Throwback: an Audi RS4 that hates corners

2024 Introduction

A Northern European Audi built on Speedhunters – what image does that conjure up?

For most readers it will be a quattro-equipped variant from the 80s or 90s, which knocks out a huge AWD slip in no time. Street car event. But not all custom Audis are cut from the same cloth, and 10 years ago Bryn Musselwhite took a look at a B7 RS4 that was built differently…

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2014 Feature

For me, Audi conjures up images of flame-breathing rally cars, accompanied by a howling soundtrack of five-cylinder firepower and turbocharged wonder. Then there are 500-horsepower sleeper cars that growl through the streets at night, hunting for innocent supercar victims. But what about straight action?

To be completely honest, what the name Audi is not doing is reminding me of drag racing. Until now. Because in a straight line, the RS4 I’m about to show you is the fastest of its kind in the world. Oh, and it produces 1,100 horsepower and Real doesn’t like corners.

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If you’re a Speedhunter, finding a car with great features can be a bit like finding your next decent meal: you don’t know exactly where it’s coming from, but you trust it’s there. Five years ago I went to Finland to photograph some cars and get a closer look at the scene there. When it came time to travel again, I talked to my friend Henri and he mentioned that his neighbor had an Audi that I might be interested in.

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Literally a two minute walk from where I had stayed on my previous trip was Tomi Paavola’s large garage. Full of really cool toys, from motorcycles to a turbocharged Mercedes-Benz, it was the Audi I came to see. Since I only have the bare statistics, I can needed at.

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Externally, the Audi looks pretty standard, without wild wings or crazy team graphics. It’s just some logos on the rear and a touch of weight savings, with the side and rear windows replaced with polycarbonate.

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The hood and trunk lid are both carbon fiber, but even that isn’t uncommon in the Audi tuning scene. Incredibly, the original RS4 case still has all-steel doors and a standard glass windshield.

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Although things look a little different from this angle, the Stroud parachute certainly makes you look twice. For those in the know, any car that needs a parachute to slow it down has to be fast – single digit ET fast.

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Then there’s the size of the rear wheels and tires and the way they sit in the arches, allowing the body to squat when the Audi is launched. At 11.5 inches across, they’re not that far off the tire width you’d find on larger sets of racing wheels – in terms of drag, they’re actually a bit meager. And what about that back? A strange (coolest brand name ever) coil type, Pro Mod spec diff is housed in the custom center – and is very different from the original Audi setup.

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Those rear tires get plenty of help up front, though, with another big sticky set to help them when the horsepower comes. Despite its appearance, Mickey Thompson’s ET Street is actually a DOT-approved street tire. Okay, so it might not be so good when it’s wet, but don’t go out in the rain! There’s another special part in this photo that hides a secret… Can you spot the impostor?

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Frankly, it would be difficult to see the Nissan R33 GT-R’s inner CV joints on the front driveshafts, but they are necessary due to the Nismo V-spec R33 GT-R transfer case and a Nismo 2-way front diff with a ratio of 4.11:1. The Liberty gearbox is a work of art in drag racing and something commonly found in the world’s fastest manual-shift straight-line cars.

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And this is one of them. Tomi previously raced a fast drag-spec Audi coupe, but when that just wasn’t fast enough, he decided to go bankrupt with this bare-bones RS4 build. Composed by himself and a highly skilled team in Finland, it is an honor for them to remain with the Audi brand.

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Especially considering they kept the five cylinder engine when so many others would have gone for V8 or maybe RB or 2J. It makes my brain buzz a little that it only has 2.2 liters of displacement – ​​that’s 560 hp per litre.

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Given the long tradition the Finns have in rallying and motorsport – and Audi is a big part of that history – there are some very talented specialists we can tap into in this part of the world. But that still doesn’t explain to me how this engine became so powerful.

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You might want to take a closer look at the build’s technical specs, much of which was developed in collaboration with APR Finland. If I’m honest, the way the engine does what it does confuses me, especially when I’m told the exhaust valves smaller then stock. How does that work? Check this out on a dyno basis video about power consumption to better understand the effectiveness of the package.

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Just like the Finns who are generally modest and usually don’t shout about how good they are at something, the whole construction really radiates class to me. Like how the standard silver exterior gives way to a dark gray Pro Stock spec cage.

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It really sums up this build for me: the closer you look, the more you are rewarded with this incredible Audi.

This film from the drag strip shows just how devastatingly effective the hybrid Audi/Nissan/Strange AWD system is.

Even better is this film, which takes us into the car! The revs never seem to drop and Tomi does the entire run with one hand as he slaps the shifter back and forth and then quickly reaches for the parachute release at the top.

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To be honest, the RS4 hasn’t seen much action in recent years. Tomi loves enduro racing and is quite good at it, so with a business and a young family, his time is often taken up with other things.

The fact remains that this Audi could very well have been the fastest AWD car in the world on street-legal tires in its day. Let that sink in… Pretty cool, huh?

Bryn Musselwhite
Instagram: brynmusselwhite

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