Part of the massive popularity of VW/Audi vehicles among enthusiasts is the interchangeability of parts. Thanks to platform and component sharing among brands within the VW Group, you'd be amazed at what parts can be lifted from one model to fit another. And it's not simply putting GTI parts on a regular Golf, or vice versa. There are a number of companies that have grown up to supply obscure Europe-only components to discerning VW/Audi owners who are seeking the OEM+ look - a style distinguished by its desire to go unnoticed.
My first wade into these waters was when I fitted a Mk3 VR6 chin spoiler to my Mk2 GTI. It didn't even need modification - it simply clipped into place.
Once you discover how easily the parts swap, you start searching out new pieces to incorporate into your project build. And since we've been working on a 2008 Audi TT 2.0T, we began discussing some of the components that might fit.
The conversation got round the TT RS and somebody mentioned that its four-piston front brakes might fit the 2.0T. Inspired by the notion, we started working with parts suppliers and a local dealer.
With the TT RS sharing the same bodywork, as well as wheels that are interchangeable among the models, we felt the brakes couldn't alter the wheel offset drastically. This suggested we'd have space to install them. However, the biggest question mark was bolting the Brembo-manufactured RS calipers to the 2.0T hubs. Would the bolt spacing be the same? Would we have to modify the hubs? Would we require custom caliper carriers?
The only way to know for sure was to order a set and see. We also ordered all the nuts, bolts and screws that appeared necessary and awaited delivery.
Many parts were on back-order in Germany, so it took several months for everything to arrive but finally the big day came. Removing the stock caliper and rotor, we found that the 14.6" drilled TT RS rotor fitted the 2.0T hub and could be secured with the original screw. The same applied to the heat shield and brake line brackets. Everything fitted perfectly and the bags of bolts and screws we ordered were unnecessary.
The caliper came with the carrier already affixed, so it was wiggled into position and we held our breath as the 2.0T's 21mm bolts were offered up. Remarkably, they bolted it to the hub without a problem.
As you'll see in the Tech story elsewhere in this issue, everything fits easily and quickly. In fact, bleeding the brakes was the longest job, and the only snafu was that our Audi Genuine Accessories 19" wheels wouldn't clear the new calipers. We resolved this by switching to the 19" TT RS wheels that had millimeters more clearance by virtue of a different spoke design. Or you could simply use H&R spacers to avoid this added expense.
With the brake fluid bled and the pads bedded-in, the TT RS big-brake conversion performs superbly. It gives our TT 2.0T powerful stopping power and a clean, OEM+ appearance. In fact, we couldn't be happier with the outcome.
With some miserable weather on both US coasts at the start of the year, Mercedes-Benz decided to launch its new E-Class models in Spain, where good weather is virtually guaranteed.
Based around Barcelona, we'd seen a number of roadside police checkpoints but had always managed to be going in the wrong direction. Until suddenly we weren't!
You may have seen photographs on our Facebook page: approaching a roundabout, a policeman stepped out to stop my E63 AMG and directed me to park in front of a couple of identical cars. There were 30 or 40 on the same route and these guys were going to have a field day!
Nobody knows why the first car was stopped. Somebody suggested it had blitzed past an unmarked camera car but we'll never know. Within 20min they had about 12 E63s crammed into the roundabout and confusion ensued.
Eventually, we got a police escort to a larger parking area where the negotiations began. Drivers, Mercedes representatives, the Maitre d' from our lunch stop and up to 12 police officers tried to find a solution.
The problem seemed to center on there being no driving treaty between Spain and the USA. This meant International licenses were required and nobody carried one.
We eventually left the scene intact but about $1 million-worth of E63 AMG remained behind as a bargaining chip.
Call me a cynic but with Spain needing revenue and these brand new Mercs dropping into their laps, it was a gift horse they couldn't refuse. So get an International License from AAA before visiting Spain...
In this issue, you can read about two new models - the revised E63 AMG and SLS GT. These will be ideal fodder for future tuners looking for a stout base vehicle. However, Keith Brantley's 700whp, nitrous-injected, world record-holding, drag-racing C63 AMG got us looking at Mercedes in a different light.
Traditionally the reserve of a more conservative customer, Brantley has taken AMG's hot rod and hot-rodded it. Admittedly it's as much a track car as a quarter-mile racer, but it highlights both the fun you can have with these high-performance vehicles, as well as the inherent strength and versatility they offer.