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Real Performance

Not Quite an RS2, but Close Enough

Philip Royle
Jul 1, 2001

Few people can completely appreciate this car. Sure, everyone who sees it is intrigued—they gather around the windows and stare at the race-like interior—but few comprehend what stands before them. Most people assume this is a well-dressed show car wearing the usual fast-looking goodies that make up a large contingency of the automotive show scene. What most onlookers fail to realize is Andreas Cardini, the owner of this European-only RS2 look-alike, is an avid road racer, and this car has logged many hours on the track.

The thing that sets this car apart from other fancy-dressed cars is that everything is functional and aimed at going fast—well, almost everything.

Okay, so the Ferrari red paint isn’t making the car turn laps any faster, and the custom center-mounted exhaust tip isn’t completely necessary but neither modification slows the car down. And that was the idea: Build something that works, and make it look good.

Picking an early ’90s all-wheel-drive Audi as the starting platform was an easy choice for Andreas—he’s always been in love with the driver-oriented designs that bear the Audi moniker.

Because he loves road racing, Andreas knew the first set of modifications would involve improving the Audi’s handling and performance. Since he knew Abt parts were durable and of high quality, Andreas had Eurasian Automotive install Abt coilovers and Abt hollow antiroll bars from AMS, with all the components connected to the chassis through polyurethane bushings. Next, Schrick cams, a Sachs clutch, and an AMS ECU upgrade were installed. Andreas went back to the Abt name and had Abt fuel injectors, an Abt exhaust with a custom tip (Which required hours of custom fabrication by Gaby at Pro Muffler.—MAX), an Abt header, an Abt short shifter, and Abt spark plug wires installed. Knowing a win at the track required more than bolt-ons, Andreas then had the engine blueprinted, the head, intake manifold, and throttle body polished and ported, and a custom air intake manufactured. The power, although not neck-snapping, combines with the Quattro drive system to propel the car around the track better than Audi could have dreamed when the car was originally created.

Inside the cockpit, Andreas installed only what was needed. What he deemed necessary were two custom upholstered Cobra Racing Imola 2 GT seats and a Sparco Ring steering wheel. Adding a little style and sound to the Audi, Andreas custom-painted the interior wood trim to match the exterior, and installed a single-disc Pioneer CD head unit. “The sound of the engine is music to my ears,” Andreas explained. Although we originally questioned his stereo setup, after riding around in the Coupe Quattro for a while, we were forced to agree. “If you’re so into performance first and style second, what happened to the body?” we inquired, mildly confused. But as we looked closer, we realized Andreas hadn’t gone purely for looks. Yes, the Abt RS2 body kit, wing, European RS2 projector headlights, and RS2 hood aren’t necessary for the track, but they don’t slow the car down, either. What completely convinced us Andreas was performance-oriented, even after seeing the body, was seeing the functional custom hood scoop—a necessity when running laps all day. Even the shiny five-spoke Abt A11 17x8 wheels housed sticky Yokohama A520 235/40-17 tires, and the brake calipers, although stock, clamped the rotors with track-worthy Mintex pads.

This RS2-look coupe isn’t the easiest car to appreciate, if you don’t know what to look for—and true RS2 enthusiasts will realize the real RS2 was only available in Europe and in wagon form. Despite that, this Audi looks like a dream, but long trips with the race-setup suspension are definitely out of the question. What wasn’t out of the question was convincing Andreas to rip around the canyon roads while in search of the perfect photo location. The problem was convincing him to stop.

By Philip Royle
70 Articles

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