Ironside. Rob Goodwin set out to build the world’s finest #Audi-A4
. This is the result! #Audi
STARK RAVING MAD
After a near death experience and four days in a coma, Rob ‘Starkey’ Goodwin’s life would never be the same again, nor for that matter would his #2004
So, was the trim actually meant to clash with the paintwork then or was it a bit of an accident?” It was one of those questions we shouldn’t have asked; one of those ‘did I just say that out loud?’ moments’. And, it happened to us the first time we met Rob ‘Starkey’ Goodwin back at the Players event in September. Sadly the earth didn’t open up and swallow us right there…
If we’d known at the time that he’d themed his car around a bottle of f**king Fanta and he’s all for stirring things up for the fun of it, then we’d probably not have felt quite so bad. Luckily for us Rob is about as laid back and relaxed as you could ever get, so instead of replying to our harsh remark with a swift dry slap, we’re met with a huge grin and a well practiced answer: “I get asked that a lot. My dad was into American muscle cars and anything with a big motor, so I grew up around the hot rod scene, which is why I like doing stuff that’s a little bit controversial.” Yes, Rob intentionally spent a fortune creating an interior that, to a degree, clashed with his bodywork.
Now we’ll get to Rob’s ‘Starkey’ nickname a bit later on which, as it happens, is very relevant to this story. In fact, most of what’s happened in Rob’s life appears to have led to the completion of the car you see before you in some shape or form.
The whole love for VW and Audis came after Rob learnt to drive in an old Beetle and despite a couple of mildly-modified Beemers in his early years, we get the impression Rob was always destined to wind up back in something from the VAG stable. “I just loved the Mk3 VR6 when it first came out but we’d just had our first child and I couldn’t afford one, certainly not new,” he said. But when prices finally dropped a few years later there was no stopping him. “The moment I could get enough money together I went out and bought a Mulberry VR6,” Rob continued. “I ended up doing it up at the same time as a friend who had an 8v GTI. We went to a few shows including GTI International, which is where I met Darren from G Werks.” While Rob isn’t what you’d call a natural mechanic, he’s always been willing to have a go: “Darren would always be willing to let me come down and watch him work, then let me have a go. It’s the only way you learn.”
Rob absolutely loved the Mk3 but soon he longed for more power, so a trip to TSR saw him opt for one of its 2.9 upgrades and the car then made around 220bhp at the flywheel. “Believe it or not the car used to wheelspin in fourth in the wet; this is when I first contacted Darren about converting it to four-wheel-drive,” Rob explained. Having already sunk a fair sum of cash into the car Rob was now faced with the dilemma of spending more, or cutting his losses and investing in something new. This is where fate stepped in, as it was about this time that Rob’s dad fell ill and sadly passed away.
“This was obviously a really low point for me,” said Rob, “but I needed to be strong for I grew up around the hot rod scene, which is why I like doing stuff that’s controversial everybody else and I also needed a more practical car so we could transport my mum around. I could hardly make her squeeze in the back of the Golf now, could I?”
As it happens, Rob Chaplin, who then worked for G Werks, really wanted to buy the Golf, so Rob decided to let G Werks have the car and just pay him back in a nice set of wheels for whatever car he ended up with, plus a load of free labour that he would no doubt pick up along the way. Well you didn’t think he’d end up leaving anything stock for long, did you?
If Rob was to go down the four-door route then he really wanted something that was only intended to be a four-door from the factory, and the A4 platform seemed like the sensible option. Sadly an RS4 or S4 was out of the question, so Rob began looking at 1.8Ts. “Darren advised me to go for the 190bhp model and I spotted a lovely example for sale at the local dealer in Crawley which had all the trimmings. I wasn’t really after silver but it was an ex-demo so had the full S4 kit and I fancied going down the VIP route with it,” he admitted. Especially as he had pressurised Darren into parting with the stunning deep-concave 19” Auto Couture hoops that had recently adorned his murdered-out Audi A6 demo. “We stuck a set of KW V2s on it pretty much straightaway and Darren sorted the stance out for me, like he does,” said Rob. Apparently the engine had already been taken to Stage 2: “It had the remap, exhaust and performance cat so went really well, but even on the original test-drive, before we’d sorted the chassis, you could take roundabouts at 80mph and it still stuck.
It was at that point I fell in love with it; you just can’t beat a Quattro!”
