Automotive journalists live tough lives. We're constantly flying or driving to distant locations, and at that location a car is always waiting to be photographed or driven. Listen to how this feature shoot started and tell me if you don't feel my pain. I was driving south on the Pacific Coast Highway towards Stillen's SoCal headquarters in a '02 Audi S4 Avant in order to photograph Chris Vo's 240hp 1.8T A4 quattro. You feel no sympathy at all, do you?
Since the sun was already setting, I quickly dumped all my camera equipment into Chris' trunk and got ready to head out to find a somewhat decent photo location. As I hastily walked to the passenger side, Chris tossed me the keys and said, "You drive." Still no sympathy, huh?
We pulled out of Stillen's parking lot, and as soon as the road cleared I stuck my foot to the floor to see how this car would stack up to the S4 I'd just stepped out of. You see, one of Chris' many modifications to his A4 was a new turbo, but instead of buying a complete turbo kit, Chris opted to piece together his own setup with quality parts he knew would work.
The turbocharger is a K04 unit he had Casey, his Commonwealth Audi technician, install. The front-mounted intercooler is a Spearco unit which Chris had custom installed by Matt at Performance Solutions. The result of those two components, combined with the ported exhaust manifold, the SuperSprint exhaust,and a prototype AMS chip, allowed the A4 to achieve speeds which other-wise would have been impossible. Quite frankly, the modified A4 was completely capable of giving the S4 Avant a run for its money.
As we blasted down the road at breakneck speeds, I quickly worked the Sparco shifter and pedals to keep the car accelerating as fast as it could. At the end of the street, I came across my first major obstacle: a stop sign. Chris knew this may be a problem so he'd upgraded the brake system, as well. Under the front Hamann wheels are Stillen/AP Racing 330mm cross-drilled and slotted rotors with four-piston calipers. Once I was firmly on the brakes, the car quickly decelerated and brought us to a stop at least 10 feet earlier then I'd anticipated.
With the sun setting fast and no clue where to go, I stepped on the go pedal once more and sped through the city streets in search of something, anything that remotely looked interesting as a backdrop for the feature. The streets were getting crowded, and I was really putting the Bilstein and H&R suspension to the test. We eventually pulled into a local college and found a dumpster storage bin that looked like prime background material. I guess the process of finding the backdrop kind of scared Chris a little, because I noticed he never offered me the keys after the shoot.
The drive back did enable me to relax a little in the passenger seat, play with the HKS turbo timer, and wonder how Chris had convinced Marlon, a fellow Stillen employee, to stitch the front and rear seats in his spare time. Back at Stillen, I reloaded the S4 Avant and headed toward the same stop sign, but for some reason, the Avant now seemed large, heavy, and a little sluggish at the top end-and that's the downside to being an automotive journalist. I guess my job isn't that bad after all.
Driver SpecsChris VoLa Mirada, CAOccupation:HR Manager, Stillen
Haven't I Seen Your Car Before?Maybe. It was in the February issue featuring a brake install.
And You're Back Again?Stillen said they'd cut me a deal if I got it in the magazines a lot.
Performance SpecsHP: 240 @ 5,900TQ: 245 @ 3,2000-60: 6.3 sec (est)1/4-Mile: 14.8 sec (est)Top Speed: drag limited
Tech SpecsEngine:1.8T I-4, K04 turbo, Spearco intercooler with custom piping, prototype AMS drive-by-wire ECU chip, K&N drop-in filter, SuperSprint exhaust system
Suspension:Bilstein dampers front and rear, H&R springs front and rear, S4 front antiroll bar
Wheels & Tires:Hamann HM2 18x8.5 front and rear wheels, Pirelli P7000 225/35-18 tires front and rear
Brakes:Stillen/AP Racing 330mm drilled and slotted front rotors with four- piston calipers, stainless braided brake lines
Bodywork/Lighting:S4 front bumper, Cord rear deck spoiler, Valeo Euro clear lenses, California Collision Center custom-painted skirts, rear valance, and blacked-out taillights, RS4-style grilles, M3-look wind mirrors
Interior:Custom leather interior, HKS turbo timer, Sparco shift knob, Sparco pedals
Mobiletronics:Factory head unit and CD player, ADS amplifiers, ADS speakers in factory enclosures
Props/Shout-Outs/Mad Love:I would like to thank my family for being patient and sharing my vision. I would also like to thank Matt Hall at Performance Solutions in Signal Hill for the great job on the FMIC, Jason at Wheel Power, Marc at AMS, Gediona at CCC, Casey at Commonwealth VW, Johnny Wang, and finally Steve Millen, D. Schollum, John Luyster, and Marlon at Stillen