Fed up with the same old new-wave Audis lowered over a set of wheels? So were we. Charlie Dunn’s 615bhp supercharged RS4, however, isn’t like most other Audis even if it is bagged on 20s! Words: Tony Saggu. Photos: Mike Crawat.
THE DUNN THING 615bhp 2006 Audi RS4 B7 Typ 8E/8H
When we got wind of another B7 Audi A4 with air ride, splits, shiny bits and a vinyl wrap, if we’re honest, the general reaction around the office was, shall we say less than exuberant. Much shaking of heads, rolling of eyes and audible exasperation... a general face palm fest all round in truth. Basingstoke boy Charlie Dunn, however, assured us he had something a little special for us with his '2006 RS4; the total package he insisted, power to thrill, looks to kill and handling that would ensure grins and giggles for days, turns out the lad was serious.
“It constantly wants to rip your face off, especially when smashing through the gears above 5000rpm”
Dressing up a twelve year old Audi with bags and big wheels might on the surface look like folly; surely the stance scene is awash with affordably depreciated German executive transport, much of it gyrating on copiously cambered switch hitting suspension and wheels that cost more than a Hampstead mortgage. “I wanted something different to the same old low and slow stanced scene, something that was loud, angry and fast enough to the point where the car had nothing to prove,” explained the 32-year-old Hampshire horsepower freak, “lots of looks and style... a quality build with enough under the bonnet to back it up.”
Charlie told us this burgundy badboy was really something of an inevitable build, a car and concept heavily influenced by a childhood liberally laced with top flight high horsepower motors, Dunn’s dad it appears was big on class and cubic inches. “I grew up in a family obsessed with prestige German cars,” he explained. “When I was seven my dad, who has always been a confirmed Merc man, bought himself a Mercedes C107 five litre SLC which he drove like a lunatic.
There was nothing I loved more than riding shotgun while he tore it about everywhere,” he recalled, “I think that was what planted the seed very early on for my love of big V8s and ultimately led to my eventual purchase of one, albeit two decades later.” The Dunn’s driveway has hosted a litany of plush and powerful transport over the years to be sure and recent additions don’t seem to have spoilt the streak, “My dad recently bought himself an ML63 AMG with a twin turbo V8, and as of two months ago my mum is now driving a V8 Cayenne,” it’s clear that this is a man who was never destined to buy a Prius. Like legions of budding car enthusiasts before him, however, Charlie had to pay his dues, no one goes from pram to power and style overnight after all, “I’ve had a 1.6 MkIV Golf since I was 18,” he confessed, “but felt that it didn’t deserve to be modified to “look fast” if it didn’t have the power to back up its looks. I always wanted my first modified car to be something that started out with impressive power, then focus on performance before cosmetics.” The plan was obviously always to double the cylinder count and add some sort of forced induction, family tradition led him to buy German but having grown up in a succession of Mercedes products Charlie fancied something a little different so kept his options open. “Once I was out of university, I had worked hard and saved up for a few years to buy a house and a nice car to go with it,” he told us, “which meant that when the time came for me to pull the trigger, I had a few car options. Eventually after lots of thought and endless test drives, I narrowed it down to the C63 AMG, 996 Turbo and the B7 RS4,” he continued. “The deciding moment came when I was at an Ace Cafe meet one night… there were a couple of C63s doing burnouts etc, which was fun and all, but then out of nowhere I saw a Daytona grey RS4 saloon rocketing past, I remember it in slow motion, like something out of a Transporter movie, he said.”
“Not sure what exactly did it for me, perhaps the reflections off the big flared RS arches, the angry V8 roar, the way it sat whilst blitzing past or maybe some combination of all of that. That was the exact moment when I knew what I had to do.”
With an Audi in his sights in late summer of 2014 Charlie began the quest for a suitable example. Dealerships proved to be less than helpful, giving him the runaround so he tried the private classifieds, which eventually proved to be just the ticket. “I found the car via AutoTrader in the end, he revealed, “The seller seemed to be pretty cool with me, and later told me how relieved he was that I was a serious buyer and not one of many timewaster test pilots he had endured over the previous weeks.” With the owner put at ease he handed over the keys for the all important test drive. “Once the oil had hit the right temp and the 7000rpm rev limiter was lifted, I planted my foot for the first time and it was impossible to hide my grin,” recalled Charlie, “I looked over still grinning and saw the seller smirk back. Even though no money had changed hands yet, we both knew at that moment that the car was as good as sold. Sure enough, as soon as we got back to his place, I wired him his cash, grabbed all the docs and drove the beast home before he could change his mind.” Aside from very mild swirl marks in the clearcoat and the fact that the car needed new tyres, brake pads and perhaps an engine decoke, the Phantom Black RS was as close to mint as a 2006 car could be. ”It was stock and spotless,” recalled Charlie with a smile.
With uncommon self control our man was able to keep his modifying mitts off the car for an amazing six months; this extraordinary abstinence had a method to it though. “It was so I could get an established baseline of how it felt to drive,” he explained, “that way I would be confident that every performance and handling change I made would be an improvement to the car and didn’t compromise anything.” With over twenty grand of hard earned cash in the mix and an extra clean car to start with jumping in without a plan didn’t make a lot of sense, especially as this would be Charlie’s first attempt at serious modifying anything with wheels. A good deal of Internet scouring and research went into the project before the first bolt was turned. “There was no single car in particular that inspired me, especially as the ‘theme’ of the car changed a fair bit over the years that I had it,” he told us.