After the initial VIP theme Rob soon began to get bored, which he admits he has a habit of doing. “I wanted to make it look more aggressive and decided it needed a bit of the ol’ Darth Vader treatment,” he laughed. We’ll translate; what Rob actually meant was anything that wasn’t silver coachwork was getting the smoked treatment. “We did the windows, the mirrors, the lights, everything,” he continued. “I even went up to 20” RS4 wheels, but the thing is, it looked so aggressive that the power it had just didn’t seem enough to back it up.” We can see where this is heading…
The honeymoon period may have been far from over, but having a penchant for fast bikes, it’s safe to say Rob is also something of a speed freak and he was itching to release more power from the breathed-on 20v: “It was about this time that I said we needed to Stage 3 it, but I couldn’t find a kit.”
Darren, however, came up trumps with a kit from the States. Rob claims just prior to the big turbo he’d had to replace the original clutch with a twin-plate racing jobbie and that in itself made a huge difference. “I couldn’t wait to see what it would be like combined with more power!” Rob recalls. After his hardware shopping spree, it was time to fit the big turbo. Now despite the Stage 3 kit being sold as a bolt-on package, as usual it took a load of modifying to fit, probably due to the swap to right-hand drive, but according to Rob the result was insane: “It was based around a GT28 RS with all S4 cooling and we limited the boost so it produced a genuine 300bhp, but with more to come once we fitted the Forge front-mount and a few other internal goodies.” Was Rob pleased with the outcome? “Honestly, it just f**king rocks my world, even now. What more can I say?”
Now at this stage Rob confessed he’s the unluckiest lucky bloke you could ever meet, and once he’d explained why we totally got it; because while he’s ended up with his dream car, it’s not come easily. “2010 was the year that changed my life forever, because in July I was involved in a serious motorbike crash that turned my world upside down,” explained Rob. Although it’s now over 18 months since the crash, it’s clear Rob is far from recovered, both mentally and physically, but he’s certainly in a better place than he was and he now looks at life in a totally different light. “Apparently I died and came back in the ambulance on the way to the hospital. I then died again on the operating table,” said Rob, quite blasé about it all things considered. It was only after four days in a coma that he came round and realised just how lucky he had been. We say lucky, but the long and short of it is Rob now has more metal plates and pins in his body than Barry Sheen and was wheelchair-bound for a considerable time. To say he was lucky to be alive would be the understatement of the year. It sounds like a cliché until you hear it from Rob’s mouth, but he claims from that day on he just looked at everything in a totally different way: “From that moment on I decided I was going to live my f**king dreams. The wife and I had never really been extravagant in the past but this changed my whole outlook. In fact, it changed us both,”
Rob claims it was actually his wife who at this point that suggested he buy an RS4, which had always been a dream of his. “I remember laying there in bed, all busted up and it still brings a tear to my eye now remembering my wife saying that.” However, Rob had become more attached to the car than he had realised and after weighing up a few options, he decided what to do. “It didn’t make sense to spend another £15k on a new car that was less tunable, especially when I’d already blown a fortune on the RS4 interior,” he told us. Did we forget to mention that…?
Anyway, this is where Rob decided to really up the ante: “I thought long and hard about it and decided from the moment I got out of hospital that I was going to build the best B6 A4 on the planet.” In fact, his quest began sooner than that as Rob embarked on the mother of all internet surfs, preparing the project from his hospital bed. “I had so much time on my hands I went online and Google’d every A4 build I could find to see what was out there and what I was up against,” he said.
“Luke at Plush had just finished his Mk5, so I knew the level of interior, and as for paint, well, it was clear that white had become the new black, but I’d always been into bright colours ever since I was a kid.”
And having been in such a dark place for those first few weeks after the crash Rob knew what had to be done: “I was sick of all the grey in the hospital, it was all just so dull and miserable. I just kept thinking somebody bring me some f**king flowers, would you,” he laughed. Had the car not been so well spec’d in the first place Rob would never had opted for silver, but now he had the option to change that, there was only really one colour.
“Being an Arsenal fan it just had to be red, I’d always loved red, from drinking Coke as a child, to loving the Union Jack. It’s always a colour I link to the early Audi Quattro and the original Golf GTI” he said. That was the easy bit though, choosing the shade, however, would be a lot harder. This is when, as Rob put it, “everything just seemed to slot into place”, oh, and he picked up his new nickname, to boot!
