ALL OR NOTHING SUPER 80 COUPE
Following a life changing injury Matt Perkins could have thrown in the towel, but instead he threw everything into his Audi S2-powered Coupe.
Life has a habit of throwing us the occasional curve ball at times. For some of us that might mean a bad day at the office or your favourite football team losing the match on Saturday.
Others, like 29-year-old, Matt Perkins have to deal with slightly more trying challenges… life changing ones! Wind the clocks back to September 2014 and Matt was riding a pretty positive wave having just finished his New Scirocco project (boasting air ride, Rotiform splits and a pair of Bentley seats), topped off with a photoshoot for a feature in our sister magazine Performance VW. Then, sadly, his luck changed just a few weeks after the photoshoot at Silverstone during the TRAX event. Long story short, Matt came off a friend’s MotoX bike and suffered a spinal cord injury which would leave him wheelchair bound. After the accident though, it would be easy to assume Matt’s happy-go-lucky outlook might have changed a bit. Hell, who could blame him for having a slight negative outlook on life or being more downbeat about things? The thing is, that’s not the case at all. If anything, the accident has made Matt more upbeat and determined not to let the disability it caused hold him back. Sure, those early days after the accident were certainly challenging and it’s been a long road to recovery, but Matt’s continually improving both mentally and physically and is thankful to his close family and friends for always being there for him.
“Anything is possible if you put your mind to it”
Becoming a dad a few years back has also made Matt more determined to stay positive and do everything he can to not let the injuries hold him back. In case you were wondering, his obsession with cars hasn’t slowed down one bit either. “After I sold the Scirocco I ended up buying an Audi RS6 C7 Avant which I love and still use as a daily driver now,” he told us. Matt runs a successful wheel refurbishing business (Flat Out Alloys) with his brother Alex in South Wales. Both the lads are car mad, and they don’t seem to get bored with wheels, even after dealing with some pretty tasty cars on a daily basis. Despite starting his driving days behind the wheel or a 1.4 SXI Vauxhall Astra, after he bought the Scirocco he was soon hooked on German engineering and all the benefits it brings. Having owned the RS6 for a while it soon got Matt itching for a new project, something more old school, but still produced by the Ingolstadt brand. “I bought the car four years ago by accident really. I was driving through a small village in South Wales called Talbot Green when I spotted the Audi Coupe for sale on the side of the road,” he confessed. Apparently, it was only up for a few hundred quid, so Matt took down the number and phoned when he got home. “I just had to have it. I hadn’t seen one in years and remembered I loved them when I was younger and they first came out.” Matt went to view the car the next day with his brother and couldn’t believe the condition it was in: “It was almost pristine. Okay, there was the odd scratch but no rust, it was a solid car in all original paint so I bought it there and then and my brother followed me home in it.”
Naturally Matt soon began fiddling with the Coupe and he claims it was this car that kept him motivated during his rehabilitation stage. “It gave me something to look forward to. I knew in time I could create a masterpiece and I wanted to keep a diary of the build to show others in a similar situation to me that anything is possible if you put your mind to it!” The car itself started out life as a 1989 Audi 80 Coupe (Type 89) 2.3e manual, so it’s exactly the same age as Matt. “I decided there and then that I wanted to go all out on it, despite what the purists might say. There were only two or three in the UK that had been modified, so I knew the car would be pretty unique when finished.”
While no single car inspired the build, Matt had an image in his head of what he wanted the car to look like. Once home the car was treated to a deep clean inside and out, underneath and in the engine bay, before Matt began stripping off the parts he wanted to change. “The week after I dropped the car at Plush Automotive where Luke was instructed to install a custom Air Lift air ride set-up for it, as there was no off-the-shelf kit available, plus I wanted him to create an exposed air-tank carpeted boot install.” According to Matt, Luke did a fantastic job of retrimming the dash and door cards in leather and carbon fibre. “He did an amazing job of trimming the slightly used carbon Recaro CS wingback I supplied, too and matched them to the door cards and dash.” To complement the trim and carbon detailing Luke installed a carbon-skinned air tank and rear strut brace, along with hardline pipework. Just when you thought everything was getting a bit too classy, Matt stuck a whopping great anodised gold gear knob on the auto shifter for a laugh.
