The very first time I saw this A4, I was already sure the car would be rebuilt. Harri, who had previously built several show cars including a widebody Passat two-door coupe, had just changed his daily-driver Mk5 Golf to the A4. He’d told his wife he needed quattro because he was going to start cross-country skiing, and came to show me his new purchase. With his background, it was hard to believe he was simply buying a car to deal with snow.
Harri’s the kind of guy who likes to do as much work himself as possible, tackling everything from engine work to paint jobs. As long as I’ve known him, his home garage has always had a project, so this was inevitably the next car for him to fix.
It has to be said, the ’02 1.8Tq wasn’t exactly pristine. Even though it looked nice, and only had 80,000 miles on the clock, it had a slipping clutch and a weird K04 turbo conversion. But in its favor was some KW coilovers and a BSR cat-back exhaust.
First things to be changed were obviously the turbo and clutch. Instead of the usual disco potato, Harri decided to use a Holset HE221W turbine – it’s small but makes the engine feel like a naturally aspirated V8 with a smooth torque curve. The bottom-end was also strengthened with H-profile rods as a precaution against higher boost levels.
With Turbotec software running bigger injectors, and a pair of intercoolers from Audi’s 2.5L V6 TDI keeping everything cool, the engine gave an impressive 333hp on dyno.
The A4 still had its rather boring interior, so Harri started looking for new seats online. A visit to eBay discovered some red leather Recaros, rear seats and matching door panels from a B7 S4. They were in Austria but the price was right…
Once the new parts were fitted, the Finn decided to continue the theme with red trim pieces on the doors and dash, as well as a red shift boot and even red carpet. But it didn’t stop there!
Inspired by his red cockpit, Harri found matching leather and stitched four covers for the engine compartment, including the valve cover and rain tray.
By this stage, Harri was nuts-deep into the project and had bought a Rieger front spoiler and side skirts. He’d also installed a full-length Webasto electric sunroof and painted the roof gloss black to disguise it slightly.
No longer your average A4, the project reached a turning point when Harri crashed into a truck that suddenly stopped in front of him. With the subsequent front-end damage needing repair, Harri decided to update the nose to the B7-look. “I wanted to use as many OE parts as possible, so they could easily be replaced if anything happened again,” he said.
After fitting all the parts to create the new front-end, with its deeper B7 grille, new hood and RS4 headlights, Harri took the opportunity to widen the fenders for his chosen 20” TSW Cadwell wheels. With the intention of installing air suspension, he needed to ensure the tires could tuck under the fenders.
Another Rieger front spoiler was fitted to the bumper, along with Rieger side skirts. The rub strips were also removed from the doors. Finally, the owner modified the rear bumper and fitted a carbon spoiler on the trunk.
All that remained was new paint, and the Finn had been inspired by John D’Agostino’s famous ’61 “Aladdin” Oldsmobile Starfire, so he decided to paint the Audi a similar candy red with a metalflake hood.
After Harri and friend Toni Lappalainen finished sanding the new paint, Toni applied several layers of clearcoat before Pasi “Judge Brush” Kaunonen added gold pinstripes to the skirts and hood for the finishing touch.
The existing KW coilovers were upgraded to air-ride by mating universal air bags with the KW shocks. The brakes were also updated after 360mm RS4 discs and A8 calipers found their way behind the front wheels. While in the rear you’ll find 330mm discs and RS6 calipers. To tie it all together, the calipers were painted gold.
Although custom builder Joe Bailon invented classic candy apple red paint in the ’50s, it’s always been a crowd favorite. And it didn’t seem any different this time around as Harri’s A4 received a Top 10 award at its first show, and has subsequently won many first-place prizes from other shows and meetings.
Thanks to the air suspension, it still remains a usable family car, although you won’t often find its adventurous owner venturing into the harsh Finnish winters for a spot of cross-country skiing any time soon!
et Tech Spec
2002 Audi A4 1.8T Quattro
Owner: Harri Suominen
Location: Jyväskylä, Finland
Engine: 1.8-liter four-cylinder 20v with H-profile rods, Holset HE221W turbo, dual Audi 2.5 V6 TDI intercoolers, bigger injectors, S3 MAF, Turbotec software, custom exhaust manifold, custom downpipe, race cat, BSR cat-back exhaust, polished intake manifold, red leather engine covers
Drivetrain: five-speed manual with Sachs S2 clutch, one-piece custom flywheel
Brakes: Audi A8 front calipers with 360mm RS4 rotors, Audi RS6 rear calipers with 330mm rotors, painted calipers, steel braided lines
Suspension: universal air-bags over KW shock absorbers, 3-gallon air tank, two Thomas compressors
Wheels & Tires: 20x8.5" front, 20x10" rear TSW Cadwell chrome wheels, 235/30 R20 Continental ContiSportContact 3 tires
Exterior: B7 front-end with deeper grille, hood and RS4 headlights, Rieger front lip and side skirts, shaved door moldings, modified rear bumper, carbon trunk spoiler, Webasto Hollandia sunroof, red/clear tail lights, Debeer Candy red paint with metalflake hood, gloss black roof, gold pinstripes
Interior: red leather B7 Audi S4 Recaro front seats, rear seats and door panels, matching door and dash inserts plus shift boot, red carpet, BSR floor mats
Audio/Visual: Alpine IVA-105R head unit, Focus Acoustics FX-4150 and FX-1500D amps, 15" sub and component speakers