Every time one of our beloved European automotive brands announces a special performance model, we hold our breath and await those grim words: Not available in the USA. This has happened countless times before, and in 2000, Audi figured we'd never want the incredible B5 RS4 Avant bi-turbo.
With such disappointing news, most sane people sought solace in the standard-issue B5 S4 twin-turbo and performed a few engine mods to get near the RS4's horsepower, although the aggressive widebody looks were more complicated to replicate. Still this wasn't enough for everybody, and a few brave souls started the long, expensive and frustrating process of buying an RS4 in Germany and having it federalized.
Importing and legalizing a European-market car is enough to make even the most hardcore and devout Audi fan question their devotion to the four rings. Paul de Rushe, a life-long M3 owner and recent convert to the quattro religion, briefly considered importing a genuine RS4, but figured he'd do things his own way. The result of his labor is what you see here.
Any Audi purist reading this and cringing at the thought of a perfectly good RS4 being intentionally dismantled for Paul's amusement may want to take a breath before proceeding.
"I was an M3 guy my whole life, until 2000 when I bought an S4. I then went to Germany and bought an RS4, and in the process of trying to get the car federalized I decided it wasn't worth it. So I found a shop overseas and we stripped it," Paul said. "It took about three weeks to strip the entire car and just one week to build it back up."
Building an RS4 from a standard S4 sedan in seven days seems ludicrous, but Paul assured us it wasn't that hard. "The rear quarter panels are the only thing you have to cut; everything else pulls right off and bolts back on."
Although we're sure there's more to it than that, the genius idea of choosing the all-OEM route is that you have Audi's engineers do all the hard work sculpting the perfect lines, flared fenders and aggressive front bumper. It's impossible to go wrong.
Paul had Jimmy Carvino, the owner of Rojo Collision, take care of building the S4, and the only real problem he encountered involved modifying the rear bumper to fit with the widened rear fenders. "Back then, I didn't think I could use the RS4 bumper, so used a European S4 bumper," said Paul. "Jimmy had to heat it to widen it. The process on that bumper took a whole day because every time you heated it, it would fit perfectly. But once you sprayed and baked it, it shrank back down. He sprayed it maybe about six times before they got it to stay."
In the end the complete RS4 bodywork, consisting of front fenders, front bumper, brushed aluminum mirrors, side skirts, rear doors and rear quarter panels, made the trip across the Atlantic to find their way onto Paul's silver '01 sedan. The standard hood was ditched in favor of a lightweight carbon fiber piece, which was color-matched rather than being left raw carbon.
The stock RS4 xenon headlamps, featuring clear corner markers and city lights replace the standard S4 headlights, while a pair of Supreme Power Parts foglights add to the illumination.
Extra power was a real concern as Paul decided the standard 375hp from the stock RS4 motor wasn't enough, and made some strategic upgrades before installing the mechanical parts into his freshly widened Audi.
"Champion Motorsports did a bottom end for me. I then installed Innovative K04/K16 hybrid turbos," Paul mentioned.
With upgraded rods and pistons inside the motor, Paul swapped the stock RS4 camshafts for a set from the naturally-aspirated 2.8 V6 sticks. These are perhaps an unusual choice, but one that paid off."I actually gained an extra 45hp over the stock cams," Paul enthused.
The vast majority of the remaining RS4 parts found their way under the hood as well, including both intercoolers, the fuel and ignition systems as well as the motor and transmission mounts. However, there were plenty of aftermarket parts as well, such as the 60 lb Siemens injectors, Evo Motorsport cold-air intake and custom 90mm MAF housing from Autospeed.
Paul was reluctant to rely on exhaust components off the shelf, so the civil engineer designed his own. "Normally I run all pipe - no mufflers, no resonators, nothing, just straight pipe all the way out. So this is my own downpipe and exhaust design," he said.
Working with Kooks Custom Headers, a local shop better known for drag racing and muscle cars, Paul came up with his requirements and owner George Kook finished them off.
Once everything was bolted together, Paul turned to Tony Chick at European Performance Labs to create a custom map for the tuned 30v V6. "I work on my motor and do everything myself, but I can't do the tuning," Paul said. However, Tony had no trouble producing a pump gas-friendly 25psi. With this boost, the freshly built RS4 lump made 478whp, enough to scoot the car to a respectable 11.33sec quarter-mile at 129mph, "with a full interior, and full stereo with the music going," Paul laughed.
To ensure the motor wouldn't end up as an expensive experiment in performance tuning, the self-confessed lead-foot installed an alcohol injection system for an extra margin of safety. "It's tapped into the intake manifold and is activated on boost. It has different boost settings and is more of a fail-safe. It pretty much cools down the entire engine very quickly, so we decided it was the way to go. I actually gained 10 or 15hp from it, which was an added bonus."
All the extra power is channeled through a stock RS4 six-speed transmission, running the stock clutch plus an AWE flywheel. "Surprisingly, the clutch has held up, but don't ask how it's survived," he said.
An Autospeed drivetrain stabilizer keeps transmission movement to a minimum, while an APR snub mount tries to do the same at the front of the motor.
