AEM was founded in 1987 by John Concialdi (J.C.) and Bob Sullivan as a tuning performance shop catering to vintage automobiles and the latest trend in street racing modified imports. Located in Compton California, AEM was embedded in the tuner market from the very beginning. It was a matter of being in the right place, at the right time, with the right technical knowhow. Between J.C. and Sullivan, AEM had two important advantages. Technical engine knowledge and massive creativity fueled by an unbridled passion to make things go faster. And when it came to understanding the air flow through an engine, few had more experience than Concialdi, who had managed the R&D department for Weber Carburetors for North American aftermarket applications the previous 10 years. By 1993 when the shop relocated to Gardena California, AEM’s reputation as the modifier of choice had grown to the point that sometimes the business ran 24 hours a day in order to have cars ready for the next street race or sanctioned event. Cars and drivers sporting AEM’s bright yellow logo became famous in the street racing scene for one consistent reason, they won races. AEM’s first glimpse of mainstream notoriety came when cars tuned by their shop won in various classes at the “Battle of the Imports”. This highly contested shoot-out and others that followed landed AEM on the cover of Turbo Magazine and Sport Compact Magazine. Many of the most visible drivers in import street racing ran cars modified by AEM, names like Adam Saruwatari, Tony Fuchs, Brian Kim and Darin Ishitani, Archie Medrano, Russ Matuseavich, Abel Iberra, Miles Bautista, E.T. Saffon and many others. Today that tradition is carried on with Stephan Papadakis.
AEM developed one of the first Packaged Air Induction Systems and it came right out of their experience in dyno testing, understanding intake energy dynamics and racing at the Battle of the Imports. AEM’s presence in the tuner movement and its proximity to Nissan, TRD and Honda allowed them a unique opportunity. By living side by side with racers and working with OES engineers, AEM was able to understand both the practical and theoretical side of engine performance. This combination of street experience and technical savvy resulted in the birth of the first Packaged Air Induction Kit. The kit was offered for sale in 1994 as a Do-It-Yourself upgrade for the Honda CRX and proved to be the beginning of a whole new tradition. People could suddenly purchase affordable cars and modify them for increased torque and horsepower. AEM has been a leader in the development and sale of precision tuned induction systems ever since that fateful day at the Battle of the Imports. Today, the Company’s induction systems number in the hundreds and AEM is still the one to beat.