“My mates used to call me Bones as I was well into my martial arts and was a bit of a ninja,” he laughed, “but they decided that this didn’t really fit the bill anymore. Then, one day, a friend called me Starkey after Tony Stark in Iron Man, referring to the metal plates I had in my legs, and it just kind of stuck. I hadn’t seen the film so I rushed out to borrow a copy as I loved the name. The funny thing is, in the film Tony Stark drives a 1927 hot rod with red trim, so I naturally began thinking about using that shade – for the inside at least.” Then Rob remembered the first Yank car his dad ever imported, a bright yellow Mach 1 Mustang which he resprayed Brandy Wine pearl, another shade of red. Now he was really torn… until he stumbled across the perfect shade while out shopping. “Believe it or not I spotted this toaster that was exactly the colour I wanted, so I bought it as a reference,” he smiled.
Eccentric? Yeah, you could say that. Rob had already been in discussions with a certain Carl Talyor about speaking to paint supremo, Steve Denton with regards to painting the car. “I knew Steve was up to the job, it was just a case of whether he could squeeze me in as he was meant to be painting Carl’s RS4 at that stage,” said Rob.
Steve’s got to like you to take on your project and where Rob was concerned the ice-breaker came after he sent Steve a photo of his toaster: “I remember his exact words: ‘I can’t f**king match that, it’s a f**king Morphy Richards toaster!” Luckily Rob then stumbled across an Alfa 8C Competionz painted a similar shade, so he hunted down the code and finally had the magic number for Mr Denton.
It was just before Ultimate Dubs 2011 that Rob stumbled across what have got to be his ultimate set of wheels: the 19” Rotiform VCE: “I was at Darren’s and he was having a conference call with the guys from Rotiform when I heard that the wheels were up for sale,” said Rob. He’d spotted the super-rare rollers previously on a certain B6 wagon in Florida but never dreamt he’d end up owning them. “Being forged monoblocks they’re ultra-light, but people don’t get how special they are just because they’re not split-rims,” he smiled.
Not long after the wheels came the air-ride. “Again, it was as if it was meant to be,” said Rob. “As I was now bound to a wheelchair, I could no longer get in the car on the coilovers because it was too low.” As luck, or maybe fate, would have it BagRiders had just announced its new air-ride kit for the B6 platform centred around AirLift struts. And Rob was one of the lucky few to get on board from the start, again thanks to Darren who had just become an agent for the company.
It wasn’t long after Ultimate Dubs 2011 that things jumped into gear: “I had another stint in hospital,” recalls Rob, “but Carl was great, not only did he agree to look after the car for me but he also convinced Steve to paint it alongside the RS4 so it would be done in time for Edition 38.” Rob had made his mind up that should Steve take on the car then there was only one place to entrust with the trim; you guessed it, MJ Interiors.
Again, that was the relatively easy part, coming up with a suitable colour, well, that might prove a bit more challenging – especially if Rob’s history had anything to do with it. “Initially I looked back at the hot rod in Iron Man but red had been done; then I considered grey with red piping but that was too safe,” Rob said. “I’d then almost opted for grey with red piping but then I got the call from G Werks’ design consultant, namely Darren Bennet.”
Apparently Darren had spotted a bright Bugatti Veyron Supersports with a bright orange interior, and he thought of Starkey straight away: “Initially I thought he was having a laugh and I’d end up looking like a giant bag of Skittles, but then I remembered how it worked on the Fanta Fruit Twist soft drink I was hooked on, so I just decided to go for it.”
It was clear by this stage that Rob was only going for the best products available, and when MJ sent down some sample swatches, this became only too apparent. “The colour was easy as I just wanted the brightest orange around but choosing the leather was a bit harder,” Rob remarked.
There was a choice between a UK produced leather, which was okay, or a super-soft German hide that, according to MJ, was a little bit more expensive: “He quoted me £3000, which I didn’t think was too bad, until he revealed that was just the labour. I remember the conversation well; MJ said you can either go English and f**k it up or buy the German stuff and smash it!” What do you say to that? The thing is, Rob being Rob, he didn’t want a conversional trim. “I wanted it to match the Veyron exactly, so basically everything from the centre line down was covered in orange leather,” he smiled. This might not sound like a lot of work, but when you take a closer look at the interior shots you’ll appreciate a lot more what was involved. “MJ was amazing though, he really got into it, sourcing all the relevant paint and whatnot to ensure everything tied in.” And according to Rob the leather was absolutely sublime: “It was just so soft, you could stretch the 3x3” sample he sent me out to about 12x12”, it was that flexible.”
On Rob’s instructions Michael ordered in seven hides and that alone cost best part of £2k. It had always been Rob’s dream to win just one trophy with the car and it wasn’t long after MJ had finished that he began to believe he might be in with a shot.
