Obsessed with doing things differently and with no less than 12 touchscreen computer surfaces dotted around his modified Audi A3, Josh Ball is one man who’ll certainly never get bored on the move…
You can try and fight it as much as you like, but internet-connected phones, watches and other gadgets we’re probably too old to have even heard of yet are undoubtedly reshaping the way we live our day-to-day lives.
This pattern’s started creeping into the way that in-car entertainment systems are shaped, too – ensuring passengers are cocooned in their very own portable wifi -enabled bubble so they’re never too far away from their all-important cat videos and comedy Snapchat filters.
One young man who’s taken this to the extreme is Josh Ball, who’s overcome a limited budget and dared to go against the grain and transform his Audi A3’s interior so it could now out-perform the International Space Station. Did we mention there’s no less than TWELVE tablets for you to play with, too?
“I wasn’t planning to modify it,” our hardworking store manager here explains how things started, after picking up this already air suspension-clad hatchback a couple of years ago. “Then after about two weeks I had a problem with the air tanks. So I took it down to a local tuning garage, where they were working on a modified Honda Civic with an amazing ICE install…”
The feelers were put out as to how much a similar install would set Josh back – nothing too shouty, just a subtle boost in the Audi’s audio performance. “I soon got persuaded to go the whole hog and opt for some proper Focal stuff from France, though,” he continues, meaning a few more 70-hour weeks were on the cards for him to foot the bill for what was set to be a killer upgrade to the car’s sound system.
During the time the diesel hatch was under the knife receiving its new premium subs and amps, Josh put his attentions into getting a new set of rims to complement the air ride kit. Having some major PCD issues with the first set of rims bought and with only a few weeks to go until his first planned show – Incarnation in Brighton – a call to Rota left him with the goods he was after: a tasty set of turbo fans tyled RM200s that sit sumptuously under the capacious arches.
With more invites to shows across Europe coming in thick and fast, the next few months were a blur of travelling to some quality modified car events for Josh and his understanding fiancée, while trying to put the finishing touches to that comprehensive audio install during the rare down-times. “It was when we got invited to 100% Tuning in the Netherlands that I said, ‘Now would be a really bad time to get pregnant’ to my missus, and sure enough, after a holiday together, she told me she was!” Lucky our man here isn’t shy of putting in a little overtime, then, because there was nothing stopping him completing his pride and joy and going to all the shows he’d promised to be at.
After a chance encounter with upholsterer Emma Pink from Pink Upholstery, Josh snapped up this opportunity to get his car’s furniture freshened up in the form of a full black-and-white re-trim, along with entrusting his wheels to the guys at Bristol-based Tiki Customs for something a little unusual.
“Stefan from the firm sent over some designs that I agreed to, and my goodness did he do a good job!” Josh grins, proudly showcasing a set of rims we guarantee you won’t forget in a hurry: with the unique pin-up girl montage print topped off with a metal flake, pearl polish finish that looks incredible from every angle.
Eventually taking matters into his own hands when it came to fitting the audio install after getting messed around by the tuning garage one too many times (Josh is a trained mechanic, too), he caused a stir with his first appearance at 100% Tuning – a fabulous way to finish the year of building up his ride. “We had our little daughter at the start of 2016, so didn’t have much spare money to play with, but managed to save up enough to get something done to the car for the new show season,” our humble protagonist explains.
This is where the really memorable part of Josh’s car begins to come together, all starting with his open-mindedness not to religiously follow the crowds. “I’d bought four tablets over the winter I was going to use at home with the little one,” he remembers. “Until I decided to put some in the car.” An ingenious idea, and with the backing of KC Customs, Josh began cementing plans to mount one of his handheld multimedia devices on each of the car’s door cards.
“Then we agreed that two tablets per doorcard would look much better, and things kind of spiralled from there!” Josh grins. Of course, once this quartet was installed, the centre console looked a little bare, meaning another custom housing was required to drop in another tablet up front. But he wasn’t stopping there. “I wasn’t happy. I needed more! So I ordered another three tablets which we set to work installing inside the boot lid.”
Surely there wasn’t room for any more?! “I got invited to a show in Italy but wasn’t happy with the state of things under the bonnet. I didn’t have money for an engine swap or bay tuck, you see,” Josh understandably states. “So I took matters into my own hands, creating a removable fibreglass/faux Alcantara engine cover, which now has another four tablets in.” Of course it does! That brings the total up to 12 and ensures that anyone admiring Josh’s stunning Pearl Grey motor can now watch a spot of cricket, check their emails, or even take a selfie!
Does Josh really need all of this multimedia accessibility in his life? Of course he doesn’t. But we absolutely love that he has the cojones to pull it off! “I don’t really know why I did it. I’m a little crazy. I like to choose the different approach in life!” he proudly explains. “It’s not perfect, but it gets driven. My daughter loves to come out with me in it, too.”
Josh has overcome life’s limitations to create an unforgettable show car that’s worthy of any prestigious event. And all it took was a bit of lateral thinking. Oh, and a whole load of tablets, too.
TECH SPEC: AUDI A3
OEM Audi Pearl Grey paintwork; colour-coded front grille, foglight surrounds and headlight eyebrows; smoothed lower front splitter; US-spec front indicators; 2011 A3 tail lights.
2.0-litre TDI engine; full sports exhaust system with de-cat; custom fibreglass engine cover housing 4x internet-connected tablets.
Six-speed manual gearbox.
Air Lift Performance air ride system comprising Slam Series XL bags up front and Slam Bags at the rear with Air Lift V2 management; Rota RM200 alloy wheels hydro-dipped with pin-up print and metalflaked, pearl-gloss finish.
Full re-trimmed Audi Sport interior in white and black leather with pink Bentley stitch; baby changing bag in matching trim; white oil pressure gauge; full Audi light upgrade package; 2x tablets per faux Alcantara door card; custom centre console tablet mount; air suspension boot install (comprising V2 management and 2×2.5-litre air tanks finished in Candy Pink in Pearl Grey surround); 2x Focal Utopia BE 21 WX 8in sub woofers with polished backs; 2x Genesis GT1 Black Edition amplifiers; Bluetooth Play2 unit with original headunit fascia; 3x extra tablets on boot lid interior in faux Alcantara housing.
I want to thank my cleaning sponsor Adam from ADS Car Care – not only has he been my sponsor, he’s been a massive help when I was struggling with money due to having a little one and an amazing friend; ATR Automotive Tyres & Repair in Bognor Regis who helped me get the Audi ready and set for my show in Italy at the beginning of the year; my close friends who helped me with everything; Darren, Clive and the team at Fitment Junkies; Tiki Customs for my amazing wheels; my girlfriend who has put up with all the stressful nights before a show getting set-up and for also looking after the little one while I’ve been tinkering with the car.
Words Sam Preston Photography Jonathan Fleetwood