflect focus onto the shortcomings of other products made by other companies, they create new threads with the hopes that the older threads will be buried in the archives, and they simply refuse to participate. The sad part? They have a lot of people fooled. With professional photography and fancy marketing techniques, they create an image of a product that people have no reason to believe they will not receive. However, I know, personally, a few people who have received "new" exhaust systems in used condition, or, quite simply, of shoddy quality.
The advertised product:
Actual product received by ARK customers:
These pictures are a far cry from what I would expect after reading ARK's marketing materials. I am sure these parts just simply slipped through the cracks of ARK's quality control.
'Extreme Quality makes Extreme Performance.' The ARK "Grip" offers the serious [G37] enthusiast a rare combination of top quality materials and superb craftsmanship who want the absolute best quality True Dual Burnt SUS Tip exhaust system money can buy.
Korean-made ARK exhaust systems on a container to the US
In the end, the only parts about which I truly care are those that eventually make their way on to my vehicle. I try not to let the manner in which other enthusiasts spend their money and on what products concern me too much. (Clearly, I have a difficult time with that when it comes to knock-offs and replicas.) However, it does irk me to see people fall victim to clever deception. That said, I acknowledge the fact that there are a number of satisfied ARK customers out there. Additionally, I have noticed that ARK does an admirable job at "making things right" when a customer becomes dissatisfied on a public forum. (My contention is, simply, that they have little choice - they must save face.)
Nonetheless, I feel confident suggesting that I will never install an ARK product on any car of mine.