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May 13, 2011

Next up in my dream garage

by JHW

In kicking off my dream garage, I had to start in the most logical place – with my favorite car of all time.  In doing so, I selected the seemingly perfect Mclaren F1.  As the mighty Mac currently trades for more than $3,000,000, and most of them sit in temperature controlled vaults – it is difficult to picture a scenario ending with me behind an F1’s carbon fiber wheel.  Certainly, in compiling this drool inducing list, there will be more fantasy world hyper-exotica, but for spot #2, I run in an entirely different direction, and bestow my pick on something just a bit different.

Picture this car: 3,500 lbs, 380 HP & 325 lb ft of bone crushing torque… Recaro’s, floating rotors at front & rear, and it only comes with a 3 pedal setup.  Any guesses?

Yes, you nailed it!  Of course I’m talking about an Audi wagon (errr… Avant).  My love affair with Audi started in 1996 when the B5 generation landed in North America, and forever changed the way I thought about the previously scattered brand.  Finally, a car worthy of competition with the more obvious German choices; and one that introduced a hierarchy of fantastic Audi products. The A4 came in two flavors; an entry level 1.8 liter turbo or (boooooring) 2.8 liter NA form.  Both were available with manual boxes, or horrid first generation tiptronics.  Though the powerplants left much to be desired, the new design language was a departure from anything available at the time – and  I can confidently say that these cars looks fresh as of current day.

In the year 2000 (Conan, anyone?) the similarly powered S4 hit our shores packing a 2.7 liter bi-turbo six, and though it was down on grunt – it’s 250 hp was easily upped through an easy to crack ECU.  I bought one in 2001, and immediately began on my journey through a host of power adders and suspension tweaks.  I ran the car hard, and changed just about everything the aftermarket industry had improved on.  This inevitably led to a piercing dentist drill note from my factory KO3’s.  In the enthusiast world, lemons are easily turned to lemonade, as a broken part bears reason enough to upgrade!  I looked to the flagship RS4 for inspiration, and fell in desperate lust with all of the items that separated it from my (now mortal) car.

The mighty RS4 appears mundane by performance car standards… afterall, most mid-life crisis mobiles don’t look like your Mother’s grocery getter.  And perhaps this is much of what makes Audi’s RS cars so special.  Without pause, you can tackle most complications life throws your way.  Kids?  Check.  Mountain bike? Easy!  Nurburgring… oh, how I wish.  Rain, snow or shine… it does it all, and looks good in the process.  The signature blistered arches announce the RS4’s intent, they “make” the car, but wouldn’t seem outrageous without the comparison of a narrow body A4/S4.  The RS4 looks purposeful, every panel seemingly stretched over taught muscle, all of it useable.  The forbidden parts list continues to the perfectly designed front bumper, it’s holes stretched wide to accommodate larger intercoolers for it’s now famous K04 snails.   o.  The RS4 looks purposeful, every panel seemingly stretched over taught muscle, all of it useable.  The forbidden parts list continues to the perfectly designed front bumper, it’s holes stretched wide to accommodate larger intercoolers for it’s now famous K04 snails.

Having tasted a hint of the RS4’s potential through my modified copy, I know well the massive performance this bruiser is capable of.  It is the kind of turbo hit that pushes you deep into the seat, more of a sucking feel than the all at once fury of most high HP blown motors.  Dare I say, the KO4 equipped motor pulls like… a 911 Turbo.  And that is the beauty of this amazing vehicle, part supercar, part supermodel, but with no compromise to be found.  Though roughly 6,000 B5 RS4’s were produced, zero were imported to the US… this however has not stopped Audi diehard’s from procuring the uber-Avant, as a handful now live on our shores.  The grey car above is not featured because of the artistry of my iPhone shot, rather because it was taken right here in Southern California.  This example was brought in by a friend years ago, and later sold to a discerning enthusiast that I continue to envy.  Hundreds of RS4 clones (if not more) have popped up through the mixture of OEM+ and aftermarket kits, some pushing power nearly doubling the factory RS4 power output.

The RS4 has become an icon, a legend of the tuning industry, an aspirational point for enthusiasts of the North American S4 – this is the car I hope to take from my dream garage, to reality.

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