The original shocks and springs were replaced with a set of Stasis TrackSport coilovers, featuring 700 lb front springs and 800 lb rears. The coilovers are based on Koni adjustable shocks with double digressive damping, and do a great job of keeping the RS4 on the straight and narrow.
A 19mm Neuspeed sway bar resides in the back, while a stock S4 item sits up front. Some Don Istook control arms ensure camber can be zeroed-in exactly where Paul needs it - something that's especially important with the super-wide wheels he's currently running.
Those wheels came from Vince Wong at iForged who built massive 19x10" Sprints for this application. "When I spoke to Vince, we decided to go really aggressive and he offered to get them as close as possible, and it worked out pretty good," Paul said. "It's got a 4" lip in the rear and 2.5" in the front. I have maybe 1mm of clearance between the spoke and the rear caliper, if that."
Although most people wouldn't drive a car like this at ten-tenths, let alone do donuts in it, Paul does, and quite often. "I spend winters in Florida and summers in New York so do lots of high-speed runs from Florida," he mentioned. "I'm part of the DubAudi Gruppe and when I'm in Florida we do runs. I maxed the speedo but a laptop told us we'd hit 201mph," he said.
Although we can't verify those claims, the car certainly has the power to get there, and more importantly, it can stop from triple digit speeds almost as easily. Huge 355mm StopTech brakes sit up front with four-piston ST40 StopTech calipers, while the rears are a Stasis kit. "It has the S4 caliper with the S8 hanger to accommodate the bigger Stasis rotor and hat," Paul explained.
Inside, it was kept pretty simple, with Paul opting for a few tasteful accessories from Oettinger, plus the stock RS4 steering wheel and door sills. A pair of Recaro Top Line seats replaced the stock S4 seats, while Schroth harnesses keep the driver anchored during those high-speed runs.
Things aren't going to stay simple, though. Paul has plans to take the car off the road for further upgrades. "I actually want to change the whole interior. I want to fit Recaros in the rear and do the door cards in different colors. In fact, I might redo everything black. The car is going in this winter to have a makeover."
With big horsepower, big wheels and wide fenders, Paul had to ensure the stereo would meet his high standards. "I needed music to go with the power, and I've won a lot of shows with this stereo system."
Audio-wiz Harry Shasho at 212 Motoring in Brooklyn, NY, built the award-winning system. It features JL amplifiers and MB Quart speakers with an Alpine W200 head unit. "I broke the system loose on a launch so now its welded in, but the welds were still broken and the unit fell back," Paul said. "It's a violent car."
After building his RS4 sedan in the States, Paul is looking to get the car back on European soil and has found the perfect chance to do so: The Gumball 3000. He's entered the high-speed/high-dollar rally once before. "It was a good time. Actually, all the DubAudi guys are looking to do an event in Europe. It's good to do it in the US, but we all have US driver's licenses so it hurts us if we get into trouble. In Europe it's better so we're gonna ship the car over and run it."
Sounds like it'll be quite a homecoming for this Audi.
Paul de Rushe
Occupation: Civil Engineer
Location: Great Neck, NY
2001 Audi S4
Engine: 2.7 liter 30v V6 RS4 motor with Champion Motorsports block, rods and pistons, two Innovative hybrid KO4/K16 turbos, 2.8 V6 NA cams, EPL software in standard ECU, RS4 motor mounts and intercoolers, APR snub mount, Kooks custom headers, 2.75" downpipes and 2.75" to 3" to 3.5" single pipe, Forge 007P bypass valves, alcohol injection, Siemens 60 lb injectors, RS4 fueling system, 90mm MAF housing, Evo Motorsport intake system, GReddy turbo timer
Transmission: stock '01 RS4 transmission, Toy Guy short shifter, Autospeed drivetrain stabilizer, RS4 transmission mounts, stock RS4 clutch, AWE flywheel
Suspension: Stasis Track Sport coilovers with 700/800lb springs, Don Istook control arms, 19mm Neuspeed rear sway bar, stock S4 front sway bar, CPP rear sway bar links
Brakes: StopTech 355mm front brake kit with four-piston ST40 calipers, Stasis 298mm rear discs on Audi S8 carriers, stock S4 calipers, Mintex Redbox pads
Wheels & Tires: 19x10" iForged Sprint wheels, 265/35-Z19 Toyo T1-S tires
Exterior: RS4 body panel conversion with brushed aluminum mirrors and Euro xenon headlights with city lights, SPP foglights, Fiber Images carbon hood, window tints
Interior: Recaro Top Line seats, Schroth four-point harnesses, UUC Rob Knob, Autospeed alcantara shift boot, A-pillar boost gauge, Oettinger pedals and dead pedal, RS4 steering wheel and door sills
Audio/Visual: Alpine IVA-W200 head unit, MB Quart Q-Series 6.5" speakers all round, JL Audio 10W6 V2 subwoofers, one 300/4, one 250/1 and two 500/1 JL Audio amplifiers
Thanks/Contact: Kooks Customs, Champion Motorsports, dubaudi.com, 212 Motoring, Tony at EPL Tuning, John at Storm Audi, iForged wheels, Jeff Moss at Torque Factory, Jimmy at Rojo Collision, Sal at Elite Motorsports, LI crew, Patsocal, Josh Decker, S4orce