Is a standard Audi RS4 B7 Avant not enough for you? How about bagging one over carbon lipped 3-piece split-rims and painting it purple…
History is studded with inventions so improbable and brilliantly unlikely that it’s hard to fathom just what spark of genius can have spirited them into being in the first place. Plate glass, for example: you could leave us alone with a bucket of sand for an eternity and it would never once occur to us to heat it up until it turned into a window. Or radio – what manner of madman decided that you could send intangible sounds over wiggly invisible lines through the air, and some magic piece of equipment in people’s homes could replicate the noises in real time? It sounds ridiculous. There’s no way it should work.
The Audi RS4 is another invention that beggars belief. The idea of cramming enough horsepower to embarrass a Porsche 911 (along with enough torque to actually make the world a slightly different shape every time you tickle the throttle slightly) into a big, sensible family estate car is just so silly it seems like an absinthe dream. You’ve got the traditional longroof format that harassed dads traditionally use to take the kids to football practice, then load up with hedge clippings to take to the tip before heading off to Ikea to buy a Billy bookcase, but some deranged looper has shoehorned a sports car engine in there. It’s a crazy idea, when you think about it logically.
The original B5 RS4, built from 1999-2001, was a demented creation with a biturbo V6, but for us the real sweet spot is the B7 – the one they made from 2006-08, stuffed to bursting point with a 4.2-litre V8. There’s just no need to put an engine that big in this car, which is precisely why we love it to bits. And that’s clearly the case for Jamie Jackson too: “I’ve always been a V8 fan, especially having been brought up around big old American cars,” he explains, “I wanted something more modern but it had to have a V8, and when this came up at the right price and the right time, I jumped at the chance!”
Parental influence often tends to work out this way, and since Jamie’s old man was into modifying it was inevitable that he’d be doing just the same as soon as he was old enough. “I got the bug early,” he confirms. “I started modding a Peugeot 206 when I was 16, then I moved on to a Lupo GTI which I converted to 1.8T and pushed to 403bhp – that one got a couple of mag features. I also now have an Evo VI running 650bhp, and a 1964 Chevrolet Impala that I’m currently working on which will end up on hydros.”
All of this is enabled by Jamie’s day job as the boss-man at Performance Direct in Barnsley; he turned his hobby into a job, and now his company supplies and fits top-quality go-faster bits to all manner of cars, as well as building quality show cars and flashing them about all over the UK scene. The nature of working in this sort of area makes it somewhat easier to justify the purchases of silly motors as you can pretend you’re actually doing it for official promotional purposes (rather than the reality of just wanting to drive awesome cars), although that’s not to say Jamie’s thrown an unlimited budget at this RS4. The accountants have to be appeased. Which explains why, when he bought the Audi, it was a little rough-and-ready to say the least.
“The RS4 came up on an auction site, and had been stood for three-and-a-half years in a police compound,” he recalls. This raises all kinds of questions about the previous owner – gangster? Drug runner? Disgraced city trader? Whichever way, it was good news for Jamie. “When I went to pick the car up it wasn’t in the best condition, and needed a full paint job to get it up to scratch. The standard DRC [Dynamic Ride Control] system was shot too.”
None of this was a problem, as our man had two big plans to remedy these issues right away. Number one was to use his skilled team of bodywork elves to re-shoot the shell in its stock Avus Silver, and number two was to fit a whole new air-ride system, comprising Air Lift Performance Series struts and bags with AccuAir V2 management. “Fitting air-ride was actually cheaper than replacing the DRC,” he reasons, and you can’t really argue with that if you want your car touching the floor.
The interior had taken a bit of a hammering after all that time in storage, which Jamie saw as the perfect excuse to freshen it up with a retrim, before taking the big RS down to Ryan at Custom Pipes in Doncaster to get that V8 properly bellowing through some new custom exhausts. With all of this taken care of, he was happy to run the car around for a bit, smartened up and gleaming like a new pin, and infusing every daily drive with a frisson of bent-eight menace.