While Luke had been working his magic on the inside, Matt had sourced a short five-cylinder motor and delivered it to none other than Will Linfoot at VRS in Northampton for the Audi tuning guru to work his magic on. “I knew from the start I wanted to run a tuned five-cylinder motor. There was no point in doing all the other work only to have the engine sounding like a pee shooter,” he laughed. Now while Will is no stranger to tuned five-pots, it’s not often he is instructed to fit an automatic gearbox to one but that’s exactly what happened here. Due to Matt’s disability, he needed an auto ’box and Will delivered the goods: “Will did an incredible job of building and installing the ABY S2 engine, but the fact he managed to adapt it to run the automatic gearbox sort of knocked it out of the park.” The lads are currently fine tuning the motor in a bid to achieve the 500bhp, which Will is quite confident they will achieve. Matt is planning to get the gearbox strengthened to cope with all that power, too, which would imply the figure isn’t purely for bragging rights… Matt intends to use it!
When the car initially left VRS it went straight to a company in Cardiff called City Motor Services where the team there fitted the all-important hand controls so Matt could finally drive the car himself. “It drives amazingly… I thought the air ride might hinder it, but I couldn’t have been more wrong. It drives straight as a dye, it’s both comfortable and handles well. It’s the perfect cruiser,” he admitted.
While the project was coming along nicely Matt was far from finished. The next stop would be SJ Bodyworx where Scott could add the subtle body mods Matt had planned. “While I didn’t really get involved in the engine or suspension work, I did help Scott a bit with the bodywork, mainly stripping the car down to a bare shell externally. I certainly wouldn’t recommend stripping one of these cars, though. It’s so well built… not a car that was built to come apart again.”
Matt told us Scott did a phenomenal job with the paint, giving the car a complete bare metal respray in the factory Titan grey metallic shade. “It’s just like a brand new factory finish with all brand new window and door seals.” While the car was in for paint Scott also fitted the B4 front end: “The grille is part of the bonnet on the B4 and it also has a much nicer bumper,” Matt told us. The front plate recess was also smoothed, as were the previously textured sills, while the rear wiper and washer were removed and the holes filled. The final alterations were carbon fibre door mirrors, a US-spec rear number plate recess, plus all red rear lenses. These are all subtle mods, but combined they slightly modernise the car without losing its retro appeal. “I’d say the hardest part of the whole project was the strip down and rebuild. Scott and I spent countless hours on the car. I remember counting 15 bolts holding one of the wings on. It’s bonkers!”
The final part of the puzzle and perhaps Matt’s favourite part of the car was his choice of wheels. Rather than opting to buy something off the shelf or even spec-up a set of expensive split rims, Matt and his brother decided to take the car’s original single-piece 15-inch Speedlines and turn them into a set of custom, staggered splitties! After effectively cutting the faces off the wheels, Matt was pleased to discover that the design and construction of the original wheels loaned themselves well to being drilled and made into multipiece items. And the beauty of building the wheels up from scratch was that Matt could spec them to the perfect fitment for the car. After doing the maths, Matt ordered up all the wheel parts from Jas at SRR Hardware. The final vital statics were 7.5×17” (ET35) front and 8.5×17” (ET4) rear and to say they completed the car would be a huge understatement! It’s safe to say we’re not the only ones who appreciate the car either, Matt’s spent most of the summer attending shows and taking home the silverware. It doesn’t get much better than that! “The reaction the car gets is so humbling. I guess you just don’t see them any more, that’s why I think people like it!”
What does the future hold for Matt and his Coupe? “I’m actually on the lookout for my next project, which will ideally be a classic Speedtronic Porsche 911, but until I find one I fancy slightly changing the Audi’s interior and going with an RS hexagon stitching theme in the seats, doors and headliner. I might do the boot built in Alcantara rather than carpet, too, but that’s about it!”
