A VW man to the core, Armando Perea's '99.5 A4 1.8T represents more than just years of hard work, it signifies the fulfillment of a long-standing goal. "My inspiration came from a Euro-styled Audi with deep-dish rims in an old eurotuner," he said. "Even though I couldn't afford it, I promised myself one day I'd own an Audi like that."
Step back to '93 when Armando left Mexico; a country known for its love of air-cooled Beetles. Upon entering the Dirty South and the watercooled scene, he quickly discovered the benefits of the water pump.
Astonished by their performance and style, his first taste of the watercooled scene came via several low-buck Mk2s and a Corrado.
He then fell in love with the Mk3 platform and bought several examples before nabbing a clean '98 GTI VR6 that received numerous modifications, including Porsche wheels and an Mk3.5 Cabrio dash. Despite his love for the car, he sold his charished hatch to fund his car audio shop, Precision Audio; which he continues to run today in Norcross, GA.
This was only a temporary setback and he proceeded to own several more VWs, including a VR-swapped '94 Golf before owning the Laser blue B5 A4 1.8T you see here. After more than ten years in the making, Armando set out to build a modern version of the Audi that inspired his quest for the upper echelons of the VAG community. Mapping out a plan, he felt the OEM suspension and brakes needed addressing first. Based on prior experience with VWs, Armando knew he'd jump straight to coilovers. "With every other car I went cheap, getting springs and shocks. But later I'd want to change the height and couldn't," he said. "So this timeI went straight for Koni coilovers. That way, I could go as low as I wanted."
Even though the stock brakes were more than up to the task, Armando added slotted rotors and steel-braided lines to ensure the middle pedal stayed consistent through the winding hills of Georgia. Blessed with timeless understated lines, Armando wanted to accentuate the A4 styling with a Euro theme and slightly wider stance. "I wanted the car to be clean and useable.
It needed to look good but I didn't want it overstated like the cars with widebodies, cages and big wings," he said. In search of the perfect combination, Armando dressed the car with a Rieger RS4 front bumper, rear valance and deep skirts, along with an M3 trunk spoiler. Up front he mounted an FK grille, Kamei eyelids and painted the center of the stock hood black. Finishing up the ventral side of the Audi, Armando mounted an RPI splitter. It was rumored not to fit his Rieger spoiler, so he cleverly mounted it upside down.
The factory lights were then ditched in favor of European one-piece Hella headlamps. And wanting more than factory HIDs, Armando fitted both the head- and foglights with Matrix 10,000K bulbs. Bought with 80k miles on the clock, the Laser blue paint was scarred deep with clear-coat scratches and rock chips. In keeping with the tidiness of his plan, Armando had Nathan Whitmire of Descended Customs integrate a Sparco fuel cap, tint the factory tail lights and roll the rear fenders in preparation for the wide meats. Determined to do the job right, Nathan removed everything, including the engine and fenders, prior to blanketing the Audi canvas with Acura TSX grey and blue pearl. "I wanted to paint the car a non-factory color so people would know it was a custom paint job," Armando said. After a month of financial recuperation, Armando went back to the magazine of inspiration and duplicated the Audi's deep-dish look but made it his own with staggered widths. However, he met opposition prior to mounting the 19x8.5" front and 19x9.5" rear TSW Volcanos. "I wanted the staggered look and was told it could only be achieved with something like a custom HRE wheel, not a TSW," he said. "Even though TSW said the wheels would only fit a Mercedes, the guys at Butler Tire tested them with 235/35 Toyo T1S and found they fitted nicely."
Hunkered down and looking the part, the Audi's heart then went under the knife for more power. Ditching the small KKK turbo, he opted for a mid-sized quick-spooling TD04 T25/T28 turbo. Careful of the stock internals, it was set to produce 16psi, orchestrated by a GIAC chip and fed with a set of RC Engineering 440 injectors.
To ensure the motor wouldn't cook itself, Armando installed a front-mounted Spearco intercooler plus a Nitrous Express N-tercooler spray bar. And to make sure spent gases left in a hurry, he fitted an Audspeed exhaust manifold along with a cat-less exhaust using a 2.5" Neuspeed muffler, all crafted by Roberto of Stone Mountain mufflers. To harness the new-found ponies, a Centerforce clutch replaced the lackluster stock unit. Bringing the outside in, the cabin has color-matched graphite/blue pearl trim pieces on the dash and doors. Tony's Upholstery then added grey suede inserts to the factory seats. They also added a grey suede headliner, rear deck and door inserts.
On the A-pillar we found Stewart Warner AFR and boost gauges among the assortment of interior upgrades.Despite owning Precision Audio, ICE was the last aspect of the car to be addressed and Armando decided to stick with his minimalist theme. Conducting the acoustic ensemble is a Pioneer AVIC-N2 nav unit, aided by an AudioControl crossover in the trunk. A team of MTX TXC-6.1 components (pushed by an MTX TA7804 amp) reverberate his eardrums from within the cabin, while a pair of 15" custom-enclosed MTX 7500 subs (powered by an MTX TA81001) shake his fillings from the trunk. Although the A4 is worthy of show trophies, it wears nearly 110k miles on the clock. "Now that I've spent all this money, all I want to do is drive it. It certainly isn't a trailer queen," Armando said, having finally created his iteration of the perfect Audi.
Location: Austell, GA
Occupation: Car audio shop owner
1999 Audi A4 1.8T
Engine: 1.8 liter 20v i-4 with Audspeed TD04 T25/T28 turbo, exhaust manifold and intake system, GIAC X-series software, custom 2.5" cat-less exhaust with Neuspeed muffler, Spearco front-mount intercooler with Eclipse GST end tanks, Nitrous Express N-tercooler sprayer, A'PEXi turbo timer
Driveline: five-speed manual with Centerforce upgraded clutch kit
Wheels & Tires: 19x8.5" front, 19x9.5" rear TSW Volcano wheels, 235/35-19 Toyo T1S tires
Brakes: slotted rotors, stainless steelbraided brake lines
Exterior: Rieger RS4 front bumper, rear valance and deep skirts, M3 trunk spoiler, FK grille, Kamei eyelids, RPI splitter, painted hood, Hella one-piece headlights, 10,000K Matrix HID bulbs, tinted factory tail lights, molded Sparco fuel cap, custom graphite/blue pearl paint
Interior: color-matched interior trim, grey suede headliner, rear deck and door inserts, grey stitched Momo steering wheel, suede inserts on factory seat, Stewart Warner air/fuel ratio and boost gauges, Momo shift knob, pedals and e-brake lever, ABD dead pedal, Auto Meter carbon cup holders
Audio/Visual: Pioneer AVIC-N2 head unit, AudioControl crossover, four pairs of MTX TXC 6.1 component speakers, MTX TA7804 and TA81001 amplifiers, two 15" MTX7500 subwoofers, Optima battery
Thanks: Precision Audio (770/409-1555), Nathan Whitmire at Descended Customs, Tony's Upholstery, John G and Mark at Butler Tire, Brian and Thomas at Eurotech of Atlanta, Warren at RPI, Sandy Spencer, my wife, son, and brother Miguel