It takes a lot of people to make a world. No two of us are the same, we all have different wants, needs, desires, drives, our entire lives are the sum total of our richly diverse back stories, coalescing into one unique whole. But at the same time, all of humanity can be roughly subdivided into two basic groups: those who plan everything out to an absurd degree, and those who leave their decisions in the hands of fate. Fans of Peep Show will recognise these two primary genotypes: the former group are the Mark types, never entering a room without first mapping out where the exits are, always knowing for sure that they’ve got clean pants for the morning, never running out of milk. The latter are the Jez group, ambling about in a blissful haze and just seeing where life takes them. Matt Vanstone, the fella behind this spiffy S3, is unquestionably a Jez.
“I’ve always loved the modified car scene, but never really knew what I wanted to mess around with,” he admits. “I had a few Fords to start off with, and when the Euro-look come out I did a Fiesta ST with a Euro theme, but then I started seeing more and more German motors and fell in love with the VAG/Dub scene – so stylish, yet chilled out and everyone was really cool and easy to speak to. So off to the German car scene I went, like a kid going to the sweet shop!”
The sentiment is entirely understandable. Some linchpins of the VAG world are dyed-in-the-wool Wolfsburg and would never countenance anything else, but there are plenty of newcomers who can see that there are oodles of other cool cars in the world. You don’t have to pin your colours to one mast, it’s all about diversity.
“At first I was looking at Golfs – and BMWs, actually! – but I never thought about entertaining an Audi,” says Matt, “until more and more people started doing Audis with simple mods; the cars just looked epic, so after much research I thought the model for me had to be the A3. But to be honest the spec just wasn’t good enough – so I thought I’d have to go up a notch, and started looking at S3s. I viewed a few, a black one and an orange one which were all OK, until one day I drove past a local car garage and this Spring Blue S3 was hidden at the back of the forecourt. I popped in to test drive it and the rest is history! I just fell in love with the colour.”
…and the decision-making process was as simple as that. No drawn-out plans, just chucking whims into the lap of fate. Apparently that kind of behaviour works out rather well. So presumably, with such a rich and diverse modifying history behind him, Matt was able to dive right in with the evolutionary transformation?
“Er, no, actually,” he says. “The pot was pretty empty after I bought the car, so I didn’t really touch anything for about a year. I was just enjoying driving it about! It was in great condition, and completely standard, which was ideal as I wanted a blank canvas to really put my mark on it.” We don’t imagine a year of unmodified S3 life was too much of a hardship either, as they’re brilliant cars right out of the box. And as he says, he’d just fallen in love with that colour.
“After a year I put it on coilovers, just to get it a bit lower and start to make it my own,” Matt explains. “But unfortunately I smashed the car up in some really bad weather, aquaplaning into a farmer’s field. My heart sank, but thankfully the body shop said the damage was all cosmetic and nowhere near a write-off, so we started the rebuild – it took about a month, with a full front end, side skirts and rear bumper going on… my modding pot was emptying quick.”
Where there’s a will, however, as the old cliché goes, there’s a way, and Matt spotted an opportunity while the car was off the road to rework it in rather radical style: the coilovers came off, and a full Air Lift Slam Series system took their place. Some 2011-spec taillights also somehow found their way into the mix (the car is an earlier 2007 model), and Matt acquired a set of Mercedes wheels that he polished up to a mirror shine and ended up running for a couple of years.
The quality of the work was really starting to speak for itself, and a few trophies were won. Some big-name companies started sniffing around. And before Matt knew it, the next chapter was already being written.
“I changed wheels a couple of times, and by this point I really wanted to do something with the interior,” he remembers. “I knew I wanted leather, and I found it’s a pain in the arse choosing a colour! I didn’t really have a shade in mind, I just wanted the smoothest leather available, and in the end that turned out to be Bentley nappa. My trimmer pulled it all together in time for Ultimate Dubs 2016; I chose the Linen colour just from having seen it in photos, and the finish is so soft and plush it’s just amazing. I also did some carbon-fibre work at this point, and the new 3” Cobra Sport exhaust system, and then of course there were some new wheels – safe to say I’ve had a lot of wheels…!”
All seemed peachy in the Vanstone world, when all of a sudden, out of the Sprint Blue, the engine blew up! The valves went everywhere, there were bits of camshaft all over the gaff, it was a right mess. Did Matt give up at this point? Of course not. The cash he’d been saving for a new set of 3-piece rims instead went on a full engine rebuild; he missed the rest of the 2016 show season, which meant that his swanky new interior didn’t really get a chance to be shown off, so he did the only logical thing: sank a bunch of money into a big-spec audio build.
Yeah, modifying logic isn’t like normal logic. You just have to be like Jez and go with the flow. “An old friend of mine who’d set up his own business sorted out the build, and Vibe helped out big time with the equipment too,” he says.
So after all these trials and tribulations, is there a clearly defined path for the future of this S3? Or is the whole thing being left in the hands of fate? “Actually, it’s up for sale,” Matt grins. “I asked the missus to marry me, and she said yes! So the car’s got to go to pay for the wedding. But fear not… as soon as that’s out of the way I reckon I’ll be back with an Audi RS4…”
Well, he says that. But it sounds a bit too much like making a plan, doesn’t it? Let’s see what fate has to say about it.
TECH SPEC: AUDI S3
Sprint Blue, 2011-spec taillights, custom gloss black grille using standard item and RS6 item moulded together, carbon-fibre B-pillars and mirrors, Forge chrome petrol cap
2.0-litre TFSI, Forge Twintake induction kit with carbon-fibre air filter covers, Forge chrome recirculating valve, Forge blue silicone hose kit, Forge chrome charcoal canister cover, Forge chrome oil, water and coolant caps, Forge adjustable quick-shifter, custom-made engine cover using original airbox dipped in carbon-fibre effect and cream colour pipework, 3” Cobra Sport cat-back exhaust system
8.5×19” ET35 Rotiform LSR cast wheels in silver finish with polished dish, Air Lift Slam Series struts with 3/8 lines, 2x Viair compressors, 4-gallon skinned air tank (painted cream to match engine bay), V2 AutoPilot trimmed in leather in custom holder
2011-spec flat-bottom steering wheel with carbon-fibre airbag cover, Audi S5 front seats with custom diamond-stitch centres – retrimmed in Bentley nappa leather (Linen with blue stitch), carbon-fibre seat control panels, carbon-fibre seat backs and grab handles, also retrimmed in matching leather: rear seats, armrest, handbrake lever, gear gaiter, parcel shelf, glovebox, beneath steering wheel, door card inserts
Alpine ILX-700 Apple CarPlay double-DIN, Vibe CVEN component speakers, Vibe CVEN monoblock amp, Vibe CVEN 12″ subwoofer, Vibe CVEN 5-channel amp, custom install by VANtage Customs
“Kris Butler at Forge Motorsport, Matt at System Clenz Detailing for keeping it super-clean for me before shows, James Batty at Auto Finesse, Dub Fiction family/crew, Vibe Audio, James at VANtage Customs for the audio build, Mark Fisher at Air Lift, the missus for putting up with my tantrums when things don’t go to plan, Fordy for always giving me a hand, Dan at South West Kustom for all the bodywork, Colin Haden at D Haden Upholstery for my killer interior”
Words Dan Bevis Photos Andy Saunders