Dare to be Different
As a general rule of thumb, the more units a particular product sells, the easier it’ll be to determine and track down compatible parts for it if something ever happens to go wrong. Got an iPhone? You’ll never be too far away from a friendly face who’ll replace that extremely familiar screen for you, for example. But go for something like a limited-edition Versace flip-phone and prepare to be met with plenty of blank faces before you finally get it fixed.
It might seem like a purposely difficult way to live your life, but sometimes, going for something that’s a little against the grain can take you down a far more rewarding path than the masses will ever discover as they plod along in the mainstream of live.
Take Nic here and his gorgeous example of the extremely limited-run B7 A4 DTM as a prime illustration of this fact. Sure, it’s thrown up countless nightmares along the way, but living with and modifying this limited-run sports saloon has ultimately left him leaps and bounds above your average A4 and even RS4 owners out there when it comes to feeling special about what’s sitting outside on your driveway. Let’s just remind ourselves about what the A4 DTM brought to the table all those years ago, because chances are it’s a model that’s long since been forgotten by most of you out there. Conceived in 2005 to rather strangely commemorate the second-place finish for Audi in the previous-year’s DTM championship, the car sat slap-bang in-between the vanilla 2.0 TFSI-powered A4 and the more highly-strung S3 when it came to performance; boasting a completely unique state of tune from that otherwise-familiar engine setup.
Also rocking a body kit which looks vaguely similar to the RS4’s, as well as a trick half-leather, half-‘Nardia’ interior, just 250 examples ever made it to British shores, helping to explain why you probably haven’t seen one on the road for a while, if ever. It’s not a model that went unnoticed by professional car detailer Nic here, though. “I worked for Audi as a valeter back when this car was launched in 2005, before I started my own business,” he explains. “I fell in love with the single DTM our dealership was ever assigned… it was Sprint Blue and I knew I’d have to own one myself some day!”
It’s hard to deny the car’s allure in that lovely hue, which helps to explain why it clearly wouldn’t leave Nic’s head for the best part of the following decade, until things reached the point where he knew he’d have to just bite the bullet and go and buy one. Stumbling upon this beauty a few years back in the all-important colour he was after (one of just 30 examples to be sprayed this way), Nic was finally able to live out that long-standing dream. And was it all it was cracked up to be? Well, not really, actually…
“I planned to just drive it and enjoy it, but it soon became apparent it just wasn’t really fast enough,” he admits, the car’s 217bhp, 4WD setup not quite enough to set the world alight. “It also suffered a bad engine failure pretty early into my ownership which spurred me onto make it perform a bit quicker.”
Promptly getting the knackered engine rebuilt and taking the opportunity to re-work the head slightly with more competent camshafts in the process, it was at the stage where Nic began looking for performance aftermarket goodies for his new toy that it soon dawned on him that no-one really knew what on earth it was. “It’s a bit of an oddball! Even simple things like changing the disks and pads turned out to be a nightmare as the brakes are off a S4 but somehow 20mm larger than most places list them as,” he frustratingly reveals, often leaving him performing detective work more intricate than the stuff seen on CSI: Miami before he found parts that’d fit.
With the new engine coming together, the curse of exclusivity struck again as the initial firm to map the car’s ECU left Nic with a throttle pedal that was effectively an on/off switch, leading to some rather interesting track time spent on Oulton Park… Following an equally-eventful trip to the ‘Ring, the car was finally placed in the safe hands of tuning guru Dave at ADS Automotive, who instantly saw the car for what it was and was able to tune it accordingly.
Now boasting a larger, K04-based hybrid turbo and plenty of breathing goodies to match, a reserved 380bhp was soon squeezed out of it on ADS’s rollers – an impressive yet remarkably safe figure for the particular build that ensures Nic can perform his daily driver duties with little worry that he’s straining the car too much. It’s all propelled through a good ol’ fashioned manual ‘box, too, that itself features a much sturdier clutch to take the extra 150-odd ponies now on tap.
Finally managing to track down the right parts, Nic has since added some equally-as-impressive tweaks to the chassis, too, including 034Motorsport engine and tranny mounts to give things a more direct feel while retaining that sumptuous Audi comfort.
It’s refreshing to see that things have been left surprisingly factory in the styling department despite the impressive mechanical specification, though, with those slightly enlarged Milltek exhaust tips offering the only subtle clue of the work that’s been carried out. Nic instead likes to spend his attention using the skills developed through his career to ensure that Sprint Blue body is always looking nothing short of spotless, allowing us to admire those carbon fibre-adorned lines that seem to only be getting better with age.
If he knew just what a mission the first few years of owning this rare beast would be, do you think Nic would do it all over again now? Based on the effortlessly perfect way it’s currently carrying out the versatile roles of both daily driver for himself and his wife, as well as occasional track blaster, we get the feeling he’d never have it any other way. Because anyone can go out and snap up an RS4, but not many cars out there will leave you feeling as exclusive as this one…
SPECIFICATION Audi A4 DTM Quattro B7
ENGINE 2.0-litre TFSI turbocharged four-cylinder ( Audi EA113), uprated camshafts, hybrid K04-based turbocharger, APR high-pressure fuel pump, Pipercross air filter, Milltek turbo-back exhaust system, 034Motorsport engine mounts, ADS Automotive ECU software re-map
MAX POWER 380bhp @ 6200rpm
MAX TORQUE 299lb @ 3200rpm
TRANSMISSION Six-speed manual gearbox, SPEC Stage 3 clutch, 034Motorsport billet lightweight flywheel and gearbox mount
BRAKES 340mm S4 front brake upgrade with ceramic pads
SUSPENSION Factory DTM-spec suspension
WHEELS & TYRES Factory 18in DTM-spec Ronal alloy wheels, 235/40/18 Dunlop Sport Maxx tyres INTERIOR Factory half-leather black interior with all options
EXTERIOR Factory Sprint Blue DTM-spec exterior
TUNING CONTACTS Dave T and Daz, Dave at ADS Automotive (www.adsautomotive. co.uk), Damo and Sam at Springfield Street Motors, Awesome GTI (www.awesomegti.com)
THANKS Thanks to all the people who have helped with shipping the car from place to place and put up with me in the process, as well as my wife, Hannah, and all my friends
“I knew I’d have to own one myself some day!”
Name: Nic Payne
First car? A Talbot Samba (I wrote it off before I passed my test), then a Vauxhall Carlton (that I also wrote off before passing my test). A Peugeot 205 was the first car I owned once I passed
Dream car? I change my mind daily
Favourite upgrade? Good tyres!
Are you a member of any club? Not really
Money-no-object project? I’d love to build some ‘60s and ‘70s cars with modern engines and interiors
Right: Factory Sprint Blue DTM-spec exterior. Right: Factory half-leather black interior with all options. Below: Nic always knew he would own a Sprint Blue DTM one day.
Right: Milltek turbo-back exhaust system. Above: 2.0-litre TFSI turbocharged four-cylinder (EA113) with hybrid K04-based turbo-chargerx. Below far right: Factory 18in DTM-spec Ronal alloy wheels. Top: Nic’s DTM is one of only 30 sprayed in Sprint Blue.
“I planned to just drive it and enjoy it, but it soon became apparent it just wasn’t really fast enough,”