“There were a few guys on the RS246 forums modifying their RS4s which I really admired, in particular Rick_RS4 (@rickyc888) and Mike Fish (@mikefish74), their projects gave me the confidence to start hacking away at mine.” Once the fettling flag went down things started moving very quickly; air ride, uprated sway bars, 20" splits, an induction kit and a custom exhaust all went on in one weekend! Attending a few shows and mixing with a modding crowd further greased the slippery slope.
With the chassis tweaked to handle more horsepower and the addition of some monster brakes, Charlie turned his attention to warming things up under the bonnet. A Stage 2 custom remap from Oxfordshire based horsepower haus MRC Tuning combined with a few bells and whistles; cold air feed, dropping the cat from the downpipe and the all important carbon cleaning squeezed number around the 440 pony mark from the big 4.2 litre motor. “The difference in power and responsiveness was really noticeable,” reported Dunn, “Although I’ve since gone with a TTS supercharger and the Stage 3 tune.” The new setup spun the dyno to the tune of 615 wheel horsepower, a number which adds in the region of 200 extra horses to the already very capable stock RS4 baseline number. “Since I’ve had the supercharger fitted it’s transformed the car into an absolute animal.” Charlie assured us, “It was already fairly fast before but not what I’d call 'angry', unless I was deliberately violent with it. Now though, it constantly wants to rip your face off, especially so when smashing through the gears at 5000rpm and above. The power delivery is instantaneous yet perfectly linear,” he continued, “despite the hike in power the whole car feels very smooth the entire time. I’ve honestly never experienced anything like it before.” The only persistent issue Charlie reports is that the effortlessly smooth delivery of power can, if he’s not paying attention, see the speedo in the triple digits before he knows it.
“There were a few guys on the RS246 forums modifying their RS4s which I really admired. their projects gave me the confidence to start hacking away at mine”
Even though the sculptured bodylines and wide arches might suggest months of bodyshop massaging, the sexy saloon’s shell is almost entirely stock. Externally the biggest and certainly most sticking change is the change of colour. “The car is fully vinyl wrapped in 3M Black Rose Gloss with five layers of 9H Ceramic coating for added gloss and protection,” revealed Charlie. “Since I got the wrap done, I’ve been asked a lot about my widebody arches and who did the work on them, but they are in fact just the standard flared RS4 arches from the factory. The way the colour reflects in the wrap really accentuates their shape, which has been a nice unexpected bonus.” Subtle carbon detailing and a custom grille are, aside from the custom three-piece wheels, the only other exterior mods. Forge Rotor rims are the latest in a long line of rollers to be strapped to the chassis over the last four years, 360 Forged, Rotiform SPF, BBS Speedline and Rotiform centerlocks have all come and gone, the only consistent thread being Charlie’s taste for twenties.
The cabin also follows largely along the OEM route, it’s an RS Audi after all, so interior appointments are top shelf all the way direct from the factory. Again a peppering of carbon fibre detailing and the subtlest of changes was all that was needed to augment the already sublime styling. Working to enhance the art and engineering of the Ingolstadt craftsmen while creating a personal statement was always the stated goal for Charlie, we think he’s accomplished the mission to a tee; crafting a thoughtfully well integrated aggressive yet understated package with style and substance. This build could so easily have been just another cookie cutter same again yawnfest; stickers and spoilers with dubious form and doubtful function... That, however, wouldn’t be the Dunn thing at all.
“The way the colour reflects in the wrap accentuates their shape, which has been a nice unexpected bonus”
ENGINE: 4.2-litre V8 (fully forged), TTS/Rotrex C38-91 supercharger running 615bhp, with Stage 3 MRC map, TubiStyle + custom X-Pipe exhaust, de-cat downpipes, cold air feed, launch control, flat shift, speed limit delete, Sachs sintered plate paddle clutch
CHASSIS: Forge Rotor 10.5x20” three-piece split wheels in candy gunmetal with polished lips, H&R anti-rollbars front + rear, fully Powerflex front suspension, carbon ceramic 380mm front brakes, Air Lift Performance with AccuAir Endo CVT all-in-one air ride system
EXTERIOR: Full body wrap (including door shuts) in 3M Black Rose Vinyl with 5 layers of 9H ceramic coat for extra gloss and protection, chrome delete included, windows and front + rear light clusters tinted, Adaptive Xenon headlights, modified LED DRL kit fitted, custom made front grille crafted from a C6 RS6 grille + B7 RS4 grille to remove plate spacer but maintain OEM look, parking sensors grafted and blended in, carbon fibre front splitter + oil cooler lip, front grille surround, side skirt extensions, B and C pillars, rear diffuser as well as engine bay and other body detail
INTERIOR: Audi Technology Pack (Satnav, auto lights/ wipers/dimming mirror/etc),flat bottom steering wheel, Audi RS4 Recaro wingback seats, heated front and rear seats,carbon fibre interior trim, upgraded RNS-E Mk2 with AMI for OEM Bluetooth, Bose sound system
SHOUT: My friends and family (@fourinstance, @gorakev, SS Tyres and Autos, @shamstarpaint, @mrpix_vagroots, @ mrg40, @jsprattrocco, @mr_elv) for helping/supporting/ rescuing me with the car over the years. MRC Tuning (@ dougatmrc) for all their help with taking the car to its full performance potential at every step in its journey. Fourie Fabrications (@fouriefabrications) for the supercharger install and exhaust work. Wheel Unique (@wheel_unique) for their incredible work refurbishing wheels. Monster Wraps (@ monsterwraps) for their VIP vinyl wrapping treatment. Driving Passion (@drivingpassionltd) for going above and beyond in helping me with my rear carbon diffuser