“Once MJ was finished a friend and I borrowed a van and went up to pick the trim up. I’d already said to Michael I’m a fussy bugger so please make sure it’s right but I needn’t have worried, he’d done a great job.” At first Rob couldn’t get his head round some of the stuff MJ had done, like covering the handles and door pockets. “He even perforated the speaker covers, and did red stitching to tie in with the body,” said Rob, “I genuinely didn’t think it could be done, so this was certainly a high point.”
As soon as the guys returned from MJ’s place in Leeds to G Werks on the south coast, where the car was waiting, it was all systems go for the refit. “Darren had the whole lot back in place in no time and it was at this stage that I saw all my dreams starting to come true, right in front of my eyes,” recalled Rob.
The last thing to be done was a visit to Studio InCar where Carl ‘Shakey’ Shakespeare and the team built Rob a nice little iPod dock in his door pocket and a tidy install for the boot, complete with a loading cover that would hid the air-ride below and allow the trunk to be used as normal and so it could house Rob’s wheelchair. “The guys did a fantastic job; they’re just too bloody talented. You’ll think I’m mad, but I often go to work half and hour early these just so I can sit in the car and admire the trim.”
Now we know a few people aren’t going to like the car because of the money that’s been thrown at it, but Rob couldn’t be more of a humble guy if he tried: “I only wanted to win one trophy, but on stage at Edition 38 when they just kept coming I’ll admit it was a bit embarrassing.” If you’ve got it, flaunt it and Rob’s certainly not shy in that respect, but then why should he be? He’s proud of the car and everybody that’s helped him achieve his dream. It’s so refreshing to hear a story about a build where the owner only has positive things to say about all the companies involved in the build. It’s not over either. Nope, although we were sworn to secrecy, Rob confessed to starting a resto project over winter for 2012 that sounds like a bit of a challenge. He’s also going all-out with the A4’s internals so he can crack the 350bhp mark. Clearly a day in the life of a super hero is never dull!
I saw all my dreams starting to come true, right in front of my eyes.
At the time of going to press Rob was out of his chair and repairing well.
DUB TECHNICAL DATA FILE DETAILS #Audi-A4
/ Audi-A4 / #Audi-A4-B6
/# Audi-A4-B6-8E /
ENGINE: 1.8T 20v S-Line (190bhp) #ATP-GT28RS-turbo-kit
, full #Milltek
stainless steel exhaust system and 3” ATP downpipe.
Performance: genuine 300bhp (limited) with full internal build coming soon.
CHASSIS: 9x19” (front) and 10x19” (rear) #Rotiform
forged VCE rims with 225x35 and 235x35 Falken tyres respectively. Full #Air-Lift
air-ride system, Easy Street autopilot setup built into console. Dual compressors, five-gallon tank, spare wheel well setup.
OUTSIDE: Full factory fit S4 bodykit, de-badged rear, front number plate recess shaved. Full colour change (painted Alfa Romeo 8c Competizione pearl red), all trim, sills, grille, exhaust tips painted satin black, all-round light window tint.
INSIDE: Recaro Sportster CS seats (back of seats trimmed in Alcantara ), RS4 flat-bottom steering wheel, gear knob, pedals etc, full interior retrim in Bugatti Veyron orange, perforated leather on RS4 parts and speaker trim in doorcards. RS4 mats, orange piped to match.
ICE: Factory-fitted BOSE system including sat nav, sub and amplifier, air install and custom boot build finished in Alcantara to match partial interior trim. Removable load cover to protect install.
SHOUT: Darren Bennett and the boys at G Werks for all the hours put in over and above the call of duty. Carl Taylor for hooking me up with Steve and MJ. Steve Denton and the team at Stylehaus for an awesome paint job. MJ and Adrian for an awesome interior at MJ Interiors, Brian and Jason at Rotiform for designing great rims, Carl Shakespeare at Studio InCar for the unique boot install and stereo upgrade. And the biggest thanks has to go to Karen, my beautiful wife for supporting me through my dreams and putting up with the tantrums when the good wasn’t going so well.
Carl and the team at Studio InCar worked some magic with the hi-fi. With RS4 seats, wheels and gear knob and a more tuneable engine we see why Rob stuck with the devil he knew.
MJ Interiors worked wonders on Bugatti Veyron Super Sport-themed trim. And, yes, it was meant to clash!
I grew up around the hot rod scene, which is why I like doing stuff that’s controversial.