When life throws you a lemon, make lemonade. This saying applies to all aspects of life and even to the trials and tribulations of building a modified car; parts break, check engine lights flash, accidents happen. But these problems aren't a reason to quit and return the car to stock. Instead, most of us make our cars better, faster, stronger.
Brian Bement from Vancouver, WA experienced three different injuries to his '97 Audi A4 quattro - a minor collision, vandalism and snow damage. After each setback, he was resilient and remodelled his Audi inline with his ultimate vision. And best of all, he did it in his home garage, equipped with an eager mind and able hands.
At 24 years old, Brian's journey has been far from easy. Like many aspiring tuners, he purchased and modified the Audi while balancing school and a full-time job. "I bought the car in 9/04, so I've had it about five years," he started. "Every extra penny I had, I'd save and sink into the car."
This was Brian's first Euro. He grew up building Camaros of all things. But he traded his last one for the A4. "I bought the Audi because it was a little more sophisticated. I wanted a nice daily driver that I wouldn't modify," Brian laughed. "I had no idea what was or wasn't available for it."
When the mod bug finally bit, Brian initially concentrated on aesthetics. At first, he outfitted his ride with generic aftermarket wheels and S4 body parts. It was enough to earn a trophy at his first show, but he hungered for more. "An S4 kit didn't stand out, I had to go crazy with it," he responded. "I wanted something more aggressive but clean at the same time. I didn't want a crazy Hot Import Nights show car, but something that would fit the Euro community."
Through trial and error, Brian taught himself how to do virtually everything on the car from installing bolt-on parts to fabricating custom brackets for the brakes, custom bodywork and installing the stereo. "Many people take their car to a shop to have everything done but I didn't have the money for that," he told us.
Brian reached the final stage after the A4 was damaged last winter. "I was stuck in a freak blizzard. The Department of Transportation decided to lay crushed red rock on the roads, which blasted the paint on both sides of my car," he remembered.
The incident happened after Brian had repaired the car from a minor front fender collision and vandalism on the rear quarter panel and hood. So the car sat in the garage and underwent more surgery during the late hours of the night after Brian was done with work and school. The upper and lower door moldings were shaved first, followed by the trunk, fender emblems and washer nozzles. Brian contracted Andy Krett to perform the böser hood extension because he wasn't as confident with welding.
Dipping into the OE parts bin, Brian added S4 skirts, which had to be shaved and modified to work without moldings, plus an S4 rear bumper and RS4 grille. Going for an in-yer-face look, the front bumper was switched for an aggressive Kerscher piece with custom splitters.
Lastly, Brian decided to change up the fenders. "I wanted a wider track to improve handling and a more aggressive stance," he told us. "So I pulled each corner over an inch. I had to completely reshape them to get the original radius." The front and rear bumpers were then widened to flow.
After hundreds of hours of intensive labor, Brian's efforts paid off and it was time for paint. He entrusted Europa Auto Body in Portland, OR to respray the car Porsche Aqua blue metallic. "I love blue," he explained. "The car was originally a dark Europa blue but I saw the Aqua on an '09 Porsche 997 and that was it. It's dark at night but vibrant in the sun." The roof was painted in BMW's Sparkling Graphite metallic.
The chassis mods had already fallen into place. Lowering the car were a set of Neuspeed Race springs matched to Bilstein struts. But Brian machined custom strut perches to drop the car even more.
For wheels and tires, Brian snagged a deal when a friend sold his Audi. The iForged Seneka wheels fitted the theme with gunmetal faces and polished lips. The staggered 19" wheels measured 8.5" front and 9.5" back mated to Falken FK-452 tires. Brian told us he spaced the wheels 25mm all around after he widened the fenders to push the lips to the edge of the fenders.
Behind the mesh wheels, Porsche 996 Turbo brakes were sourced. To retrofit them on his A4, he machined brackets for the four-piston calipers. The slotted and drilled rotors measure a generous 12.6".
The interior came next and Brian continued to adapt his skill set. Not only did he discover the art of bodywork, he also learned to sew and upholster the interior. While Corbeau LG1 seats were a straightforward install, the headliner, pillars, armrests and rear deck were covered in suede. The interior panels were also switched to black from the original beige.
Brian was also proud of the audio. Having never tried it before, he built the trunk enclosure in a week using two Kicker subs, two amps and blue LEDs in the plexiglass. Before the trunk was finished, Brian lined it with matching blue suede.
Up front, all the speakers were upgraded to a mixture of Blaupunkt tweeters, Infinity mids and Pioneer rears. He also molded a custom radio surround to house the Jensen 7" monitor head unit.
Perhaps, the only area where this A4 falls short was the engine. Rarely seen on the B5, this A4 was powered by a 2.8 liter V6. The 172hp, 184 lb-ft, six-cylinder received a basic intake and Supersprint exhaust with deleted resonator. Brian even ported and polished the MAF housing and throttle body for better response. Although it doesn't have the tuning potential of a 1.8 liter turbo, this slightly modified V6 has the robustness and instant power of a six.
In the future, Brian plans to either install a supercharger or swap the motor for more gusto. But for now, he's accomplished plenty. "I wanted to build one of the cleanest B5s out there, especially as far as V6 examples go," he concluded.
With patience and hard work, Brian's made lemonade out of lemons. Even when struck by three adversities on the road, he never gave up his dream of a better, faster, stronger A4.
1997 AUDI A4
Owner: Brian Bement
Location: Vancouver, WA
Occupation: cell phone sales, student
Engine: 2.8 liter V6 12v with ported/polished throttle body and MAF, polished cold-air intake with heat shield, Supersprint 2.5" RS cat-back exhaust with deleted resonator, polished AC lines, hood struts and ABS module
Drivetrain: five-speed manual with B&M short shifter
Brakes: 12.6" Porsche 996TT big brakes with 12.6" slotted and drilled rotors, four-piston calipers and custom caliper brackets
Suspension: Neuspeed Race springs, Bilstein S4 sport struts with machined perches, front strut tower bar
Wheels & Tires: 19x8.5" front and 19x9.5" rear iForged Seneka wheels with H&R 25mm spacers, 215/35 R19 front and 225/35 R19 rear Falken FK-452 tires
Exterior: widened fenders, shaved upper door moldings, lower door trim, trunk, fender emblems and washer nozzles, widened Kerscher front bumper and S4 rear bumper, ABS splitters, metal böser hood, RS4 grille color-matched to roof, S4 side skirts, DTM Cup mirrors, OE Euro head- and tail lights, smoked side markers, LED lighting, 6000k HIDs, car painted Porsche Aqua blue metallic, roof painted BMW Sparkling Graphite metallic
Interior: Corbeau LG1 suede seats with three-point harnesses, grey/black suede headliner, pillars, armrests and rear shelf, carbon-vinyl beltline trim, OE facelift shift knob, red LED lighting, black interior swap
Audio/Visual: Jensen VM9511TS 7" head unit, molded radio surround, Blaupunkt tweeters, Infinity 4" mid-range speakers, Pioneer 6.5" rear speakers, Sony amp, two Kicker CVR10 subs, Kicker 750.1 amp, MD Sound 1.5 farad capacitor, blue suede trunk enclosure, blue LED lighting
Thanks: mom, dad, Ryan, Mark Hougan, Todd Cope, Nick at Europa Auto Body, Joey at DJM, Daniel Verwers, NWQuattro, Autowerks Detailing, Corbeau, Kevin, Jergensen, Fern Mora and Europrojektz