But then he changed his mind. Ultimate Dubs was coming up, and Jamie was keen to rework the RS4 into a classy showpiece for the business. Trouble was he only had three months to do so – but tight timelines often squeeze out the best results, some people work well under pressure, and it’s a truism to say that the RS4 is quite different now to how it was then!
“I asked my friend Andy Meigh to give it a full repaint in Merlin Purple,” he grins, singling out one of our favourite Audi Exclusive shades – sort of like Nissan Midnight Purple but with a more malevolent twist. “Then it was off to Emily at Luxe Auto Interiors for a full custom retrim.”
Yep, that’s another retrim, and this one really is quite astonishing. Those super-desirable RS seats have been retrimmed in bull leather with charcoal Alcantara centres and laser-etched hexagons, and the charcoal theme carries over to the doorcards, steering wheel, headlining, dash and centre console. The other really noticeable feature is the liberal sprinkling of carbon fibre; the OE carbon option-box had already been ticked, and added to this you’ll see carbon seat backs, steering wheel, and of course the finish of the air tank in that beautifully precise custom boot build. Carbon’s a bit of a them throughout, in fact – everything from the number plate plinth and mirror caps to the badges themselves is crafted from element number six, as well as copious details under the bonnet: engine covers, GruppeM induction, scuttle panel, battery cover, ECU cover, header tank and bottle cover, the works. Oh yes, and don’t forget the wheels.
“The car’s now running 20-inch 3SDM 3.01 3-piece split-rims,” Jamie beams. “They’re fully custom, with carbon lips by Richard at Unique Carbon in Wakefield.” It’s one of the sexiest wheel treatments we’ve seen recently, and we imagine Jamie’s now rather careful when he’s parallel parking.
“I’m lucky having my own business in the trade, and many friends have offered a helping hand on the nights getting the car ready for shows,” he continues. “This car has been in bits on more than one occasion! It gets out and about to a lot of shows, and I like to put it on display in the shop for our customers to see, which gets quite a good reaction from most people!”
It certainly hooked us in. Jamie’s upgrades and alterations have taken a dishevelled and unloved RS4 Avant and turned it into a true one-of-a-kind, with an uber-premium finish and plenty of eye-catching and unique touches. And most importantly, it doesn’t take itself too seriously. The RS4 is a fundamentally insane car, and the act of painting one purple, riddling it with carbon and dumping it on the ground over some 10×20 3-piece split-rims wheels is unashamedly bonkers, and the world needs more of that.
TECH SPEC: AUDI RS4 B7 AVANT
4.2-litre V8, custom stainless steel exhaust system, GruppeM carbon fibre induction kit, carbon scuttle panel, carbon battery cover, carbon ECU cover, carbon header tank and bottle cover, standard carbon engine covers, 6-speed manual, Quattro.
10×20” 3SDM 3.01 3-piece split-rims – with carbon fibre lips, shadow chrome centres and neo-chrome bolts, 255/30 Nankang NS-II tyres, Air Lift Performance Series air-ride with AccuAir V2 management, brake callipers painted purple.
Full repaint in Audi Merlin Purple, gloss black grille surround, carbon fibre Audi rings, carbon smooth number plate plinth, carbon oil cooler splitter, headlight internals painted black, carbon wing mirrors, carbon B and C pillars, carbon RS4 side and boot badges, smoked LED rear lights, door trims and roof bars wrapped in satin black, windows tints.
Carbon fibre/Alcantara steering wheel, seats retrimmed in bull leather with charcoal Alcantara centres and laser-etched hexagons, carbon seat backs, doorcard centres in charcoal Alcantara, dash and centre console in charcoal Alcantara and purple stitching, charcoal Alcantara headlining, armrest in hexagon-lasered Alcantara, OE RS4 carbon trims plus carbon gearknob, handbrake lever and side dash panels, full custom boot build with carbon air tank.
Words Dan Bevis Photography Simon Ward