It’s nice to hear Matt say that he’s loved every step of the build and would do it all over again in a heartbeat. “In a way it’s a tell-tale story of my recovery. You only have one life, one chance, so do what you love and love what you do!”
SPECIFICATION Audi 80 Coupe
ENGINE & TRANSMISSION: Fully rebuilt Audi S2 (ABY) five-cylinder 20v turbo with Porsche/ Audi RS2 components, Porsche intake manifold, ARP studs, upgraded steel gasket, turbo setup with racing housing, TFSI coil packs and injector conversion, uprated fuel pump system, real carbon fibre scuttle panel trim, slam panel, radiator trim and cam belt cover. Engine bay dress up bolt kit, custom built high pressure fuel rail, Porsche oil filler cap, various parts colour coded and painted in gloss black, Roose Tuning black silicone hose kit for both water coolant system and vacuum system. Transmission converted to automatic with hand controls (the only known auto S2 coupe in the world). All work carried out by Will at VRS Northampton
Max Power: 500bhp
CHASSIS: Original 15” Audi Speedline alloys, cut and converted into 17” three-piece split rims with powder coated sparkle silver faces. Fronts: 7.5×17” (ET35). Rears: 8.5×17” (ET4) with 195/40/17 tyres all round. Air Lift 3P management with customised struts built and shortened by Plush Automotive
EXTERIOR: Complete bare metal shell repaint in original Titan grey metallic with brand new window and door seals, new windscreen and windows, B4 front end conversion, modernised Hella ellipsoid front light clusters, smoothed number plate recess in front bumper, all red tail lights and US-spec rear number plate recess, sills detextured and colour coded, rear wiper arm removed from spoiler, hole erased, rear washer jet removed from roof, hole smoothed over and painted
INTERIOR: Recaro CS Sportster wingback front seats retrimmed in black striped leather with real carbon fibre backs, carbon fibre coated dash and dial surrounds, door and rear panels trimmed in Porsche charcoal shimmer Alcantara, rear bench removed, false floor install in rear for air tank setup, real carbon fibre air tank with polished aluminium hardlines, rear carbon fibre skinned aluminium strut brace, modernised double DIN touch-screen head unit conversion with sat nav, B7 RS4 flat bottom steering wheel with painted accents, with working steering wheel functions, Air Lift 3p controller hidden with sliding ash tray cover, VDO boost gauge integrated in heater trim. Adapted push/pull hand control for Matt to use with his disability (which actually looks pretty cool in a car this old)
THANKS: Firstly my bro Alex and the team at Flat Out Alloys for doing such an amazing job on the wheels. Scott at SJ Bodyworx for the outstanding paint job, not to mention the amount of abuse he gives me (I have gained a true friend through the process). Will at VRS Northampton for the incredible engine work, without you I wouldn’t have been able to drive it bud!! Luke at Plush for the awesome trim and suspension setup, Finally, a big thanks to my friends and family for putting up with the constant favours I ask of them. It all means the world when I kick back and look at the finished product!
Top: Keep on rolling. VRS Northampton converted the trans to an automatic with hand controls. Above: Despite life’s challenges, Matt keeps on smiling. What a guy! Left: Carbon fibre air tank with aluminium hardlines. Below: The updated interior is bang on the money. Left: The fully rebuilt S2 20v turbo boasts a rather impressive 500bhp. Below: Air Lift 3P management with custom struts by Plush Automotive delivers the lows.
Name: Matt Perkins
Occupation: Alloy wheel engineer @ Flat Out Alloys
First car: Vauxhall Astra
Dream car: Coupé quattro
Favourite thing about your car: Definitely the wheels
Hardest part of the build: The strip down and rebuild
What’s next? Maybe some slight changes to the interior and then hopefully a classic Speedtronic Porsche 911 project